My Review of the Emperor’s Assassin by Autumn Bardot

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Blurb:

History paints her as the first female serial killer…

Locusta is the daughter of a winemaker in the Roman province of Gaul. She enjoys the indulged childhood of the elite, her concerns only about the day’s amusements. She rides gentle ponies, attends parties, reads Ovid, and learns the herbal arts from her servant. But the day after meeting her betrothed, Locusta discovers the consequences of possessing such dangerous knowledge.

Ordered to leave her pastoral life, Locusta is thrust into a world of intrigue, scandal, and murder—where treason lurks behind every corner and defying an emperor means death. Locusta’s life changes forever when a young Emperor Nero requires her herbal expertise. And commands her to be his personal poisoner. Caught in an imperial web, Locusta must embrace her profession or die.

Or is there another way out?

History paints her as the first female serial killer. Or is she yet another maligned woman in history?

My Review (Contains Spoliers)

I reviewed the Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot, which is an excellent historical novel based in the South-China Sea. This is a novel you should get, and it is a pleasure for me to be reviewing another novel of hers again. Buy this book NOW! This novel contains sexual violence.

Ultimately, this novel is about silent violence, sexual violence, the murky and misery of Roman politics. But it is also about the loss and misery of goodness. Corruption has become the ultimate winner in this novel under Nero’s reign. Corruption of power in a ruthless empire causes people with good nature to turn into the worst monsters unimaginable.

This novel had me seeing how a young innocent girl from Gaul was tainted by the corrupted politics of Rome. No one ever sees themselves as the villain. The villain isn’t someone you want to be. Where in any story does the villain benefit? The villain may be rich, but happiness is fleeting. Even if you are a hero, there is not much you can do. Too much good and too much bad is neither welcome, for a balance is needed. This novel showed the maturity of Locusta.

Some minor nitpicks that I found was more telling than showing, but that’s one nitpick of mine. I would have wanted to be seen more scenes displaying Locusta’s development from turning from a humble girl into the madness that depicts her as she carries out the murky depths of her infamous secret. More scenes would have helped. When I compare this to Dragon Lady, the Pirate Queen had a lot more development as we saw everything and how as she became Queen began to dismiss the feelings of others. That being said, Lucius was an absolute bastard of the highest kind. No words of happiness for him.

You cannot help but feel sadness as Locusta loses herself, her soul, and the ones she values the most. The amount of loss is unimaginable on the scale before. I have covered Nero before in one of my book reviews, though I understand the author’s intentions of going for a more volatile approach. Nero was insane by the time of his rule, but that didn’t rule out his competence. The problem was, many of these rumors were written when he was removed from power. So we will never get a true picture of what the politicians thought of him, but to say his sexual scandals were off the rooftop is no understatement. His wives suffered a lot, especially because it reminded me of Henry VIII of England who was smart and ambitious at the start, but then ended up removing his wives one by one. Nero had some competence in administration because Henry didn’t.

Marcus is also a great character, but I would have wanted to see more of him. How he kept in touch with Locusta more often. Their attraction is clear from the start to each other. I thought this was great chemistry! We also saw that Locusta leaped into the murky depths of her dark secret, Nero became madder. I guess when you’re the Emperor of the world, and you hold dominion over everyone, it is hard to resist the tentacles of corruption.

The Prose? Check

The Writing Style? Check

The dialogue? Check

My rating: 5.5

BUY THIS NOVEL NOW! It’s a spellbinding novel that’ll have you disagreeing with the character, holding your tears back, and make you feel both love and loss together.

My Review of Dark Shores by Danielle L Jensen

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Blurb:

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

My Review:

(Warning contain spoliers)

Dark Shores is everything I want in a fantasy novel. First, it is not often we get Roman-inspired fantasy. Second, this has all the intrigues and double backstabbing politics of Rome. Third. We get Roman ships. I repeat. Roman ships. Storms. Oceans. Colonization on a scale that we would never see except maybe imagine the Romans colonizing the Americas which they never did.
This novel is Teriana and Marcus’s journey together. They encounter strange lands, mysterious armies, an island where his legion takes command. This has all the usual tropes of a Simon Scarrow novel set in Rome, and that is a compliment. Marcus is strong-headed but refuses to enter politics. Same as Cato in the Eagles Series by Simon Scarrow. He’s strong and will-headed but stubborn as a mule.

Teriana is an heir to the Maarin Triumvirate and the novel displays her maturity as she grows from heir to almost a leader. I did feel the relationship needed a bit more pages to show the attraction between the two.
What also intrigues me, is that Marcus’s plans also foreshadow that the Empire may be intent on conquering different lands to distract the populace. The amount of good and bad is always put into peril. Why is that? Power commands everything.

You could be good or bad, but corruption eventually hits you in the end. I wanted to get an insight into the Maarin Culture, and I was not sure whether the Maarin ship was medieval or ancient. A little more detail on that would be nice.


One of the strengths of this novel is that the Maarin was trading between the West and the East. They kept the secret from the Empire. This reminds me of the Parthians, who made it in their foreign policy to never allow the Chinese and the Romans to interact with each other.

One could imagine what would have happened and could have been a crazy alternate history in itself. I was not sure about what is in the East. Will we see a Shogunate inspired nation? A Chinese inspired Empire? I can’t wait.


I’d also like to see dueling Phalanxes and the Greeks/Persians. I would love to see the cities of Ziggaurets. This is what I want. A fantasy that has the Ancient World. A fantasy that has Ancient Egypt (please please please please please please can we have this?) I want fantasy from the Bronze Age. I want this type. I like Medieval fantasy sure, but I also want to see MORE of this. This has the best writing, best dialogue. Either way, you’re on a journey.


My request to the excellent author, let us have Marcus and Teriana develop their relationship as they go to new lands, enter into forbidden temples, have Indiana jones styles plots, etc. We often have Medieval fantasy doing this, but we don’t get it enough with this Roman-inspired fantasy novel. I want and wish to see a map of this novel. I want to see the world. I want MORE.


Because this is in a way, a fantasy novel that would have been published in the 1970s/1980s that has excellent writing. It is comparable to Kirk Mitchell who wrote an alternate Roman series in where the Romans battled the Aztecs. It’s on that scale.


My rating: 5/5. This novel has made me enjoy so much I can still remember vivid scenes though I don’t wish to spoil too much. I already want to read the sequel because the novel is great.

UK Amazon Link

My Review of the Sacred Spoils by Will Adams

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I was given an ARC by Canelo Publishing who are awesome legends, and thank you to the fabolous Sophie for sending me this!

Blurb:

To the victor go the spoils…
Historian Carmen Nero, in southern Italy to help a friend search for ancient riches, is caught up in the murderous schemes of the Calabrian Mafia.

Cesco Rossi, a quick-witted conman on the run from a brutal group of neo-Nazis, is about to be confronted by his tragic past.

Israeli Professor Zara Gold is on a mission to find Judaism’s most sacred relic.

For the tomb of Alaric I, the Visigoth king who sacked and looted Rome of its most fabulous treasures, is on the point of being revealed. And who knows what secrets may lie within?

The race to uncover history’s greatest lost fortune has begun…

My Review:

Warning: Contains little spoilers.

What the bottom line says on the title of this book, it delivers in buckets of oozing action, mesmerizing landscapes, swords, treasures, you name it.
From the start of this novel, you will be pulled into an exotic adventure featuring Italian food, more Italian food, and breath-taking landscapes. There’s a lot of summer in this novel. It will feel like a cookbook and a tourist guide wrapped into an exciting thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You will be embroiled into a family drama that spans decades of conflict. You will encounter the viewpoint of the Ancients, hidden tombs, and secret conspiracies, corrupt warlords, corrupt mafia.
This has all the standard elements of a thriller fantasy. I’ve read Clive Cussler, Matthew Riley, Andy Mc Dermott, Steve Berry. Dan Brown popularized the genre of course. But this is where I started reading properly. The amount of research is staggering. The amount of attention and love each character is given throughout this novel makes you feel that there heroes and villains. But each hero and villain in this novel sees themselves as the hero. Cesco, the affluent conman who wishes to run from a terrible post and purge all memory of it, is a character that has the characteristics of thieves, rogues. I could imagine him time-traveling to Venice or Medieval Tunisia or the Ottoman Empire. He’s that type of character. I did feel sometimes he was a bit over the top, and sometimes didn’t control too much of the consequences, but that’s my nitpick.
Without going into too many spoilers, I feel the chemistry between Zara and Dov will be for the reader, very volatile. Both have different professions. One’s a commando in Israel’s most special unit, and the other is a history professor that loves history and to be honest, who doesn’t?
The main star of this novel is Carmen. She is naive, but as you read this novel, you get a sense of maturity. She’s strong, pretty, and any man would be lucky to have her as a girlfriend. That said, there’s a lot of romance-esque foreshadowing but you never see it until the end.
The novel has a lot of characters that would be too much for me to describe in detail. Sometimes I did feel the novel’s pace dragged a bit, and some scenes weren’t needed. Without going into too much spoiler mode, some parts with the Neo-Nazi’s gang could have had some more additional scenes. Their POV was interesting, and I felt we needed to see a bit more of them. This is full of Government conspiracy, exciting plots.
And if you’re wondering well, in 2011, thrillers were all the craze. Why should I buy another one that has the same plot/trope? Well, I won’t convince you as that’s your reading taste. What I will say, this novel is a fun ride. You’ll be going through Italy’s famous landscapes, you’ll be discovering hidden old centuries conflict of Mafia drama, you’ll be going through a tour guide of Italian food, you’ll be on motorbikes, you’ll be on farms, hidden tombs. That dear reader is why you should buy this. Let this novel take you at the edge of your seat as you drink coffee, and have a few snacks in between. Or whatever you prefer. I rate this a great book, which could easily be adopted into a movie. My rating is 5/5.

My Review of Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey: Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series Book by David Fitz-Gerald.

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Blurb: Wanders Far lived in dangerous times and was faced with one difficult challenge after another. He was a skinny, quiet boy who was raised on the banks of a tributary of New York State’s Mohawk River, hundreds of years before colonists arrived. One lifetime was not enough for Wanders Far’s old soul.

From a very young age, his wanderlust compelled him down one path after another. No village could contain him.

He was happy living a simple life in the physical world during challenging times. The spirit world had other plans.

A wise, enigmatic shaman mentored Wanders Far and helped him cultivate the supernatural visions that haunted him. His guide could only help him so far.

He set out to become a runner, carrying important messages across the lands of his people and their enemies. He ended up fulfilling a much greater destiny than he ever imagined.

This is the first installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

You might like this book if you like historical novels, westerns, supernatural thrillers, or books featuring distance hikers. If you like all of those, hopefully this book will be one of your favorites.

My Review:

Wanders Far is one of those novels that focuses less on the action and more the individual. Sometimes some novels don’t need action, being the heavy action-reader I am. This novel is unique in respecting Native American Cultures, which I don’t know about. I felt I was immersed in the time period. The amount of spiritualness and religion in this story is staggering and this is amazing.

The story itself has a more joint and vibrant mood. This is why I would say that in this novel, be prepared for less action and more story. Sometimes in that ancient period, some people did get to live the lives they wanted. That wasn’t the case for others. I liked all the characters, Big Canoe, Bear Fat who resembles a lot of mothers in personality and charm.

There are plenty of visions that will make you go, wow, did that really happen? How much time the author put into researching a novel like this is staggering. In a way, Wanders’s Far gift of storytelling and traveling is very similar to the Celtic Tribes, which placed an emphasis on their Bards to relay news and sing songs. There is also a vivid description of the houses, the landscapes, the forests, and since it is around 1192, you know that by the year 1492 the Spanish arrive in Mexico, and then Jamestown in 1607. It is a harrowing future, as you think that time is short for Mohawk tribe that Wanders Far is from, and you get a sense of this throughout it. The Aztecs had been receiving strange omens from their Gods heralding the arrival of strange men.

I do not know enough about the subject matter in detail to write more about the culture, but I loved this. It’s a nice, pleasant story that you can read to children, it is a story with less violence/action and its more realistic. It’s like real life. My rating is a 5/5.

My Review of the Slightest Chance by Paul Letters

Blurb:

In war, you can pretend to be someone you’re not. Yet, in war, people find out who you really are.

Hong Kong, 1941. Anglo-Australian civil servant Dominic Sotherly’s colonial sojourn in Hong Kong becomes complicated by his double life in both war and love. Enigmatic Englishwoman Gwen Harmison possesses secrets of her own – plus an unrelenting desire for liberty.

From gaiety at the Peninsula Hotel to persecution both inside and outside of internment, the story journeys from war-ravaged Hong Kong to war-weary China.

From real history, meet the Chinese admiral who led Hong Kong’s daring ‘Great Escape’ and the Japanese Christian soldier who risked his life for the enemy. And, uniquely during the occupation of Hong Kong, discover how one Englishwoman made history in her defiance of Imperial Japan.

My Review:

The Slightest Chance is an informative account of WW2 in the Far East. I commend Paul on his excellent research, because there is never a moment that you would pull you out of the story.

You encounter the might of the Japanese Army throughout this novel and the effect it had on Westerners living in Shanghai and Hong Kong and how they practically had to flee. You get the feeling of the Chinese’s anger towards the Japanese, considering that this was WW2 at the time. No one is innocent, no one is guilty. I was watching a great Clint Eastwood movie called Letters from Iwo Jima, showing from the Japanese point of view. World War II was for me an imperialistic war in all sense. Because had the German High Command removed Hitler, I have no doubt that they would continue the war or sue for peace. Paul rightly showed how Indian troops were fighting against the Japanese when truly there was not a real reason to fight. Not many know this but the Japanese often tried to convert Indian soldiers to their side through propaganda. It is a relatively under-explored area of history that no doubt will get more attention in the future. What is war but the friend of no one but itself?

I did feel Max was a sort of serious character that needed a bit more grittiness to me. I also felt that Gwen needed a more better reason to be in China when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. I also did get the impression that Japanese rule for the former ‘colonial’ masters was not great.

Quite often, I did feel there were too many POVs, though my favourite character was Admiral Chan. He’s really a small man with a lot of hope against the might of Imperial Japan. That’s like David and Goliath. I think Paul did a great job with the research, and I was exposed to how truly globalised China and South-East Asia was. Did racism, discrimination exist? But to see Indians, Malays, Chinese and Japanese all in one place was staggering. I will also commend Paul for showing Indian soldiers in combat even if we didn’t get to see them do much, but the British Army did depend on a lot of Indian soldiers to fight their wars. Indians were fighting in Africa, Mesopotamia, and the Far East. Indians were taking the brunt of the Japanese Army, not to mention the fearsome Gurkhas. Not many know that Dunkirk, which had Indian soldiers in combat at that time, was not represented in the film. I do feel that Indian representation is severely under-rated. They were essentially fighting a war that at their point of view, what was the point? But it was imperative to do so, otherwise the plans the Axis Powers had for India would have been much much worse than any Allied occupation. It was clear at that time India was going to achieve independence in some form of fashion. Paul did a great job showing this.

I would have wanted to seen more scenes of Westerners opposing the massacres that the Japanese did. I would have imagined some Westerners would have protested to the command. But the command would have done nothing. If you read about the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, and then in 1894 of the Peasants Rebellion, it was pretty much the same thing they had been doing then. It was no wonder the Koreans were fighting against Imperialistic Japanese rule.

I liked Chester Drake and his motivations, but this war was truly happening on a global scale. I’m thinking just how many people there were like Max, Gwen, and Chester out there. All in the hopes of escaping fanatic armies, and finding love and loss together. It must have felt like the End times.

Reading this novel has made evoke many parts o history that I have read and I feel this is a great novel. My rec is 5/5

My Review of Son of the Sea, Daughter of the Sun by Marc Graham

Blurb:

A shipwrecked prince on a foreign shore and a young princess coming into her powers battle dark forces that would destroy her kingdom and their love.  Nine hundred years before Columbus, a sailor with a mystical map and a vision of a glorious destiny is shipwrecked on the far side of the world. A prince of Visigothic Spain, Iudila finds his match in Chakin, daughter of a Mayan king. Can love span the gulf between them, or will they be cast apart by their different gods—or by the dark shaman who desires Chakin for himself?

My Review (Warning, spoliers):

Son of the Sea and Daughter of the Sun by Marc Grahram is a fantastic novel that keeps you immersed into the world of the Mayans and Visigoths. First of, I apperciate the hard work and effort that Marc embarked on studying Mayan Customs and language. Second, it is very rare we get books on Meso-America that are this well written. Tok-Ekh reminded me of Scar. The skillful prose, the elegant way in which Marc enhances his writing, by showing Tok-Ekh is a wonderful villain. However there were some weaknesses that can be ironed out.

I felt that Iudila’s character development grew fine, but the chemistry between him and Uti-Chan’s daughter, Chakin, needed to be a bit more developed. To that end, I also loved the language concepts, an astral plane in which these guardians, seem to ‘protect humanity’ by separating and as a reader, I’ve always wanted someone to take the stuff from Ancient Aliens, and show that the Ancient World was as globalised. Imagine if the Ancient Egyptians travelled to South-America? Awesome stuff. Marc did certainly well in this department, but Tok-Ekh’s role in this brotherhood was not clear enough, and I would have wanted more specific’s colours. I also want to know why humanity is kept separate. Many times this led me to question what was behind this reason? I loved the concept of Hebrew and Mayan being similar. Though I did feel that not enough of Iudila’s crew was used enough. I would have wanted to seen more descriptions of the Mayan cities, as they had a lot of colour.

That being said, I worked on the concept of the tribes of Israel and emigrating to the New World. Great, fantastic stuff. Something straight out of a Sci-fi show like Star-Trek. They forget their Gods, and worship new ones. But I really wanted to know about what caused and it how? There were many unanswered questions and the religious theme was great! The way these people lived in those times, religion was central. Props to the author for encouraging historical religion, and showing that it is real, especially the blending of the Mayan Religion. Though I was not under the impression that Iudila was always invoking Christ or Yahshua. That I think needed some further development. That said I did like Chakin. She was a strong woman, a very pretty lady. I think Iudila and Chakin’s chemistry certainly did work in this area. The attraction between them would have been certain since they’re royalty. Uti-Chan was one of the best characters in the novel. Much like the King of Rohan in many sense.

The majority of this novel focuses on the New World, so I would have suggested an alternative cover and a more Mayan sounding name. I would envision a dark marble background etched, when in the middle you would have a Mayan dagger, something similar to Bernard’s Cornwell covers. That said, this works fine, but this is my personal opinion.

If there is a sequel, I’d like to see how after Iudila, no one else came to the new world? There could have been others. Imagine if we had an alternate history where humanity met much earlier. Something mainstream historians don’t like ha. But I loved this novel. I loved the vivid and lush descriptions, and I wanted to see more. The dialogue was great, and if I could compare this, I would compare this to the Silk Road by Julian Stockwin. It has Byzantines travelling to China. That’s a novel you can compare it too.

I want to see a sequel, because its very rare you get a novel infused with magic, mythology and crazy stuff from Ancient Aliens, and my rating is a solid 5/5. Many thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publishing house, Blank State Press.

My Review of Duchamp versus Einstein by Etan Ifeld and Christopher Hinz

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Blurb: An alien time-traveler ensnared in Earth’s 20th century plots her escape by changing humanity’s fate, and not for the better. But her strange encounters with Marcel Duchamp and Albert Einstein take an unexpected turn when she realizes she’s pregnant.

My Review:

This is a novella that requires a lot of philosophical thinking once you’ve read the book. It hints at the backdrop of humanity’s insane desire for conflict. This novella is perfect for reading with the Orville’s soundtrack which you can find on youtube.

At some point, I think the novella should have been a hundred and twenty pages longer to give Stella’s POV. I really wanted to know what kind of alien creature Stella was. The authors could have maybe had her as a mythical creature from Greek Mythology that in reality was purely something else. I got this vibe often. The historical elements of the characters weren’t certainly wasted, and they were well defined. I did get an idea that Einstein and Duchamp were often aware of this parallel existance they had with Stella, but I would have wanted to seen more questioning. Where I think they needed to add twenty pages was to discuss the philosophy of warfare and contrast it with Indian Philosophy, expressely the Bhagavad Gita. The quote, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds was a very moving statement that was recorded more than 3000 years ago. I myself cannot hold claim to the knowledge that Duchamp and Einstein possesed. I can certainly understand their motives. That being said, if this was a short story, or a Netflix short movie, it would be a philosophical debate about humanity and it’s desire to ensure conflict.

Overall, my rating is a solid 4/5. It needed more pages, but def do not miss this.

Amazon US Link

My Review of Crimson DeathBringer by Sean Robins

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Blurb:

 The Akakies, a peaceful, technologically advanced alien species known as “the galaxy’s pranksters,” are under attack by the Xortaags, a vicious military race bent on conquering the universe. The Xortaags are deadly, but Tarq, the Akakies’ chief strategist and legendary shadow master, has a plan.

     Meanwhile on Earth, Jim, a wise-cracking, movie-quoting, OCD-suffering fighter pilot, is about to propose to his girlfriend Liz when his childhood friend Kurt shows up at his house, injured and covered in blood. Kurt is a freedom fighter/super- assassin hunted by a brutal military dictatorship’s security forces. Soon after, Jim, Liz and Kurt’s lives are set to crash with a galactic war that threatens the very existence of the human race.

     Can our heroes save humanity from the wrath of an overwhelming enemy?

     The Crimson Deathbringer seamlessly blends breathtaking action sequences with mischievous humor. If you are a science fiction/space opera fan, this book, with its memorable characters, formidable antagonist and Game of Thrones style shocking moments, is written especially for you.

My Review:

Crimson Deathbringer….

What do I say about this novel?

Bursting with references to nail biting alines and Star Trek and Winterfell, this novel is a sketch of Monty Python with some serious hamming and is a funny if not definitive novel that could easily be adapted into a TV series. It has the potential of Firefly and Warhammer 40k mixed together. I did feel the Xortagg’s needed a bit more development in the characteristics of their race. Some of the best scenes came from their point of view. General Maada? A unique character that reminds me of the stocism of General Robert E Lee and Marshall Suchett and Marshall Davout, two of Napoleon’s best and under-used Generals. They do not often get enough attention. General Maada on the other hand is blessed with military power, wit, and the potential to become a villian turning into a hero. I sometimes felt he really abhored the killings he did, and was serving his state. For the Prince of the Xortagg, Maada is just another useful idiot. If it is one thing that fools in power did, was finding competent generals and using them to fight for country and state when they didn’t need too. The Japanese Empire in WW2 had plenty of Generals/Soldiers that abhored the violent massacares, and there are many in this book, but we never got to see their viewpoint.

The Akakie, or I shall now name them as the Nail Biting Aliens are some of the most funniest aliens in the universe. They’re pranksters. But they should learn from human children. They’re like…the parody version of the Orville’s Alien species. This is watching A Race to the Galaxy, oh no wait, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is exactly the correct comparison this should be compared too. It is funny, it is cruel, it will make you tear up, it will make you feel for the characters and make you wish why isn’t this a video-game already? I did not get enough understanding of the Earth’s Governments, but this is a sci-fi novel wrapped in a series of circles going back and forth. It’s crazy! It has all the literal dreams a sci-fi fan could want. Star Trek? Yes indeed. The Orville’s better though, it’s literally Star Trek in a different fan-fiction universe. Jim Harrison – one of the most craziest people on the planet, but I have a grudging respect for this guy.

All I can say the writing is great, the prose is great, although I wish we would travel more in space than earth. Has gore and all that, but it is a like some sorta Netflix series. Something in this novel is…awesome! Can’t wait to read book 2! This book is also on KU and my rating is a solid 5/5

Amazon UK Link:
Amazon US Link

My Review of Across the Great Divide: The Clouds of War by Micheal L.Ross

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Blurb:

Lexington, Kentucky, 1859. After saving John Hunt Morgan from a puma attack, fifteen-year-old farm boy Will Crump joins Hunt’s militia, the Lexington Rifles. Morgan mentors Will and enrolls him in the local university, where he hopes to study law. As tensions rise between the North and South, Will is torn between his loyalty to Morgan and his love for his family. Will’s father, sisters, and sweetheart follow the Union, while Morgan and Will commit to the South. As part of Morgan’s band, Will participates in ambushes and unconventional warfare until his first real battle at Shiloh. He fights bravely, but increasingly questions what the war is accomplishing, and whether his devotion to honor has led him astray. And where is God in all this killing?

Will’s sister Albinia, friend of the Clay family, becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the slaves. When she finds Luther, a slave she knows, trying to escape, she must decide between her conscience, and her friends. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom – but will it cost her love and her freedom?

Will’s other sister, Julia, is approaching spinster status and despairs of ever meeting a man who can give her more than life on a farm until she meets Hiram Johannsen, a son of immigrants who owns a steamship company. They marry and she makes a new life in the North. When Hiram answers the call to fight for the North, Julia runs the steamboat company in her husband’s absence and uses her boats to help Albinia ferry escaped slaves to freedom. Her business relations put her in the perfect position to spy for the North. When the Confederates capture her, will she survive?

Luther is one of the first slaves Albinia helps flee the South after his master cruelly abuses his mother and sister. He escapes with his family, and when war breaks out, he fights for the North as an auxiliary of the Third Ohio Cavalry, alongside Julia’s husband, Hiram, and against Morgan and Will. Luther has to confront the demons of his past, an abusive master, and a slave catcher that kills his little sister. Will the desire for revenge destroy him?

Throughout the war, Will is forced to examine and question everything he believes in—his faith in God, his love for his family, his loyalty to Morgan, and his worth as a human being.

Will and his family must somehow mend the torn fabric of relationships to find peace, and reach Across the Great Divide.

My Review: I was given this as an ARC for the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog tour. I don’t know how much spoilers I can go into, but I’ll keep to a minimum.

Across the Great Divide is a very well done attempt at displaying how the brutal American Civil War practically destroyed life for Americans due to the issues of slavery and secession. Coming back in 1865 to find your home ruined, your fortunes devastated, and your whole life was wasted. You fought for a cause, and that cause was defeated. The author definitely evokes this kind of attention and detail in this book. The historical research feels superb, and there is never a moment that questions you. You are fully immersed into the time frame. You get to see the grunts of Generals, officers bellowing orders, and men dying for a cause that ultimately was pointless. The American Civil War could have been prevented in many different forms, but that’s alternate history. America’s history has had a list of conflicts dedicated to the rights of states, liberty, freedom you name it. Yet at that very moment, I felt for the soldiers on both sides, that really had no cause to fight each other. However I was more on the side of Luther and the slaves, because had the Civil War not happened, I don’t think we would have seen an improvement in rights for African Americans. The Civil War changed a lot of things regarding slavery. Did the systemic racism and hunting of African American slaves end? It did not. But under Grant, he did a lot more good, even if his government was corrupt. But then again he was a solider, not a politician.

I liked many of the characters in this epic novel. Some minor nitpicks that I felt, at points the families re-uniting needed a little more difficulty. Sometimes it felt like two families divided on both sides, but it was too easy for them to unite. Now I don’t know myself how easy it was for families to re-unite after the war had ended. It couldn’t have been, considering the economic blockade that Lincoln and General Scott had approved. It could have been that families did re-unite easily, who knows? I would have wanted to seen more difficulty, since Micheal depicted the brutality of war so well. The greatest strength of this novel was depicting Luther’s journey. His journey was extremely difficult. But he survived through an terrible journey through this war. I imagine there were many slaves like him in exactly the same situation. What I also loved was how we got to the civilian’s point of view of how they viewed the war. Really, the Civil War was a training exercise to strategists knowing full well that Napoleonic Tactics had long run their course, and that future wars would ultimately become a mess. Warfare had advanced too much. I liked Julia, Harim, Will and Robert and his wife. But I did want to see some additional struggles imposed upon them. Because either way, this was a fruitless waste of lives. And it was sad. It was brutal. I agreed with the author at the end, that such wars should never happen again. But what is human nature but to fight? All the world religions talk about a golden age where we lived in eternal peace. Now we’re living in an age of chaos, where you know it will all be redone again. Makes you really wonder what will happen in the future. I have no doubt that soldiers of the Civil War were experiencing this. I feel this is a great epic novel, and my rating is a solid 5/5.

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My Review of A Storm of Silver and Ash by Marion Blackwood.

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Blurb: What would you sacrifice to save your friend? Your soul? Your humanity? Your life?

The Oncoming Storm is a name whispered in awe throughout the Underworld. She’s known as a master thief and a lethal knife-wielder – some even say she has the skills of an assassin. All of it is true. She’s also a sarcastic smartmouth with the social graces of a bull.

You will find her running across rooftops, sneaking in the shadows, and breaking into houses. That is, if she’s not busy getting ambushed and blackmailed into a seemingly impossible mission. Grudgingly caught in a dangerous power struggle, the Oncoming Storm must leave behind the world she knows and maneuver through scheming assassins, calculating elves, and desperate royals.

Before her adventure is over, she will have loved, saved, killed, and double-crossed those around her. The only question is, who? The clock is ticking, and before time runs out, the Oncoming Storm must decide who to trust and who to betray…

My Review:

A Storm of Silver and Ash is a mixture of Monty Python mixed with LOTR and some serious Assassin Creed Influences. That is what I can say about this novel. It’s a mix of all the things that you would love in a classic fantasy novel, only it has a more modernistic feeling to it. I got some Red Seas influence when it was about city-states. I also felt this was a medieval kind of Carnival Row urban fantasy novel by itself. This is, without a doubt, one of those epic fantasy novels in the same fashion as Leigh Bardugo, Danielle L Jensen. This could easily be a novel published by Harpercollins, Gollancz, Orbit.

The storm is a complex character that I disagreed with her on many decisions, but Marion showed that she wasn’t a character to be messed with. That said, I loved how she showed that Storm was susceptible to weakness. Doesn’t matter if you’re a member of a guild, there is always power. What is it anything more than that?

This novel had elves, but these elves are remarkably different. They’re more enlightened, tougher. However, I would have wanted to see more shades of the elfs. There is a reason this war between humans and elfs started.

I loved Storm’s unique insight. I loved how she was cheerful and expressive. A little nitpick I would give was some physical descriptions repeated often, but that can be improved upon in the second sequel. Storm’s character jumps at you from the first page. You get to know her from top to bottom. If this was a Netflix series, this novel would have a lot more adventures to tell. I do feel this novel could have been longer. In a usual fantasy set up, it could have expanded this bigger, but that’s a small point. I’m glad the author GOT straight to the events. No long breaks, none of that. We went from one point to the other. Every location mattered! This is impressive, and I did not feel for a moment we were in a big fantasy novel and going to every single location and not knowing where to go. It’s a very hard skill to perfect in writing because you’re not only writing a 100,000-word novel, you got to have everything correct. A novel like this took many years to make, and I appreciate the hard work and effort that went into this novel. It’s quite got a great ending, despite the grimdark influence of the world. Very optimistic.

I will rate this 5/5. This was a great novel.

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