Friday, March 30, 2018

"Rose of Anzio, Book 4: Remembrance"
by Alexa Kang

This was the last book in the Rose of Anzio series. WWII has been raging for years and while they don’t doubt that the cause is worth fighting for, everyone is more than tired of fighting, of killing, and of the need for it all. The Allies manage to free Rome from German occupation, and the grateful citizens house the soldiers in their own homes. Anthony is housed with a family who choose to accept him as if he were their own son. When Tessa meets up with them on a brief leave, he proposes to her, and his host family helps to provide her with a dress and other wedding essentials.

Upon returning to the medical unit she was stationed with, Tessa learns that she and her friend Ellie have been reassigned to another unit that is shorthanded and in great need of doctors and nurses. Ellie has been given a promotion upon accepting this post, yet the real reason she and Tessa were chosen to go had more to do with the head of the nursing staff wanting them out of her way in a misguided attempt to have Doctor Haley once again to herself. Captain Milton believes that without the distraction of Ellie Swanson and Tessa Graham, that Doctor Haley would soon realize that Fran was the woman he should be with and not Ellie.

This book was a fascinating depiction of the life of both soldiers and civilians, of medical staff and the injured during WWII. It showed the stress placed on everyone during the war. We see how Anthony is burdened by the command decisions he must make during battles, especially when those decisions cost the men under his command their lives. We see the hardships faced by everyone, not just the military personnel, and we see that while some of the German soldiers may be cruel and believe wholeheartedly that what they are fighting for is right, not all of them are the evil monsters that many think they are. Most are simply men seeking to survive however they can.

I liked that this story did not shy away from the harshness of the situation. People died, even some of the characters we came to grow quite fond of throughout this series. This book dealt with all the harsh realities that the characters would have had to face if this had been not merely a story. If you’ve been reading this series, don’t skip this book. I believe it to be the best one I’ve read by Ms. Kang to date. I know she has other books available, and I look forward to the chance to read more of them at some point. She is clearly a very talented author.

Monday, March 26, 2018

"The Bone Shroud" by Jean Rabe

Irem Madigan, a museum archivist from Chicago is visiting Rome to attend her brother Levant’s wedding. Levant has fallen in love with and is marrying an Archaeologist who is a good deal older than he is. Irem doesn’t approve of the age difference between Lev & Benito, but the love they share is quite evident to all around them.

Benito is on the verge of finding the resting place of Attila the Hun, a discovery that will make him famous. Seeing the interest this discovery generates in Irem, Benito invites her down to the dig site, sharing the discoveries he and his two assistants have made so far. They believe a funeral wrap (the bone shroud) to be an elaborate map leading to Attila's (and potentially other) grave sites.

There have already been several deaths associated with this find, and after seeing Benito in the midst of a questionable deal with a man who had appeared to be following them, someone tries to shoot Irem. She can only assume that the reason for the attempt on her life was her having just witnessed Benito making some sort of shady deal that she wasn’t supposed to have seen. Lev and Benito plan to take only their wedding day off, for Benito must finish his dig and find Attila’s grave before someone else deciphers the clues hidden in the bone shroud and finds the “Scourge of God” first, but what kind of man is her brother about to marry?

This was a fascinating story with a number twists in the plot. I don’t speak or read Italian, but I loved the way it was included in the text and speech patterns of the characters. After all, with the story taking place in Rome, Irem will regularly be faced with those speaking Italian, and who may or may not also speak English. It is the little touches like this that truly draw one into the story and hold a reader completely entranced.

This book was well written with very few typos. I don’t know if this will be a standalone novel or if it will be the first book in a new series, but either way I would highly recommend it. I very much enjoyed reading it and didn’t want to put it down to sleep at night. I didn’t even come close to figuring out what was really happening in many of the plot twists in this story, though I did enjoy trying to guess. If you like mysteries, you won’t want to miss this one.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"A Queen's Traitor" by Sam Burnell

This book picks up after the end of “A Queen’s Spy.” The characters we came to know in the first book are also a large part of this book. Jack believes his brother is dead and starts the story at a bit of a loss as to what he should do next. Mary is Queen of England, making the country once again a Catholic nation. Her sister Elizabeth, a Protestant, is still next in line for the throne unless Mary can provide her husband Phillip of Spain with a child.

It is not a comfortable time in England for Protestants, and there are numerous plots on how to return the country to being a Protestant nation. Jack, now knowing that he is the son of William Fitzwarren, and having proof of this fact goes to see a lawyer in an attempt to find a way to restore what should have been rightfully his. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and he finds himself imprisoned in Marshalsea. In order to be released, he must pay the falsified debt that it is claimed he owes. Unable to do this, he is stuck in a cold dark cell, without food or water, and left there to die.

Add to this a plot to take Elizabeth from England (even though she has no desire to leave England) to keep her safe in another country while the men behind the plot seek to find a way to replace Mary & restore Protestantism to England, and this is a long and complicated tale.

This was an amazingly intricate historical fiction story set in Tudor England. The author managed to weave a fantastic tale with a great deal of historical knowledge detailed within, yet it doesn’t feel like you are reading a history texbook. The characters feel quite alive and vibrant. The pace is perfect given how much story needed to be told here. This book, like the previous one is a lengthy one, though it moves right along without either dragging or feeling rushed. I would recommend reading the first book in the series if you haven’t yet before starting this one, but if you enjoy historical fiction or books set in Tudor England, I highly recommend reading this one. I truly enjoyed it and I believe you will too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Horrid" by L.C. Ireland

Delta Delaroe and her 6 sisters have been cursed by a woman known as the Horrid Witch. It seems that their brother Elias has stolen something from the witch and she wants it returned. If it is not, each night one of the girls shall disappear when the moonlight touches their skin at the stroke of midnight. No hint is given as to what was stolen from the witch, and after the 7th night all of the girls will have disappeared.

With seemingly no other options, and no idea what it was that her brother had stolen, Delta makes a deal with the Horrid Witch in an attempt to save herself and her remaining sisters. She trades her soul in exchange for a service to the witch and is given an enchanted dagger that will kill anyone it so much as scratches. If she succeeds in killing the person that she has been sent to use it on within 3 days, Delta and her remaining sisters will live. If not, the countdown continues until either the item stolen has been returned or all 7 sisters have ceased to exist.

I enjoyed reading this Young Adult Fantasy tale. It was very well written and well edited. I did manage to guess the ending, though that might have more to do with it being intended primarily for a younger audience, though just as enjoyable to someone my age as to the young adults for whom it was written. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone and am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series once they have been released.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Kingsbane" by T.L. Branson

The pregnant Queen is quite ill and no matter what the healers try, it appears that she may not survive to give birth, and even if she does she will almost certainly not survive the birth of her child. The devastated King cannot bear the thought of losing the woman he loves and consults with every healer and midwife he can find to try and discover a way to save her. Unfortunately, all of them seem to have the same answer... they can do nothing to save her life.

The only possible solution comes in the form of an ancient legend known to one of the King’s personal guardsman; a legend that may be nothing more than a tall tale. But the distraught King will not ignore anything, not even a legend or rumor that might save the life of his beloved wife. He and a handful of his most trusted guards take off that very night on a quest to locate and bring back the soul stones as they are the only possibility left to him to save the life of the Queen.

I’m not really sure how I feel about this novella. It is well-written and well edited, with very few typos that I could notice, but one aspect of the plot left me confused. I understand that King is desperately in love with his wife and cannot stand to be left without her by his side. Unfortunately death during childbirth is often a fact of life in the world that this story is set in. The part that truly bothers me is that the King himself insists on going on this quest. He has no heir to rule while he is gone, only the other council members. He chooses not to inform them in advance that he is going on such a dangerous quest.

It bothers me that a King would leave in such a manner, knowing that not all the nearby kingdoms are likely to ignore the fact that he is no longer around, leaving his kingdom ripe for a possible invasion. No matter how badly he may want to undertake this quest himself, what responsible King would leave his Kingdom in the hands of his council members, no matter how trusted, for an unknown amount of time? While the story was interesting to read, this itself feels like a problem to me. I know he wants to save his wife, but in going on this quest himself he is leaving her to suffer without him nearby to comfort her in any way, knowing that there is a very good possibility that he may never manage to return to her side. Despite my wondering about this plot point, I did find this to be an interesting story.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"The Four Powers" by J.A. Cummings

This book creates it’s own unique fantasy world with just about every type of magic imaginable as well as a great variety of races and creatures. It all starts off with a lightning bolt crashing down and cracking open a mountainside. No one knows what has caused this to happen, but it is almost certainly going to mean trouble for everyone. Requests are sent for help to all four quarters of the planet, as help from each of the four main tribes will be needed.

The four elemental powers had once been combined to create a lodestone. When that power nearly destroyed the planet, the gods intervened and once again separated the elements and declared that never again must a lodestone be allowed to exist. The towers dedicated to each elemental power were placed in the far corners of the planet in an attempt to keep anyone from ever again reuniting those elements into a lodestone. Now, the oracles are saying that the dragons are seeking to gain control of those powers so that they may create their own lodestone and take control. They must be stopped. This is an epic level adventure in a completely original world setting.

I truly enjoyed reading this story. The author tells the tale from the perspective of the main character, a bard named Pedar. I found his talking to the reader as the storyteller reciting a tale to his audience truly fun and captivating. I loved reading this book and believe that others will too. My only complaint would be that there seems to have been some formatting trouble, most likely from when the book was converted to a kindle file. Those problems were primarily found in the table of contents and were mostly related to the design/layout of the TOC. There were a few slight issues elsewhere, but I doubt that the average reader will even notice them. They in no way hindered my enjoyment or ease of reading this book. (Trust me, if they did I wouldn’t hesitate to say so.) I hope you will give this one I try. It was a very interesting and unique story with an original style that I don’t often see in books. I consider this one definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"Search for the Lost Queen,
The Empyrical Tales, Volume 2"
by Mark Miller

Today I read the “Search for the Lost Queen” which is the sequel to “Journey of the Fourth Queen.” In this book, Queen Olena has begun studying with the other three Queens to learn the many things she needs to know to become an effective Queen of the Eastern Sky as well as to help the other three queens keep Evil from once again taking over their lands. Then one night Olena’s sister Zandria follows the sound of someone crying and discovers a woman who is trapped inside of a crystal. That woman is their mother, the Lost Queen who had vanished and been presumed lost forever 6 years ago.

Zandria embarks on a quest to find and free their mother. To do so, she has the aid of Adam, the young boy who had helped both girls make it to the castle safely. They are also aided in their quest by several others they meet along the way. Their mother had been captured and imprisoned when she had been on her own journey to the castle, and in order to be freed there are four gems that must be found and made into one. But as expected, this is not a simple quest nor are they the only ones searching for the gems.

Like the previous book in this series, I greatly enjoyed the story told by the author. I did catch a few typos in the text, but not many. The story was fun to read and well-written with a good pace that kept things moving forward to the plot’s conclusion. It appears that there will be a third book in the series, and I am looking forward to reading it once it is published. Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to wait a bit as it has not yet been released.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

"Her Unexpected Destiny:
Seeing Ranch Series"
by Florence Linnington

Melissa Russell arrives by stage to marry Matt Denton. The two of them seem to get along fairly well, though Melissa seems a bit shy and nervous around Matt. There is a definite attraction between them, but Melissa keeps pulling back from opening up to him. She is staying in Matt’s parents’ house while they get to know each other and until after they are married. And while she seems to be getting along with all of them and fitting in well with his family, she is clearly troubled by something. What she has not told him or his family is that while she introduced herself as Melissa Russell, she is not Melissa.

As I have the other books in this series, I greatly enjoyed reading this one. Ms. Linnington’s stories are well written and quick reads with very few typos. I always hate having to put them down to sleep at night as they are very entertaining and draw the reader in quickly and completely. I hope you will enjoy reading this one as much as I have.

I am already looking forward to the the chance to read the next book in this series as well. Even if you have not read any of the other books in this series, you can start at any point without feeling lost. While each book contains characters introduced in the other books in the series, they also work extremely well as stand alone novels. (I myself have not yet had the chance to read the first book in the series, but have not been at all lost or confused by anything in any of the others.) I recommend this one (as well as her others) for anyone who enjoys mail-order bride novels. They are definitely worth the time spent reading them.

"The Girl and the Clockwork Cat" <br>by Nikki McCormack

Maeko is often referred to as a “street rat.” She lives on the streets of London, stealing and doing whatever else she must in order to...