Book Review: Iberian Claim by Vincent Casciani

Book Details:

Author: Vincent Casciani 
Release Date: 
23rd August 2021
Series:
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Critique, Spanish Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 196 pages
Publisher: New Degree Press
Blurb:
“I put down the pen and set aside the paper. I have served my time.”
The Spanish Empire’s conquest is marked by blood and gold. Alvar Núñez, soldier-turned-administrator, knows little else, and finds himself dissatisfied by the trappings of an ordinary life. When the opportunity comes to seek gold and glory in the New World, he jumps at the chance to revive his old passions.
It’s a shame, then, that his eight-year journey through the Gulf Region reduces him to a meager shell of a man. He must adapt and find compassion for the natives around him or die.
Iberian Claim, Vincent Casciani’s breakout novel, details the grueling account of Alvar Núñez’ interaction with the various Native American tribes inhabiting La Florida. His conviction is degraded, his worldview is overturned, and his belief in Spanish superiority is tested at every turn.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Iberian Claim by Vincent Casciani is a historical fiction critique of Spanish colonialism. This book was impressively educational and provided a (much-needed) fresh perspective on Spanish colonialism, a subject that, in my opinion, is not much discussed, at least in the British colonised countries like India as we spend an awful lot of time only studying and educating ourselves and the future generations about the British colonisation and that’s it! Most of our history books are only full of the valors of the British and the ones who supported them but not about any other colonies or how they came to be and what happened to them.

So reading about Spanish colonisation has always been a subject of interest to me and this book came as a breath of fresh air with its unique perspective and a comprehensive narrative on the subject. Reading The Iberian Claim has clarified many doubts I’ve harboured over the years and many questions I’ve carried in my mind regarding Spanish colonialism and the Spanish Empire’s way of conduct on the whole.

The prose in the book is very neat, crisp and smooth and had a nice flow that made reading it a very smooth experience making it a very quick and enjoyable read. I’d strongly recommend this book to all history buffs, especially to readers who take an interest in Spanish colonialism.


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Book Review: White Storks Of Mercy – Formation by  Joni Anderson Van Berkel 

Book Details:

Author: Joni Anderson Van Berkel 
Release Date: 
23rd November 2021
Series: White Storks Of Mercy trilogy (Book #1)
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 405 pages
Publisher: jponipress
Blurb:
The first book of this new trilogy is set in a world where reality and fantasy coexist. The story starts in ancient Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty and ends in twentieth century Portugal. A supernatural clairvoyant Sacred Stork of the Bach named Tara travels through time searching for a group of diverse women to join her on a mission to reset humanity’s moral compass.
Tara saves a pharaoh, a martyr, a warrior, a queen, and a Gypsy girl from death. She grants them eternal life and the ability to transform into the White Storks of Mercy. Her chosen companions must wear the magical talismans gifted by their leader or they will become mortal. The birds transform into human females called the Merciful Ones when their feet touch the earth. Tara manifests her own human body along the way.

Throughout the course of this epic journey Tara’s jealous sister, an ancient Egyptian Siamese cat named Reba, attempts to thwart the efforts of her moralistic twin. Reba possesses telepathic power and mind-controlling blue eyes. She conscripts a member of the White Storks of Mercy to spy on Tara. The cat also befriends a Druidess from the Iron Age and implores her to use Celtic magic in an effort to achieve a self-serving transformation of her own.
Will the White Storks of Mercy overcome perilous odds on their quest to inspire humans of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and religions to live together in harmony? Or will the peacemakers be foiled by the schemes of the manipulative Siamese cat and her collaborators? Filled with magic, mystery, and mayhem, this novel promises to thrill and enchant its readers.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

White Storks Of Mercy: Formation by

I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly because it had so much going on throughout the story. The multiple plot lines interspersed with the main story of the book kept me glued to the pages late in the night. I loved the story thoroughly and I’m now early awaiting the next book in this series. I loved the writing, the characterisation that brought this story to life and the pacing of the events.

Reading about the various exotic locations added a fun touch to the story as it made it all the more engaging and entertaining! I would highly recommend this book to all historical fantasy readers.


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Book Review: Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown

Book Details:

Author: Teri M. Brown
Release Date: 
5th January 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 334 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Blurb:
A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.
When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M. Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown is a beautiful book about love, courage, compassion and faith.

This book covers the time period from 1973 to 2021 – taking the readers through the lives of 3 generations of women facing the most harrowing of situations that life has to offer but yet, somehow, never give up or lose sight of what is important. Author T.M.Brown takes the readers through a plethora of events that this book showcases, Right from living under communist rule to facing the punishment for a betrayal committed by one of the family members and the rest having to live with the consequences.

This is an epic family saga that is beautifully written and intellectually expressed. I would strongly recommend it to all readers of historical fiction, women’s literature and literary fiction about families under the communal rule. This book is is a must read!


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Book Review: Fate’s Final Destiny: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, Heroism, and Devotion by E.T. McNamara

Book Details:

Author: E.T. McNamara
Release Date: 
7th July 2021
Genre: Historical Romance Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 371 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
2022 Literary Titan Gold Award Winner, ”Fate’s Final Destiny” is an epic story of two life-long friends who fall in love, only to have fate tear them apart. Set during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the story begins in Goodwell, Oklahoma. Caught up in the tidal wave of world events, they find themselves beginning new and separate lives. Never fully understanding the reasons for their separation, they find it difficult to move on.

As they and their families are experiencing the life-changing events of Pearl Harbor and the war in the Pacific, these members of the Greatest Generation find themselves swept up by both current and future events. Whether it be the life-or-death decisions made on the battlefield or aboard a navy hospital ship, fate affects both their lives. As the two star-crossed lovers become entangled in the major events that shaped our nation’s destiny, readers will be able to go along with them on their journey through one of the most interesting periods of American History.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fate’s Final Destiny by E. T. McNamara is a beautifully written historical fiction romance novel that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. This book is a literary work of fiction that takes the readers through the well-constructed lives of the main characters as they grow up on their farms and fall in love only to get separated due to the historic events that shook the world to be reunited in the most unimaginable and emotional way.

This book had really good characterisation, a great plot, a very good concept (that was well-executed) and an excellent tension graph – all of which kept me hooked to the pages throughout the story. I was engrossed in the book from the very beginning till the last page! I would strongly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction especially those who like reading historical romance novels.


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Book Review: A Soldier’s Quartet by Colin Baldwin

Book Details:

Author: Colin Baldwin 
Release Date: 2nd September 2021
Genre: New Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 227 pages
Publisher: Shawline Publishing Group Pty Ltd
Blurb:
CONRAD BENTLEY ENJOYS HIS RETIREMENT.
By chance, he comes across a letter from WWI — a German father writes about his grief of losing a son to war — buried by his three comrades near a small French village. The letter resonates with Conrad and he commits to researching its backstory.
Months later, Conrad makes contact with the fallen soldier’s family. He falls deeper into their history and other untold stories from this era, including the fate of young Tasmanian soldiers who also fought on the Western Front.

A Soldier’s Quartet is inspired by true events, a story of perseverance and happenstance that transcends time and reaches across continents. It presents the human faces behind uniforms and battle plans, conveys love and hope set against various landscapes.
Conrad’s discovery of the letter brings the past into the present as he reflects on his own life and loss.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Soldier’s Quartet by Colin Baldwin is a beautiful book about love, loss, hope, heartbreak and most of all about the reality of the war that was fought that changed not only the world as we know it today but how it had also affected the relationships and personal lives of generations of families of the soldiers who fought in the war.

I am falling short of words in describing the beauty of this book. It is simply outstanding. The writing, the characters, the settings and the backdrop of the war and the present time – they all interlace perfectly together creating an irresistible blend of a book.

I would like to congratulate author Baldwin for having dealt with such a sensitive and delicate topic with such great care and love that it has metamorphosed into the wonderful and enthralling piece of art that this book is. I would highly recommend this book to all the readers because it has a lot to offer to readers all across the globe.


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ARC Review: Destiny of Dreams: Time Is Dear by Cathy Burnham Martin

Book Details:

Author: Cathy Burnham Martin
Release Date: 31st August 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher: Quiet Thunder Publishing
Blurb:
What happens when an American girl of Eurasian descent finds herself suddenly immersed in all facets of her Armenian ancestry? Told with an often soulfully introspective voice, “Destiny of Dreams” follows the true story of a teenager and her grandfather, retracing loving, learning, and terrifying footprints of the past. While survival remains center stage, love and courage must emerge, or all will be both lost and forgotten. More fact than fiction, the author reveals her Armenian roots in this historical novel, chronicling her family members’ love, strength, and resolve to both survive and thrive in treacherous times. Reflecting the traumas suffered by all people displaced from their original homelands, this Armenian story focuses on one family’s challenge to find light in the dark days of the waning Ottoman Empire. Anyone with the diaspora in their family heritage will relate. Whether thinking of Jewish people from Israel, Africans scattered through slavery, Armenians fleeing annihilation in Turkey, so-called boat people escaping Asia, or Syrians fleeing life-threatening violence in their own nation, humans continue to rise up in the face of the toughest times. Who would emerge from extraordinarily desperate places, and how could they choose to set positive examples of humanity during highly inhumane times? Set in the early 1900s and flashing forward to the 1960s, the story’s themes ring with tolerance and intolerance, dreams and destroyers, family and friends, amidst challenges that eerily parallel life in current judgmental scenarios.

Written for Young Adult and Adult audiences, the book contains some explicit descriptions and a couple of disturbing, though not graphic, violent scenes. While not gratuitous, the depictions may be unsuitable for young readers

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Destiny Of Dreams: Time Is Dear by Cathy Burnham Martin is a beautifully written historical fiction book about survival and the darkness that plagues our society.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, along with quiet graphic descriptions of violence, which lent this book an air of seriousness that otherwise would have been missing. I liked reading this book from cover to cover because the plot was very engaging, the writing was good, the characterisation was well done and the execution of the story was really good.

I would recommend this book to all historical fiction buffs. Although do keep in mind that this book has some graphic violent scenes (for those who might find them triggering.)


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Book Review: Through Forests and Mountains by Margaret Walker

Author: Margaret Walker 
Release Date: 16th February 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 392 pages
Publisher: Penmore Press
Blurb:
Yugoslavia 1942. 

Anton Marković didn’t believe in a girl with a gun. 

How could the Partisans win this war with only farmers, labourers and women for soldiers? The experiment was ridiculous. He should have stuck to the ships he knew and not be in a forest in Bosnia with a rifle in his hands, and a bullet in his head, and a woman by his side cackling like a throttled fowl in some dazzling display of hormonal triumph. 

Tito had allowed the girls from the villages to serve in combat roles, and Mara was all in favour of anything innovative for women. She had just shot her first fascist, and her face beneath Anton’s was exuberant, breathless and beautiful. 

He was at war, and clearly on more fronts than he anticipated. 

But could he save Mara from that brilliant and psychotic fascist she could not shoot? 

From the forests and mountains of Bosnia to the White Cliffs of Dover, the Nazis and the Ustasha battle the most successful resistance movement in Occupied Europe. 

Death to Fascism!

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Through Forests And Mountains by Margaret Walker is a beautifully written story about personal emotions and difficult situations (socially and otherwise.)

This book reads more like an experience than a story and takes the readers to the historical settings of upheaval in Yugoslavia in the year 1942. The historical backdrop is beautifully articulated and I was really impressed by the author penchant for details. The characterisation is brilliant and I loved the main leads, Anton and Mara, as well as the cast of secondary characters. All the characters had so much to offer to the story and the build-up of the plot, that it made the book a rich combination of a solid plot with equally strong characterisation.

This book covers a wide spectrum of emotions – from one’s love for their country and friendships between individuals to blossoming romantic relationship between the leads (that is built slowly and steadily.) Overall, this book is a highly engaging and entertaining read and I would recommend it to all readers, especially readers who love historical fiction works.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe

Author: Pramudith D. Rupasinghe
Release Date: 29th April 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sri Lankan Literature
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Vor Press
Blurb:
In the serene tempo of classical Soviet literature charmingly merged into modernity, Bayan is a unique blend from among the work of Pramudith D Rupasinghe. 
Bayan begins in the sunny Ukrainian summer and ends with a hidden, deeply meaningful message. It is not only the story of a strange, bearded old man who finds solace and a soulmate of sorts, in a traditional string instrument, while facing a common narrative of his era; it is a commentary on life, and a celebration of the ultimate coming of age. 

It juxtaposes the failure of physical strength and faculties to the accumulation of immense emotional fortitude. It lulls you into feeling safe in spite of the passing of transient seasons, the waning of political ideologies and the inevitable disintegration of the corporeal being. 
Bayan tells about changing world`s order, revolutions and the ravages of time, the music of life will go on.

Bayan is the only novel by a Sri Lankan author to be translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Burmese and Hungarian languages. And its German, Russian, Hindi and Sinhala translations have been added among the books of Sri Lankan authors translated into other languages. 

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe is a beautifully written book full of, and highlighting, a wide spectrum of emotions and emotional sensibilities.

It is difficult to summarise my opinion of reading this beautiful book because it was nothing short of an out-of-the-world experience and simply cannot be expressed in words. This book takes you on a journey to a time and place where you’d be struggling between contrasting emotions of wonder and revulsion. It is not an easy feat to write about the times of war and the post-war world because they both are two subjects that need a very good, and thankfully, Dr Pramudith – the author, did it so wonderfully well that I was left in awe.

This book is written beautifully well, interspersed with odd letters and poems, which made the experience of reading this book even more realistic. The characterisation was brilliant and I ached and pained for the plight of the characters. This book not only helped me understand the emotional background of many people who might have experienced the events told in this book but also made me reflect on the present times and how far the world has changed today from those of the earlier times.

This is a very good book that I will recommend to all readers, of all genres because it is an experience that no one should pass on.

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Book Review: The Dunnes of Brittas: An Irish Family’s Saga of Endurance by Kevin Lee Akers

Author: Kevin Lee Akers
Release Date: 17th March 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 
Publisher: Bassett Street Press
Blurb:
The illustrious and ancient Dunne family has ruled over land in the heart of Ireland since time immemorial.

In the manor house known as Brittas, resides the family of clan chieftain, General Edward Dunne. His estate agent and cousin Peter raises his brood in the servant’s wing. These two related yet very separate branches struggle to secure their futures during the country’s darkest, most formidable years.

As Ireland is crumbling, the West is rising in Golden sunshine.

In 1848, San Francisco lures James Dunne and eventually his brother and sisters to literally create a new city out of sand dunes and gold dust.

The Dunnes of Brittas follows three generations of family who share in each other’s triumphs and tragedies finally discovering that their strength doesn’t derive from their separate branches but their common roots.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Dunnes of Brittas: An Irish Family’s Saga of Endurance by Kevin Lee Akers is an emotional journey about three generations of a family who are trying to navigate difficult situations through life and finding solace in each other’s company.

I liked reading this book because it had so many layers of complexity embedded throughout the story and mainly because the author has done a fine job with the overall characterisation. The story is good and the writing complimented it well.

Overall it made for a very engaging read and I would definitely recommend it to everyone who enjoys reading historical fiction and family sagas with complex plot and characters.

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Book Review: The Heritage by Jack Michonik

Author: Jack Michonik 
Release Date: 25th June 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 388 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The year is 1926. Thousands of Jewish families are forced to flee poverty and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Fate takes two families to the magical continent of South America, which opens its generous arms to them. Many surprises await the immigrants in the New World. In this exciting story of their lives from their early teens in the “shtetl” to leisurely musings of middle age, we see the hardships immigrants face in the long journey to America, the complex process of adaptation to an unfamiliar environment and the phenomenal development of their businesses.

Parallel to the story of the main characters, another story emerges: that of the birth of a typical Jewish community within a Christian city. Translated from the original Spanish book, La Descendencia, The Heritage is peppered with reflections on religion and historical events of the time regarding the Jews and the state of Israel. Throughout the narrative, the author captivates us with a fascinating story of overcoming, human conflicts and addresses issues of assimilation and identity. Though not an autobiographical novel, it could be the story of the parents or grandparents of any Jew from Central or South America. The author preferred to use a fictional provincial capital of Latin American so that the reader can recognize the history of his or her own Jewish community, as all Jewish communities in Latin America came into being in an almost identical manner.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Heritage by Jack Michonik is a heartfelt tale of the author’s Jewish community immigrating to South America in the 1920s. This book was historically enlightening and made for a great read as a real-life story. It highlighted the plight of the immigrant Jews who had to live in a country whose religion was not simply pre-dominantly Catholic but was entirely that. And to preserve their Heritage, the family had to walk on the precarious line of balancing between preserving their Jewish heritage and settling in their day to day lives in an entirely and unforgivingly Catholic town (and also setting up their business/trade on top of that.)

This book is a really gem and reading it made me understand the plight the immigrants have had to face in those times, whether Jew or not. I really appreciated the historical accuracy of the facts as well as the effort that was put into the writing of this beautiful story.

I would definitely recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction and to the entire Jew community.


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Book Review: Annihilation: A Story of the Armenian Genocide by Michael Bosland

Author: Michael Bosland
Release Date: 1st November 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: 
Edition: e-book
Pages: 242
Publisher:Read All Over Publishing
Blurb:
A Story of the Armenian Genocide is the story of Rosmerta Bedrossian, a thirteen-year-old girl living outside Bayburt with her extended family. The Armenians are ordered out of their houses and sent on a march. As Rosmerta witnesses acts of increasingly senseless violence and cruelty against her family and her people, her initial confusion at their treatment gives way to indignation and anger, moments of despair, and occasions of renewed determination to survive. She also receives kindness and help from a variety of people.

REVIEW

★★★★

To those who were massacred during the genocides of World War I. To those who survived despite being forced to endure unspeakable horrors. And to the descendants who keep their memories alive.

-Michael Bosland

Annihilation by Michael Bosland is a touching story that is definitely worth a read. It a compelling story providing a glimpse into he 2nd most talked about genocide int he history of the world. I am not a huge history buff so prior to reading this book I knew very little about the Armenian genocide, therefore I was really looking forward to read this book. And keeping up with my expectations this book turned out to be equally as insightful as it was engaging.

The characterisation felt realistic and the writing was really good and complimented the story well. But the best part was of course the concept and story. The author did a wonderful job in depicting the dilemmas and the horrors faced by the characters in dark times. It was a very informative read and even though the subject matter fo the book was so intense the book surprisingly did not felt too heavy.

It is a really good book and I’d recommend it to everyone who likes reading Historical fiction.

On a side note, after putting down this book, I looked up the topic on the internet and found it baffling about how less people know about the Armenian genocide. Everyone knows about the Holocaust but a lot of people, including me, are not aware of the details of this horrific period. So if you are someone like me and like researching stuff of the past, then do give this topic an eye. It was pretty mind baffling. Especially considering the term ‘genocide’ was coined for this particular massacre (basically, it happened even before the term was even coined – it started before and continued during WWI.)

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ARC Review: Simon Grey And The March Of A Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski

Author: Charles Kowalski
Release Date: 1st August 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Historical, Travel
SeriesSimon Grey (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 192
Publisher: Excalibur Books
Blurb:
Alone and lost in haunted Japan…

Japan, 1620: A mysterious shipwreck has left cabin boy Simon Grey stranded in an unfamiliar, dangerous land.

He hoped that a long sea voyage would provide some relief from his “gift” of seeing ghosts everywhere on land. Instead, he finds that his ability draws him into the shadowy world of yokai, the spirits and monsters that roam Japan by night. Together with the mysterious Oyuki, daughter of an English sailor-turned-samurai, Simon must earn the yokai’s trust and help, while staying one step ahead of the Shogun’s guards and an evil sorcerer determined to discover the “secret” of Simon’s powers.

As they struggle to stay alive and find a way home, Simon and Oyuki deal with friends and foes from both sides of the grave.

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts is a gripping fantasy adventure that will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and Young Samurai.

REVIEW

★★★★

Simon Grey And The March Of A Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski is a beautiful historical story set in the backdrop of Japan, laced with unlimited adventure, which proved to be an absolute entertainer.  I enjoyed reading this book because it had the perfect characterization a solid and unique concept and good writing style. It had all the elements to make it a complete and fun read.

The writing style was simple yet effective and the story flowed pretty well from the beginning to end. The pacing was even and the tension created had a great graph. The book was culturally rich and provided keen insights into Japan’s history all the time carefully managing not to get too overly informative.

Overall it was a really enjoyable book and I’d recommend it to all readers who enjoy reading adventure stories in historical settings, especially the readers who like exploring new cultrues.

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Book Review: In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani

Author: Vahid Imani
Release Date: 9th February 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 300
Publisher: Stormtop Publishing
Blurb:
The shadows were closer than he thought …
Tehran in 1924 is the stage for a daring international showdown over the control of Persian oil fields. James Malcolm, a British operative stationed in Tehran weaves an intricate plot in hopes of installing a new loyal Persian king. A teenage boy’s accidental involvement becomes a distraction. When his plot is sabotaged, the fragile peace in Persia is threatened along with the boy’s life. Malcolm’s clandestine investigation entangles him with unwitting American diplomats, treacherous double agents, and murderous Soviet spies, all seeking to foil the oil grab of the British.

REVIEW

★★★★

In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani is an immersive historical suspense thriller that pulled me in right from the start to the very end. I really liked it because of the complexity of the plot and the ease with which it was laid by the author for the reader to read.

The writing is really good and the book is easy to follow, making it a relatively quick read. The characterization was also good and I was able to feel a connection to the protagonist, James, and was rooting for him throughout the book. The plot was the hero for me and the story felt very well fleshed out, especially the cultural details and the rich exposition.

The ending was apt and it made a lot of sense. I enjoyed this book through and through and would recommend it to all historical fiction fans and readers of mystery and thriller genre.

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Book Review: The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles #2) by John A. Heldt

Author: John A. Heldt
Release Date: 30th April 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time-Travel, Sci-Fi, Relationships & Family
SeriesCarson Chronicles – Book #2
Edition: E-book
Pages: 659
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Days after barely escaping 1889 with their lives, the Carsons, siblings from the present day, resume their search for their missing parents in 1918. While Adam and his pregnant wife, Bridget, settle in Minnesota, unaware of a wildfire that will kill hundreds, Greg seeks clues in his great-grandparents’ Mexico, where he finds love, danger, and enemies. At the same time, Natalie, the ambitious journalist, follows a trail to World War I France, and teen twins Cody and Caitlin rekindle a friendship with an old Pennsylvania friend haunted by her past. In THE MEMORY TREE, the sweeping sequel to RIVER RISING, several time travelers find answers and meaning as they continue the adventure of a lifetime in the age of doughboys, silent movies, and Model T’s.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt is a compelling sequel to River Rising, book one in the Carson Chronicles series. Just like the first part of this series, and the others I’ve read by the author, this book was equally interesting, entertaining and emotional. It had a lot to offer in terms of the rich American history, WWI and the culture of the years long gone. This book was especially good because it had a twist which I was not expecting and the element of surprise really caught me off-guard as I’ve come to understand where things are generally moving in author Heldt’s books because of having read many of them and being familiar with his style of writing. So the twist was a pleasant surprise for me.

The characterization was good and I was able to see the development of all the characters from the last book experiencing new worlds and living in times new to them. The writing was good and complimented the story well. And I’m really looking forward to reading the next part of this series.

I’d recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers and to everyone who loves reading stories on relationships and families. It is an honest-to-god feel-good story that will definitely warm your heart.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Afterlives of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings

Author: Sam Meekings
Release Date: 1st August 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 290
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
Blurb:
Who is that mournful man in the painting? THE AFTERLIVES OF DOCTOR GACHET tells the story of Paul Ferdinand Gachet, the subject of one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous portraits: one that shows what the artist called “the heartbroken expression of our times.” But what caused such heartbreak? This thrilling historical novel follows Doctor Gachet from asylums to art galleries, from the bloody siege of Paris to life with van Gogh in Auvers, and from the bunkers of Nazi Germany to a reclusive billionaire in Tokyo, to uncover the secrets behind that grief-stricken smile.

REVIEW

★★★★

“I know some people argue that our lives are predicated on the quirks of our genes, that our destiny is inscribed in the code of our DNA. On the other hand, it is only when we are tested in the outside world that all the possibility bristling within us is whittled down and we really take shape.”

The Afterlives Of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings is a very delightful and a pretty compelling historical read with a powerful, well-written and brilliantly executed storyline. This book was such a good break from all the contemporary fiction I read. The plot was very unique, fresh and pretty captivating. I enjoyed reading this book a lot because I truly enjoyed reading each and every single sentence of this book (which is very rare  for me.) The writing was beautiful and the author’s style was pretty impressive. I guess I can say without a speck of doubt, and as rare as it may be, that in this book the writing was the best part.

I loved the characterization and character development in every chapter. I also appreciated the side-story of which was given in alternating chapters; it kept the story from being monotonous and made it very interesting.

I’d recommend this book to all historical-fiction readers and to anyone who is looking to take a break from their usual choice of books and might want to explore something refreshing and brilliant. Also, I’m sure Van Gough enthusiasts and fans would definitely love reading this book and exploring the background of the subject of one of his most talked about pieces.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Madrone by Jack B. Rochester

Author: Jack B. Rochester
Release Date: 15th July 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 340
Publisher: Wheatmark
Blurb:
The year is 1969. After an interminable four years under the boot of the US military, twenty-four-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers is ready for his real life to begin. His plans are straightforward: spend as much time as he can with his girlfriend, Jane, finish college, and become a writer. But when Nate is denied admission to UC Santa Cruz, he decides that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily the path he’s laid out for himself. He can learn about literature on his own, and he’ll have more time to write if he isn’t in school. His choice doesn’t sit well with everybody. Jane’s father asks Nate how he’ll support Jane without a degree. Jane’s mentor offers to pull some strings at SC if Nate agrees to become his student. And when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, even Nate is tempted by the allure of conventionally defined success. Picking up where Wild Blue Yonder left off, Madrone inspires us to consider how far we’ll go to remain true to ourselves.

Review

★★★★★

Madrone by Jack B. Rochester is a beautiful sequel to Wild Blue Yonder, which picks up where the first one left off giving a detailed glimpse into the life of the protagonist, Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, after he enters the next phase of his life and explores the world outside of the military.

Just like the previous book by author Rochester, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well. I’m glad that I got a chance to read the first book so close to this one because the whole story of Nathaniel felt like a nice long movie. The writing was really good and felt apt for such a beautiful story. The characterization was great as instantly I was able to connect to Nathaniel, and was able to relate to him while he went about living his life in a world that was new to him.

The book is based in the 1960’s and the author has done a commendable job in enabling people like me, who never saw that era, to be able to live it through his amazing cast of characters. The settings did not only make the book very interesting but also very enjoyable.

It is a good book with a heart-warming story and exceptional writing to compliment it, sprinkled with a cast of characters that would steal your heart in a blink and I’d recommend it to everyone who loves reading a meticulously constructed story with fully fleshed-out characters.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Wild Blue Yonder by Jack B. Rochester

Author: Jack B. Rochester
Release Date: 1st August 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 306
Publisher:
Blurb:
“Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, eh?” said First Sergeant Wilford H. Buford. “That yer real name or one you picked up out there in fairyland Cally-forny?” “Wild Blue Yonder” is the coming-of-age story of Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, a smart but sheltered boy from suburban Chicago whose beloved father suddenly dies, resulting in his flunking out of college. It’s the 1960s, so he gets a draft notice but joins the Air Force to avoid going to Vietnam. Nate’s adventure takes off as he tries to understand the military mindset and the massive social disruption going on in America. His journey takes a Kafka-esque turn when he is sent to Germany to become a military newspaper correspondent whose stories will never see print. Existential, psychedelic, fun-filled and laced with the rock ‘n’ roll of the times, “Wild Blue Yonder” is the story of Nate finding his personal and spiritual values as he discovers the love of a girl and the meaning of family and friendships.

Review

★★★★★

Wild Blue Yonder by Jack B. Rochester is a beautifully written historical fiction book with such realistic characterization that it takes the book to a whole new level of awesomeness.

I truly enjoyed reading this book; it had great writing, really good characterization, very nice pacing and tension and the plot-progression was really, really good. And on top of all this, the story was not only realistic but also very emotional and deep, which made reading this book so worth it. I was pulled into the story right from the start and was in it for good till the very end. The conflicts felt real and the backdrop was fantastic. Overall, it is a very, very good book.

I’d recommend this book to the readers of historical fiction as well to those who are looking for a refreshing new dramatic story and won’t mind the backdrop of war.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Krishnaa : Queen Bee of No. 8 West Iyen Street by Radhika Giridhara And Vidya Nagaraj

Author: Radhika Giridharan and Vidya Nagaraj
Release Date: 12th December 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Indian Literature, Historical Fiction
Series:
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 302
Publisher: Notion Press
Blurb:
When a marriage proposal from a much married 30 year old Raghavenrda for 12 year old Krishnaa comes knocking on the door of Gundappa Chowltry, life takes on a dramatic turn for Krishnaa. An official bride-seeing ceremony and a quick peek at the bridegroom  seals things  and  before long Krishnaa finds herself embarking on her new journey with her new husband-a man she barely knows, to the temple town of Kumbakonam. What lies in store for Krishnaa in her new house as Raghavendra’s second wife? Where is Raghavendra’s first wife?  Are Krishnaa’s dreams and desires fulfilled? What cards are dealt to Krishnaa by the hands of destiny?While tracing Krishnaa’s life journey from 1904 to the modern times, the book captures the soul of the Indian Joint family system, the customs and traditions, the love and laughter and the ever green human values. Set in the picturesque temple town of Kumbakonam, on the banks of river Cauvery, amidst the majestic Gopurams of Chakrapani and Sarangapani temples, the story of Krishnaa unfolds in all its colourful glory.

Review

★★★+1/2

Krishnaa: Queen Bee Of No.8 West Iyen Street by Radhika Giridharan and Vidya Nagaraj is a very interesting take on marriage, in general, and the Indian joint-family system and its quirks.

This book was a welcome change from the western books I read, and as a bonus, it had a good story that was equal parts interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and I felt the joy that I always feel while watching Rajshee films (which are famous Bollywood movies based on Indian joint-families and are about Indian traditions and belief-system.)

The characterization was great, the writing was good and overall the book was a quick and easy read. The story had quite a few turns that made it very enjoyable and the authors’ ability to not go melodramatic over issues like child-marriage and second marriage is really commendable.

Overall, it was a nice read and if you are an Indian or an Indian culture enthusiast, then you should definitely consider reading this book.

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Book Review: The Legend of the Washo Gold by Jon Budd

Author: Jon Budd
Release Date: 17th October 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Vince Davis Trilogy
Edition: E-book
Pages: 177
Publisher: Jonathan H Budd Publishing

Rating: ★★★★

Blurb:

To prevent a repeat of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Hank, a modern day Native American Indian, overcomes his doubts about his tribe’s ancient religion and leads a war party to recover a cursed Indian treasure.
Succumbing to the genocide brought down upon them during the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush, the Washo Indians were teetering on the brink of extinction. With the help of a mysterious stranger, they devised an ingenious plan to survive. Many years later, when the secret of their survival is threatened, the tribe appoints a modern day warrior to lead a war party to San Francisco to recover stolen Indian treasure and secure the secret of the Washo Gold.
This novel enables the reader to experience the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush from the perspective of a tribe of Native American Indians who lived through it.

Review

The Legend Of The Washo Gold by Jon Budd is a very interesting and engrossing read.

This book is one of those rare reads that make you realise how the world can be a very difficult place to live in. That minorities are not always treated right and sometimes they have to go for extreme means to sustain and survive the cruel world that’s nothing more than an enemy to them. This book does exactly this and so much more.

The story was really good and gave a unique perspective of a small Native American Indian tribe that was not treated well and had to take up extreme measures for their survival. The writing is good and makes the reading of the book easy and smooth. The imagery was good and the overall the story was full of internal as well as external conflicts.

The characterization was good and though not every character was memorable, the important characters stood out, albeit a bit slowly. I enjoyed reading about them and that was more than enough to keep me glued to the book right until the end.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes reading historical fiction and won’t mind the tribals’ point of view.

More from the author: Author Interview: Jon Budd

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Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan

Author: Jane Jordan  
Release Date: 26th November 2016
Genre: Dark Thriller, Historical
Edition: E-book
Pages: 
Publisher: Black Opal Books

Rating: ★★★

Blurb:

Annabel Taylor, a beekeeper’s daughter, grows up wild and carefree on the moors of England in the late 1860s, following in the footsteps of her mother, a beautiful witch. Annabel’s closest friend is Jevan Wenham. The son of the blacksmith, he lives his life on the verge of destruction. His devotion to Annabel is full of twists and turns as brutality melds with deepest desire. But when Jevan is forced to travel to London to receive an education, Annabel is devastated.
Then Alex—heir to the Saltonstall legacy and son of Cerberus Saltonstall, the wealthy landowner of the foreboding Gothelstone Manor—comes into her life. Alex is arrogant and self-assured, but he cannot stop thinking about the outspoken girl he encounters on the road to Gothelstone. Not only is he bewitched by Annabel’s beauty, he feels drawn to her by something he can’t explain. Alex and Annabel are socially worlds apart, but that doesn’t stop him from demanding her hand in marriage. When Annabel refuses, she is forced into an impossible situation. Jevan believes she has betrayed him, regardless of the fact that her decision saves him from the hangman’s noose.
As a devastating love triangle unfolds, disturbing revelations thrust Annabel into a startling reality, where nothing is as it seems. Now both her life and Jevan’s are in danger, and her fledging powers may not be enough to save them…


Review

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan is a historical book that was a bit of a heavy read, at least for me.

I did have a lot of expectations from the book, but when I started reading the book the writing itself failed to pull me in and this happens very rarely with me. Needless to say, it proved to be a hard read for me and in spite of trying my best, I was not able to connect to the lead the way I should have and, as a result, the rest of the book obviously started to feel like a drag.

Though I must say that the story is unique, in spite of the cliched love triangle. I really wish I was able to connect to the lead because then it would have been a much pleasant read.

This book has a lot fo positive reviews, so I’m sure that Historical Fiction lovers might actually like this book. But it wasn’t for me.


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Book Review: Eden’s Apple by Pamela Blake

29325959Author: Pamela Blake
Release Date: 18th February 2016
Series: 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Edition: E-book
Pages: 286
Publisher:  Xlibris

Rating: ★★★★

Blurb:

Prewar Bradford, England, 1937. A sinful act is perpetrated by a father against his daughter that will alter the lives of three future generations. Rose’s troubled past haunts her forever. Lucy seduces a man of the cloth and has to bear its devastating consequences. Samuel escapes real life and journeys through his own hell to try and find what he has lost. Children are deprived of a normal upbringing. Secrets, when revealed, have a destructive power. These are ordinary people whose lives go full circle in their voyage of self-discovery and who undergo a transformation resulting from an extraordinary existence. Each of them has to overcome his or her tragedy before the realization that great success, or the reaching of one’s own goals, does not give the pleasure, happiness, or satisfaction expected. Ultimately, it is only in the real values of love, understanding, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness that the outcome has to be found.

Review

Eden’s Apple is a moving story about two women that’ll rip your heart apart. It is a story of a mother and daughter who go through their own hells and experience the cruel brutality of the world in times where there was little to no hope for single women.

I started reading this book expecting to read about family drama, but I was taken aback by the sheer realism and the cold brutality that defines this book.

Author Pamela Blake’s narration is extremely powerful and strong. I was so lost in the story that I wasn’t able to think about anything else. The author’s strong narration crippled my senses and made me see the emotions of fear, love, and loss with such acute realism that I was moved deeply.

There were a few issues with the dialogues and conversations, but in front of such powerful writing, everything can be overlooked. The story itself had so much life that it pained me to imagine it to be a piece of fiction.

I liked this book a lot, yet I feel a sense of foreboding thinking about it now. I have so many emotions welling inside of me even after long finishing this story that I have to literally force away some of the things I read in this book. I’ve read only a few books   based on the theme of child abuse, but I never imagined any story to have such a lasting impact on me the way this book had.

I’d recommend this book to everyone because of it an exceptional story written brilliantly.


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Book Review: Death Unmasked by Rick Sulik

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Author: Rick Sulik
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Series: 
Genre:  Mystery | Thriller | Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 287
Publisher: Christopher Matthews Publishing
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon

Rating: ★ – DNF

Blurb:

A reincarnated evil is stalking the women of Houston. With each murder, the madman quotes an excerpt from the Oscar Wilde poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” A huge smokestack belching smoke, a ragged flea market double-breasted wool coat, and an old antique picture frame, bring the distant past back to haunt Houston Homicide Detective, Sean Jamison. With those catalysts, Jamison knows who he was in a past life and that he lost the only woman he could ever love. Searching for his reincarnated mate becomes Jamison’s raison d’être as he and fellow detectives scour Houston for a brutal serial killer. The memory of timeless love drives Jamison’s dogged search for a serial killer, determined to finish what he started decades earlier.
Each clue brings Jamison closer to unmasking his old nemesis. Tenacious police work, lessons learned in the past, and intuition may be the only weapons he has in preventing history from repeating itself.

Review

I left this book at page no. 158 (which is more than 50% of the book) because that was exactly where my patience gave way. The story began nicely and I liked the concept and settings, but the narration and editing didn’t work me.

At times, the dialogues didn’t make sense and most of the time if felt like the male lead was giving lectures instead of having conversations. I really think that this book needs heavy and thorough editing.

I hate DNF’ing books and I always try my best to push myself and to give the book another chance (again and again,) and with this book too I tried the same (especially because the author sent me the book from the US) but even after forcing myself to read further I simply couldn’t.

I really feel that a few revisions and strong editing can help this book reach its full potential, but right now it’s simply not ready.


You can also read this review at Goodreads and Amazon.