The Lost Boys of London (Bianca Goddard Mysteries #5) by Mary Lawrence

The Lost Boys of London (Bianca Goddard…

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Set in the final years of King Henry VIII’s reign, an alchemist’s daughter uses her skills to aid the living and helps seek justice for the dead…

While her husband fights the Scots on behalf of King Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard earns her coin by concocting medicines that offer relief to London’s sick. Some unfortunates, however, are beyond any remedies she can provide—like the young boy discovered hanging from a church dripstone. Examining the body, Bianca finds a rosary twined around the child’s neck. A week later, another boy is found dead at a different church. When Bianca’s impish acquaintance, Fisk, goes missing, she fears he may become the third victim…

There are many villains who would prey on wayward, penniless boys. But Bianca suspects the killings are not brutal acts of impulse, but something far more calculated. In her room of Medicinals and Physickes, she examines the sole piece of evidence: a sweet-smelling, stained cloth. If Bianca can unravel its secret, reputations and lives will be saved. The expected hour of the next murder is approaching, and a single misstep may mean another boy is lost forever

REVIEW

A thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery set in London during Henry VIII’s tumultuous reign. Bianca Goddard is one persistent sleuth as she unravels a series of crimes where there are many persons of interest and motives. Tis a plot full of surprises including the fate of her husband, off fighting for Henry in Scotland. The author has once again got me to wondering how people lived in any big city. Her descriptions of the city are wonderful, the markets, the churches, heck the smells alone eke out from the pages; a heady mixture of human waste, rotting garbage, and the ever pleasant aroma of tanneries. The main characters are enlivened with the speech of the streets; the patois of constables and street sellers, making the narrative not only realistic, but page turning as well. So, my fellow readers follow along as Bianca struggles to solve the crimes while emotionally burdened with the loss of her baby, and the unknown fate of her husband. A fitting conclusion to the series awaits you.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brothers and Kings: Episodes 1 – 3 (Conquistadors #1-3) by Dennis Santaniello

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Sardina, a young and idealistic Spanish soldier, accounts his violent and vicious past and his role in the Conquest of the Inca Empire. But when he meets a reluctant Inca King named Manco, he slowly realizes the truth of his hellish reality; a reality of power, greed, and madness.

Set in the dense jungles of 1530’s Peru, this story is about man’s struggle to find his place in a brutal yet mysterious world.

“CONQUISTADORS” is a book trilogy that explores the Spanish conquest of the New World from the years of 1527-1542. The genre is Historical Epic, and the storytelling is wide in scope with various characters and events unfolding within spans of years. The story is told from a truly dualistic point of view, from both perspectives of the Spanish and the Natives.

Each story in the trilogy depicts a different Spanish expedition, but in the end, this is Sardina’s story. We follow Sardina through the jungles of Peru, to the vast Arizona deserts, to the Mississippi River; seeing his transformation from a young idealistic soldier to harden veteran, and later to a self-realized individual.

Thematically, all stories are about the sacred vs. the profane, and each story follows a certain pattern: conquest, obsession, and madness. Other aspects are also explored: including religion, (of both the natives and the Spaniards), the realms of power, violence, cruelty, and the angst of those trying to find meaning.

REVIEW

While the depiction of the Pizzaro/Almagro expedition to enrich the Crown, and themselves, at the expense, and fate, of the Inca Empire in Peru provides the impetus to this fascinating tale, it is the introspection of the characters, especially Sardina, that glues the reader to the pages. The human frailty of power seeking greed is powerfully portrayed leaving open the very hearts and souls of the victims of that most hideous human frailty. The jungle, however, is loath to give up it’s secrets – the mythical/magical El Dorado – the price for the gold they crave is a high one indeed. A page turner awaits, my fellow readers.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Winter Knight – The Knights Templar Novels by S.J.A. Turney

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A murder in a far off castle. A deadly struggle to survive… An intense and gripping Medieval thriller.

In the depths of winter at an ancient German castle, high up in the mountains, a noble is found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Back at Rourell, Arnau is taking on the responsibilities of a full Templar Knight. But when he is tasked with returning Brother Lütolf’s papers to settle a legal dispute between his family and the Order, Arnau is unexpectedly drawn into the killing at the castle. Here he enters a dark game of knives and double-crosses.

Trapped in the ice-bound fortress, mastery of the sword is no longer enough. This is a different kind of war: one of shadows and whispered threats. Arnau must use all the guile he possesses, or risk succumbing to an icy tomb.

The latest instalment of S.J.A. Turney’s unputdownable and bestselling Knights Templar series, The Winter Knight is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Ben Kane and Christian Cameron

REVIEW

A slight deviation from the first three books in The Knights Templar, The Winter Knight is not only a further look into the development of Arnau as a trusted member of the Order, but it is also a masterfully told murder mystery. The author presents a seemingly impossible scenario – a murder with no viable suspects. But like the tapestry that hangs in the schloss where each picture; each section tells a tale, each chapter reveals more clues, more clarity, and more danger for Arnau who is tasked with solving the mystery. Naturally, the author has not made it easy for our sleuth. Stuck in the middle of a blizzard ridden mountain fortress, oft times not exactly dressed for the elements, and surrounded by people who have no love for the Templar Order, Arnau follows a twisting plot line as treacherous as the knee deep snow covered forest trail leading to the castle. Beautifully depicted, the pages practically emit the frost ridden breath of Arnau, or the sound of the snow crunching underfoot, the author has once again taken this reader on another page turning adventure.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor’s Knife (Imperial Assassin #2) by Alex Gough

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Brothers. Emperors. Deadly enemies… An unputdownable novel of intrigue and combat in Rome.

Emperor Severus is on his deathbed. His sons Geta and Caracalla, feuding in Britannia, are readying for a devastating power struggle.

Silus, now a centurion in the Arcani, the secretive network of spies and killers, is thrown into the maelstrom. Back in Rome, plots breed in the stinking alleys.

Everyone might be an enemy. Everyone a traitor. As an Imperial Assassin, Silus’ loyalty will be tested to breaking point. And with the Empire starting to buckle under the strain, Silus must ask what matters: Rome or his own damned soul?

Better watch yourself…

From thundering races at the Circus Maximus to death in the Imperial palaces, this is a powerful and unputdownable novel that will transport to you Ancient Rome, perfect for fans of Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow and Conn Iggulden.

REVIEW

A heart pounding, heart breaking tale as Silus finds himself thrust into situations where his devotion and loyalty to his Arcani master and the Emperor are put to extreme tests. A well crafted story that is part soul searching dilemma and part action filled excitement. Caught between the ever increasing divide between the co-emperors, and the demands of his assigned missions, Silus struggles to maintain his loyalties, not only to his masters, but to his friends as well.  Plots full of surprises, characters who draw you into the narrative, the ability to keep the reader turning the pages, and a nice teaser at the end makes Emperor’s Knife an enjoyable romp in yet another troubled dynastic period in Rome’s history. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Brothers in Blood by Simon Scarrow

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The Roman Empire’s conquest of Britannia is under threat from within.

A messenger on the streets of Rome has been intercepted and tortured, revealing a plot to sabotage the Roman army’s campaign against Caratacus, commander of Britannia’s native tribes. A treacherous agent’s mission is to open a second front of attack against them and eliminate the two Roman soldiers who could stand in the way.

Unwarned, Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro are with the Roman army pursuing Caratacus and his men through the mountains of Britannia. Defeating Caratacus seems within their grasp. But the plot against the two heroes threatens not only their military goals but also their lives.

Includes 2 maps and Roman army organisation chart.

REVIEW

Another rousing adventure for Cato and Macro. Another excellent addition to the series. On the trail of Rome’s worst nightmare in Britannia, the redoubtable and seemingly invincible Caratacus, our dynamic duo are once again the playthings of palace intrigue. A well conceived plot full of action and surprises…I thought for sure I knew who the traitor in their midst was…I was wrong…😊… So my fellow readers, if you’ve gotten this far in this series, you know what to expect, and yet it still seems fresh, and there’s more to come.  4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brunanburh – A novel of 937 (Chronicles of the English #1) by M.J. Porter

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Athelstan, King of the English; Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of the Dublin Norse; Constantin, King of the Scots; Owain, King of Strathclyde, Hywel of the South Welsh; one ‘great lamentable and horrible battle’.

The year is 937 and Athelstan, King of the English and overlord of the British kingdoms, faces opposition to his rule that will culminate in the great battle of Brunanburh.

Uniquely told from the viewpoints of the main combatants at the battle, Brunanburh tells of a time when the island of Britain was held under the sway of the great King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, a man with European wide connections, held in awe by many, and foster-father to future monarchs. Charting his reign from 925 to 937 Brunanburh is the story of the petty kingdoms of Britain – England, Scotland, Strathclyde and Wales and the uneasy alliances that could burst asunder at any moment. Switching between the view points of the main Kings on the day of the battle, and events from the previous twelve years, Brunanburh ensures its focus is on the characters and their unique attitudes towards their kingships, the future, and of course, each other.

REVIEW

A riveting look at the attempt by King Athelstan to unify England under his banner. Told through the voices of the main participants, the author has crafted a tale that immerses the reader into the period following Athelstan’s grandfather, Alfred the Great.  Having the protagonists tell their versions of the story is a great way to get into the minds of these formidable characters…a chance to see their hopes, fears, and their indomitable pursuit to control the island of Britain.  In addition to the political machinations, the author gives the reader a brutal look at the eponymous battle…a battle that had been in the making for 10 years…a lot of time for hatred to fester among those that oppose Athelstan. A well paced, page turning book with a plot full of surprises awaits you my fellow readers.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Great War Won: A Power of Recognized Superiority by James Emerson Loyd

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1918: The Great War, as it was already known, had reached an inflection point. The course of the war and the future of European civilization now rested on one decision: Would Germany, having prevailed in the east against a Russia crumbling into revolution and chaos, now attempt to crush her British and French enemies in one last desperate offensive before the emergent American Army arrived in its overwhelming force? Or could a small band of patriotic Germans led by a General and a Crown Prince use high position and influence to persuade their unyielding leadership to simply declare victory and withdraw homeward, leaving their opponents to justify a continuing and increasingly senseless slaughter?

Who Desires Peace…, the first book in the Great War Won trilogy, chronicled the schemes and adventures of the conspirators laying the foundations for their peace offensive. Book Two, …Should Prepare for War, began with the unleashing of Germany’s armies as peace talks with Bolshevist Russia fail. Several calls for a peaceful resolution to the war prove inconclusive, including an intrepid mission to meet face-to-face with the American General Black Jack Pershing. Finally, the tenuous state of inaction along the Western Front was shattered by first, an unexpected offensive, then a fierce German counterattack stopped only by the courage and vigor of the new American Expeditionary Force at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood.

Thus is set the stage for the final showdown between America and Germany in this Book Three, A Power of Recognized Superiority, opening with a devious scheme to disrupt the Allied rear with a flood of influenza-stricken prisoners and a distaff Fifth Column subversion by the radical Rosa Luxemburg and her unlikely comrade Estelle Vandenberg culminating in their arrest and imprisonment and an audacious rescue. Then Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force enters large-scale combat for the first time in the Saint-Mihiel salient and then the Meuse-Argonne sector. As the latter offensive slogs on bloodily, Germany begins to falter, then crumble, but her foes find themselves in desperate straits of their own as morale, manpower and a continuing slaughter take their toll.

Finally, an unexpected rapprochement brings the War to End All Wars to a fitful end, each power reckoning the loss of young men and treasure as their peoples ask themselves, Why?

REVIEW

So ends this fascinating, character driven, fictional rendered trilogy of “The War to End All Wars”. I cannot express enough about the cast of characters the author has either created, or the historical personages he imbued with such realism that one cannot help but think that this was what really happened. The depth of research done to pull together the various major parties involved; Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Black Jack Pershing, Woodrow Wilson, a young version of George Patton (I confess to hearing George C. Scott’s voice when Patton speaks 😊), etc; and in my mind the never at a loss for words Winston Churchill. I am not an expert on WW1, but I’m pretty sure that the author managed to touch upon every aspect of the doings of 1918; e.g. the influenza outbreak, the rise of the Bolsheviks, the rise of America as a super power, the effects on the German people, resulting in multiple plot lines which are seamlessly woven together in a captivating, page turning epic. My only real regret is that it took me three years to read the trilogy; not the author’s fault by any means, but because I have managed to acquire a huge to be read pile due to my humble, yet seemingly popular reviews. So, my fellow readers, it is without hesitation that I highly recommend The Great War Won in its entirety. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐