Commodus (The Damned Emperors #2) by Simon Turney

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Rome is enjoying a period of stability and prosperity. The Empire’s borders are growing, and there are two sons in the imperial succession for the first time in Rome’s history.

But all is not as it appears. Cracks are beginning to show. Two decades of war have taken their toll, and there are whispers of a sickness in the East. The Empire stands on the brink of true disaster, an age of gold giving way to one of iron and rust, a time of reason and strength sliding into hunger and pain.

The decline may yet be halted, though. One man tries to hold the fracturing empire together. To Rome, he is their emperor, their Hercules, their Commodus.

But Commodus is breaking up himself, and when the darkness grips, only one woman can hold him together. To Rome she was nothing. The plaything of the emperor. To Commodus, she was everything. She was Marcia.

REVIEW

Well now, that was certainly not the Commodus from Gladiator. Once again, Mr. Turney has taken on myth and misconception, and has brought forth a fascinating look at one of the more enigmatic of the Roman emperors. As in his other novels, the author relies on his ability to glean from contemporary sources those facts or myths, and turn them into a page turning (and to this burgeoning author), mind boggling tale that grabs the reader’s attention from page one, word one, and does not relent in it’s grip. Written from the perspective of Marcia, the narrative is rich in detail, poignant in its telling, and once again left this reader amazed at the creative talent of the author. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Uncovering by Lorelei Brush

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Shahnaz is a liberal but observant Pakistani Muslim, a nurse with a dream that all pregnant women will deliver healthy babies. At her parents’ command she weds Naseer, a gentle man who encourages her work. But marrying Naseer means she must live with his extended family, including his fundamentalist older brother, Raja Haider. When their father dies, Raja Haider becomes head of the family. With this new power, he orders Shahnaz to quit her job and stay at home. Mild Naseer respects his brother’s authority, but Shahnaz rebels with the strength of a courageous warrior.

Brush explores a Muslim society threatened by extremism. The story churns with the struggles of obedience versus self-determination, piety versus zealotry, and tradition versus progress. Some seek peace, and others pursue violence to achieve what’s holy.

REVIEW

This, my fellow readers, is one intense story. A culture driven by centuries old traditions forms the basis for this tale of an amazing woman caught between the restrictions of her religion and the very real need for her work with pregnant Pakistani women. The characters jump off of the page with the reality of the time and place. Uncovering is one of those books that is so emotionally charged that it tugs at the reader’s heart. Repressive, insular, power over the less fortunate is something that we all need to face up to. Despite the obstacles, we can, like Shahnaz, dare to hope, dare to change.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kado: Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho by E. Russell Braziel

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Eighteen-year-old Tom Murrell could never understand his father’s dreams of carving a new life out of the wilderness. He wanted to do something else with his life besides spend it behind a plow, but with the family moving to the Red River in Arkansaw Territory, he was stuck.
Everything changes for Tom when he witnesses the death of Tiatesun, spiritual leader of the Kadohadacho tribe, and is drawn into a raging conflict between the Kado and their arch enemies, a renegade band of Osage.
His new friends Mattie and James say there is no alternative. They must use a cryptic map, drawn in a bible by Tiatesun in his own blood before he died, to find this place called Na-Da-cah-ah. Only then can Tom be sure that his family and friends will be safe.
But it is a race against time—a race against Wey Chutta’s Osage. Dangers are everywhere. The only chance to save his family is for Tom, Mattie, and James to join with six Kado warriors, make sense from the many clues they uncover on their quest, and discover the real Na-Da-cah-ah.

REVIEW

When I was asked to review this book I was intrigued by a couple of things; namely the locale/time frame, and the native inhabitants of that locale/time frame. Both items were new reading territory for me; the Red River area of Arkansas and the Caddo Indians. The author has geared this exciting tale towards the Young Adult age group, a genre I don’t usually read, but I found it to be well written, well researched, and certainly a book that will not only entertain, but also educate. The characters are strong; they have to be given the uncertainty, and almost constant danger that comes with a frontier existence. Kado also gives the reader a glimpse of a centuries old culture coming to grips with the reality of a new age disruption of their traditions, and their very existence as a people. A page turning adventure awaits you.

4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War by Michael Ross

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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.

REVIEW

An emotionally charged tale reflecting the divisive times of The Civil War. With the ‘neutral’ state of Kentucky as the backdrop, the author paints a vivid picture of life and issues confronting his characters. The issues involved are meticulously described – slavery, states rights, the North as invaders, the Underground Railroad – a story told from the perspective of the people who are faced with impossible decisions and see their lives ripped apart by the storm of war.  Strong characters, a steady flowing narrative, and intriguing story lines following the Crump family and associates make this a definite page turning tale.

4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past. “Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War” is his first novel.

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Nexus (Roma Nova #4.5) by Alison Morton

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Mid 1970s. Ex-Praetorian Aurelia Mitela is serving as Roma Nova’s interim ambassador in London. Asked by a British colleague to find his missing son, Aurelia thinks it will only be a case of a young man temporarily rebelling. He’s bound to turn up only a little worse for wear.

But a spate of high-level killings pulls Aurelia away into a dangerous pan-European investigation. Badly beaten in Rome as a warning, she discovers the killers have kidnapped her life companion, Miklós, and sent an ultimatum: Back off or he’ll die.

But Aurelia is a Roma Novan and they never give up…

Set between AURELIA and INSURRECTIO in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova adventures

REVIEW

I have read all of the Roma Nova stories, and have enjoyed them all immensely. It’s one of those series that although it is an alternate history, a made up geo-political world; it rings so true as to seem real. In this backstory novella, the author has not diminished that effect at all.  Nexus gives us another chapter in the life of one of my favorite fictional characters, Aurelia Mitela. An exciting tale that follows Aurelia on what started out as a  search for a missing person and becomes a roller coaster ride of adventure, and danger…two things that are sure to bring out the Praetorian in our heroine. So, my fellow readers of Roma Novan history, prepare to be entertained, and to learn a little more about Aurelia Mitela.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

SIGIRIYA: A Tale of Grandeur, Love and Tragedy by Senani Ponnamperuma

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Palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy—this is the story of King Kasyapa and his beloved Sigiriya. Born of a village girl and a warrior king, he is denied the crown because of his inferior birth – but is forced to become king. Accused of murdering his father, he abandons his capital and builds a new city in the inhospitable forests of Sri Lanka. There, he lives in a spectacular sky palace atop a massive rock two hundred meters high.

It is also the story of Amira, a beautiful girl from Afghanistan who is only twelve years old when she is sold into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls from Sri Lanka. Arriving at her new home, she is trained as a concubine in Kasyapa’s harem and becomes his favorite consort.

Set fifteen hundred years ago, this spellbinding novel weaves historical facts into a remarkably entertaining story of fate, dangerous alliances, enduring friendships, and forbidden love.

REVIEW

An engaging tale of a place that I am not well versed in; an exotic, mysterious land, and a story that is timeless throughout the history of mankind. Born with the stigma of a commoner for a mother, and yet the son of a king, Kasyapa finds himself propelled into a position he was not born to, the kingship. The author has produced a story of love, ambition, and palace intrigue; one that flows easily and allows the reader to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the land, and to become immersed in Kasyapa’s struggles, triumphs, and dreams. Prepare yourselves, my fellow readers, to travel to an ancient land, to be entertained, and to wonder in awe at Sigiriya. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Priestess of Ishana (Tesha #1) by Judith Starkston

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A curse, a conspiracy and the clash of kingdoms. A defiant priestess confronts her foes, armed only with ingenuity and forbidden magic.

A malignant curse from the Underworld threatens Tesha’s city with fiery devastation. The young priestess of Ishana, goddess of love and war, must overcome this demonic darkness. Charred remains of an enemy of the Hitolian Empire reveal both treason and evil magic. Into this crisis, King Hattu, the younger brother of the Great King, arrives to make offerings to the goddess Ishana, but he conceals his true mission in the city. As a connection sparks between King Hattu and Tesha, the Grand Votary accuses Hattu of murderous sorcery and jails him under penalty of death. Isolated in prison, Hattu’s only hope lies in Tesha to uncover the conspiracy against him. Unfortunately, the Grand Votary is Tesha’s father, a rash, unyielding man, and now her worst enemy. To help Hattu, she must risk destroying her own father.

Step into this exotic world of historical fantasy, with its richly imagined details of the Bronze Age, evocative of the Near East. In a whirlpool of magic, politics, family crisis and love, Tesha pursues justice over the dark forces arrayed against her.

REVIEW

An entertaining tale – historical fiction mixed with magic and sorcery in an alternate Hittite world prior to the Achaean Invasion (Trojan War).  Priestess of Ishana is not only a captivating look at that ancient empire, it is also the story of a young woman and her struggle to serve her goddess while in the middle of an investigation that could see her father and family destroyed. It is a complex plot, a conspiracy of hate and revenge, that had me engaged from the start. Characters that fit the time and place, giving the tale a realism. Even the magical element feels right; the sorcery believable and real, the demons full of power, the invocations full of danger to the user, the goddess a demanding one. It is also a tale of intense emotions, stressful situations. One in which Tesha must find strength she never knew she had, steadfastly clinging to her faith in Ishana in order to come to the truth whatever the outcome. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor’s Sword (Imperial Assassin #1) by Alex Gough

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A desolate wasteland. A mission gone wrong. An impossible goal. A gripping new series of Ancient Rome

Roman scout Silus is deep behind enemy lines in Caledonia. As he spies on a raiding party, he is abruptly discovered by an enemy chief and his son.

Mounting a one man ambush, everything quickly goes wrong. Silus must run for his life, the head of the enemy leader in his hands. Little does he know the price he will pay…

As Silus is inducted into the Arcani, an elite faction of assassins and spies, he must return to Caledonia, back into the wilderness, and risk everything in the service of his Caesar. The odds don’t look good.

Failure is not an option.

REVIEW

What we have here is an example of an author using the historical research, or lack thereof, and combining that with a creative flair to produce an exciting story of loss and courage. A no holds barred sweep of competing forces bent on total destruction of their foes, Emperor’s Sword is also a glimpse into the human soul as Silus copes with the guilt ridden hopelessness that underlies his life, and is a driving force in the revenge he seeks. I love Roman fiction, there are so many eras, places, and people to bring to life on a written page, and this one is spot on. Caracalla in Caledonia, oh what fun. A page turning, heart pounding tale awaits you, my fellow readers.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Caspian Gates (Warrior of Rome #4) by Harry Sidebottom

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AD 262 –the Roman Imperium is in turmoil after the struggle for the throne that brought Gallienus to power. And Ephesus, the metropolis of the Eastern Empire, lies in ruins, shattered by a mighty earthquake. Its citizens live in fear as the mob overwhelms the city, baying for blood to avenge the gods who have punished them. Yet an even greater threat to the Empire advances from the North: the barbaric Goth tribes, determined to pillage the city. Only Ballista, Warrior of Rome, knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them. In a relentlessly gripping and richly authentic tale of ancient warfare, The Caspian Gates is an adventure for Rome enthusiasts and scholars alike.

REVIEW

Well, the rereading of the first 4 volumes of the Warrior of Rome series is complete, and I am looking forward to the next installment, The Wolves of the North. I have sort of glossed over much of what I usually cover in my book reviews during this reacquainting period, but I will say this. The author has unknowingly had me hearkening back to the early 70’s when I was an Ancient History student at Wayne State University. The inclusion of philosophical and mythological discussions spread throughout the narrative sparked some familiar memories. I find it to be a definite plus when the tale being told also has the possibility to enlighten, educate, edify…something that happens quite often in this series. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey by David Fitz-Gerald

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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.

REVIEW

The Iroquois Confederacy – comprised of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca tribes was just one example of the sophisticated governments and societies practiced by these so-called savage peoples who had called the “New World” home for thousands of years. In Wanders Far the author has created an intriguing look at a time and place prior to the European ‘discovery’, and settlement. A coming of age tale of an enigmatic, and precocious boy, who plays an important role in the founding of the confederacy of the tribes, Wanders Far is also a well researched look at the cultures and history of the tribes living in what is now upstate New York. An enjoyable page turner, Wanders Far (the young man) takes the reader on his spiritual journey to discover the Path he must follow to fulfill his destiny.  4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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About the Author

After a chaotic day as a business person, Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing.

Wanders Far—An Unlikely Hero’s Journey is the first in a series of books in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2
Review at Historical Fiction Reviews

Thursday, September 5
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, September 9
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, September 10
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Monday, September 16
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Friday, September 20
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Monday, September 23
Review at Nursebookie

Wednesday, September 25
Review & Excerpt at Just Another Reader

Friday, September 27
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Monday, September 30
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, October 4
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, October 9
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, October 14
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 17
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, October 21
Review at Jessica Belmont
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Saturday, October 26
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, October 28
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews