Retalio by Alison Morton

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A vile almost inhuman character; a combination of Augustus’s intelligence and the brutal madness of Caligula has overthrown the legal government of Roma Nova and replaced it with a distinctly male dominated presence.  Forced to flee for their lives, many of the Roma Novans; including the indomitable Aurelia and the young Imperatrix, Silvia, begin the long, slow process of reclaiming their homeland.  Throughout this alternative history series I have been fascinated by the author’s ability to conjure up a world that is recognizable and totally believable, and she has done so once again.  Not only are the political, and logistical nuances covered in a thorough, convincing manner, the portrayal of the internal conflicts and emotions of the characters had this humble scribe stopping occasionally to catch his breath.  It is safe to say that Retalio is an excellent addition to this remarkable history of Roma Nova.  The villain, Caius Tellus, as well as ranking high on my favorite fictional bad guys list, bears a certain resemblance to the current occupant of the White House, at least to me.  An unintentional resemblance, I’m sure, but prescient nonetheless.  A page turning delight (with the above mentioned pauses for breath taking), a heart racing tale of intrigue and courage.  5 stars

Rosa by Jeanette Taylor Ford

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Every once in a while I am drawn out of my cocoon, the comfort zone of my favorite reading genres.  In this case I was asked by the author to give Rosa a try despite it being a modern day mystery/romance tale…far from the ancient times, places and subject matter I usually frequent.  Rosa certainly got my attention right away as the story sort of begins at the end giving the reader a kind of heads up that there may be opportunities to try and guess what’s going to happen next.  However, the author doesn’t make it easy to guess correctly as she provides many clues, twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages.  The characters are well thought out as are the descriptive portions of the narrative as the reader follows Rosa around the estate and surrounding countryside.  I won’t go into spoiler mode about the eventual solving of the mysterious goings on at the manor…suffice to say that it caught me by surprise having formed a different outcome in my own mind as I read the tale.  I guess it is okay to step outside one’s normal habits and try something different on occasion.  4 stars

Insurrectio Roma Nova V by Alison Morton

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I think that one day I am going to have to compile my list of favorite, fictional, evil people.  When I do that Alison Morton’s Caius Tellus will certainly be on that list.  Insurrectio is a taut drama centering on Tellus’ political ambitions…ambitions that could undo centuries of a stable form of government and supplant it with Tellus as a tyrant. Caught in the crosshairs of his ambition is Aurelia Mitela and hoo-boy does he ever hold a grudge.  The story is full of the drama and tension that the author has made a trademark of the Roma Nova series and in spots steps them up even more.  So, if you’re looking for a political thriller this is sure to please.  Strong characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns, love, betrayal, pain and loss make this a 5 star winner.

 

Killer City by Seumas Gallacher

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This is the second Jack Calder book I have read so far, so I sort of knew going in what to expect and those expectations were met.  That is, of course, if you’re expecting a nonstop multi-national thrill ride.  When a colleague’s son is framed for murder, the ISP group spring into action to clear his name.  What they uncover in the process is the very lucrative and powerful gang controlled drug trade in Manchester and are soon up against ruthless foes who will stop at nothing to remove anyone in their way.  I rather enjoyed the byplay between the ISP personnel not only among themselves but also with the other agencies they work with.  It is a somewhat stereotypical macho environment inhabited by a corps of men who have seen the elephant and who are very good at what they do, within or without the parameters of law.   Rather than a detriment to the story, the stereotypes fit in well, after all when watching The Maltese Falcon do you want the stereotypical hard boiled private eye Sam Spade or the frivolous antics of Inspector Clouseau? The frantic action coupled with enough plot twists makes for an entertaining read.  4 stars

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Seumas Gallacher…Author Background

Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called ‘bad old days’, which were really the greatest of days, where everybody was a true character of note. An early career as a trainee banker led to a spell in London, where his pretence to be a missionary converting the English fell on deaf ears. Escape to the Far East in 1980 opened up access to cultures and societies on a global scale, eventually bringing the realisation that the world is simply one large, extended village. The lifelong desire to write resulted in THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, the first in a planned series. Seumas’ sequel novel, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK was launched in early July 2012. The third, SAVAGE PAYBACK, was released in late 2013 with at least two other books to follow in the same vein. Ebook downloads on his novels exceed 70,000 to date. Seumas lives in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. wall copy 2 …Authors…why bother doing a Blog?… …yeez can slice and dice umpteen different approaches to maintaining a Blog… as a writer, the conventional wisdom tell yeez it helps to get yeez ‘presence’… well, I think there’s also as many definitions of ‘presence’ as yeez can think of… this ol’ Jurassic’s been scribbling away at this Blog thing for a coupla years now, and must confess the driving force for maintaining it has gradually changed… initially I knew as much about blogging as I did about Mexican knitting patterns or Persian Hieroglyphics… in pursuit of extending readership reach, the Blog was an addendum to the other SOSYAL NETWURKIN channels I dabble with… Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn… I laptop-tapped maybe twice a week, with no rhythm or purpose, no base, no direction… then a few things started to click, mentally, not just on the Mac… the content, which the cognoscenti will tell yeez is paramount, began to take shape… a regularity of style evolved… the crime thrillers lived in the novels, and that can be pretty heavy-duty violent stuff… and any quill-scraper knows it’s vital to have your ‘Author’s Voice’ in the books… I found the Blog forming into an intrinsically different kind of writing… much like cartoons cater to short-term attention from readers, so also, most Blogs attract the same probable eyeball time… ideally for me, anything between 300 and 400 WURDS is plenty, but that’s not set in stone… the Blog becomes the ‘Author’s Brand’… a brand is by definition recognizable… mine attempts to be the tongue-in-cheek, humorous, reflective flow of consciousness of a comparative newbie… an independent, self-publishing plume-pusher… an old f*rt from a separate career, stumbling through the maze that is the new-fangled reality called the Internet… and somehow coming out the other side, still bewildered, but surviving, hopefully successfully… populating the Blog occasionally are a couple of characters, Mabel, and Matron… Mabel is best described as an almost imaginary presence, somewhat akin to the invisible rabbit, Harvey, that the great actor James Stewart conversed with in the movie of the same name… that allows for ‘asides’ and commentary to flow… Matron is the character who keeps the writer in check occasionally by the administering of a huge syringe loaded with no-one quite knows what, and it’s impossible to tell whether or not she’s also a figment of the writer’s addled brain… the biggest change in the impact the Blog has on me is that it permits me to indulge another kind of writing from the novels, and doing it almost daily dictates a discipline I welcome… it now also connects automatically with all my other SOSYAL NETWURK linkages, hitting a possible 14,000+ readers for every Blog Post… and most importantly… IT’S FUN and I’m LUVVIN IT!… Blog                : seumasgallacher.com Twitter                        : @seumasgallacher Facebook         : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher Email               : seumasgallacher@yahoo.com

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Aurelia: Roma Nova IV by Alison Morton

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I can pinpoint when my fascination with ancient Rome began to the viewing of two movies, Ben Hur and Spartacus (yes dear readers, I am that old.)  Nowadays I get my Roman fix through the medium of historical fiction, and there is a lot of that to choose from.  However, the idea that there could still be a remnant of that ancient favorite still extant and thriving is the basis for this wonderful series by Alison Morton, Roma Nova.  A modern nation still bound by many of the old traditions and thriving in the 20th century is what she has not only crafted but done so in such a way as to make you think it was possible.  The fourth book, Aurelia, is a prequel to the first three and centers on the matriarch of the Mitella family and like her namesake, the mother of Gaius Julius Caesar, she is a formidable character.  In the first three books, she is an older woman but still full of wisdom and strength; in the fourth she is a young woman coming into her own as she finds herself thrust into an international plot to undermine the economic stability of the nation and a plot to undermine the matriarchal society that Roma Nova has become.  All of that plus the threat to her life and of that of her family makes for an intense drama built upon the imaginative characters the author has created.  The action and drama is relentless; the climatic conclusion is heart-stopping stuff – in other words; I enjoyed the first three books tremendously; the fourth even more so.  Kudos to the author and a well deserved 5 stars.

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Successio by Alison Morton

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In this the third volume in the Roma-Nova series the author has done her best work to date giving the reader a taut thriller from start to finish.  Carina and Conrad are driven to the edge and beyond as a piece of Conrad’s history in the form of a daughter he did not know about shows up in full time revenge mode.  Revenge not only directed at the father who she feels abandoned her but also against anyone who he is close to including Carina, the Imperatrix and their children.  Nicola, the prodigal daughter from Hades, is an example of how the bad guy/girl should be written in any good novel.  Her perseverance, resourcefulness and the downright ruthlessness of her character are what good stories are made of.  By the same token, those same qualities are imbued once again in the heroine making her once again occasionally act outside the purview of law and order to safeguard her family. This is definitely a page turner of the highest order and while I really enjoyed the first two books, this one captivated me even more.  5 stars and a hearty recommendation.

The Boleyn Effect by Deborah C. Foulkes

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Over the last couple of years I have become acquainted with many authors via social media and though I have not met any of them yet I do think of them as friends. In addition to this most of them write historical fiction; more specifically Roman and medieval hist-fic which are my preferred genres.  In the case of this book I departed from those genres and decided, for a couple reasons, to read a modern day romance; a genre I had no interest in whatsoever.  My reasons were thus, this story does have in it an element of the love story between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn(which I have recently taken an interest in because of binge watching The Tudors and by another book, A Love Most Dangerous by Martin Lake).  The other reason is because the author, Deborah C. Foulkes, is one of those social media friends with whom I have had and enjoyed many conversations.  So with some trepidation I read The Boleyn Effect not knowing what to expect.  What I got is a tale both interesting and entertaining.  The main plot involves a dare/game put forth by the close friend of the protagonist Leigh Ann Boorman in which she has to seduce a particular man to the point where he, Harry, falls in love with her in the manner that Anne Boleyn captured the heart of King Henry VIII.  Harry, a Dean at a local college is married to Katherine but has a penchant for cheating on his wife so the prospect of winning the dare/game is more than feasible.  What Leigh Ann does not expect is that she falls in love with Harry and this is the second main plot of the tale.  Without indulging in spoilers the story then becomes an emotional roller coaster both for Leigh and Harry and in the end it even becomes somewhat dangerous due to the twists, turns and surprises that the author injects into the tale.  I was fully captivated by the ongoing events and was prepared to rate this book with 4 stars but then after reading the last few chapters I had to change my mind(but like a good mystery I will not reveal my new rating yet.)  First I must say a word about the explicit sexual content in the book.  At first I was puzzled as to why these explicit scenes needed to be written in the manner in which they were.  I even asked the author that question to which she answered that while she originally hadn’t planned to write them that way, she decided that in keeping with the parallel with Henry and Anne and the nature of his court that it was appropriate to include such explicitness.  I thought about that for a while and though I agree with that premise, I also came to realize that since the grisly detailed violence of a Roman legion or heavily armored Templars fits in well in their respective genres why shouldn’t uninhibited sex be appropriate for a story such as this one, therefore I had no issue with the content.

I heartily recommend this tale and have rated it 5 stars.