ROMA NOVA EXTRA: A Collection of Short Stories (Roma Nova Thriller Series Book 8) by Alison Morton

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As a disclaimer, I must issue this warning. After reading Roma Nova Extra, you may experience some side effects; such as, the overriding compulsion to reread the Roma Nova series. Oh yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, this collection of short stories is that compelling.

I have always found history to be more than just interesting, even if it’s the history of an alternative/fictional world, and in this volume of stories, the author fills in some gaps, provides insight as to how Roma Nova came into being. One such story, Victory, is a perfect example of the Roma Nova adherence to their past; to their beliefs – their passion for keeping the old ways alive and to not succumb or submit to those who would see their downfall.

The stories, a mixture of historical perspective with some more personal tales give the reader a further glimpse into this amazing fictional country – it’s past, and it’s future. An enjoyable collection that is sure to delight the faithful readers of the Roma Nova series.

5 stars

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Vitellius’ Feast by L.J. Trafford

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First things first – I’m going to be sad for a long time. This is the final episode in this, ‘the year of four emperors’, and this makes me sad. Now whenever I get a craving for the author’s very creative writing style I’ll be forced into a rereading her books – oh, wait a moment, that is actually a good thing. 🙂  Alrighty then, glad to have thought this through, I feel much better; now onto the review of Vitellius’ Feast.

As with the other failed emperors, this particular failure is told from the perspective of the professional palace staff members, which means we get to follow the exploits of some of my favorite fictional characters (at least the one’s who have survived the previous failures). Philo, Epaphroditus, Lysander, Felix, Sporus, and Mina are all involved in various ways. At first, serving the new emperor, but in the end – well I best not go there, let’s just say that the author has once again bewitched me with her plots, subplots, and  surprises.  The interaction between the fictional characters and the historical figures is, as expected, flawlessly contrived; the description of Vitellius’ gluttony and abhorrent bedtime practices, the sometime comical interplay between Mina and Domitian, yes dear readers, the author is at the top of her game.  I expectantly await more from her.  🙂  5 stars

Marik’s Way by Nick Brown

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I have really enjoyed the author’s previous works. His series Agent of Rome is top notch Roman historical fiction, and I wasn’t too concerned that he switched to a more fantasy like tale especially since this fantasy tale isn’t heavy on the fantasy, but more focused on telling a believable tale of a man and the world in which he lives. Marik is a warrior who, due to circumstances he is wary of discussing, finds himself adrift in an unfamiliar land, broke and without weapons. In a series of episodes/adventures, the author gives us a character who is many faceted; diligent, brave, caring, but also prey to his past and to the uncertainty of his future. This depth of character is found in many of the supporting cast, my favorite being Nasreen, a fierce warrior in her own right burdened by a gruesome physical affliction, and the revenge she seeks for having it.

Since this tale takes place in a fantasy world, it is up to the author to provide the necessary geography, and the lowdown on the people who inhabit this world. This, my fellow readers, is done most admirably by Mr. Brown. The varied landscapes/waterscapes are a prime example; a crashing surf or a region made of reeds, I was drawn into the sites, canoeing the labyrinth of an endless marshland, or surviving a deadly storm on a makeshift raft.

A well told tale of a resourceful wanderer still looking for his future.  5 stars

Glass Island by Gareth Griffith

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Dark Age Britain – the Romans have gone, the Saxons are coming, the native Britons are in trouble. An exhilarating, yet tragic tale awaits you, dear reader; one that has it’s basis in the thin historical record of the period and that is expertly applied in a fictional context that is as believable as to seem like the truth. The author has given such life to the characters and a view of the world they lived in that makes one think this is the way it might have been. I was especially intrigued by the strong female presence among the male dominated warrior society and that they made a huge difference in the lives of their people, either by healing, guidance or even in warfare. The pivotal battle against the marauding Saxon’s (without giving away too much) is an excellent example of the author’s ability to make the reader feel a part of the chaos and turmoil; an aching with every loss is felt through the written words.  It is also a tale of resilience in the face of tremendous loss and an uncertain future – a tale of an age that was brutal, where only the strong survive. 4 Stars

Book Blast for THE NOTORIOUS BLACK BART 1883 by A.E. Wasserman

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THE NOTORIOUS BLACK BART 1883 BY A.E. WASSERMAN

Publication Date: August 29, 2018

Archway Publishing
Paperback; 124 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Western

Englishman Lord Langsford is leaving California after an adventurous visit, but finds more excitement in a Dime Novel that he shares with his two fellow travelers on the train bound to New York: This is the embellished but true tale of Black Bart and Special Agent James B. Hume of Wells Fargo & Company.

It’s California gold country and the notorious Black Bart robs his twenty-eighth Wells Fargo Stagecoach. The stage driver shoves down the heavy cash box then whips his team into a gallop away from the gunslinger. When the outlaw dismounts his horse to gather up his loot, a rattler slinks onto the road and bites him through his boot. He shoots off its head, but his horse bolts, leaving him snake bit and on foot. The gold from the local mines is heavy. He must carry the bounty out of the Sierra Mountains or die trying.

Special Agent James B. Hume of Wells Fargo & Company, a friend of Lord Langsford, has been after Black Bart for eight years. Now for the first time, Hume has some of the outlaw’s possessions. He has to use his wits, but the gunslinger has nearly a week’s head start. Can Hume catch the outlaw once and for all? Or will Black Bart escape to terrorize again?

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

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About the Author

The daughter of a newspaperman, A.E. Wasserman grew up in a household filled with books and stories. At age 14, she wrote her first novella and never stopped writing.

A.E. Wasserman’s current mystery/thrillers series, featuring Englishman Langsford has garnered international attention, not only in the U.S., but Europe and the U.K. as well. Her work is critically acclaimed as richly atmospheric; her writing style bold and well-crafted.

After graduating from The Ohio State University, she lived in London, then San Francisco. Currently she resides in Southern California with her family and her muse, a Border Collie named Topper.

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Rome: The Emperor’s Spy by M.C. Scott

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Well now, my faithful legion of readers, I am somewhat baffled. I actually started to read this novel about five years ago, but through the vicissitudes of life, I never finished it. I, as you may have guessed by now, have finished after finding it snugged up with my collection of Tom Clancy novels, and then re-reading the beginning chapters. The tale takes place during the reign of Nero and while there are many plots and subplots, the famous episode of the burning of Rome is the focal point of the narrative. Nero is often depicted as a spoiled narcissist caring nothing except for his own pleasure and power. The author does indeed include those elements of his character, but also shows a side that cares deeply, if a bit mercurial, about the well being of his people. As for the famous fire and who caused it, it has been speculated that Christians were the culprits. Here is where the author transcends the oft repeated cause and takes it further, having the fire played out as a Sibylline prophecy with some surprises as to who runs with that prophecy and seeks Rome’s downfall. Indeed, I was taken aback slightly with this particular look at what I was brought up to believe about God and Jesus…not that that is a bad thing, by the way. I hesitate to say more as to not be a spoiler. Hint – be sure to read the author’s notes at the end. So, my peeps and fellow travelers, I absolutely recommend this highly entertaining rendering of Nero and his fire. After all, not only do you get that aspect, but also a spy tale, a charioteer tale, and remnants of the Boudiccan revolt all wrapped up in a superbly written book guaranteed to keep you turning the pages. 5 stars

 

Sergei & Hans by Dennis Santaniello

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Two WWI soldiers; one German, one Russian and their serendipitous meeting during maneuvers in the beautiful but dangerous winter storms in the Carpathian Mountains.  In a series of poignant flashbacks and memories, this tale brings out the depth of character, the changes one endures, the challenging of one’s beliefs under the duress of war and duty.  Well crafted and entertaining, Sergei & Hans shows forth the human element midst the dehumanizing machine like precision of armies at war. The author brings the reader along so as to experience the grandeur of the Carpathians while at the same time the utter hopelessness and despair of a POW longing only to be back home.

4 stars