Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: Invader by Simon Scarrow & T.J. Andrews

Title: Invader
Authors: Simon Scarrow & T.J. Andrews
Publictation: April 25th 2017 by Headline
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google | Kobo
Rating: 3/5

INVADER is a Sunday Times bestseller from Simon Scarrow (author of the bestsellers BRITANNIA and CENTURION) and T. J. Andrews, co-author of the bestselling INVADER. Featuring the Roman army officer Figulus in first-century Britannia, INVADER is not to be missed by readers of Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell.

Roman Britain, AD 44. The land is far from tamed. A puppet king is doing little to calm the hatred of the native tribes.

Fighting is in Optio Horatius Figulus' blood. His Celtic ancestry gives him the toughness essential for survival. That toughness will be tested to the very limit when he is sent on a mission deep in hostile territory. And Figulus knows that, even utterly crushed in battle, their warriors routed and the Druids driven from their hill forts, the tribesmen of Britannia will sooner die than surrender.

Figulus fought alongside Macro and Cato in Simon Scarrow's bestselling Eagles of the Empire series. In INVADER, he stands alone.

INVADER has previously been published in five separate ebook novellas.
As always I enjoy reading books that take place in ancient history like Invader. The story is set in Roman Britain, AD 44 and features Optio Horatius Figulus. He was born in Gaul but raised as Roman. In this book he's fighting in Britannia so his Celtic ancestry helps with the missions he had to complete in this book. 

I really liked the story in the first half of the book and when I started getting around the second half it all started becoming very repetitive. Figulus being send on a special mission where he has to fight or protect someone over and over again. Also, in the story there was a traitor that we eventually found out about but to me it was a little too obvious who it ended up being and I really hate when that happens. I just don't like books that are too predictable. And in this case it was quite obvious. At least to me.

I do need to say that after finishing the book I found out Invader had previously been published in five separate ebook novellas so that's why it all seemed so repetitive because they novellas had been merged into one story. And clearly I wasn't aware of that before so maybe I would've felt differently about it all. Or maybe not. I can't really know now.

Even so it was an enjoyable read overall. I'm always up for a good historical fiction set in ancient times, especially when it's related to ancient Rome. And I loved Figulus. I thought he was a really great main character that I couldn't help but root for. I also really liked all of his friends. So character wise it was top, but story wise it was a little less of my cup of tea, unfortunately. Luckily I care more about characters than plot anyways.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane

Title: The Forgotten Legion
Author: Ben Kane

Series: Forgotten Legion Chronicles #1
Publication: 2009 by Arrow Books

Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book DepositoryGoogle | Kobo

Rating: 4/5

An epic Roman novel which follows three men and one woman bound in servitude to the Republic.

Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman. At thirteen-years-old, they are sold — Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome.

Tarquinius is an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer, and an enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day — and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and revenge.

The lives of the four are bound together into a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and politics, and ends far away at the very border of the known world.

Ben Kane is one of those authors that I discovered by accident back in 2015 when I read and reviewed a book of his that I had discovered on NetGalley. I've read at least one book by him every year since then and I haven't been disappointed yet. The Forgotten Legion is a book that I randomy found in December of last year (2018) at a secondhand store. I never ever expected to find a Ben Kane book there so obviously my excitement knew no bounds. It still took me six months to finally get around to reading the book but now it's one of my favorites for sure!

The Forgotten Legion is a favorite of mine now but it took me one or two chapters (and these are pretty long chapters) to really get into the book, to be honest. I think I had to get used to the writing style but as soon as other characters got introduced and the story really started going I was hooked. It's a pretty big book at 659 pages but I finished it in only four days because I just couldn't stop reading and that's not something that happens very often to me lately.

There are a couple of different characters that feature in this book. They were all pretty different and that's why it really worked for this book. First of all there's Tarquinius who's a Etruscan soothsayer who also knows how to fight. He was probably my least favorite character but in the end I managed to start appreciating him more. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who are slaves who were born after their mother was raped by a nobleman. They're sold when they're thirteen. Romulus ends up at gladiator school and Fabiola ends up in a brothel. And last but not least there's Brennus, a Gaul. His whole family and tribe got murdered by the Romans and he became one of the strongest gladiators and mentor to Romulus. 

The story takes place over a lot of years so we see the characters have bad things happen to them but they grow and learn as well along the way. This is a trilogy so there's a whole lot more to come that I just can't wait to discover. I don't have the books yet and since I'm on a book buying ban I'm going to have to wait until I can buy them but I'm already wondering about where the rest of the characters' different journeys will lead them. 

About the author:
Ben Kane is a bestselling Roman author and former veterinarian. He was born in Kenya and grew up in Ireland (where his parents are from). He has traveled widely and is a lifelong student of military history in general, and Roman history in particular. He lives in North Somerset, England, with his family.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Cover Reveal: Sonata by Skye Warren

Sonata, the highly anticipated conclusion in the North Security Series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren, is coming August 6th and we have the gorgeous cover!

Sonata is the emotional conclusion to the forbidden love story between Liam North and Samantha Brooks.

Pre-order your copy today!
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Start the trilogy today with OVERTURE
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Continue with the trilogy with CONCERTO
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About Skye Warren
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance such as the Endgame trilogy. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review: House of Rejoicing by Libbie Hawker

Title: House of Rejoicing
Author: Libbie Hawker
Series: The Book of Coming Forth by Day #1
Publication: May 31st 2015 by Running Rabbit Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play
Rating: 4.5/5

House of Rejoicing is Libbie Hawker's long-awaited return to the lush decadence and dark power of ancient Egypt.

In the waning years of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, when female power can only come at an unsettling price, four royal women struggle against the shadowy influence of Akhenaten, the infamous heretic Pharaoh. Akhenaten wields control of a strange, emerging religion unlike anything Egypt has seen. His power can’t be denied, but whoever can maintain her grip on the unpredictable Pharaoh will hold all of Egypt in her hands—and better still, will remain mistress of her own fate.

Tiy, once the undisputed might behind the throne, must choose to relinquish her hard-won influence, or manipulate the innocent in order to secure her hold on Akhenaten’s leash. Kiya, an idealistic foreign princess, will win Akhenaten with love—if he’s capable of feeling love at all. The celebrated beauty Nefertiti will use the Pharaoh for her own ends, turning the tables of a deadly political game to free herself from her ambitious father’s grasp. And Sitamun, kept imprisoned as the Pharaoh’s plaything, will defy the gods themselves to save her daughter from a similar fate.

House of Rejoicing is the first part in Libbie Hawker’s new ancient Egyptian series, The Book of Coming Forth by Day. The story will continue in Part Two, Storm in the Sky, in July of 2015.

House of Rejoicing was just incredible! I don't know how it's possible that I hadn't read this book yet. I've had it on my Kindle for years until I randomly decided to start it and I ended up being so amazed by it. Now it's my very favorite book set in ancient Egypt. I want to buy the sequel as soon as I can (yes it ends in a cliffhanger I gotta warn you but it's a good one!).

House of Rejoicing is set during the 18th Dynasty in the Amarna period, which has always been one of my favorite periods in ancient Egypt and I'm sure it's one of the most well-known periods too. I mean who hasn't heard of Nefertiti and "the heretic Pharaoh" Akhenaten at least once? I've always been super fascinated by Akhenaten and how he abandended the traditional ancient Egyptians gods for worshipping the Aten. For most of the book Akhenaten is called Amunhotep (IV), which was his name before he changed it to what we know him as so for this review I'm going to call him Akhenaten to keep things more simple since his father is also called Amunhotep (III).

The book is told in the point of view of four women from the royal court and harem:

Tiy: The mother of Akhenaten, who once held the power behind the throne when her husband Amunhotep III ruled
Kiya: A princess send from Mitanni to marry Amunhotep III and who just wants to be happy and live her life.
Nefertiti: The ambitious beauty who was raised to become the next Pharaoh's great-wife.
Sitamun: Tiy's daughter and Akhenaten's sister who just wants her brother to love her.

I loved reading about these four women so much. They were written in a way that wasn't all black and white. They were definitely gray characters, sometimes having to do horrible things and yet I still felt for them and came to care about them as they struggled through those first years of Akhenaten's reign. 

I was quite surprised by how sometimes the story was pretty dark. I don't know why I was surprised because the ancient world was often a cruel and unforgiving place especially towards the women but I can only admire the clever writing of the author and how she didn't shy away from the tough topics. I also liked how motherhood played a huge part in this novel. Each main character had their own feelings and experiences with it, which were all very different from one another. 

The writing was my absolute favorite part of this book. It made me feel as if I was really in ancient Egypt because of the detailed and beautiful descriptions Libbie Hawker gave us. It was simply magical to read! I've read short stories by her in the past but this book really made me curious to read more of her work, which I definitely intend to do. In fact, I'm already reading a different book by her that's also set in ancient Egypt. So definitely expect another review soon! 

About the author:
Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. She is also the author of the runaway bestseller "how-to" guide for writers, Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.

When she's not writing, Libbie can be found in her garden, at her spinning wheel, or hiking the trails of San Juan Island, where she lives with her husband and three naughty cats.
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