Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice

01_Sword of the Gladiatrix Cover

Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice

Two women. Two swords. One victor.

An action-packed tale that exposes the brutal underside of Imperial Rome, Sword of the Gladiatrix brings to life unforgettable characters and exotic settings. From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Enslaved, forced to fight for their lives and the Romans’ pleasure; they seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms. But the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

I’ve never read anything about female gladiators so that was new. I’ve never been huge fan of Romans and this didn’t make me like them more… Afra comes from Kush and Cinnia is a Celt from Britain so we get a look to two very different cultures.

I wish there would have been more fighting scenes. We see how Afra and Cinnia becomes slaves, we follow their lives in slavery but the actual gladiator stuff is pretty small part of the story. They were both likeable but I think they fell in love rather too quickly. I liked the parts with Boudica and I wish there would have been more of her.

It was great to read about something that hasn’t been widely written about and you can tell the author has done her research.

3,5/5

Published: Raggedy Moon Books (May 2015)
Format: eBook
Pages: 260
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author02_Faith L. Justice_Author

FAITH L. JUSTICE writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writerís Digest, The Copperfield Review, the Circles in the Hair anthology, and many more. She is a frequent contributor to Strange Horizons, Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, and co-founded a writerís workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirtóher garden and various archaeological sites.

For more information visit Faith L. Justice’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sword of the Gladiatrix Blog Tour

Monday, June 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Tuesday, June 30
Guest Post at I Heart Reading
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, July 1
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, July 2
Review at Book Babe

Friday, July 3
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, July 6
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, July 7
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, July 9
Review at Genre Queen
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Friday, July 10
Review at Bookramblings
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

03_Sword of the Gladiatrix_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Odin’s Child by Bruce Macbain

perf6.000x9.000.indd

Odin’s Child (Odd Tangle-Hair Saga 1) by Bruce Macbain

Driven from the flaming ruin of his Iceland farmhouse, young Odd Tangle-Hair, the only survivor of a feud in which his family is slaughtered, steals a ship, rounds up a rag-tag crew and embarks on the Viking life. He swears one day to return, rich and powerful enough to take vengeance on his enemies. But how far off that day seems!

His father, Black Thorvald, had once been a chieftain in Iceland. But in the year 1000, when the country adopted Christianity, Thorvald denounced the new faith and shut himself up in his hall, shunning the world and shunned by it. Odd fears that the worm of cowardice that unmanned his father has infected him too. He has inherited from Thorvald a shock of black hair, a gift for poetry, and an allegiance to Odin, god of battles and magic. But Odd is heir to darker traits as wellóa hint of madness and a temper which will sometimes cost him dearly.

Fate carries him and his men to a shamanistic healer in Lapland, to bloody religious strife in Norway, to the lair of a witch in Finland, and finally to the borders of Russia. Here Odd will leave his comrades behind to join the retinue of a Norwegian princeling who is fleeing to the court of Yaroslav, Grand Prince of Rus. New dangers wait for him in that faraway country.

Eager, curious, quick-wittedóand sometimes wrong-headedóOdd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.

Christianity has come to 11th century Iceland and old traditions are changing while dividing some families on the way. 16-year old Odd’s father is holding to old pagan believes which is driving a wedge between his family and neighbors. After revenge killing becomes a political problem, Odd is sent to exile. He steals a ship and decides to go viking.

It did take me some time to really get into the story. At times it concentrates to describe things too much and while there is plundering, murder and blood, I guess I just expected there to be more of that. I liked Odd but I never understood why men would follow him and call him captain. He wasn’t someone to inspire that kind of loyalty.

And yey there’s Finland and Kalevala but I wasn’t really into those chapters. Kalevala chapters just didn’t work for me and I have to say that I’ve never read it so I can’t comment on that. But for me Kalevala is this mythical thing and 11th century is just too close. I mean we’re close to the Norman conquest! Too much is known about the period to be mythical.

It wasn’t a bad book by any means but I guess I just expected more.

3/5

Published: Blank Slate Press (May 26, 2015)
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Bruce Macbain_Author

From boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him and this led to earning a masterís degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Vanderbilt University and Boston University, and published a few dense scholarly monographs, read by very few. Recently, he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit. He has previously published two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, Roman Games and its sequel, The Bull Slayer. Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin’s Child is the first novel of a trilogy, Odd Tangle-Hairís Saga, which follows our heroóa wanderer, poet and warriorófrom his tiny Iceland farm to the Great Palace in Constantinople. It will be published by Blank Slate Press in May, 2015.

Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.

For more information please visit Bruce Macbain’s website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Odin’s Child Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 29
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Tuesday, June 30
Interview at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, July 1
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, July 3
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, July 6
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 8
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, July 9
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, July 10
Review at Just One More Chapter

Odin's Child_Blog Tour Banner

 

Shadow of the Raven by Millie Thom

Millie ThomShadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings 1) by Millie Thom

A tale of Viking raids, hapless thralls, noble kings and their sons and friendship and love. Above all else, a tale of unforgivable betrayal and the ever-present desire for revenge…

The life of Eadwulf, ten-year old son of the Mercian king, is changed forever when his family is betrayed to the Danes by his treacherous uncle. In a Danish raid, his father is killed and his mother is raped. And along with his tutor and childhood friend, Eadwulf is captured and taken to the Danish lands to be sold as a slave. As a thrall in Jarl Ragnar’s village, Eadwulf’s life is hard, his days unbearably long. But on the return of Bjorn, the jarl’s jovial firstborn, from his summer raids, Eadwulf’s life greatly improves. Under the protective wing of Bjorn and his crew, he spends the next few years sailing to places he’d never even dreamed of, trading and raiding. And though he’s still a thrall, he becomes a well-respected member of Bjorn’s closely knit crew. But through it all, the smouldering desire for revenge on those who destroyed his family refuses to abate. Eadwulf’s tale plays out against the backdrop of events unfolding in Wessex in the face of escalating Danish raids. Alfred, the fifth son of the Wessex king, faces family tragedies from an early age, losing first his mother, then his beloved sister when she is married to the new Mercian king. At his father’s court and the successive courts of his three elder brothers, he learns the weighty art of kingship. And, like Eadwulf, he learns the harshest lesson of all . . . that a trusted kinsman can so easily turn traitor.

This is the story of the early years of Alfred of Wessex and the fictional Eadwulf of Mercia, son of Beorhtwulf of Mercia. Eadwulf is 10 years when his home is attacked by Vikings, his father killed and Eadwulf taken as a slave. He learns the viking ways and in time earns the respect of his master Bjorn. Meanwhile Alfred is growing as the king’s youngest child who is already showing piousness as a 4 year old. Mature for his years, his life is also turning upside down when his mother dies.

This started really slow but I’m glad I kept reading because after it started picking up it was good. Eadwulf goes from being king’s son to a slave, thrall, and becoming one of them. But he never forgot who he is or where he came from and longs to avenge his family.
Alfred is so young that he doesn’t really do anything in this book but I’ll look forward seeing more about him.

There’s lot of great minor characters like Bjorn and his sister Freydis and I hope we get to see some of them in the future.

3,5/5

Published: self published (2015)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

DarkerA Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic 1) by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last travelers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad King George III. Red London- where magic is revered, and where Kell was raised alongside the heir to the empire. White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. And once there was Black London.

Officially Kell is the Red traveller, carrying letters between the monarchs of each London. Unofficially he is a smuggler, a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences. His escape to Grey London leads to a run-in with Delilah, a cutpurse with lofty aspirations, who forces Kell to take her on a proper adventure. But perilous magic is afoot, and an adventure becomes a mission to save all of the worlds. (back cover)

I really liked the idea of different worlds where in all of them there’s London in the same place. All of the worlds have something in common and still are very different.

Kell can travel between the worlds and it’s a rare ability since only two is known to possess it nowdays. He was raised with the royal family but doesn’t feel he belong there but I liked his relationship with his foster brother Rhy, the heir to the throne. Kell doesn’t know who his parents are or anything about his childhood and I hope we learn more about his past in the future. And he has a coat that has many sides depending how he wants to look. How cool is that?

When we first meet Lila I wasn’t too excited. I don’t know, I guess she was too reckless, selfish and caused unnecessary problems which lead to me wanting to shake some sense into her. But she did grow on me and I started to like her more.

This was my first book by the author and I really look forward reading rest of this series!

4/5

Published: Titan Books (2015)
Format: paperback
Pages: 384
Source: library

Mailbox Monday (15.6.15)

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

I just realised that I haven’t posted mailbox monday since April. But it’s been quiet in my mailbox which is a good thing… But here’s what I got in the last few weeks:

books15.6.15
Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine (bookmooch)
Odin’s Child by Bruce MacBain (for review)
Visions by Kelley Armstrong (bought)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queenRed Queen (Red Queen 1) by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. (Goodreads)

In Mare Barrow’s world there’s two kinds of people: those who has Red Blood and those who have Silver Blood. Those with Silver blood are “better” people and have magical gifts while those with Red blood do not have any gifts and are more on the poor side. Those Reds who turn 18 and don’t have a job, are sent into army on the war front.

One night Mare meets a stranger who arranges a job for her in the court. There she discovers she has powers while it’s unheard for a Red to have one and Silvers hatch a plan so the world won’t discover the news.

There was huge hype for this some time ago so I was little nervous to start this and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this. I liked the idea of Silvers and Reds but I just didn’t connect with the characters enough. There wasn’t any chemistry between Mare and Cal, or Mare and Maven. I kinda liked Cal alone but with Mare there was no sparks flying.

I liked the end but otherwise it was little slow and especially in the middle it dragged too much.

And our heroine Mare… The first problem I have is with her name. First thing that comes to mind is a (female) horse. Second thing is brood mare. Can you see a theme here? Every time I read her name I wondered if we would start talking about horses. So distracting…
She’s just so naïve it’s a wonder how she has survived this long. She tells us how good she is reading people and that she’s no one’s fool. Umm yeah… I don’t know how many times I wanted to shake some sense into her.

But as I said I liked the end, which saved the book for me and earned the third star. So it wasn’t all bad.

3/5

Published: Harper Teen (2015)
Format: paperback
Pages: 388
Source: library

Spotlight: Phoenix Rising by Hunter S. Jones

02_Phoenix Rising_CoverPublication Date: May 19, 2015
MadeGlobal Publishing
eBook; ASIN: B00X806742
Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button

The last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life…

Court intrigue, revenge and all the secrets of the last hour are revealed as one queen falls and another rises to take her place on destiny’s stage.

A young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Ch‚teau Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.

Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment… the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever.

Praise for Phoenix Rising

“Compelling, captivating and moving.” Claire Ridgway, The Anne Boleyn Files

“Thought provoking, esoteric and heart wrenching.” – R.J.Askew, blogger, reviewer, author and journalist

Phoenix Rising Available at

Amazon

About the Author03_Hunter S. Jones_Author

Deb Hunter publishes as Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling novel, “September Ends” won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose. Her story “The Fortune Series” received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on ExpatsPost.com are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her undergrad degree is in History with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation.

For more information please visit Hunter S. Jones’ website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Phoenix Rising Blog Tour

Tuesday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, May 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Anne Boleyn Files
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, May 21
Review at Book Drunkard

Friday, May 22
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Saturday, May 23
Spotlight at Curling up by the Fire

Monday, May 25
Review at JulzReads
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 27
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at The Readers Hollow

Thursday, May 28
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, May 29
Review at The Reading Queen

Saturday, May 30
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Sunday, May 31
Review at Genre Queen
Spotlight at Unshelfish

04_Phoenix Rising_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham

02_The Holy Lance_CoverThe Holy Lance (The English Templars 1) by Andrew Latham

The year is 1191. A daring counterattack against the Saracensí last-ditch effort to relieve the besieged city of Acre has not only saved the Christian host from a fatal defeat; it has also brought the leader of that counterattack, English Templar Michael Fitz Alan, to the attention of King Richard the Lionheart.

In the days that follow, the king charges Fitz Alan with a life-or-death mission ñ to recover the Holy Lance, a long-lost religious relic widely believed to be responsible for the near-miraculous success of the First Crusade.

The ensuing quest leads Fitz Alan and a hand-picked band of Templars on a journey deep into enemy territory, where they battle Saracens, Assassins, hostile Christians and even a traitor within their own ranks as they seek to return the Holy Lance to Christian hands and thereby ensure the success of the crusade.

I have to confess that I though there would be less religious stuff and more historical fiction stuff. I realize that Templars are connected to church but yeah I’m stupid.

King Richard sends Fitz Alan to get Spear of Longinus, it’s believed to have pierced Christ on the cross, because he believes that it will turn the war on his side. But after Saladin hears about this quest he sends men to retrieve it too, so there’s a race against time to get hold of the spear.

The most interesting thing in the book was the protagonist Michael Fitz Alan. He used to be a knight in England but joined the Templars trying to find a life without murder, violence and other base impulses and temptations. There were hints about Fitz Alan’s past association with Richard and I was very curious to know what has happened because it certainly didn’t give good impressions to Fitz Alan about the king.

The book is action packed with lots of battle scenes but I though those were engaging. We get very realistic picture of Templars, Saracens and Crusaders. On all sides there is both good and bad people, genuinely devout and then those who are more political schemers.

While the religious aspect made me skip some parts, prayers and stuff, otherwise the book was gripping and well researched.

3/5

Published: Knox Robinson Publishing (March 24, 2015)
Format: hardcover
Pages: 360
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Andrew Latham_Author

Knox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war. Trained as a Political Scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages. He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. His most recent book is a work of non-fiction entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades.

Latham was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States. He graduated from York University in Toronto with a BA (Honours) in Political Science, later earned an MA from Queenís University in Kingston and, later yet, a PhD from his alma mater, York.

Latham is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writersí Association and De Re Militari: The Society For Medieval Military History.

Since 1997 Latham has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he where he lives with his wife Wendy, daughter Bernadette and son Michael.

For more information and updates, please visit Andrew Latham’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Holy Lance Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, May 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Sunday, May 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, May 11
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 12
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 14
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, May 15
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

04_The Holy Lance_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL copy

 

The Novice by Taran Matharu

SummonerThe Novice (Summoner 1) by Taran Matharu

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith’s apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning.

The academy will put Fletcher through a gauntlet of gruelling lessons, training him as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against the savage orcs. Rubbing shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, Fletcher must tread carefully. The power hungry Forsyth twins lurk in the shadows, plotting to further their family’s interests. Then there is Sylva, an elf who will do anything she can to forge an alliance between her people and Hominum, even if it means betraying her friends. Othello is the first ever dwarf at the academy, and his people have long been oppressed by Hominum’s rulers, which provokes tension amongst those he studies alongside.

Fletcher will find himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with nothing but his demon Ignatius to help him. As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands … (publisher)

I was positively surprised with this book. Somehow I was totally unaware that this was YA book and it still tuned out good.

Orphan boy finds out he can summon demons and goes to an academy, school that teaches summoners, there’s a war going on so they need everyone they can get. Nobles, commoners, dwarfs and elves. There is tension between nobles and well, everyone which escalates in a tournament where you can earn positions for the war.

I liked Fletcher and seeing him grow into his powers. He’s very loyal to his friends and isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies, the type you want to have on your side. He gets some hints about his biological parents and I can’t help but wonder if there’s something more to it and why he was abandoned.

One of my favourite part of the book was the demons. They all have different personalities, they are connected to their owners and can sense their emotions.

I can’t wait that they get out from the academy to the real world. We haven’t seen anything from the actual war against the orcs and I’m curious to see how that turns out.

3,5/5

Published: Hodder Children’s Books (May 5, 2015)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley