Friday, March 29, 2013

Flesh by Khanh Ha HFVBT Review

Set in Twentieth Century Annam, Tai's story starts with tragedy. A boy watches as his father is executed as a criminal. Seeking revenge, his life starts to spiral out of control. He is indentured to a wealthy benefactor to pay for a auspicious grave for his father and little brother claimed by small pox. He travels to Hanoi, and begins working for a geomancer. Thus begins Tai's life altering journey of the streets of Hanoi. Readers are taken on a journey though China's opium dens and Vietnam's rugged jungles. Tai's life story includes survival against the odds, violence, love, lust and jealousy.

This book is gorgeous and rough all at the same time. Life is rough and Tai is given no breaks. But he holds no grudge or hatred towards life. I loved how he always seems hopeful.The plot of this book is twisted and dark. Betrayal seems almost inevitable and love is hard to come by. But the power of Ha's writing makes for a wonderful book.
Twitter Hashtag: #FleshVirtualTour

Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Black Heron Publishing
Hardcover; 368p
ISBN-10: 0930773888

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai's entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledging his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew--his father. Through this story of revenge is woven another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author's writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

Read an excerpt HERE.

View the Book Trailer HERE.

Praise for FLESH

"Vietnam-born Ha’s beautifully described [. . .] first novel, set in his native country at the turn of the 20th century, opens with an infamous yet respected bandit being beheaded in front of his wife and their two young sons. This beginning casts a pall over the tale as Tài, the eldest son, embarks on a far-reaching journey to retrieve his father’s skull, find a suitable burial site, and seek revenge on the man who betrayed his father’s trust. Through a series of twists and turns [. . .] Tài trades two years’ service to a wealthy entrepreneur for land on which to bury the father’s remains. During that time, Tài loses his heart to Xiaoli, an indentured servant working in an opium den, and will do anything—including holding off on vengeance and killing a French soldier—to protect her. In this dark, violent, and poetic saga, with disjointed cinematic vignettes that make it often read like a screenplay, characters are not who they seem. While this makes for a thrilling finale, what lingers [. . .] is Ha’s descriptive prose." - Publishers Weekly

"History marches on, and there will never be something like that ever again. Flesh is a historical novel set in pre-turn of the twentieth century Vietnam, a Vietnam so very different than the Vietnam known today. A young man is faced with the honest brutality of his world in his first sight. Trying to understand a world filled with such hate and such joys, and how it can twist young minds, Flesh is a strong addition to any literary historical fiction collection, much recommended." - Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years, he began writing short stories, which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He studied Journalism at Ohio University and learned the craft of writing under Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon) and Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell to Earth).  FLESH (Black Heron Press, June 2012) is his first novel (literary fiction).
For more information, please visit Khanh Ha's WEBSITE and BLOG.

I reviewed this book as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Thank you to Amy and the Author.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage

Matthew Graham is abducted by his nose less brother. As revenge, he is sold and transported to America as an indentured servant. His wife, a strong time traveling woman, Alex refuses to let her love be treated so cruelly. She sets off to America to be reunited with him. When issues and dreams plague her journey, Alex prays that Matthew will survive.When and if she finds him alive, will she be able to set him free?

Second in the Graham Family Saga, Like Chaff in the Wind tells the story of Matthew and Alex Graham. Starting the saga in the second book was not the best idea on my part. About 4 pages in, I realized that there was a huge back story I was missing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the current time characters related to the past characters. Also another thing to note, this is Christian Fiction. Be forewarned, especially if Christian HF isn't your thing. That being said, the novel is well written. The characters are extremely relate able. I loved how she made the characters imperfect. And the plot moves really quickly, so you won't get bored easy!

About the Author

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical -  both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am - I have achieved my dream.

This book was reviewed for the Historical Fiction Book Tour. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Daughter of Troy by Sarah B Franklin

Briseis, Daughter of Bresus, is the Princess of Lyrnessos. As a child, she lives a carefree life playing with her twin brother. After receiving a sign from the gods, she is declared a seer and the heiress to the throne of Lyrnessos. Briseis begins serving Potnia, the goddess. Her father also begins finding her a husband to defend Lyrnessos as Agamemnon begins preparing to invade Troy. When the warrior Mynes married Briseis, life changes again. Battered and bruised, she longs for freedom. Black sails approach and Lyrnessos is sacked. With her husband dead, Briseis is unsure of what to expect. She falls for the handsome warrior, Achilles. Given to him, she follows him to Troy. Briseis bring the Trojan War to life through the eyes of Achilles' lover and the greatest threat to the Greek Army.

Being somewhat familiar with the Trojan War, I was aware of Briseis. But her story is amazing. She brings the Trojan War to life, showing the players not as immortal heroes, but mortal beings with flaws. I also loved how her story begins before the war. This allows readers to see the whole story. There is gore and sex in this book, but neither is overdone.

I really enjoyed this book.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Forgotten Queen by DL Bogdan

Margaret Tudor is just a child when she is wed to James IV, King of Scotland. Though she is young, she falls in love with her charismatic husband and Scotland. James is a renowned womanizer and devout in his faith, leaving Margaret battling him at every turn.When Flodden Field and her sister-in-law leave Margaret a young widow, Margaret knows she must be a mother and never love again. But the Earl of Angus has different ideas. Margaret's passions fracture Scotland, leaving little Jamie's rule unstable. Relying on both Scotland and her enemies to help keep her son's crown, Margaret is a woman alone.

Margaret Tudor comes to life in DL Bogdan's latest book. This vivacious redhead comes to Scotland and never stops astonishing the Scots. Like her brother, Margaret is prideful, temperamental, and harsh at times. Her passions are her life path. I really enjoyed her! Margaret has always been one of my favorite Tudors. She broke the mold is so many ways.
Bogdan captures Margaret's life with a vivid portrait of the Queen. Her vulnerability shines through and her rashness proves to be her downfall. Daughter, Sister, Wife and Mother to Kings, Margaret shines through history and proves herself to be anything but Forgotten!

I received this book from NetGalley. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher!