Thursday, May 30, 2013

HFVBT Review for Spartacus: Rebellion

After freeing himself and his gladiators from the Ludus and Capua and defeating three praetors, two consuls, and one proconsul, Spartacus is ready to return to Thrace. Now situated in Northern Italy, Spartacus is close to his dream of returning home. His generals however,  have different plans. 

In Rome, Marcus Licinius Crassus is dreaming of defeating the gladiator he once watched fight. As the richest man in Rome, he plans to purchase his way to the fight for Rome herself. He plans on emerging victorious, and the Senate has given him authority to bring Spartacus to his knees, no matter the cost. 

War looms. Men will die. History will be written. 

As the borders of Rome come into view, Spartacus and his army think about their future. For some like Spartacus, home calls. Others want Rome. As this tug of war plays out, readers get to know Spartacus even better as his heart is being tugged in different directions. In the second book, the action picks up even more as battle lines are drawn in the sand. I also enjoyed reading more in the perspective of some of the secondary characters. Ben Kane writes an amazing tale of an amazing man and his amazing army. Highly recommended. 

The publisher was kind enough to give me a copy of Spartacus: Gladiator to review, which I will do soon.

About the Author

Ben Kane was born in Kenya and raised there and in Ireland. He qualified as a veterinary surgeon from University College Dublin, and worked in Ireland and the UK for several years. After that he travelled the world extensively, indulging his passion for seeing the world and learning more about ancient history. Seven continents and more than 65 countries later, he decided to settle down, for a while at least.

While working in Northumberland in 2001/2, his love of ancient history was fuelled by visits to Hadrian's Wall. He naively decided to write bestselling Roman novels, a plan which came to fruition after several years of working full time at two jobs - being a vet and writing. Retrospectively, this was an unsurprising development, because since his childhood, Ben has been fascinated by Rome, and particularly, its armies. He now lives in North Somerset with his wife and family, where he has sensibly given up veterinary medicine to write full time.

To find out more about Ben and his books visit

 I reviewed this book as part of the HFVBT. Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #SpartacusRebellionTour

Thursday, May 23, 2013

HFVBT Review for Chronicle of the Mound Builders by Elle Marie

A team of archeologists find a jar with a codex buried at the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis. Knowing that the Mound Builders had no written language, Angela Hunter begins the daunting task of translating the codex. She finds a story, and a warning contained on the deerskin pages.

The story is that of Totol, and his father. Cursed by an Mexica priest, they flee their home near Ancient Veracruz and journey North. They assimilate with the Mound Builders and try to live a peaceful life. But the gods have different ideas.

The codex and artifacts create a battle, with many forces trying to claim the secrets.

Elle Marie's Chronicle of the Mound Builders is an historically detailed story. Starting off in Mexico, the scenes are precise and stunning. I enjoyed reading as Totol and his father traveled up the Mississippi. I wish I could say that I connected with the archeologist, Dr. Angela Hunter, but I found myself looking forward to Totol's narrations. The present day dialogue seemed unnatural and brief. Granted, there is a lot more drama going on in the present world with the different parties all wanting the codex. The present day ending will stretch the imagination and seemed rushed. I did enjoy getting to read about the Mound Builders and the Mexica family.

About the Author

Coming from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.

A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.

By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.

For more information, please visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

I reviewed this book for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #MoundBuildersTour

You can purchase Chronicle of the Mound Builders here:



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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Boleyn King by Laura Anderson

What if Anne Boleyn have birth to a healthy boy in 1536? What if that boy, William, grew up to be King?
17 year old Will is on the cusp of taking over his Kingdom. His mother, Anne Boleyn, is still healthy and living, though his father died when he was 10. Will's reign is already being tested before it even begins. The French are trying to draw him into a costly war and treachery remains firmly entrenched in English soil. Will must use his older sister, Elizabeth, and his friend Dominic, and his mother's orphaned ward, Minuette. As the four try to discover the root of the plot against Will, Dominic and Will discover a mutual love. Love, war and politics threaten the next generation of the Tudors.

Full disclosure: I love Anne Boleyn. Laura Anderson takes us to a world where Anne triumphs and continues the Tudor Family. William is a perfect King. He has his mother's looks and scheming and his father's temper and  impulsive nature. Elizabeth remains the same Elizabeth that history records. Dominic and Minuette provide balance to the two royals. Anderson's alternate history doesn't spare the drama either. Rochford and Seymour are play the political schemes with Tudor like accuracy. This book makes me wish that Will really had survived. I'm looking forward to the next two installments in this trilogy!

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

HFVBT Review: A Prince to Be Feared by Mary Lancaster

Vlad Dracula has been imprisoned for 12 years by the King of Hungary. Needing a menacing threat to detour an Ottoman invasion, Vlad is being released. As part of his release, he is to be married to Matthias' cousin, Ilonia Szilagyi. But Ilonia refuses to marry Vlad. Not because she doesn't love him, but because she loves him too much. Vlad refuses to give up Ilonia, and is determined to fight for her. 

Vlad Dracula and Love Story may not seem to go together, but Mary Lancaster gives readers a new view on Dracula. Vlad is not only a prince to be feared, but a patient, calculating and sarcastic man. Ilonia, his beloved, was once a beautiful and smart woman who grew weak when their betrothal was broken. Together, they tell their love story through their eyes. Mary does a wonderful job of detailing Vlad's life, never glossing over the gory details, but explaining them through a lover's eyes. Their love story revolves around political events, battles and alliances. I really enjoyed this book. In the end, Vlad is neither moster nor saint, but simply Vlad. 

About the Author
Mary Lancaster’s first love was historical fiction. Since then she has grown to love coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films – simultaneously where possible. She hates housework.
As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.
Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile – the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero, A World to Win – a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary and A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula.
Mary Lancaster
You can find more information on Mary Lancaster and her novels at her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

I reviewed this book for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Thank you Amy and Mary!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower

Odo of Bayeux commissions a tapestry unlike any other to commemorate the triumph of his half brother William, King of England. Gathering a force of sewing women  under his roof, he notices one and falls in love. Gytha, a former lady to former Saxon King Harold's mistress, knows what Odo is capable of. She saw Harold with her own eyes and vows vengeance on the new Norman  rulers. She falls in love with Odo against her better judgement. As the tapestry takes shape, life unravels for all those involved.

Sarah Bower takes a historical object and weaves a story around it. Odo and Gytha make a great couple, loving but complete opposites. Odo is grounded, pragmatic and busy. Gytha is searching for something, but doesn't really know what. Together they create an idyllic escape, until the world comes knocking. Bower lets these two take the lead story without making the whole book about them. She also creates an accurate picture of post conquest England. This is a lovely and touching book. Very highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alcestis by Katherine Beutner

Alcestis is the fabled wife of King Admetus who loved her husband so much she died for him. Alcestis comes back from the dead to share her story. Alcestis knows death from her first breath, as her mother dies giving breath to her. Stalked by death, she is again robbed of family at a young age when her sister dies. When she is of a marriageable age, her father holds a contest for her hand. Admetus, who is loved by Apollo, yolks a chariot to a lion and bear, winning the hand of Alcestis. Though her husband is loved by a god, Alcestis loves him. When death comes for Admetus unexpectedly, his lover Apollo once again saves him. Anyone willing to die for the young king can save his life. As Admetus begs his family and friends to save his life, only Alcestis steps forward. Quickly taken, Admetus is horrified. Led to the underworld, Alcestis begins a new journey.

This stunning novel follows the Greek Myth. Combining the historical facts with fanciful mythological proportions, readers follow Alcestis though childhood, marriage and then to the underworld. As a typical Greek woman, she is property of her father or husband. But when she steps forward she becomes her own extraordinary woman. It is almost as if her life begins when it ends. Darkness pervades and the reader is engulfed by the dismal but alluring Underworld. The prose in this book is astounding. It's delicate, gorgeous and breathtaking. It will haunt the readers for months. It has become a favorite. I even tried to get my husband to read it, which is something I never do!
This book left me asking when is love enough and when it is too much?

Friday, May 3, 2013

HFVBT Review for The Fifth Knight by EM Powell

Benedict Palmer is a fighting man. Born poor, he fought his way to wealth and a decent station in life. Joined with a group of knights sent to arrest Archbishop Thomas Becket, he is anxious to receive his bountiful reward. But the arrest goes wrong. Becket is murdered in cold blood and an anchoress is kidnapped by his group. Overhearing the torture he is to preform on the poor girl to get secret information, he knows he must act. He rescues the anchoress to ransom her back to the Church. But he will have to fight her, and those who want her valuable secrets.

This blurb for The Fifth Knight sounded interesting, but the book really surprised me! Benedict and Theodosia have great chemistry. Separately they are good, but together they are great! The plot starts out quick and never stops. This book packs surprises on every page it seems. I really enjoyed this fast pace action book, and it even has a bit of romance Something for everyone!!

About the Author

E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.

For more information, please visit E.M. Powell's website and blog.  You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads
I reviewed this book for Historical Fiction Book Tours.

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #FifthKnightVirtualTour

Thank you to Amy and EM!