Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by the H Team (Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield Foreward by Glyn Iliffe)

02_A Song of War

Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Knight Media, LLC
eBook & Paperback; 483 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Ancient History/Anthology

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Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy's gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

 A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess' son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood. 

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

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Review

This is probably the most realistic portrayal of Paris and Helen I've seen yet. The trouble I always had with the Trojan War epic is the idea that two protagonists would make such a spectacularly selfish and reckless decision which they likely knew would result in war. It's normally portrayed as this utterly romantic idea, that they were just so in love, they had no choice. But I've always thought it was selfish and irresponsible, and that's finally how the H Team decided to portray it too. Paris is doing the bidding of his war mongering father by deliberately sparking war, while Helen is seeking the freedom and influence that Trojans would give her, both without regard to the innocent lives it will take. So I really appreciated the more realistic approach in moving away from Paris and Helen as the romantic protagonists and instead focusing on other, more likable characters.

I felt like this novel, in comparison to the previous ones by the H Team, was more at the heart of the major players in the event. The previous stories were frequently told from the points of view of a lot of nameless fictional characters, while this one was told from the points of view of characters like Helenus, Cassandra, Andromache, Agamemnon, etc. That is not a criticism of either this novel or the previous ones, just an observation. Like the previous novels though, this one also tells both side of the story, and we get to see protagonists and antagonists on both sides of the war.

Although the authors involved in the H Team projects vary by the book, the quality of writing never does. This is once again a very well written and well put together story of an epic tragedy in history/legend.



About the Authors

CHRISTIAN CAMERON was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa,Christian Cameron and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age four. And a half.

LIBBIE HAWKER was born in Rexburg, Idaho and divided her childhood between Eastern Idaho's rural environs and the greater Seattle area. She presently lives in Seattle, but has also been a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah; Bellingham, Washington; and Tacoma, Washington. She loves to write about character and place, and is inspired by the bleak natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain region and by the fascinating history of the Puget Sound.

After three years of trying to break into the publishing industry with her various books under two different pen names, Libbie finally turned her back on the mainstream publishing industry and embraced independent publishing. She now writes her self-published fiction full-time, and enjoys the fact that the writing career she always dreamed of having is fully under her own control.

KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra's Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. The LA Times calls Cleopatra's Moon, "magical" and "impressive." Publisher's Weekly said it was "fascinating" and "highly memorable." The Wall Street Journal called it "absorbing."

STEPHANIE THORNTON is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

Her novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, and The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great, tell the stories of history's forgotten women.

SJA TURNEY lives with his wife, son and daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire.

Marius' Mules was his first full length novel. Being a fan of Roman history, SJA decided to combine his love of writing and love of the classical world. Marius' Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum - an attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome.

These have been followed by numerous sequels, with three books in the fantasy 'Tales of the Empire' series and five in the bestselling 'Marius' Mules' one. 2013 has seen the first book in a 15th century trilogy - 'The Thief's Tale' - and will also witness several side projects seeing the light of day.

RUSSELL WHITFIELD was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey.

Gladiatrix was Russ's first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, October 15
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Sunday, October 16
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, October 17
Review at Leeanna.me

Tuesday, October 18
Review at A Book Drunkard

Wednesday, October 19
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, October 20
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, October 21
Review & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Saturday, October 22
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, October 24
Review at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, October 25
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 26
Review at The Maiden's Court

Friday, October 28
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Monday, October 31
Review & Excerpt at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, November 2
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, November 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, November 7
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, November 8
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 9
Review at Historical Readings & Reviews

Friday, November 11
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at The Book Tree

Saturday, November 12
Excerpt at The Reading Queen
Review at The True Book Addict

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by the H Team, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. A Song of War

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ebook Deals

Apologies for falling behind on ebook deals and upcoming releases, I had a family tragedy to deal with over the last month. Getting back to normal things...

Click the cover to view and buy the book in the Kindle store. While I only post links to the Kindle store, often times you can find the same titles on sale at other stores.

Disclaimer: Ebook prices are subject to change anytime. I can only promise they are under a certain price at the time I post them.

US Kindle Deals, fiction under $4, non-fiction under $6:

                                             



UK Kindle Deals, fiction under £3, non-fiction under £4:

                             

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: Christmas in America by Holly Bush, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe, and Donna Thorland

This is a compilation of short historical romance stories set during Christmas time. Since each story is independent of each other with what I felt was varying degrees of writing quality, I'll do a short review of each one.

Into the Evermore started off really well with a great hook to catch your interest but after that it was a little boring. It was like it climaxed at the opening and then nothing really happened after that. Additionally the writing quality wasn't great and probably needed an editor, or a better editor. Particularly in the beginning, there are a few paragraphs where literally every sentence in the paragraph starts with the same pronoun.

The Cowboy's Christmas was also a little lack luster. The characterization seemed good on the surface but I felt like there wasn't much depth. The writing was okay but the dialogue could be a little hokey sometimes.

Miracle on Ladies' Mile was an excellent Mr. Selfridge-esque story set in the Gilded Age. Great writing with compelling characters you just want to know more about. Just the right amount of humor in it too.

Christmas at Mount Holly. No surprise I loved this one. Donna Thorland is a great storyteller and she did not disappoint. We finally get a bit more of a glimpse into The Widow's backstory, an absolute must read for anyone following Thorland's series.

There's some very sexy scenes in here so not one for the clean romance fans (I say bring it on though).

So although I didn't love the first two stories, I adored the second two, and I guess that means the rating averages out to about 3 stars.



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: 1066 Turned Upside Down by by Joanna Courtney, Helen Hollick, Annie Whitehead, Anna Belfrage, Alison Morton, Carol McGrath, Eliza Redgold, G.K. Holloway, Richard Dee

It appears that another group of authors has attempted to do what the H Team has done in compiling short stories from each author on a major event in history, except this group is doing it with an alternate history twist. These short stories explore how things would have gone down in 1066 England if Edgar was crowned instead of Harold, or if William of Normandy had lost at Hastings, and several other "what if" speculations.

It also differs from the H Team's books because these are truly individual short stories. Each tale has nothing to do with one another (apart from being based on the events of 1066), which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of unrelated short story compilations out there which people really enjoy. But it's disappointing when you also consider that most of the stories are so short that you really don't get an idea of how history would have been radically different if these "what if" scenarios had happened. I felt like it posed more questions than it answered. I would have liked each story to not only present an alternate event, but also show us how the succeeding events thereafter would have been different as a result. Don't just show us how the Battle of Hastings would have been different if Harold had won, show us what would have happened after that - how would it have changed England? If they had done that, I wouldn't have minded each story having nothing to do with the next, as it allowed more than one alternate history scenario to be explored.

There were author's notes and discussion suggestions that attempted to explore the resulting events a little bit, which were informative and enlightening, but it just wasn't the same, and wasn't what I was expecting. I did enjoy them though, and actually wound up thinking this might have been a better project had they just approached it with academic essays instead of trying to make them into fictional short stories.

Don't get me wrong, the writing quality from all these stories is very good. But to me, the short stories felt like something that was just quickly thrown together to make each author a few extra bucks on the self published ebook sales, and give them some more exposure. I guess I was hoping for something a little more in depth. However, for only $1.99, it's probably worth the read for those really interested in this topic.



Sunday, September 4, 2016

Review: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

When I first started this novel, I wondered how the life of the daughter of one of our founding fathers, and not the man himself, could possibly fill such a long book (over 600 pages). Sometimes authors like to take a lesser known relation of a historical figure and give them a voice but it just doesn't work out well because their life just isn't as interesting. I figured it would be all about Thomas Jefferson himself and his affair with his slave, Sally Hemmings, and when things like that are told from a third party perspective, it tends to be lacking. But while that was one of the sub plot lines, Martha Jefferson's own story was not lacking and no less fascinating than any novel on Thomas Jefferson himself could be. It's actually amazing how much the authors managed to fit into only 600-some pages.

The beginning was a little bit of a slow start, but the writing was excellent, and the character development is what really makes this book great. I did often wonder why Martha was so dedicated to a father who frankly could be rather selfish sometimes. I understand it had to do with losing her mother, but I couldn't help feeling like at some point enough should just be enough. That's not necessarily criticism though, I appreciated that Martha was a flawed character, it made her human. And not just Martha, but all the characters were so well formed, so complex, so believable, and so sympathetic. Combined with a surprisingly eventful plot, I just couldn't wait to see what would happen next and how the characters would handle it. So much had already happened in just first half of the book, and I knew there was so much more to come, it truly felt like something of an epic saga.



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