Today is my final blog tour post of the month. This tour had me reading something a little out of my comfort zone, yet I was equally keen to try it! Thank you to the author and to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part and try something new!
A beaten homeless vet. Three cops gunned down. A multistate manhunt. The trial of the decade.
A new kind of legal thriller
When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.
A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.
Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.
Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?
Reading Justice Gone was a new experience for me. It’s rare that I read anything with a military undertone – if I do, it’s historical (WW2 etc). The lives of war veteran’s after they have served their country, and the daily difficulties they face, as a result, isn’t really well known.
I found the novel easier to read the further developed the story became. Each character is easy to invest in and as many of the characters have experienced trauma as a result of a military background, I found myself empathising with them so easily. I love how openly PTSD is discussed and that there isn’t a stigma around men expressing their true feelings.
“What makes a person if not their own experiences?”
It’s a poignant quote from the book and it has stuck with me… simply because it’s true! Vets returning from service aren’t given the support needed to integrate themselves back into society and are then punished for acting out in the only way they know.
There is a degree of violence in the book which some readers may not like, but I personally didn’t find it off-putting. If anything, experiencing these moments with the characters drives home the feelings of injustice even more.
I was mainly drawn to the book for the promise of a legal thriller – and I was not disappointed! Donald Darfield stands accused murdering three police officers, who days before had beaten his friend and sergeant to death. Reminiscent of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel tackles the challenges and failings of the justice system, as well as racial and socioeconomic bias in society.
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).
In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net
His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.
His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Whether you are new to my blog or a frequent visitor, hello and welcome! I trust you are having a lovely weekend? In today’s post, I get to share my thoughts with you about Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire, book two in the Time For Alexander series.
In addition to my review, there is also the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate; you’ll find the details for that below.
Legends of Persia
When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…
Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.
Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?
Picking up this second book of the series is like getting into your “old faithful” pair of jeans. They’re familiar, comfortable and you know they fit. Having read and reviewed The Road to Alexander earlier this year, I was in the perfect position to pick this up and follow on from the events that transpired in book one.
Interestingly, one element that I really enjoyed about the first book is barely mentioned in the second! The historical fiction and science fiction crossover in The Road to Alexander isn’t one that I have seen all that much of. Okay, to an extent they go hand-in-hand where time travel is concerned. In my experience though, I haven’t seen it in any great detail; Jennifer Macaire’s writing is the exception.
To help readers, the circumstances of Ashley’s long-term presence in Alexander the Great’s time zone are recapped briefly. As a recap though, these versions don’t touch on the scientific explanations of how the time travel happens, as they did in book one. I don’t think that as a drawback though – Legends of Persia stands as a brilliant historical fiction novel without the need to include the science fiction as an element of intrigue.
An additional advantage of picking up Legends of Persia immediately after an epic like A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, is that it is really easy to read. I sat and engorged on 30% of this novel without even looking up in my first sitting. It didn’t take long to read either, and being so involved in the storyline and the characters trials and tribulations makes it so much easier. I say this a lot, but the writing style is make-or-break for me. I can get a good idea of how well I will get on with a book based on the first couple of pages alone. Jennifer Macaire’s writing style is very easy to read.
One of the other things I talked about in my review of The Road to Alexander was the sex and nudity throughout the novel. I went into Legends of Persia knowing what to expect, so I wasn’t so bothered about it this time around. The intimate moments aren’t so graphic in detail that it makes you uncomfortable as a reader, or so prolific to negate the actual storyline.
Throughout the series, the characters are more emotional than we are. Men cry and rejoice and love freely. There aren’t the constraints that the reader may expect; modern religion and society as we know it is yet to be born. I’m not all that versed in the sexual habits of people at the time, but I like the inclusion (and normalisation) of same sex relations between the characters. Love is for a person for who they are and doesn’t discriminate by sex or gender.
I’ve really enjoyed delving into both The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia and re-living a historical time period largely unknown to me. I have already agreed to reading and reviewing the next two books in the series! I cannot wait for those!
Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.
Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon gift certificate (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Today marks the first stop on the blog tour for Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and I am delighted to be taking part! I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –
Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!
Life and Other Dreams is an extremely approachable sci-fi psychological thriller. I would never have expected the two genres to gel as well as they do. I enjoy sci-fi books, but I confess it is the genre (of those that I “do read”) that I pick up the least. By no means am I a science geek, but that doesn’t matter. The concept of life on another planet and in a different time zone is simple and brilliant.
Two identities. Two completely separate lives. Rick and Dan exist in the other’s dreams – but where do the lines between the subconscious and reality lie? Rick lives a seemingly normal life, but Dan lives on another planet hundreds of years in the future. He and Vanessa are part of a small community colonising the planet, scouting for useful materials. The description of the unique landscape and the advancements in technology imagined are truly fantastic. More importantly to my mind, they are believable. No part of this new world feels forced or farfetched and consequently unimaginable. That can be a real deal-breaker with sci-fi, at least for me. However, I felt as much at home on Ecias as with Rick’s life on humble Earth.
It’s hard to tell if Dan and Rick are their own individual or in fact the same person, just living in different circumstances (or just the other person’s head). Each influences the other. They seem irrevocably bound together, but how or why are the intriguing questions borne from the narrative. This psychological thriller element sets Life, and Other Dreams apart from any other book I have read to date – for all the right reasons!
The pace of the novel and regular changes of perspective keep the narrative fresh. I found myself avidly devouring each chapter, desperate to find out what happens next for each of these men. They each have their own separate struggles in their own worlds, making the conflicts in the plot twice as exciting, and telling myself “just one more chapter” so much easier.
As to what happens next, we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment – Wake Me Up.
Author Bio –
Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon. He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, working as a Marine Insurance Surveyor and as Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.
In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.
Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren.
His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. Sequels to Ribbonworld and The Rocks of Aserol have been published, together with a second Andorra Pett story, Andorra Pett on Mars. He also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection. Richard is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.
You can find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.
Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force.
So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…
And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.
My initial impressions of the series can be found in my review of The Relic Guild, the first book of the series. The turmoil within Labrys Town continues in this second instalment, and the Relic Guild are out of their depth.
The dual timeline between The Great War forty years ago and the present day is one of my favourite elements of the book. The circumstances have changed for both sides since the first invasion years ago. Fabian Moor has licked his wounds and learned from his mistakes. On the other hand, the Relic Guild has fewer numbers than before. The odds are stacking against them rapidly in this new attack on the Labyrinth.
It is fair to say that the narrative storyline is well developed, but isn’t hard to follow. In this second book of the series, there is far more action and plot development. It builds on the events of the first book well, so the character relations and world building are carried through. I really enjoyed the characterisation and world-building elements in the first book. Although I didn’t pick up The Cathedral of Known Things straight after the Relic Guild, it was easy to pick up again and felt familiar almost immediately. The world building and characterisation were necessary components of the first book of the series and brilliant besides. However, I am grateful to start to see the action unfold now that I have invested time into the lives of these characters.
Whilst both storylines are narrated concurrently in the book, the main emphasis I took away from it lies in the storyline of The Great War all those years ago. Could it be that the key to winning this present day war lies in events of the past? Perhaps. I’ll only know that once I read The Watcher of Dead Time later this month. I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you all. With any luck though… I’ll pull my finger out and share them with you a bit sooner than three months after the reading of it…
*** I was kindly provided with e-book copies of Brighton’s No.1 Private Detective Series by the author, via Rachel’s Random Resources, for review. All the opinions stated below are my own***
Hi guys! Today I am sharing my much anticipated Blog Tour post reviewing Brighton’s No.1 Detective series by Tom Trott. Get yourself a cup of tea (or coffee, I don’t judge) and make yourself comfortable, because I have plenty to say on why I have really enjoyed being able to read this series and share my thoughts with you!
You Can’t Make Old Friends
Blacklisted by the police. Being sued by a client. And broke. Things can’t get any worse for Brighton’s No.1 Private Detective, Joe Grabarz.
That’s when his best friend’s body washes up on the beach.
Could it really have been ten years? What happened? How could his life have ended like this? He needs answers.
But with the city in the grips of organised crime, and struggling to deal with an influx of legal highs, who cares about just another dead drug dealer?
Joe, that’s who. After all, you can’t make old friends.
Struggling Private Detective Joe Grabarz is on the brink. Living in a small flat, sleeping on only a mattress, he is struggling to make ends meet. Who cares if your clients are a little shady? Their money pays the bills, right? Not when they refuse to pay. Such is Joe’s life. He has been cut off from assisting police, described only as “their dirty habit”.
When his childhood best friend is found dead, he is determined to find out how he met his end. His personal involvement in the case introduces some elements to Joe’s life as a youth, but we find a lot more of his past plays its part in the later books.
Joe is such an easy character to get along with. His unique take on rule bending and his chequered past plants him firmly in the grey area of morality. He has no illusions to that fact either. He’s a calculated risk taker… what I would describe as a ‘means to an end’ man. He wants answers and so do the police. Does it matter how he gets them?
You Can’t Make Old Friends throws you right into the action from the start. With drugs and gang involvement, Joe walks a dangerous path with the constant reminder that his friend didn’t make it out alive. The narrative is sinister but exciting. The fast pace in which events and their consequences unravel keep you on the edge of your seat for the next development.
Choose Your Parents Wisely
One missing girl and the whole city goes crazy.
It’s been three days, and now everyone in Brighton is looking for her. There is an army of police searching, her picture is on every front page, and the public can’t get enough of it. Gangs of good citizens are going door to door, turning their neighbours’ houses upside down, but still no one can find her.
For Brighton’s No.1 Private Detective, Joe Grabarz, it brings back too many memories of his first case, another missing girl, when he learnt too many lessons the hard way. No one was going door to door then. No one cared. But her mum and dad weren’t nearly as photogenic, nor quite so saintly.
It’s a lesson Joe learnt long ago that has come back to haunt him: choose your parents wisely.
Choose Your Parents Wisely, structurally, is written differently to the first book of the series. Instead of looking after a personal case which delves into Joe Grabarz’s history, the narrative is split between the current case and a historic one. Both are similar enough to urge Joe to solve the case; he is all-too-aware of the outcome of the historic case. Can he navigate through the leads in time to save her?
Joe isn’t as down on his luck and we begin to see him progressing from an introverted version of himself. I wouldn’t define him as an introvert by nature… it was entirely circumstantial. Thalia, his childhood best friend’s sister becomes a permanent feature working as his secretary. She proves a keen detective though and is more than prepared to put the time into helping Joe crack the case.
I personally enjoyed the increased detail of Joe’s past in this second book. The first book of the series made an excellent introduction to our leading man; it was time to get to know him a little better. Where You Can’t Make Old Friends touches on some unpleasant aspects of his past life, this second book fills in the gaps in a way that is entirely relevant to the ongoing investigation.
As with You Can’t Make Old Friends the plot development is well paced without compromising the quality of the novel. The balance of description, dialogue and context build a rich narrative.
It Never Goes Away
From No.1 Private Detective to No.1 Suspect
A cryptic message from an old friend leads Joe Grabarz to an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of the South Downs. But Joe is too late, someone else has got there first: his friend is dead, and all the evidence points to him.
Ten years ago the farmhouse was the scene of three infamous murders when a young boy killed his mother, father, and little sister. Now an adult, he was released from prison with a new identity. Could he be involved? The farmhouse also sits on valuable land, fought over in a struggle between building houses and drilling for shale gas. But could it really be worth killing for? Whatever is going on, Joe knows one thing for sure: his friend’s murder is just a tiny part of it.
To bring the killer to justice Joe must dig up the past, and reckon with his own, because no matter how hard you work, it never goes away.
Joe Grabarz has turned his life around. His past life of living in a small, dingy flat with only a mattress to sleep on feels a distant memory. Work is better than ever. Joe has a new office, his own staff and the choice of clients. What could go wrong?
Being framed for murder sure puts a spanner in the works. With only the briefest sighting of the body and the cryptic clue of “Endeavour to Solve” against a £110,110.01 retainer, Joe has to pool every resource he has into uncovering the information his friend Clarence, also a private detective died for. Fraught with danger, Joe is pretty out of his depth. The scale of the criminal operation can only mean that someone very rich and powerful is pulling the strings and they are determined to get him out of the picture.
This third book of the series ties up a number of loose ends on a larger plot built behind the main investigation cases. There is a lot of depth to these stories, even in the early stages. It is clear the series as a whole is well planned and that the author has invested a lot of time into writing a developed, cohesive series. With some writers, you feel that their writing and storytelling ability matures as it progresses. Brighton’s No.1 Private Detective series hits the ground running and doesn’t look back.
I have already recommended these books to a number of work colleagues and members of book-related groups I socialise with on social media platforms. If that doesn’t tell you how much I loved the series then I don’t know what will.
Born in Brighton, I went to school in here, worked many jobs here, and have never lived anywhere else. I first started writing at school, where I and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for assemblies, much to the amusement of our fellow pupils. The young ones would cheer (and the old ones would groan) as we stepped up onto the stage, the buzz was tangible. It has been with me ever since.
As an adult I have written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel; and won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. I published my first novel, You Can’t Make Old Friends, in 2016; my second, Choose Your Parents Wisely, in 2017, my third, The Benevolent Dictator, in 2018, and now my fourth, It Never Goes Away, in 2019. When I’m not writing books, I’m writing about writing, books, and film on Medium.
My inspirations as a writer come from a diverse range of storytellers, but I have a particular love for the works of Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Joel & Ethan Coen, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Bryan Fuller, Ira Levin, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Towne, JRR Tolkien, and many many more books and films beside. If you can’t find me, or I’m not answering my phone, I’m probably at the cinema.
In July I received news that I was one of the few and fortunate to receive an early ARC of this AMAZING debut novel, courtesy of Orion Publishing. When this book is officially published on the 7th February 2019 (make a note of that date friends), I urge any fans of crime or psychological thriller novels… or frankly ANYONE to get a copy of this book!!
Why? I started reading The Silent Patient late one night on a whim. I finished reading it in less than 24 hours and I was swept away. Yep…it really is that good, folks!
Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…
I have always taken a keen interest in human Psychology. I was taught about the human brain and different types of therapy at school. It was one of the topics I enjoyed the most in my years of study. The reason I find psychological thrillers so entertaining is because I know just how unreliable the human brain is!
Alicia is an intriguing character. Basing a book around a character that refuses to speak is a difficult, but certainly not impossible, task. Despite her lack of verbal communication she has a strong presence throughout the novel. They say actions speak louder and words and this couldn’t be any truer in Alicia’s case. Even her silence has plenty to say when it wants to:
“Her silence was like a mirror – reflecting yourself back at you.
And it was often an ugly sight.”
Theo, the psychotherapist determined to break her silence, is just as complex. In fact, I would say he has a lot in common with Alicia. Both have had painful upbringings, have addictive personalities (different vices) etc. It really is like looking in a mirror.
As with all books of this genre I was trying to guess the ending, then second guessing my thoughts. The Silent Patient has a dramatic conclusion – one I didn’t even consider! I adored this book so much; I think that shows in the way I read it so quickly. It has been a long time since I have inhaled a book so fast. The Silent Patient is an entertaining, must-read psychological thriller!
In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag lives a totalitarian life. The government says books are dangerous… and dangerous they are. They provoke thought and opinion, encourage individuality and ideas. They must be burned. Montag is a fireman, charged with the destruction of the prohibited material. But curiosity gets the better of him, and he finds himself on the path to his own destruction…
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
Can you really imagine a world without books? As a source of entertainment and knowledge, they are one of the most precious things to me! In Fahrenheit 451 literature is publicly spurned for its contradictory nature; the uncertainty and the confusion it causes is blamed for the unhappiness in the world. (Of course, living a life in which you are stifled of all opinion and individuality has NOTHING to do with it…)
Then, one day, a young girl walks into Guy Montag’s life. She starts to question him, his life and the world they live in. She plants a seed. He was so sure of what he was doing… what role he had in society, now he isn’t. So, he seeks the truth and turns his attention to those materials he is entrusted to destroy for answers.
Being sat on the other side of the fence to this dystopian novel, it is easy to criticise Montag for just accepting what he is told and not thinking for himself. We are used to having an opinion and the freedom to express it. Ask my work colleagues, they’ll tell you I’m one of the most opinionated people on the planet. Consider never having that choice; imagine growing up to be told something just is and you never question it.
They walked still further and the girl said, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?”
“No. Houses have always been fireproof, take my word for it.”
As a book-lover, I can’t help but champion Montag’s awakening. His transition from a brainwashed man who knows what he is told to one who can think for himself is liberating. It’s a change we often see in dystopian novels, but somehow it’s still refreshing every single time. Knowledge is a powerful force against tyranny, and reading of Montag’s rebellion sparks a small fire in all of us.
Would we do the same in his shoes? I hope I never have to find out.
*** I kindly received a free copy of The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire for the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. All the opinions stated in my review are honest and my own***
The Road to Alexander has opened up a whole new historical period to love. The narrative is rich in detail and gives a lot of insight into the culture and lifestyle of the time. Not only that, if you don’t know very much about the Greek gods, you’re in for an enjoyable education too!
The year is 2089, and time-travelling journalist Ashley Riveraine gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview her childhood hero, Alexander the Great. She expects to come out with an award-winning article, but doesn’t count on Fate intervening.
Alexander mistakes Ashley for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. Being stuck 3000 years in the past with the man of her dreams wouldn’t be so bad if the scientists of the Time Institute hadn’t threatened to erase Ashley from existence if she changes history.
Ashley must now walk a tightrope, caught up in the cataclysmic events of the time, knowing what the future holds for the people she comes to love but powerless to do anything to influence it.
Join Ashley on her hilarious, bumpy journey into the past as she discovers where her place in history truly is…
Avid followers of my blog will know that historical fiction books are a guilty pleasure of mine. Take me back to Tudor England, either of the Great World Wars or the Viking invasion of Britain and I am a happy lass. Occasionally though, I branch out of the usual time periods and find a real gem.
I really like the recurring element of science-fiction in The Road To Alexander. To date, I haven’t found a crossover like it. Historical fiction that even includes time travel gives it the curtest nod before moving on swiftly and forgetting it ever happened. Ashley is a modern woman and time travel isn’t unusual to her. She trained for the very opportunity of a lifetime, so she knows everything about it. Well after the time travel event itself Ashley experiences medical symptoms/complications that remind us of her situation. She is paranoid about altering history. If she does, she has been told she be erased and will never meet Alexander.
Depending on your work environment, colleagues etc, there are sections of the narrative that feel very NSFW. As a personal preference, I don’t really enjoy reading too much detail when it comes to sex and nudity. There is a lot of sex in the book. To give you an idea of what it’s like, I can only describe it like this:
The first time, Ashley and Alexander are like desperate hormonal teenagers. No detail is spared. It doesn’t take too long for it to get to the kind of sex you could expect five years into a marriage – a brief encounter and promptly forgotten.
When we first meet Ashley, she is a very cold person. Her excitement to meet her childhood hero is limited to the acclaim she expects when she gets back to 2089 to write about Alexander the Great. She has a hard upbringing and is driven by success, but I love that we get to see this ice queen thaw as she adapts to her new way of life. She blossoms from an unpleasant, career-driven young lady (well, I didn’t like her much anyway) into a woman that would do anything to save another person. It’s also quite funny watching someone who doesn’t have a clue how to adapt. After Ashley discovers that she is stuck in the past, there is a great deal of humour as she tries to wriggle out of difficult situations!
As an amateur to the history inspiring the book, I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of it. Only an expert could tell you that. What the expert couldn’t tell you though, is how well this book “sells” the historical period to the person that hasn’t really come across it before. A person like me. Sure, I’ve HEARD of Alexander the Great. Could I have told you before what he had done to earn the name? Not at all. Do I want to finish the series and find out? Hell yes!
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Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories
The Swan Keeper is an historical, coming of age novel set in Northwest Montana’s Mission Valley in the late 1920s.
Lillian Connelly loves trumpeter swans and vows to protect them from a hunter who is killing them and leaving their carcasses for the wolves and coyotes to ravage.
On her eleventh birthday Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun and fires on not only the swans, but on Lilly’s family. Unable to prevent tragedy, Lillian witnesses Drake kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans.
The sheriff, Charlie West, thinks that Lilly is reacting to the trauma and blaming Drake because of a previous conflict between Drake and her father. Lilly’s mother, sister, and her best friend, Jerome West, the sheriff’s son, all think the same thing: that Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident.
Left alone to bring Dean Drake to justice, Lilly’s effort is subverted when Drake woos her sister, courts her mother, and moves into their home.
Who cannot love a girl who will risk her life:
1. for the sake of the truth and;
2. the lives of innocent trumpeter swans?
She has guts; some would say gall, but Lilly will not be chastened. Too young, she is forced to grow up and face the harshest realities of life, and that no one takes an impulsive eleven-year-old seriously.
As in Copper Sky, the natural beauty of the Montana landscape shines throughout the narrative. Picturesque mountains and vivid descriptions set the scene of Montana in the 1920’s. The changing of the seasons mark the passage of time as Lilly transitions from a child into the headstrong, confident young woman she is meant to be.
Nothing is impossible for this young girl. When everyone refuses to believe that she witnessed her father murdered by the man he feuded with, she sets out for justice against all odds. But Drake is on to her? What lengths will he go to, to ensure that no one believes her?
Having already read Copper Sky, I know the high standard of writing and character development from Milana Marsenich. Once again she has proven her ability to write strong, memorable characters. During a time when a family is tested to its limits, the bond holding them together proves that blood is thicker than water. Two squabbling sisters are able to pull together when it matters most. Hardship and struggle are themes that Milana can write incredibly well. Death, loss and sad kind of acceptance are all feelings we can relate to. Experiencing such a tragedy from the perspective of a child makes those feelings all the more profound.
Lilly’s youthful determination and Drake’s easy arrogance are but two examples of how each of these characters is brought to life. These two are opposing forces of nature and they catalyze one another. The depth and complexity of humanity are explored in each and every character, though. I’m a firm believer that Milana’s experience in mental health therapy lends a greater understanding as to how we, as people, tick, especially under stress.
The Swan Keeper is a beautiful novel. Tragic and heartfelt, yet with its own admirable beauty and appreciation of nature, the novel is not just an entertaining read. It’s a journey.
Author Bio – Milana Marsenich
Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. For the past 20 years she has worked as a mental health therapist in a variety of settings. As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel. Copper Sky was chosen as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel.
She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies.
She has a short story included in The Montana Quarterly book: Montana, Warts and All. She has two published novels, Copper Sky and The Swan Keeper.
I am really looking forward to today’s blog tour post for Facing a Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick. I was kindly invited to the tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. A massive thank you to both of you for enabling me to enjoy this thrilling read!
What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system? Probably not.
After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.
When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.
As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.
Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.
Give me a crime novel with any number of suspects and I’ll sit there and try to deduce my way through it like a very amateurish Poirot. The measure of a good crime novel is whether I THINK I’ve hacked it or not. As I said, I’m not very good at these things. I’m always wrong, but I enjoy the attempt nonetheless.
I was kept guessing throughout this book! I doubted everyone and everything I was told, trusting none of the characters…well, except Dalia. Was it truly the cold and calculating husband? Maybe it was the psycho sister or brother serving time for fraud. The investigation targets the husband very quickly and the evidence starts to mount up against him.
The narrative is clearly constructed from two perspectives; Dalia, employed by the company trying to recover several pieces of artwork valued at 130million dollars, and suspect number one himself. Dalia’s background as an attorney means she cannot help but take a natural interest in the disappearance of Samantha and subsequent investigation. Her narrative is balanced between developing her character and current events. Of all the characters in the book, I found Dalia to be the most authentic and relatable. As a newcomer to the team and the investigation, we unravel the mystery through her eyes.
Alex is far from a likable character, but his portrayal in the narrative is intriguing and wonderfully written. He is an attorney himself, but with a shady past, a long list of ex-wives and a cold/calculating demeanor, he is far from squeaky clean. When this newlywed’s wife goes missing along with some of her most valuable assets, Alex’s primary concern for the insurance claim on the artwork paints a sinister picture.
I loved reading the chapters from Alex’s perspective because I was intrigued by how emotionally detached he is as a person. Psychology is a subject that I been interested in since the age of 17; Alex makes an interesting test case. His almost split personality can turn at the flick of a switch. His need for control and ability to manipulate people is unnerving. When his wife plans to go against his wishes with the assets he helped her win in court, what lengths will he go to in order to get his way?
A concise narrative makes Facing A Twisted Judgment easy to pick up but hard to put down.
About the Author
K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?
As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.