Tag Archives: Ebooks

Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain – Review

Title – Bloodwalker
Author – L.X. Cain
Genre –  Dark Fantasy
Length –  284 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

Zorka Circus’s big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, children vanish.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. He must find the culprit before anyone else disappears and his home is destroyed by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravedigging ghouls. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict code, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable…

Review

I can honestly say this one surprised me… the synopsis only scratches the surface of the tale and the twists that played out definitely had the shock factor

Two stories collide in this tale. The first being Sylvie, she’s a bloodwalker..although not a very good one. By some bloodwalkers would be classed as special but others look down on them. They help deal with death and I just loved how each chapter started with a quote from the bloodwalker handbook.

Rurik on the otherhand is a security guard working for the circus. When we are introduced to him you quickly learn he’s not an average man. He manages to put together the pieces to learn someone involved with the circus has been kidnapping children and he sets out to put a stop to this

Sylvie and Rurik meet when Sylvie and two other bloodwalkers are due to be married. The wedding takes place at the circus as one of the clans elders is married to the owner

From here things start going wrong fast..

Sylvie makes a ghastly discovery but has no time to tell anyone..Rurik is so driven he sees guilt everywhere and can’t risk confiding in anyone so goes it alone at first to find out who is committing the kidnapping

The author takes their time to reveal the truth of the tale..adding twist after twist to throw you off the truth. The plot was superb.. I couldn’t fault it..

These twists and turns meant there was a great chance to develop the characters which I really felt the author did well. Development is probably the most important thing for me.. I want to feel like I know the character and  I definitely felt like I knew what motivated the main players in this tale

This is dark fantasy at its best for me, right up until the end I had no idea how the tale would play out which kept me hooked in page after page.

Major plus point for this tale has to be the very unique plot. I won’t spoil it but this author has a brilliant imagination..i can’t even put into words how unusual and fascinating the tale is.

Overall a cracking dark and gruesome tale that held a lot of surprises. I don’t think I’ll forget this book in a hurry. 100% would read again

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

The book is out today! to find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Other links –

Blog Tour – Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau – Review

Title – Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife
Author – Anne Boileau
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –  224 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

On 31st October 1517 Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman. Anne Boileau lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as an interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

Review

The tale of Katharina & Martin Luther is something I knew nothing of before reading this book and it opened my eyes to what must have been a very difficult period to live through.

Martin Luther was a monk many years ago now. He spoke out against the Church and helped bring the bible to the masses by translating the book from Latin.

Truth be told religion is just the background of the book.. the real tale is how Katherina and Martin came to be married and let me tell you… it’s a engrossing read

The background of Katharina and how she became a nun was interesting but the story really kicked off when Katharina started to read the works of Martin Luther. Inspired by the man she decides the life of a nun is no longer for her and writes to the man himself for help

With Martin’s help Katharina and a number of other nuns forge new lives for themselves.

Katharina was clearly a strong minded woman and ultimately ends up being married to Martin (I won’t spoil how this comes about). At first more out of respect more than anything else but both agree they hope love will flourish. I loved the honesty of these two.

What I really enjoyed about this tale was seeing how two such strong characters came together to be one and worked with each other..loved each other… they each gave the other what they needed.

The book also shows how attitudes have changes over the years. How Katharina being a woman meant at times she didn’t have a say.. her views didn’t count. It was fascinating to see how she handled this and ultimately showed her worth to the man she came to love

There is so much depth to this book, I just loved it from start to finish

I’m a big fan of women is history and this is another wonderful example of someone who might easily be overlooked. Yes Martin initiated the Reformation but Katharina was an essential part of that in her own way and it was a joy to read things from her perspective

Overall this was a very beautifully written book which gave life to Katharina. Very moving at times and educational for myself which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Inspiring is the word I’d use for this book. What Katharina must have been going through I can’t imagine but I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of her. She knows what she wants and is perfectly matched with Martin Luther

I’d love to read more

Fascinating tale, take a look. The Book is released tomorrow!!!

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

My thanks go to Authoright and Anne Boileau for the chance to read/review the book

As a bonus i’m also able to bring you a little background on the author who very kindly took the time to share the insight into her life with me.. enjoy


Anne Boileau

I was born in Boxford, Suffolk, England, where my parents had a small mixed farm. We had two hundred laying hens, six breeding sows, some arable land and two horses.

 

I watched the sows feeding their piglets. On the inside walls of the pig sties were some drawings of elegant ladies with large hats; my father told me they were made ten years before by German prisoners of war. Well, I knew there had been a war because grownups used to say things like  “since the war” or “before the war” But they never actually talked about the war itself or what it was about.

 

I was happy at my school, and I loved my friends, our animals and village life.  But when I was six my father fell ill and died. It was just after the Coronation. My mother was devastated and moved us up north to a remote farmhouse on the edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. At my new school the other children thought I was foreign because of my Suffolk accent and I had trouble understanding them; so I became solitary and learnt to watch and observe; and I wrote little illustrated stories about animals and their adventures.

 

When I was ten I went to a lovely boarding school. We were not allowed to telephone home, but every Sunday we had to write at least two sides to our parents. To this day I love writing letters to friends and family.

 

My schooling was erratic and my exam results poor, so instead of university I travelled to the USA and Canada, doing various jobs. Eventually, I enrolled in the Language School in Munich and studied German.  I was then able to get work as a translator and interpreter.

 

I met a wonderful man, we married and raised two daughters; I taught languages in Colchester, Essex. I then went back to college and studied for a BSc degree in Rural Resource Development at Anglia University, Chelmsford.

 

This led to my working for various conservation organisations. I wrote articles for local magazines, and gave talks, campaigning for environmental causes. But in 1999 my life was turned upside down a second time, when my beloved husband fell ill and died, aged only 57. Our daughters had recently left home and we were thrown into grief and confusion.

 

Writing became my survival kit. I wrote a book about my husband called Simple Symphony.  I wrote poems, read poems, studied poetry and joined a group who translate German poems into English. Through poetry I have made some wonderful friends. I wrote a book about my early childhood, called White Sand Grey Sand. My  pamphlet Shoal Moon was published by Grey Hen Press in 2014.

I have had several poems published in magazines and anthologies and won a few commendations. And ten years after encountering Katharina, I began to research and write her story.

 

What drew me to this woman? Was it my Lutheran great-great-grandmother, from Königsberg in East Prussia, from whom we had inherited German part songs, handed down mother to daughter? Or was it my Huguenot refugee ancestor on my father’s side, Charles Boileau, who arrived in England with nothing but his charm, and married a farmer’s daughter in Barnes?  Or was it the fact that in both my parent’s families there has been a tradition of Anglican country parsons over several generations? Whatever it was, I was drawn to her story, which in some ways resonated with my own.

 

With Camden Mews Translators we translate German poetry to throw light upon what is good about German culture. We British know and love German composers and their music is frequently performed and enjoyed. But how much do we know about German history and literature?  JS Bach took Luther’s simple but poetic version of the New Testament to write his unparalleled works of the St Matthew and St John Passions, sung and celebrated by so many choirs at Easter. And yet, if you Google the name Martin Luther, (or ask a library assistant) the response usually comes back: Do you mean Martin Luther King? No I don’t.  I mean the rebellious monk in Wittenberg who defied the Pope and translated the Bible into vernacular for the common people; who changed the course of European History and became known as the Nightingale of Wittenberg.

 

That is why I have written this story; and it is told not by him but by the woman who was at his side, in the very eye of the storm.

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The Faraway North by Ian Cumpstey – Review

Title – The Faraway North: Scandinavian Ballads
Author – Ian Cumpstey
Genre –  Poetry/Ballards
Length –  91 Pages
Publication – June 2016
My Rating –  4/5 Stars

Synopsis

These ballads convey a fantastic vision of the world as it was imagined in medieval Scandinavia, with monsters and magic intermingled with the very human concerns of heroism, tragedy, love, and revenge.

The great hero Sigurd is joined in this collection by troll-battling warriors including Holger Dane, Orm the Strong, and others. There are dramatic scenes of romance, betrayal, and loss. Some of the ballads translated here are attested by paintings or maps that date from earlier than when the first full ballad texts were first written down in the 1500s. An adventure ballad relevant to the history of an Eddic poem is also included.

The ballads are storytelling songs that were passed down as part of an oral folk music tradition in Scandinavia. This collection brings many new ballads to the English-speaking reader. The readable verse translations succeed in conveying the rhythm, spirit, and imagery of the originals. The translations are mainly based on Swedish and Norwegian ballads, with some from Danish tradition.

For each ballad, there is also a short introduction with commentary and background information.

The paperback edition includes fifteen full page black-and-white illustrations.

The ballads included are:
Åsmund Frægdegjeva; Steinfinn Fefinnson; Esbjörn Proud and Orm the Strong; Sunfair and the Dragon King; Bendik and Årolilja; Sigurd Sven; Sivard Snare Sven; Little Lisa; Sven Norman and Miss Gullborg; Peter Pallebosson; Sir Svedendal; King Speleman; Holger Dane and Burman; Sven Felding; St Olaf’s Sailing Race.

Praise for Warrior Lore:
“A charming introduction to Scandinavian Lore.” — Sam Smith, in The Journal (once ‘of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry’)

Review

This book was a real surprise for me. I honestly has no idea if it would be something I would enjoy since I’ve read nothing like it before but I needn’t have been worried.. it was rather impressive if I’m honest

The author has picked some of his favourite ballads translated into English for us to enjoy

I particularly liked how the author broke down the tale before you read it so you could understand what was to come. Some of the words used wouldn’t make sense without this background information, which was very much appreciated

Another great thing about this book is it isn’t a hard read and since the ballads are only around 10 minutes long you can fit a tale in whenever you have a little free time.

The background behind these ballads is what really interested me. Knowing many ballads are either lost as they were never written down or have changed over the years as they have been passed down through the generations

It was a great introduction to something I would have normally passed on and I’m glad I had my eyes opened

I felt it was very well written and above all interesting. It’s not my normal genre of choice but I wouldn’t say no to reading more in the future

Great read if you’re after something a little bit different. Unless this is your genre.. then I hope you ‘ll love this 🙂

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

To find out head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Inside Out by Jack Kearney – Review

Title – Inside Out
Author – Jack Kearney
Genre – Contemporary Fiction
Length –    204 Pages
Publication – June 2015
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

As an actor, Danny Belson has played many criminal types, but as the prisoner transport bus pulls out of the LA county jail, the realization of his conviction overwhelms him. The irony is that only six months ago he taught an acting workshop at the same institution he is now going to be incarcerated in. Danny had been chosen to take part in California’s answer to New Jersey’s highly acclaimed “Scared Straight” by actually working with the inmates of the Medium Security Federal Prison in Lompoc. In his short stay, Danny made some interesting friends as well as unforgiving enemies. Utilizing a groundbreaking format, Follow Danny as he goes from a care free beach volleyball loving, pool shooting, actor, who’s only worry is knowing when his next audition will come, to a convicted murderer. Written using flashbacks, with no chapters, learn what a struggling actor goes through, and how, after his incarceration, Danny’s life is turned INSIDE OUT.

Review

Inside Out is a rather interesting book. It reads easily with no chapters just page breaks which is something I’ve not come across before but it worked well.

The plot I enjoyed a lot, Danny’s life has been turned upside down due to a wrongful conviction and we get a first-hand account of how things came to be as Danny looks back at the recent events in his life

What I really enjoyed about the book was how quickly the author managed to change the energy of a scene.. one minute you think things are going ok for Danny and then bam..(For obvious reasons I won’t tell you what happens.. I don’t want to take anything away). There’s even a couple scenes in jail when I had my hand over my mouth thinking..Oh My God

For me personally the relationships that developed with his fellow inmates happened a little too fast, yes he’s met them before but would they really want to be his friend that quickly..and trust him so much? I’m not sure.. but it didn’t take anything away from the story.. just moved it on at a fast pace at times.

The thing that struck me the most was how easy the author found it to make me feel like a was reading a script rather than a book.. his own personal experiences gave his writing something different to what I’ve read before..it really did feel like I could imagine this playing out on a TV screen .

The major plus for me was the development of the lead character Danny and how he changed during his time in prison. I’ve no experience myself but I can imagine for some it would be one of the most life changing experiences ever and you get to see this through Danny

While the story is slow to get to the good stuff it’s perfectly set up for a reader who likes a bit of suspense. With this one you are left waiting and waiting to find out how things will play out in prison while you learn about how Danny ended up there in the first place

Dramatic is the word I’d use to best describe this book..the few light-hearted moments mixed with some hard scenes makes this a decent fast paced read indeed

Definitely worth a read that’s for sure

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work.

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Sovereign’s Wake by Lee LaCroix – Review

Title –  Sovereign’s Wake
Author – Lee LaCroix
Genre – Fantasy
Length –    348 Pages
Publication – Nov 2015
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

A kingdom crumbles without its ruler. The people fall to misery and desperation in the shadow of an empty throne. A father does what he must to save his son and his homeland in the absence of kings. Enter Garreth, ranger and former royal bodyguard, who embarks from his woodland home after defending it from the encroaching loggers of the Blackwoods Company. “The King is dead!” they had screamed at Garreth and drove the man to the capital of Amatharsus to resolve the most troubling statement in Malquia’s recent history. Together with his son, Novas, and daughter of a murdered blacksmith, Kayten, Garreth is hounded by bandits, cutthroats, and highwaymen, unleashed upon the countryside by the abolition of the Crown Aegis, defenders of the King, his land, and his people. Garreth unites with the remnants of the Crown Aegis to overcome the military, political, and economic oppression that the Blackwoods Company has imposed on Amatharsus and incites rebellion before the free people of Malquia succumb to crippling recession and the environmental destruction of their verdant nation. But can one man find the strength to challenge overwhelming odds when all hope is lost?

Sovereign’s Wake is the first installment of the debut Fantasy series, In the Absence of Kings, by author Lee LaCroix.

Review

The book starts at a slow pace as we learn about two of the main characters, Nova and his father Garreth. I felt this part of the book was so well written..so descriptive… it felt effortless to read and enjoy

The pace soon picks up and you are thrust into this new world along with Nova who has never set foot outside the woodland

Now this is a fantasy book I could really get to grips with.. After the King dies tyranny is commonplace.. the little man Is down trodden but why does the Queen let this happen?

Garreth is loyal to the King and was tasked to watch over some woodland..to preserve it.. when the Blackwoods encroach on this land Garreth learns the fate of his King and sets out to find out why the Queen would allow such a precious area to the King to be torn down..

We soon learn there’s a lot more going on.. people are being robbed & murdered.. the Blackwoods are behind this.. They are leaving nothing in their wake

Along the way we meet Kayten, strong willed.. she has passion in her blood and joins Garreth and Nova after the death of her father. Together they head to the city to get answers

These answers come pretty quick.. and I won’t spoil anything for you.. the action is thick and fast..no rest given.

Garreth finds himself a rebel and must bring the people together to fight for their survival.

The tale had a Robin Hood type of feel to it which I really loved.

As I’ve said the book picks up pace quite a bit which didn’t leave much time for the connections between the characters to grow as naturally as I would have liked to see but with such a fast paced plot you can see why the author went down this route and it certainly didn’t take anything away from the story

Overall I loved the plot and the characters, everything developed nicely albeit quickly at times but this just added to the urgency of the mission the rebels have undertaken.

For me the best thing really was the writing.. I knew within the first chapter I would enjoy the story

I’ve high hopes for the next book in the series.. look out for a review soon 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Author Spotlight – Frank Westworth

Today is release day for Frank Westworh’s fifth JJ Stoner short story and to celebrate I thought I’d introduce you to the series as I’ve just recently finished reading the other 4 books in the series

Jean-Jacques Stoner is an ex solider; his problem isn’t really respecting authority it’s more that he doesn’t like to take any crap from anyone.

Over the first four books in the series we see Stoner develop, he gets a new job as a hired gun via The Hard Man.. who I absolutely loved.. meets some new people who help him along the way like Bernadette and Stretch and hurts a few people along the way..

One of the best things about the series so far for me is the plots.. There’s so much crammed into so few pages and it’s so well written the time passes you by in the blink of an eye.

Easy reading combined with some very interesting twists has kept me hooked throughout the series and for me the price of the eBook is a bargain!

The great think for me as a reader is that there’s also two full length novels I’ve yet to read.. these shorts have introduced me perfectly to the author and have convinced me that I’ll enjoy his full length novels just as much

I’ve reviewed each of the series so far so click the picture below if you want to check out the reviews.. book 5 will be reviewed shortly 🙂

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If you want to check the series out head to Frank’s author pages on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

If you like a bit of action but aren’t looking for a long read I highly recommend you try one of these shorts.. you’ve got nothing too loose except 99p which is well worth it in my opinion

Here’s the blurb for book one to get you tempted…

FIRST CONTRACT: A decade ago, JJ Stoner was a soldier. He killed people for a living and made no bones about it. On a scorching day in the Iraqi desert, when British blood stained the sand, he over-stepped the mark. Men died in compromising circumstances; too many men for an easy explanation. Faced with a dishonourable discharge and accusations of murder, Stoner accepted an offer from a stranger who represented an intelligence agency. Suddenly, Stoner found himself half a world away and about to execute his first private contract…

FIRST CONTRACT, a quick thriller, introduces the central character from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series. As well as a complete, stand-alone story, First Contract includes an excerpt from ‘A Last Act of Charity’ and a sneak preview of the sequel, ‘The Corruption of Chastity.’
‘A Last Act of Charity’, is available in paperback and ebook.

Please note that FIRST CONTRACT is intended for an adult audience and contains explicit scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature.

My thanks go to Rowena at https://murdermayhemandmore.wordpress.com/ who kindly supplied me a copy of the first book, it was my pleasure to purchase the rest in the series and I look forward to reading the new book soon 🙂

 

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton – ARC Review

Title – Rarity from the Hollow
Author – Robert Eggleton
Genre – Science Fiction
Length –   284 Pages
Publication – Nov 2015
My Rating – 2.5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Robert Eggleton’s humorous science fantasy follows in the steps of Douglas Adams, Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett.

Review

What have I just read? This must be the craziest book I’ve ever seen touching multiple topics and genres.

This definitely isn’t a quick and easy read, it’s very much a in-depth tale that needs your undivided attention.

I’m going to be honest straightaway.. some of the talk in the book just made me uncomfortable, Lacy Dawn talking like girl much older than she is..it was a little hard to read. I have to admit even though this wasn’t for me I do understand why the author chose to go down the track he has.. I felt like he wanted me to be disturbed by events in the book.. the things that happen aren’t supposed to make you laugh … this book makes you open your eyes a little to some tough subjects

One of the things I really did enjoy about this book was the author’s style of writing with the inner thoughts of the characters being shown..it made for an interesting read since I believe we all think things we don’t actually ever plan to say out loud

Another thing this book really has going for it is the utter surprise factor.. I guarantee you that you’ve read nothing like this before and chapter to chapter you’ll have no idea what will happen next. A refreshing change I must admit.

The main thing to remember with this book is that it’s not about enjoying the tale.. it’s about raising important issues and leaving an impression on the reader.. I’ll not forget this one that’s for sure

If you’re looking for something thought-provoking and different then this is the book for you

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka – Review

Title – Environmentally Friendly
Author – Elias Zanbaka
Genre –  Short Stories – Fiction
Length –   21 Pages
Publication – March 2016
My Rating – 3/5 Stars

Synopsis

Out of seven billion people, one man has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees.

Out of all the criminals in Los Angeles, he’s the number one target being hunted by the LAPD tonight.

And out of the entire LAPD, one officer is hell-bent on helping him complete his mission.

Review

Frantic is the word I’d use to best describe this short tale as you are thrust into the action from the first page.

What I really enjoyed about this tale was how detailed of an image you were given as a reader. At times I did feel a little lost as it is a fast paced tale but this detail made it an interesting read

The plot itself was very original.. I’ve never read anything like it and I liked the idea one officer alone is trying to bring this man down the right way when the rest would most likely shot first and ask questions later.. it certainly raises questions on what your viewpoint is on things like this.

Did the book work? For me yes..yes it did. I did however feel I would have preferred a slightly longer tale so everything wasn’t so fast paced.. did this take anything away from the tale for me?  No..no it didn’t

If you fancy a short read that will leave you contemplating mental health, police procedures & moral standpoints then give this one a go. Certainly not the usual book you’d pick up and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

My thanks to the author for allowing me to read/review your work

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

BLOG TOUR – Insurgency by S.J.A Turney

Ok so today i’m taking part in the blog tour for SJA Turney’s new book Insurgency. I’m going to be reviewing this book in the near future and i can’t wait to read it… if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know i love his work!

For more info on Insurgency head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazom.com

As part of the tour Simon has very kindly wrote a piece on his top emperors throughout history and it’s a very interesting read. Take a look


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Top 10 Emperors by S.J.A. Turney

In honour of my new release Insurgency – a tale of an emperor and his family at a moment when their world crumbles under external pressure, I thought it might be nice to do a run-down of my top ten emperors. And to keep it simple, I’m going to limit it to Rome and Byzantium, not including people like Ming the Merciless or Napoleon. But when I thought about it, I figured: is this top ten good emperors, top ten most interesting, or top ten bad ones? So let’s make it interesting. These are my top ten most interesting emperors, whether they be good or bad, and in no particular order:

  1. Julian the Apostate (355-363)

I’ve often thought about writing a novel about Julian. Constantine is famed for making Christianity the state religion of Rome, and following on from him his menagerie of sons saw no reason to buck the trend, keeping tight with the Christian faith. Julian saw Christianity as endemic of the decline and corruption of the empire and attempted to reinstate pagan worship. But for all the power and importance of that decision, which makes him the last ever pagan emperor of Rome, Julian was much more. He was an excellent administrator, a strong general, a philosopher and writer of philosophical treatises, a social reformer who temporarily slowed the decay of the state, a philanthropist and, very possibly, a vegetarian. Julian is one of history’s great ‘what if’s’. Had he not died of a wound only 8 years into his reign, what might have happened?

  1. Elagabalus (218-222)

 

Elagabalus is very much the fruitcake’s fruitcake. As far as weirdos go, they don’t come much stranger. A member of the Severan dynasty, Elagabalus was a fifteen year old priest of the sun god in Syria when he became emperor.  He brought a lump of sacred black stone to Rome from Emesa, making his Sun god the chief god of Rome to the consternation of the Roman elite. He built a new temple on the Palatine to Sol Invictus, married a Vestal priestess, breaking all Roman law, and his reign was characterised by nepotism, matriarchal control and wild sexual excess. He reputedly liked the company of men in the most bizarre ways, pretending to be a woman in Rome’s brothels where he would solicit himself to other men. A curious and colourful individual, Elagabalus did not last long before the weight of senatorial disapproval brought an end to him. To some extent he might be remembered for introducing Sol Invictus to Rome, a god who would become a soldier’s favourite alongside Mithras, but I doubt that is what he will ever be most remembered for.

 

  1. Justinian (527-565)

 

I could include Justinian for the Haghia Sophia alone, but he was so much more. By far the most influential and interesting of the Byzantine emperors, Justinian set down a series of codes that still influence laws to the modern day, fought to reunite the empire, attempting to return Italy to the fold under his general Belisarius, lived through the Nike Riots – the worst riots in Roman history – reinstating order through force backed by the strength and influence of his wife Theodora, and built some of the greatest structures in Roman/Byzantine history, many of which are still extant today. Justinian represents for me the high point of the later Roman world. Examine the great buildings of Istanbul and check how many of them are linked with this man.

 

  1. Caligula (37-41)

 

Oh he’s the most despised of all emperors, isn’t he? But who’s the real Caligula? You see, I’ve recently written a work on this fascinating man and, while he was clearly acerbic and quick to anger with a somewhat odd, hit-and-miss sense of humour, there is some argument that the great stories told of his madness were largely the invention of his enemies after his death. But whether he intended to make his horse a consul or was merely joking that doing so would make better consuls than the extant aristocrats of Rome, it’s still a great story. Whether he punished his rebellious legions by making them carry chests of seashells back from the English Channel, or whether he really considered them the spoils of war, it’s a colourful moment in history, and his reign is peppered with them. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the powerful appeal of this character.

 

  1. Probus (276-282)

 

One of Rome’s unsung heroes, in my opinion. One of the hard ‘soldier emperors’ from the Balkans, Probus came to power in a time of wars and troubles and tough leaders. He was a strong general himself, spending much of his reign fighting wars both external and internal, and yet found time to finish Rome’s great circuit of walls, build numerous projects in Egypt, drain dangerous marshes on the Danube and the Nile, and restored much that had been damaged by decades of war. But here’s his real value: in order to rebuild the economy of Gaul, Probus developed viticulture in Gaul, using military labour. In essence, it might be said that Probus was the father of French wine. How’s that for a legacy?

 

  1. Trajan (98-117)

 

Everyone knows Trajan, right? The first non-Italian emperor. From the city of Italica in southern Spain and with one of the most memorable faces in Roman sculpture, Trajan holds a number of reasons to be on this list. A conqueror, he added Romania and Arabia to the empire, bringing it to the greatest extent it would ever have and overcoming two ancient enemies of Rome. He is the second of Rome’s ‘Five good emperors’. An able commander, he was also an excellent administrator, as is recorded by a set of letters exchanged between him and Pliny while the latter was a governor in Asia Minor. But if Trajan will be remembered for anything throughout eternity, it will be his building projects. In Rome alone he left the great markets, column, baths, forum and aqueduct. In Ostia he created the new great port. With his architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, he truly changed the face of the empire.

 

  1. Diocletian (284-305)

 

Diocletian is hard to work out. Was he a visionary or deluded? Was he an agent of change or a tyrant? Whatever he was, he changed Rome’s ruling system forever. Before him there had been a chaos of succession, often by murder or usurpation. Diocletian instituted the Tetrarchy, but which the empire would be split between east and west, each ruled by a senior Augustus and a junior Caesar. It didn’t last long, or course, and after him Constantine once more unified the empire, but the division created by Diocletian had long-reaching effects and he is the progenitor of the Byzantine empire every bit as much as Constantine. Moreover, his edict of Maximum Prices was perhaps visionary, and certainly is one of the most important administrative documents to survive from the ancient world. He left us the wonderful Baths of Diocletian in Rome (even if he had very little to do with it in reality) and he left the amazing Palace still visible in Split, Croatia. And perhaps the most fascinating thing? He is the first emperor to retire from the post, retreating to Split to grow cabbages.

 

  1. Maxentius (306-312)

 

Again, like Caligula, a man about whom I have written (an as-yet unreleased joint work with Gordon Doherty), and like Caligula a man maligned by history who can easily be viewed in a much more positive light. A man groomed for the throne and yet who still had to seize it, albeit possibly unwillingly. A man beset by tragedy, who lost his son in the Tiber, who lived a life married to the daughter of his enemy, who held Rome in a world where every other powerful man was his enemy and coveted his lands. And yet Maxentius held no persecutions of the Christians, held out against incredible odds until Constantine’s army were at his very gates, and who left us basilicas, baths, villas, circuses and more. I have a soft spot for this quiet, overlooked emperor. Watch out for our book. I think you’ll like him too.

 

  1. Philip the Arab (244-249)

 

Constantine is often hailed as the first Christian emperor, though he was baptised only on his death bed. Half a century earlier, this conservative, careful man may well have been the first Christian emperor, though that fact is highly debatable. During the height of the 3rd century crisis, when emperors came and went like the sunrise and sunset, Philip managed 5 good years and was lenient on the Christians of the empire. He made peace with Persia in the east and, unpopular though that was, that allowed him the leisure to fight wars at the Danube. In his reign he celebrated Rome’s 1000th birthday with great pomp and splendour.  A short-lived man, but an enigma, as far as I’m concerned.

 

  1. Andronikos Komnenos I (1183-1185)

 

One of the later Byzantine emperors of the Komnenian dynasty, Andronikos had a very colourful early life, debauching and warring, spending time as a prisoner of the Turk, attempting a coup against his cousin the emperor, and in exile at Antioch. As emperor he instituted tough, even brutal laws and measures to curb corruption among the nobles, relieving the empire’s lower ranks. For his harsh (if effective) rule, he received one of the most memorable deaths of all the emperors, losing a hand, an eye, his hair, his teeth, covered with boiling water, stabbed repeatedly and finally torn apart.

 

Insurgency is published by Canelo, priced at £3.99 as an ebook.

For more info on Insurgency head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazom.com

Author Spotlight – Charlotte E. English

Every so often when i’m reading a book i think back to other books i’ve read.. the events of that previous book overshadowing my current reading..

This is when i know I’ve found an author i really enjoy.

Today i’d like to highlight the brilliant work  by Charlotte E. English who has to be one of the nicest authors i’ve reviewed since i started my blog.

I’d actually owed some of Charlotte’s work before starting the blog and for me it was a big buzz to have her notice my little corner of the web. I do what i do out of the sheer love of reading but to know your comments are appreciated makes everything so worthwhile.

Why do a spotlight you may ask? Simple.. There’s just not enough time in the day to read every book i want to.. and i want the author to see i support them and love their work even if i can’t read their book straightaway

Charlotte is a brilliant fantasy writer and her books have always been a pleasure to read. In all honesty her work has to be some of the best fantasy i’ve read and as my favorite genre i have high expectations. What i really enjoy about her books is how easily she sets the scene andsucks you into her world. She always leaves me with the fuzzy feeling in my brain as i imagine the world she creates and needless to say i’m always left wanting to read more of her work.

The Malykant Mysteries is a series of 4 short stories and it amazed me how much Charlotte managed to fit in such a short space of time.. a rich and detailed story that i just couldn’t help but love. You can see my review here – The Malykant Mysteries Review If you are looking for a short read then i can’t recommend this enough.

I also really enjoyed the Draykon series.. here’s the blurb for book one!

When shy and retiring Llandry Sanfaer discovers a mesmerising new gemstone, she suddenly becomes the most famous jeweller across the Seven Realms. Demand for the coveted stone escalates fast; when people begin dying for it, Llandry finds that she herself has become a target.

Lady Evastany Glostrum has her life in pristine order. Prestigious, powerful and wealthy, she is on the verge of crowning her successes with the perfect marriage. But when her closest friend is murdered for the jewellery she wears, Eva is drawn into the mystery surrounding the curious “istore” gem.

The emergence of the stone is causing chaos across the Seven. Gates between the worlds are opening at will, pulling hordes of creatures through from the shadowy Lower Realm and the glittering Uppers. As Eva works to discover the culprit behind the spreading disorder, Llandry must learn the truth about her precious istore stone — before she herself becomes a victim.

Draykon is currently free to buy here – Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

I highly recommend you check it out and if you like it as much as me i recommend you buy the complete box set of three books as it will save you a little money in the long run 🙂

If you are looking for a new book take my advice and have a look at Charlotte’s work.. you’ll not be disappointed

Have a good weekend everyone 🙂