Thursday, January 31, 2013

Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor

All my life I have wished to be able to sail along the sea. To be able to smell the saltwater fresh in the air and watch as the waves bob me along in my wooden contraption. To watch the sails billowing out as the wind filled them. Alas, I have never lived close by to the water so I have, as of yet, not been able to fulfill this very wish—which makes me greatly appreciate any author who can transport me into the role of a sailor or skipper of a beautiful ocean-bound vessel with just the magic of words.

Marsali Taylor, author of Death on a Longship, did just that when I began her spectacular book of seafaring murder. As with most of the authors I have read books from lately, Marsali Taylor is a name that I was not very familiar with before coming across her book (published by Attica Books). However, when the chance to read it fell into my hands, I took the book (or e-book, rather) and ran with it.

Death on a Longship is narrated by the main character Cassandre Lynch (or Cass as she is known), and it starts out with her discovering a dead body on the boat she has been hired to skipper for an upcoming film. After calling the police and blatantly disregarding their note of "Do not call anyone else" she begins warning some of the main makers of the film, the director, ect., of the fact that the victim is the understudy of their leading lady. Or so she thinks....

Soon, after the police arrive to investigate the murder, Cass is brought to a room, along with her engineer Anders, for questioning. Cass is questioned by a Detective Inspector named Gavin Macrae, while Anders is taken away to be questioned seperately. DI Macrae is a no-nonsense sort of fellow, wanting the absolute truth from Cass. He questions her about everything from the relationship with her father to her involvement with the victim to her reasons for being out the night before the murder on her own ship, Khalida. Cass delves into the very recesses of her mind to the occurrences from the start of the filming to the discovery of the body. She also delves even deeper explaining some of the quirks of the townspeople she has known her whole life to explaining another death which had happened almost ten years before. However, she voices few of her thoughts that do not seem to pertain to the questions he asks, which gives her a better idea than him of who really could have done it.
This book is a very wonderful read. It has twists and turns, and there were some instances where I wanted to scream and throw my Kindle against the wall in aggravation for some of the characters' actions. (That, to me, is the sign of a great book.) I must warn some potential readers, though, that there are some unfamiliar words to be found throughout this book. I recommend reading the word list at the back to gain some perspective about what some of the townspeople might be saying and for references to some of the terms used with just objects or places. That helped me a great deal. I could have probably figured it out eventually, but it was nice to have a guide.

In conclusion, (sounds like I am writing a book myself with this review) I found this book engaging, mysterious, enlightening, and it taught me about a place I had never even heard of before now. The setting of this book, Shetland, seems very beautiful. I was sad to close the pages of this book and be transported back out into the real world. I recommend this to anyone, anyone at all, because it truly is one of those books that needs to be read.

For a chance to win a paperback copy of her book, provided by Attica Books, visit:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mondy Mixer Submission

From the dirt beneath our feet to the sky high above,
From the oceans and rivers to the jungles and plains,
Nature is one big ampitheater providing entertainment and miraculous stories to those who are willing to observe and reflect upon it.
From the shrike birds to the tall giraffes,
From the earthworms to even us humans,
We all play our part in its tales.
Through harmony and,
Even the occasional discordant noise,
Everything is part of the bigger picture.
Nothing is ever unimportant or miniscule.
 Nothing is ever ignored or disbanded because of
What it does,
How it looks,
How others may perceive it.
Everything has a purpose and a place.
This is the basic philosophy of life and it would do us all great favor to remember that.
To remember that our world is what has given all of us creatures the ability to make a difference.
150 words

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday Threads Winner-Week 55

There were so many great stories from so many people for this week and I was surprised to have won. Congrats to all of you who put yourselves out there and wrote. Also congrats to the honorable mentioners: Cara Michaels and Jeffrey Hollar. Both of your stories were fantastic.

My Story for Thursday Threads Week 55
"But it isn’t enough for me to rot or repent here where none can see. I have to end this. I have to ease their minds with the fact that another monster has been slain."

Glenn watched in horror as his girlfriend put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger. A muffled shot sounded and she slumped to the floor. Blood pooled around her head like a halo. A dark, disturbing halo of ending life.


Director Micheal Westport smiled. "That was great guys. Excellent." He looked at his watch. "I think we should take a short break to prepare for the next scene." A small cheer erupted from the crew and the sound of everyone joking and laughing with eachother filled the studio.

The lead actor David Reese, "Glenn", couldn't help but chuckle at the crew's reaction. It was not often that Micheal Westport gave compliements like that. Not often that he gave breaks either. In fact, this was probably a first.

David turned to walk to his trailer when he remembered that his costar, Emily Davison, had not gotten up off the floor. He turned and called her name.


No response.

He walked back over to her.

"Emily. You can get up now."

Again, no response.

David knew something was wrong. He kneeled down beside her and put his hand on her wrist, checking her pulse.


David's eyes grew wide with fear and he called out.

"Somebody call an ambulance!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Furies by D.L. Johnstone

I love historical fiction, and I also especially love thrillers. So when given the opportunity to review Furies: An Ancient Alexandrian Thriller by D.L. Johnstone, which has both the word ancient and thriller in the title (YAY!), I could not wait to read it. In fact I used my free month trial of prime on Kindle to borrow this. (It was just sitting there collecting dust, so why not use it?) Boy, am I glad I did.

This book has everything. From murder to love to deceit, even desperation, Furies makes your head reel from the very beginning. It starts out by introducing us to a man named Decimus Tarquitius Aculeo. (What a name, huh?) He has just run into a bit of a rut concerning an investment he has made. Okay, maybe "a bit of a rut" is an understatement, because he just lost everything that he has known for years. His wife, his son, even his precious multi-level villa in the city of Alexandria. All of his possessions have been auctioned off. He has nothing to show for his former life...except maybe his very loyal slave Xanthias. That's only the prologue, folks.

The real story starts about three months later. We find that Aculeo has at least found himself somewhere to stay, even if it is a rotting hellhole of a place. However, he has taken to spending all his money on drink as the hope of returning to his former success slips through his fingers. In the streets of Alexandria, after selling some of the final possessions he had hidden away and gaining some coin, Aculeo spots a dead man. Not in the sense you might think. This man had been thought dead, but, as Aculeo can see, is very much alive and kicking. This man, known by the name of Iovinus, was thought to have died in the same accident that claimed Aculeo's money and livelihood. Spotting Iovinus starts a long chain of unanswered questions for Aculeo. It also starts a chain reaction of murders in which we are introduced to a woman named Sekhet who seems to be the ancient Alexandrian equivalent of a medical examiner. She is probably as ancient as the city itself, but she can somehow to speak for the dead. She informs Aculeo that foul play is involved when the first death is discovered.

As each body is found, we find, along with Aculeo and Sekhet, that the murders are connected somehow. Possibly by a thin yellow cord tied around the victim's wrists...
This book was very thought out and well-researched. It had all the makings of a good historical fiction novel because it immersed the reader in the land of Alexandria. The descriptions were, to me at least, enveloping and made the world in which Aculeo lived jump out in my imagination. However, I would have liked the author to put some pronunciations in the beginning of the book along with the descriptions of everything because at times I felt that I was not saying the names at all right.

This book is a phenomenal read, a little slow maybe at first, but full of excitement. It has all the makings of a really well-written novel. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

For a chance to win a free copy of this book go to:

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

I have been a big fan of Philippa Gregory since first discovering her book THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL at a local garage sale. She writes in such a way that her stories seem to suck the reader in from the very first page. The care she has for each book that she writes is definitely shown by the research she does. She tries her hardest to write each character in as realistic a light possible, and that is what makes her an amazing historical fiction writer.

THE KINGMAKER'S DAUGHTER basically tells the story of Anne Neville. A girl who experiences much including loss, treachery, defeat, and victory throughout her journey to the throne. Her voice is the narrative of each page, and her thoughts are the driving force.

The story begins with Anne as a nine-year-old girl witnessing the crowning of a new King and Queen of England. The reader finds her, in those beginning pages, completely in awe of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman with a meager past who captured the King's heart. However, that awe is soon short-lived when Queen Elizabeth starts to show her true colors in order to try and secure her family's place as royalty. She consults her husband, King Edward, in many treacherous acts in order to gain familial domination throughout England and its surrounding neighbors.

Anne, and her sister Isabel, soon become pawns in their father's game to overthrow the current King and his tyrannic Queen in order to place one of his own on the throne. However, unlike her sister, Anne is brought from one side of the battle to the other becoming first an ally, then an enemy, and back again. She longs to be able to decide her own fate on her own terms, but soon finds that this is much harder to do than one might think.

I quite enjoyed this book. Just the fact that it was Anne's own point of view made it seem more real to me. It was as if I were her, fighting for my place in a world full of people willing to lie and kill just to be able to rule. It was as if I were the one losing so much for my chance to be Queen.
One of Philippa Grepory's best.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Evolution of Human Intellect by L.N. Smith

Let me just start out by saying that I have read some of the other reviews that previous readers of this book have posted and I have also seen some of the ratings given this book, but I do not retract my 5 star rating whatsoever considering these factors.
Now for my reasoning behind the rating.
I gave this book a 5 star rating because of the information given in the text and not for the authors use of colorful written images or Disney theme park rides. Although, those did not hurt in my like of this work. Those two factors gave the story a sense of whimsy and a bit of humor in my eyes. To me, the descriptions of the ride itself creates a break for the mind. There is such a thing as information overload, and I believe that without those breaks, the information given about the building over the thousands of years of human intellect would have felt like another average everyday history lesson. Sadly, if history is just being monologued at me with no visual aid for the imagination, I will get bored with it and my brain will shut down. So this was a nice change from the norm.
Now on to my thoughts behind the information given.
This book made me think about the evolution of the human species in a way that I had never, in my life, ever thought about before. It made me question my own branches of thinking, and brought up points about the human intellect in different times that actually made sense. For example, it makes sense to me that a human, or hominid, from a time thousands to millions of years ago would not have the same sense of awareness that a human from let's say 500 B.C. would have.
It is all about experience. All about what each person has had to deal with in their own life and times which makes us all different mentally. We learn from our mistakes. We learn from our setbacks. We choose to deal with them differently, and we choose to build our mental bridges based on how we choose to handle each situation thrown at us.
I quite enjoyed reading this book, and thoroughly recommend this for anyone who is up for a very intellectually stimulating read.

Happy Reading!