Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Friday, October 6, 2017

My Review of Sons of My Fathers

Sons of My Fathers by Michael A. Simpson is based on the author’s own family history and reads almost like a biography. However, I assume that attributes to its characters’ are as the author imagines them and, hence, are fictional in detail; but what great writing bringing this saga alive for the reader.

The cover of a denuded tree strangled by sabotaged lengths of railroad tracks is haunting.

The book begins during 1864, the American Civil War. Baylis Simpson and his family eke out a meager living as sharecroppers in Georgia which, of course, backed the Confederacy. As in all wars, the atrocities play out not only on the battlefield but split this fertile land and its families asunder with obscene travesties against humankind. Baylis Simpson sees his family destroyed. As he and his kin vow vengeance against the murderous rabble taking property and lives that had escaped the Union Army, the Simpsons are caught between the warring lines.

One hundred years later, Baylis’s descendent, young Ron Simpson, becomes a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He volunteers to serve his country as a medevac pilot in Vietnam. His beliefs and his life are turned upside down when, instead, he is assigned to fly a Huey gunship. He loves his country deeply, but will not serve it by flying this killing machine. There is only one option for him; by taking it, he threatens to destroy not just himself, but his family.

The book’s chapters switch seamlessly from the physical plight and mental turmoil of one generation to the other, and the reader becomes deeply engrossed in the fate of both, while the book’s prose deftly adapts to the tone and language of the times. 

Without hammering it home, it left me with a troubling message: We are not heeding history. Hence, we have learned nothing!
I submitted Sons of My Fathers to Helen Hollick's Discovered Diamond Review site 

where it indeed earned a sparkling and well-deserved place.

Get your Copy at

Friday, September 1, 2017

My Review of "The Confessions of Socrates"

 A Sparkling Linguistic Diamond

   While The Confessions of Socrates by R. L. Prendergast was only categorized under “Biographical,” this gem deserves much broader recognition in different categories. Of course it is fiction; but what brilliant and well-researched Historical Fiction it is.

Socrates languishes in a stinking prison cell awaiting execution: death by drinking hemlock. Having been given a 28-day reprieve (not by his vile accusers or the Council of Five Hundred, but due to the observation of a festival period), he scribbles an account of his life on scrolls smuggled in by a kind jailer. In it, he reveals himself to his sons (and to the reader) not as the haughty Greek philosopher we have come to believe he was, but as a fallible human being. His humble beginnings as a stonemason surprised me (bringing into focus the book’s cover: even a hard block of stone cannot suppress new life sprouting from it).

I never knew Socrates was drafted into several military campaigns – albeit without much enthusiasm on his part. He is an outwardly gruff sort of man, but his long internal struggles with himself and toward his family, friends and foes at last expose him as quite vulnerable and deeply caring; not that he admitted this to anyone until the end of his life.

The author injects conversations and philosophical arguments as they might have taken place during those heady days of Athenian dominance; not an easy read, mind you, but so well executed I never skipped a single paragraph. What a joy to read such brilliant and intelligent use of language. While this novel is a literary gem, it is by no means devoid of action, intrigue, and surprises with plenty human fallacies and insights.

I also appreciated the appended glossary of Greek names, places and gods. It made me realize those times were real, as were most of the people, their beliefs, continual wars and personal struggles. Having buried myself too long perhaps in the hot sands of Ancient Egypt, I am ashamed to say that the little I knew about Ancient Greece I had almost forgotten. I am now inspired to re-acquaint myself with another great ancient civilization, alas also brought to its knees by Man’s forever impetus to wage war.

For me, The Confessions of Socrates was indeed a Discovered Diamond. I shall heartily recommend it for this honor on Helen Hollick's Discovering Diamonds Review Blog - (where it will be featured around November).

If you hurry,
this 350-page Kindle gem is presently still being 
given away for 99 cents for your enjoyment.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Poetry Perfection

My Review of Jim Bennett's 
Cold Comes Through, 
Poetry Book 1

Writing—and reading—true poetry is often associated with admitting vulnerability. Reading it, you have to let it in. Writing it is a lot more arduous: You have to let it out. And letting it out, Jim Bennett does with Cold Comes Through, Book 1 of his five-volume poetry series.

Having read Bennett’s poetry series in reverse order, his first volume—I find—is the most melancholy as it deals with loss, grieving and remembrance. Death hovers nearby, cloaked in autumn leaves, or the heartbreaking throes of Alzheimer’s. But Bennett’s insight into human nature always treats the most dire of his themes with dignity and grace.

After finally reading Cold Comes Through, I know I shall do so again, as I will surely re-read the entire series from time to time. Poetry creates a cultured haven from the blustery world that trammels us daily. Jim Bennett’s poems are some of the best I have had the pleasure ever reading.
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Jim Bennett's 5-Volume Poetry is available here:

Jim Bennett's Poetry Series is also available in Paperback on Lulu:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Review of Regina Jeffers' ANGEL COMES TO DEVIL'S KEEP

Manners, Mayhem, Murder – and Love

...all in the rarefied setting of the British Regency Period.

There are two things I don’t like in a “review.” Spilling the plot so as to become a spoiler; and “I usually don’t read this genre.”
Well, as for the latter, I don’t. Yet, thanks to the author’s deftness in staying “in style” and her flawless writing, I began to enjoy the unraveling story to the point where I was reading instead of doing some previously planned chores.
Having grown up in a somewhat formal European environment, I found it easy to slip into the speech pattern of the British aristocracy with its often painfully reticent demeanor. Trust me, the veiled tongue lashings nevertheless carried a deliciously sharp sting.
It was refreshing to have mayhem and murder heaped upon one without the now sadly so prevalent usage of foul language, nor were there any explicit sex scenes to groan over; however, flowing from the masterful pen of Ms. Jeffers, it all stayed intricately suspenseful and—indeed—exquisitely titillating.
I know how much research it takes to write proficiently about a certain period. Everything has to be correct: mannerisms, speech and clothing, everyday life, titles, social expectations and restrictions as well as locations. As Ms. Jeffers has written many novels in the Regency Romance genre, I suspect by now it may well be second nature to her – and it shows.

No matter what the obstacles, the desires, the ambitions, in the end it all came down to what hasn’t changed over time: The Quest for Love. Indeed, I shut off my Kindle with a satisfied sigh: Well done, Ms. Jeffers. Your readers will be happy with this one.

You can buy your copy at these sites:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Review of "On The Account" by Helen Hollick

A Swashbuckling Voyage


    When the Sea Witch weighs anchor, you better have some Dramamine on hand, for ‘it’s going to be a bumpy ride.’
    In the beginning of On The Account, the fifth voyage of this fine three-mast square rig, its swashbuckling Captain, Jesamiah Acorne, finds himself ignobly languishing in a stinking jail, waiting to be hanged (ironically not for piracy). But preferably, he’d like to be rescued through the magic of his white-witch wife, Tiola. Alas, the lady meets up with her own troubles—and their seesaw rides begin; first separately on land while the Sea Witch lies beached, then together on the high seas.
    Introducing some of the actions and reactions in a fifth book of a series can be problematic for any writer. An author might be tricked into telling too much of what happened before, eager to fill the new reader in, or ignore continuity and simply shrug, ‘hard cheese; should’ve read my previous books.’ Either way, there is the risk of annoying some readers—unless it is handled by a pro, such as Helen Hollick.
    In On The Account, it’s not too much and not too little. This is the first book I have read in the series, and I had no trouble at all in mentally catching up nor imagining what led to the Who, the What and the Why. Apart from the main protagonists, I thoroughly enjoyed Maha’dun, a mythic, intriguing and shamelessly sensuous Night-Walker. That said—and hard cheese notwithstanding—I would much like to ask permission to come aboard the previous voyages.
    The only trouble with this novel was my fear I might run out of it before all was told. With a print book, I can finger the thinness of pages left; with this Advance Reading Copy I was provided by the author, I kept anxiously glancing at the percentage left to read on my Kindle. But all went well. I could finish with a happy sigh. This ride was certainly a bumpy one for all involved—but what a ride it was!
    And I hope to meet Jesamiah on his gallant ship with that marvelously motley crew again, as there was a strong hint of a sixth book, especially when I found “going On the Account” means going back to being a pirate. It’s Jesamiah’s destiny; ours is to find out what happens next.
    In the meantime, On The Account is highly recommended to all those who love a good seafaring yarn spun by an expert storyteller.

There is a marvellous companion article,
written by Helen Hollick on Diana Wilder's blog:

Get your Copy of On The Account directly here:

Twitter: @HelenHollick
Author Page on an Amazon near you:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Deliciously “Subtle” - My Review of The Subtlest Soul

 I have to admit I picked up Virginia Cox’ The Subtlest Soul out of curiosity
(and perhaps a little envy).

We had both been shortlisted for the HNS 2014 Indie Award for Best Historical Fiction. So, I wondered, what made Dr. Cox’ book stand out for the judges among the many great submissions (all of which are worth reading).

Now I know.
While other reviewers here already told some of the plot, I am going to talk about the language: Delicious – and subtle, as the word was used during the Renaissance, the age that produced Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante and ah, let’s not forget the Borgias and Machiavelli.

Subtle then meant to be clever, insinuating, shrewd, artful, tricky and, last but not least, devious. That perfectly fits the handsome young narrator (hence, the title). Of low birth, he compensates by being a bit vain and “subtly” squirms his way into the graces of the powerful but murderous elite. While some of his actions stem from revenge against the murderer of his family, it appears he becomes accustomed to favors bestowed upon him – even though his duplicity leads him into more treachery and great danger.

But it is the language used for young Matteo de Fermo to tell his story. His words burble along like a tranquil brook. Then, before you know it, you are in the midst of the most horrendous battles, ghastly murders, and lusty whoring. Young Matteo talks about it all seemingly devoid of remorse over his actions. The “subtlety” of Ms. Cox’ language made me chuckle quite a few times – how very Machiavellian!

No wonder, “The Subtlest Soul” was the winner. Deservedly, the book also received the hard-to-come-by B.R.A.G. Medallion.
Congratulations to Dr. Virginia Cox for an outstanding novel.