Book Reviews. I read a wide range of genres (see About). You might find anything here, new, old, or ancient and in no particular order. They all have one point in common: these are the books I really enjoyed.
Dr. Bob Rich Modern History Press ISBN-10:1-61599-556-0 ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-556-1 ASIN: B08VQ8V411 February 2021 Science Fiction
After the Cataclysm that ended life as most people knew it, a new world emerged without waste or hydrocarbons. A world using only natural energies and one with a much lower population. Only one million people are allowed on Earth at any time, and this is controlled by reproductive regulations. Women select the fathers of their children, and men must earn credits to earn status as possible fathers. Much of this was set about by a man named Tony who is revered as a prophet today. Twelve hundred years ago he invented a universal computer, Artif, that serves all of humanity and is overseen by the Control, a group of humans. Artif gives everyone help and guiding advice. The Control also manages who can have children. Tony also invented the implant that is placed in every human. It allows them universal communications. A person can talk to another person thousands of miles away without leaving the home or literally appear in a very realistic image.
Flora Fielding awoke from cryogenic storage hoping a cure for her cancer had developed in the time she was asleep. Instead, she found she was 1433 years in the future. It is now 1312 years after Tony. In her cryogenic space, a ball floats. It announces itself as Artif with the feminine voice that woke her up. Flora learns the world is drastically changed, but after so long in cryogenic sleep, why did the Control finally decide to awaken her?
SLEEPER, AWAKE is a very imaginative, creative, and believable story loaded with ideas on how the world of humans might change to save not only the Earth but also everything living on it. The characters are well portrayed, but even in this utopian future remain very human. It also serves as a strong warning of why we need to promote life-style and environmental change.
By Jeffe Kennedy Forgotten Empires – Book 3 St. Martin’s Paperbacks ASIN: B08FZ78666 ISBN-10: 1-25019-435-0 ISBN-13: 978-1-25019-435-0 May 25, 2021 Fantasy Romance
The Island of Calanthe
In the last book, THE FIERY CROWN, Conri retrieved his wife and queen Euthalia’s dead body from Emperor Anure’s Yekpehr palace. The Emperor’s powerful wizards killed her. On the ship escaping back to Luthalia’s Island of Calanthe, the wizard Ambrose brought her back to life.
On the way back to her home, Euthalia (Lia) doesn’t remember what happened and is very weak. Her connection to Calanthe’s island magic, as tied to the creature below the island, is gone. Conri tells her he loves her, but Lia tells him with her death their marriage bond broke. She also knows she and Conri will eventually be forced to separate. If he ends Anure’s reign, he will become the king of his father’s realm of Oriel. She must reconnect to Calanthe.
Conri will do whatever it takes to protect his Lia and work to gain her love and trust. It will be an ongoing battle. The second battle he must make is to return to Yekpehr, the seat of Anure, and free his sister Rhéiane and the other realms’ ruling families that Anure captured and kill Anuer. Before he can leave he must make sure Lia will be safe. Calanthe has problems. The creature below the island is wreaking havoc on the island with storms and erosion. Not only is the island in peril but also the island’s inhabitants.
This is the last book in this series, and it is as enchanting as the previous volumes. The relationship between Conri and Lia has changed just as things have changed between Lia and Calanthe. Moreover, both characters change dramatically in outlook both internally and externally becoming more accepting of themselves. Author Jeffe Kennedy has created another intriguing, imaginative, and alluring story fantasy-romance enthusiasts will want to read.
By Alissa Baxter Perfect 10 Vinspire Publishing ASIN: B08QYSJK7Q ISBN-10: 1-73415-079-3 ISBN-13: 978-1-73415-079-7 2021, February 28 Historical Romance
Lyme Regis and London, England, 1817
Cassandra Linfield does not want a ‘come-out’ or marriage, not after what happened to her mother who suffered so many miscarriages that eventually ended her life. Cassy has a sizable inheritance she will receive in a year making her independently wealthy, and she is happy with her life in Lyme Regis and her frequent trips to the shoreline to find fossils. It also lets her escape her judgemental cousin Agness who lives with her since her father’s recent death. Other single women friends like Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot search the beaches for fossils, too. One day a very handsome man approaches Cassandra while she is on the beach and insists that she return to her home as the shore’s cliffs and tides make it dangerous, and it is no place for a single young woman to roam. He is Lord Rotherbury and is family although not a blood relative. His mother, Ella, was widowed early and then married Cassandra’s uncle Barnaby Linfield, who is her guardian. Now her Aunt Ella insists Cassandra come to London for the season.
Edward, Earl of Rotherbury, initially finds Cassandra unattractive but her intelligence and interest in fossils entice him until he realizes she is very attractive. He asks her to draw some of his fossils for a paper he will present to the Geological Society of London. And when he becomes aware she is gaining interest from other men, he proposes a marriage of convenience. She rejects him. It is shortly afterward he realizes that he loves her.
Cassandra loved Edward before he proposed, but she rejected his proposal, not only for its lack of emotion but also because she feared marriage. Edward soon learns he loves her, so becomes determined to marry her creating an interesting romance story. What is also fascinating in this story is the fossil hunting. The characters Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot were real women. Mary made some astounding fossil discoveries in Lyme Regis which is part of Dorset’s ‘Jurassic Coastline,’ including the first Ichthyosaur skeleton. While they could sell their fossil finds, because of their gender, they could not join any scientific societies. This adds some interesting historical perspectives to the story.
By Danielle Steel Random House ISBN-10: 0-59333-917-7 ISBN-13: 978-0-5933-917-6 January 5, 2021 Woman’s Fiction
San Francisco – the Present
Before her withdrawal from society fourteen years ago, Meredith White had been a famous actress. Fifteen years ago, her actor-producer husband left her for a younger Italian actress, moving to New York. Her fourteen-year-old son went to New York to visit his father and died in a tragic accident. Her son’s death caused Meredith to retreat from the world. For the last fourteen years, Meredith has become a recluse in her stone mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. Her house servants, Jack and Debbie, have taken care of the house and Meredith ever since. She now considers them her only friends. That is until the earthquake. When an 8.2 quake hits the area, Meredith insists that she go into the street to discover if her neighbors need help. Debbie and Jack oppose her decision, insisting she doesn’t even know her neighbors. Meredith goes anyway, and everything begins to change.
While Meredith’s house had minimal damage, her neighbors were severely damaged and have gone to the street for safety. Meredith meets Tyla, her husband, Doctor Andrew Johnson, and their children, eleven-year-old Will and seven-year-old Daphne. Daphne possesses a beloved doll Martha, who helps her in difficult situations. Unfortunately, her brother doesn’t have a friend like Martha to help him. Other residents include blind concert pianist Arthur Harriman, his assistant Peter Stern, wealthy businessman Joel Fine, and his current live-in girlfriend, Ava Bates. Meredith invites all of them to stay in her house until theirs are repaired. They know who Meredith is as her reputation as an actress is still well known, and all are excited at her invitation. Retired Air Force Colonel Charles Chapman also shows up. He is checking neighborhoods in his work for the Office of Emergency Services during this devastating crisis.
The past histories and current situations of these characters, both good and bad, begin to intertwine. The reader’s interest is captured as their involvement with each other brings significant changes to their lives. The story shows how devastation can lead to attainment or even greater failure.
By Loretta Chase A Difficult Dukes Novel – Book 2 Avon ISBN: 978-0-06245-740-0 December 1, 2020 Historical Romance
Cassandra Pomfret, Lord deGriffith’s eldest daughter, is a passionate, outspoken public troublemaker as she advocates for fairness for women. She is feisty and bossy, which has given her a poor reputation among England’s elite. Most men avoid deGriffith’s ‘Gorgon,’ so at twenty-five she is unmarried. Her father makes the ultimatum that her younger sister Hyacinth cannot complete her first season in London until Cassandra marries.
Lucius Beckingham, the Duke of Ashmont, is inebriated after a duel with the Duke of Ripley (book 1, A Duke in Shining Armour), one of his two best friends. Ashmont, Ripley, and their close friend the Duke of Blackwood are known as their dis-graces for their many pranks and fights in London at both elite and lower-class events. While drunk he causes a carriage accident where the woman driver, her maid, and her groom are all thrown from the damaged vehicle. Lucius tries to help the three in the carriage accident, but his inebriation hinders him. The woman driver is disrespectful to Lucius, but he recognizes her groom Keeffe who was an excellent jockey until he was seriously injured in a race. Keeffe is injured now, too. During the ensuing mess, Lucius discovers Cassandra is a caring and thoughtful friend to Keeffe, but his uncle warns him to leave. Ashmont knows why. In this debacle, even though he would pay for all the damages, he would be unable to save the young women’s reputation—unless he marries her.
Cassandra knew Lucius before he became a duke. She still has fond memories of when she was eleven and visiting her aunt. Lucius told her about the stars and their stories and then defended her from some bullies. She had worshiped him for a long time before events led her to an opposite opinion. Yet he begins to capture her thoughts and feelings again. And Lucius? The outrageous girl attracts him more and more, but factors are working against their union. The story changes between Cassandra’s and Lucius’s viewpoints showing Cassandra’s wary attraction and Lucius’s growing self-awareness of what he wants to become. Can a dis-grace duke be rehabilitated into a caring, loving husband? And can Cassandra’s passion overcome her awareness of the danger in loving Lucius? Their future is also impaired as others work to prevent any union. Their dilemma becomes an emotionally convoluted love story.
by Weston Ochse Saga Press ISBN-10: 1534450092 ISBN-13: 978-153445907 December 2020 Mystery Thriller
Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Finland, Sweden, and Malta – the Present,
Ethan McCloud’s mother unexpectedly calls him. She wants him to come home. His father is acting weird, and she needs Ethan’s help. As he has been laid off from his job as a math teacher, Ethan drives from Nebraska to Denver and gets there in the early morning.
He has a brief talk with his father. His father tells him a six-fingered man haunts his dreams. Matt, his father’s Vietnam war-time buddy, sent him a box, which he sent on to Ethan. Matt was killed in a hit-and-run accident the day Ethan’s father received the box. It seems whoever has the box is destined to die. Shortly after his father goes to take a shower, his mother screams. His father is dead, supposedly from a brain aneurysm, but Ethan believes the six-fingered man killed his father. Ethan is determined to find this man and kill him. He discovers his father left him a laptop computer with a message from him, which also tells Ethan of a debit card with ten-grand in cash on it. He wants Ethan to solve the problem Matt presented. The screen saver on the laptop is a Sumerian statue of a six-fingered giant. It is clear to Ethan that he will be taking a journey, so he inveigles his girlfriend, former soldier Shannon Witherspoon, to join him.
From the notes his father left him, Ethan learns of many legends about giants. Mentions of giants are found in the Bible, and other historical references claim giant skeletal remains were found not only in Europe and the Middle East but also in Native American sites. Those skeletons, of course, have disappeared. It seems two opposing groups are trying to discover the truth or prevent the truth about giants from being known. One group is the Council of David, which wants to wipe giants from existence. The other is the Six-Fingered Mafia, who wants to protect those hunting for the truth (bone chasers), or perhaps they each have different goals. Both groups are willing to kill anyone interfering with their goals. Within minutes of typing some of this information on a library computer, Ethan finds himself being hunted, supposedly by police.
What ensues is a long hunt for facts and truth. Along the way, Ethan and Shannon become separated, making Ethan even more determined to finish his father’s request and find Shannon. Are giants just legends? Have they ever existed? Are there giants living now? All questions are explored in BONE CHASE.
By Kiersten White Camelot Rising Trilogy – Book 2 Random House Children’s Books ISBN-10: 0-525581-171-5 ISBN-13: 978-0-52558-171-0 November 10, 2020 Teen and Young Adult
Camelot – Early Middle Ages
At sixteen, Guinevere is married to King Arthur, but their marriage is not yet consummated. She isn’t sure why, but Arthur wants it that way. She thinks perhaps it is because Merlin arranged their marriage. Using her magic, Guinevere has tied knots of protection on all entrances to Camelot to prevent the Dark Queen Malagant from entering (story in book 1). Yet, she has dreams where Mordred, Arthur’s nephew, who betrayed her, is involved. This frightens her. Her magic knots should prevent her from dreaming.
Arthur, of all people, knows Guinevere is not who everyone believes her to be. He also knows that she has magic, which is forbidden in Camelot. However, the worst is that she has no memory about her past or who she was, and if he knows, he won’t tell her.
Camelot is where Guinevere believes she wants to be, and Arthur is who she wants to be with. Soon she and Arthur will escort her friend Dindrane to her parents’ castle to be married to Arthur’s knight Sir Bors. Dindrane is the daughter of a southern lord and a sister to Sir Percival, another of Arthur’s knights. During the journey, many problems occur, and while Guinevere attempts to help people, she often fatally injures others. It haunts her, and with all the questions troubling her, how can she determine who she is or what she should do?
THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL is an evocative journey about finding yourself despite many adversities. It changes parts of the legendary story, but this fantasy is exciting and evocative.
By Shelley Shepard Gray Dance With Me Series – Book 3 Blackstone Publishing ISBN-13: 978-1982658588 November 17, 2020 Contemporary Romance
Bridgeport, Ohio – the Present
Kimber Klein doesn’t regret leaving her successful modeling job to join her new-found sisters Shannon and Traci in Ohio. Unlike Traci, she was adopted and her parents love her. However, she is unsure of what direction her life should take. She is volunteering in an elementary school library reading books. A high school boy, Jeremy, is there too, doing volunteer work credits for school. Leaving the school, Kimber finds her brand-new Mercedes in the parking lot with two split tires. She fears her stalker from New York, Peter Mohler, has discovered where she is.
Gunner Law is waiting at the school to pick up his foster child Jeremy. The stunning-looking woman draws his attention, and he sees her car has two flat tires, not old-tire break-down, but someone’s intentional slicing of the tires. Learning Jeremy, his foster child, knows who the woman is, he suggests they help her. Once her car is towed away, Gunner is hoping he can see Kimber Klein again.
Kimber is as attracted to Gunner as he is to her, but their lives are complicated. Her agent keeps contacting her about possible jobs, and his latest one is very tempting. Gunner wants to adopt Jeremy, but the boy is quiet and withdrawn and fighting issues of another possible abandonment. Jeremy also worries about what his schoolmates would think if they discovered he is a foster child. Jeremy is, however, interested in one of his classmates and is trying to work up the courage to ask her to the Christmas dance, but he has no idea how to approach her.
This story, like the previous two in the series, is about family and friendship, building new relationships, and helping those you love when things go wrong, and lots of things go wrong in the story. Great Christmas read!
By Jessica Maier The University of Chicago Press ISBN-13: 978-0-226-59145-2 (cloth) ISBN-10: 0-226-59145-x ISBN-13: 978-0-226-59159-9 (e-book) ASIN: B08GXBBZZ8 November 4, 2020 Nonfiction
Rome with its ancient and on-going history captures the attention and imagination of many people — researchers, historians, tourists, and readers — and its attraction has been on-going for centuries. Author Jessica Maier shows the perceptions of Rome both past and present as caught in maps through the ages. Some of these maps, while not as accurate, are like today’s maps. Others are more picturesque in form. When created, they held a specific purpose for their design.
Rome has a long history, and Maier lets the reader journey through the many ideas Rome has held from its inception, about which little is known and much guessed at, to the present. The book shows aspects of how all building stands next to, or on top of, those made in the past. It explains about Rome’s many changes and exposes information relatable to all major cities. As Maier states, Rome has had many reincarnations, and no city equals Rome’s resilience throughout the ages. As an example, she writes about San Clemente, a church in Rome dating back to the twelfth century which has a staircase leading down to a church of the fourth century upon which San Clemente was built. This fourth-century church was built on top of an old pagan temple, aspects of which can still be seen 60 feet below the ground level of San Clemente.
Maier states Rome is more than its architecture and buildings, for the maps show the inhabitants’ history, myths, and symbolism as shaped by gods, Caesars, pagans, Christians, and tourists alike. It is a fascinating study with an abundance of historical maps. Again, some are linear depictions of roads, ancient walls, and buildings while others are beautiful paintings showing the city’s changes through landscapes. The information is fascinating. How much did I like the book? Since I preordered a copy, a lot.
By Anne Perry Perfect 10 Ballantine Books ISBN-10: 059312958X ISBN-13: 978-0593129586 ASIN: B084M6LC6G November 3, 2020 Historical Christmas Fiction
England, 1872, Victorian Era
Celia Hooper, who is just over forty, married only a year ago. Her husband is John Hooper, a detective with the Thames River Police. They live a modest lifestyle, but they married for love.
Celia goes to church regularly and likes the Reverend Arthur Roberson, who preaches forgiveness. She does not like church member Seth Marlowe, who is Roberson’s brother-in-law. Roberson’s wife, who was Marlowe’s sister, died of a serious illness several years ago. Marlowe is very judgmental and unforgiving. He singles Celia out to tell her he is marrying her best friend, Clementine Appleby. Clementine is just over thirty and much younger than her intended husband. Marlowe disapproves of Celia and demands she stop seeing or talking to Clementine. If she doesn’t, he will tell not only Clementine of Celia’s lies in court but also all the church members, which will sully her reputation. She did lie in court, yet the judge forgave her because of the reason behind the lie.
Celia is very disturbed by this marriage announcement. She doesn’t trust Marlow as he defames his previous wife, who committed suicide, and his wayward daughter, who disappeared. Clementine, her charitable and affectionate friend, seems deliriously happy with the engagement. Then Seth accuses Celia of sending him an anonymous, hateful letter. Celia doesn’t know what the letter says, but she guesses it may contain a truth Seth doesn’t want anyone to known. He promises her and John trouble. They will lose everything. He doesn’t understand John Hooper is a detective dedicated to discovering the truth.
Christmas is quickly approaching. Will Celia let Seth ruin her friend Clementine’s future as she suspects he might do? Can Celia convince Reverend Roberson that sometimes a person must become aware of their sins and repent before earning forgiveness? This is a short novel, only 200 pages, so it is a fast read. The story contains some very galvanizing issues still plaguing society, which will rivet the reader’s attention. The characters are fascinating and create an entertaining reading. A CHRISTMAS RESOLUTION is not a Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas story, but more about what Christmas really means. An appealing and heartfelt Christmas story.