Friday, November 4, 2016

Book Review: THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN - Michael Livingston

Michael Livingston
Tor / A Tom Doherty Associates Book
Historical Fantasy

Only in my older age (and not for one second calling myself old), have I learned to appreciate history. And only recently have I even taken an interest in non-fiction. THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN is fiction, but is historically accurate.  The era covered deals with Rome, and Egypt.

THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN opens with the assassination of Julius Caesar. And from there the tension just builds. Like any good novel there are multiple stories unfolding, and a host of intriguing characters involved. The intertwining of tales, and paths is perfectly executed, and the pacing intense.

Caesar’s death has brought unrest across the lands. Everything is up for grabs. Cleopatra and Marc Antony want more than just Egypt. They have Lucious Vorneus, and Titus Pullo fighting in their corner.

Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, wants more than just Rome. Destined to rule over everything, and everyone, Octavian plans on attacking Egypt. Marc Antony has already proved himself a traitor to Rome with his Donations. War is inevitable.

Juba, Octavian’s adopted brother, knows he will never rule. Regardless, he feels as if he’s been treated unfairly all of these years. When God died, his power was splintered into shards. How many shards exist, no one knows for sure, but Juba knows of a handful. And he wants them all. Revenge against Octavian is finally within reach.

Unfortunately, the shards are not a secret. Others are also on the hunt, as desperate to uncover the magical items as the next. In some cases, the relics are so powerful that generations of families have been installed to ensure the safety of the shard.

With a crisscross in family trees, and everyone after power, little good can come from the result of a war. With magic involved, the results of war could prove more disastrous than anticipated. Can winning be decided by magic, skill, or the size of one’s army? What is the cost of losing the war? Can anyone walk away unchanged by the tumultuous course of events?

Livingston writes clear, concise prose. The dialogue is crisp. The tension is constant, and the action intense. I enjoyed meeting the different families, the characters were so well-drawn, I saw them clearly inside my head. THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN was an impressive novel, and although I finished it, I am thankful to know I have THE GATES OF HELL on my nightstand, ready to go!

Phillip Tomasso

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review: HARRY POTTER & The Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Hack Thorne

J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Hack Thorne
HARRY POTTER and the Cursed Child 
Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic
Young Adult / Fantasy

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a novel. It is a play. The story is by Rowling, and was written by Rowling, Thorne, and Tiffany It is the eight Harry Potter installment, and premiered on a stage in London on July 30, 2016.

This book takes place some 19 years after the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). Albus Potter, the son of Harry and Ginny, is headed to Hogwarts. His biggest fear is the Sorting Hat. He does not want to wind up in Slytherin. Always at odds with his father, Albus knows he will never make it into Gryffindor. It is one more comparison to his father bound to deliver more disappointment.

On the Express to school, Albus befriends a boy sitting alone in one of the cars. Scorpius, like Albus, is plagued by the legend of his father. Although Harry's father was the Wizard of all Wizards--an impossible shadow to crawl out from under, Scorpius' father was the dreadful Draco Malfoy. No one likes him based on this fact alone, and the rumors that Voldemort might actually be his true father. No one, that is, except Albus.

When a Time Turner is recovered, a device allowing for time travel, the tale quickly spins out of control. Amos Diggory (who's son, Cedric Diggory -- the boy murdered in Goblets of Fire by Voldemort) wants Harry to go back in time and save his son; to make it as though the death never happened.

Taking it upon himself to make things right, to maybe impress his own father, Albus and Scorpius, team up with Delphi Diggory (Amos' niece), in an attempt to save Cedric from an untimely death. Their journeys back in time mess up the present. They change the future. Timelines cross.

The damaged caused may be too significant to fix. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco Malfoy are desperate to save Albus, and Scorpius. They fear the return of Voldemort -- and the possible present world where Voldemort isn't just alive, but where he rules the world! Time is of the essence. If the newly revealed prophecy comes to light, the world that they once knew, and loved, would be gone, changed forever!

The play is taut. The Acts, and Scenes perfectly laid out. The story is filled with emotion. It is most definitely a tale about fathers and sons. Parents and kids. Depression and hope. Division and reconciliation. The final Scenes brought me to tears. As a fan of the Harry Potter saga, it was amazing to see this story end where Harry Potter's legacy began. Very emotional. I would give anything to see the play. I suppose I will have to hope they make it into a film. I loved placing this finished book on my shelf alongside Rowling's other titles.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
Wizard's Rise
Wizard's War
Queens of Osiris

Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: AMERICAN QUEEN - Sierra Simone

Sierra Simone
Self Published
Contemporary Romance

American Queen is the first in a new series from Priest author Sierra Simone. Greer Galloway is no stranger to politics growing up the granddaughter of a former vice president. Two chance encounters over the course of 10 years shape her life in ways she never though possible and thrust her front and center in Washington. 

After reading "Priest" I had very high expectations and hail to the chief "American Queen" met and then exceeded them. From the first chapter I was spellbound and could not put the book down until I had all the pieces of the puzzle and learned how they all fit together. "American Queen " truly has something for everyone. Second chance love story? Check. Powerful  (as in most powerful man in the world) Alpha male? Check. Best friends to lovers? Check. Love triangle? Let's add 2 checks there. I honestly can not think of a way to describe this book other than it is everything. 

We meet Greer as a 7 year old girl who received some mysterious advice that haunts her as she grows older. Heroine Greer is smart, well rounded and most important true to herself which was refreshing but also heartbreaking at times. At 16 she has a chance encounter with a military officer 10 years older named Ash that gives her her first kiss and takes part of her heart. Meeting again 5 years later he unknowingly breaks her heart. That same night looking for comfort she runs into Embry who gives her a night of firsts and renews the hope for love she had abandoned. Her renewed hope is short lived as what remains of her heart is shattered when she doesn't hear for Embry again. 

Fast forward 5 years and Embry re enters the picture as the Vice President of the United States sent by Ash (who is his best friend ) to bring Greer to him. The story that unfolds as the three of them discover just how intertwined their lives have been without them knowing for the past 10 years is all encompassing,  captivating and filled with such raw emotion you will need some time to sort out your feelings after you are done.

American Queen left me desperate for more, lucky for all of us the second book in the series, "American Prince" releases in 2017!

Eliza Wise is a Travel Planner, and mother of 4 school age kids who started reading as an escape from reality and is now an active member of the Indie Romance Community.