“THIEF!” An Excerpt from Eubeltic Descent

Eubeltic Descent 5 Stars Indies

From Eubeltic Descent, Book One in the Eubeltic Realm series

Gemstone Red

Tarek was quiet as he walked Abigaia the rest of the way home that night. She didn’t mind it, due to the strange daze she was in.

She was still in something of a daze when she went to the market the next morning, back to browsing for what her one coin could afford her, and no more. She speculated about what her family would think, what her aunt and uncle might say once they realized her allowance was no longer stretching as it had for years. Abigaia began to contemplate the strategy of haggling, which it seemed only the most aggressive townsfolk could manage, but her thoughts were stopped short when a fierce clanging sound broke through the commotion of the market. A booming, heated voice rose as a counterpoint to the clanging.

“Thief! Thief! Thief!

It took only a matter of seconds for the alarm to replace the noise of buying and selling, bringing the normal activity to a halt.

“Thief! Thief! In green!”

The clamor in the market shifted as crude weapons, including knives and whips, flashed out from behind the counters of wares. “Thief! Thief! Thief!” the vendors joined in the chant, looking around to spot a culprit in green and any evident accomplices.

A clash of panic arose in the crowd, customers scrambling to clear out of the market as vendors went on the hunt. A long-anticipated dread immobilized Abigaia at first, but she recognized a hiss to be Lotus’s, flying by behind her. “Run, Abi!”

Abigaia turned to follow the hiss but found that Lotus had already disappeared into the pressing throng.

“Thief! Thief! Stop him.”

Abigaia’s feet led her in the direction of her friends’ usual meeting place, picking up speed once she was outside of the market, getting away from the scattering crowd. She knew her friends wouldn’t be meeting up today, so she ran past their spot as she fled from town as swiftly as she could while clutching her basket.

She then heard a distinct, masculine bawl somewhere behind her, this one not of panic but of pain.

Abigaia didn’t want to stop. She wouldn’t have stopped. But her feet came to a stop nonetheless because her ears were unable to deny what she’d heard. She recognized that male voice. She’d never heard it in that way before, in that kind of agony, but she recognized it now.

She turned around. Turned around to see a few hollering vendors hustling someone out of town. She could hear thuds of pummeling fists before the vendors threw their captive to the ground, glimpses of the captive’s green shirt made visible as his prone form became the landing place for kicking and stomping feet.

Another voice rose above the others and took charge. The owner of that voice tossed aside the short whip he’d been holding, and he reached down to turn the prone man over. “This’ll teach you!”

The pack of vendors parted somewhat, and Abigaia’s eyes grew wide with horror.

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The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar by KD Holmberg

Biblical Books Red

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book for an honest review.

4 Stars New Red

The Egyptian PrincessThe Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar by KD Holmberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Because she’s been betrothed to the crown prince all her life, Princess Hagar has lived in preparation to one day become the highest-ranking woman in Egypt. But when the prince brings a beautiful Sumerian, Sarai, to add to Pharaoh’s harem, order in the kingdom takes an ominous, drastic turn in The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar by author KD Holmberg.

As one of the countless people the world over who knows the scriptural story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, I was intrigued to hear about this biblical fiction novel focused on Hagar’s life in ancient Egypt.

The intrigue only built from there, as this story is saturated with it, along with rich detail of the place and period—something I so appreciate as a lifelong lover of historical fiction. This is a fairly dark, sometimes gruesome account from Hagar’s perspective of a personal, political, and spiritual shift in her life.

Now, there were moments when the flow of logic and emotion in the story felt disjointed to me, so I was a little unclear about where the characters were coming from at times. The story’s villains felt overdone to the point of being somewhat caricatural in their evilness. And certain conversations and actions from the characters, as well as some aspects of the plot, seemed repetitive after a while.

Nevertheless, I was satisfied by the moving, haunting ending of this novel. I’m already looking forward to the continuation of this ChristFic series.
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Note to my blog readers: This book contains some sensual innuendo and domestic violence, and a vaguely descriptive account of child molestation.

Line New Red

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Look Alive: An Excerpt from Reviving the Commander

Reviving the Commander Banner IT 5 Stars

From Reviving the Commander, Book One in the Crowns Legacy series

Crowns Legacy Medal Gold

Reviving the Commander 3D“You must be about ready for dinner. I did plan for us to go to the palace for that,” Staid told Opal after their talk about Beltmon was over, but even as the words came out of Staid’s mouth, Opal recognized them to be an excuse.

For here they were, back in the central building of the military training site, having paused in a hallway on the opposite side of the building than the one they’d come down earlier. This hallway opened up into a wide court where recruits were working on their swordsmanship: some contending with fellow recruits, others matched up with swordmasters for critiques, and all of them currently practicing with wooden sticks of corresponding size and weight to swords they’d use in battle.

Opal’s eyes moved back and forth between Staid and the sword fighting that had arrested his gaze, and she spoke up. “You’d like to have a go?”

Staid’s head shifted as if it were going to shake but didn’t do so, determined not to risk missing anything. “I’ve not come to interrupt anyone’s routine today.”

“Mm.” Opal restrained a chortle. “My viewpoint may be an inexperienced civilian one, but according to what I see, I’d say a definite part of the men’s routine here today is swordplay. So. You should go play.”

Staid looked at her without entirely turning his head. “You wouldn’t mind?”

“As long as it doesn’t mean that I myself have to go swing one of those sticks around, no. I don’t mind.”

In response, Staid had his topcoat off in no time, but he did display a few seconds of uncertainty with it until Opal held out her hands to take the coat from him. “I’m not fully prepared,” Staid mumbled another halfhearted excuse as he rolled his shoulders to loosen up, but it was now clear that he wasn’t wearing a full suit today, only a white shirt and dark vest with his trousers, a fact that piqued Opal’s interest.

She watched Staid approach one of the swordmasters, and the man stopped, saluted Staid, and didn’t need more than a wordless second to know to pass his sword off to his superior and to step aside.

Without delay, Staid whipped around to the recruit standing there with a curious look on his face, and Staid’s sword thumped the recruit’s weapon downward with a solid knock of wood. “Look alive, soldier,” Staid advised with a roguish half-smile and a snigger in his throat, and in a flash, Opal saw Joshua, in mischievous laughter as he “galloped” his horsey on its head, checking to see if his audience caught the significance of what was happening.

During the minutes that followed, Opal’s thoughts ran out of room for toddler impressions as Staid himself came alive, a fierceness coming forth from him that Opal had never seen before.

“As for the man himself—well. He’s not in his prime anymore.” No. If his prime had been back in his twenties, he wasn’t in it anymore. Still, the silvery-gray-haired man now in action before Opal was a far cry from decrepit. As Staid balanced between giving the recruit instruction and opposing the young man to test his skill, Opal’s senses responded, a tingling sensation working down the length of her spine, so intense and pleasant that it staggered her. Oh. Oh dear.

Staid went on long enough to strengthen his wind but refrained from doing more, yielding the floor and the sword back to the swordmaster, and Opal was tempted to offer a round of applause as Staid headed back in her direction. Because applause would be conspicuous, though, she simply handed Staid his coat and told him, “That was something.”

“You think so?” Staid’s heavy release of breath held a rumble of gratification as he tugged at the bottom of his vest with one hand, and another half-smile came over his face, though this one had more of a curve than an edge to it. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to swing one of those sticks around, Miss Whilstead? It’s all quite invigorating, to say the least.”

While her spine was still recovering from its tingle, Opal replied to Staid’s teasing with, “Wisdom tells me that getting myself walloped in the head with a rod of wood in front of everyone here would result in far more humiliation than invigoration for me.”

Staid laughed at that. “If you say so, ma’am.” He passed his coat from one hand to the other and gave his vest another tug as he and Opal continued down the hallway. When they’d made it around a corner and beyond the view of the sword fighters, Staid asked her, “Am I together?”

Opal looked up at him, reluctant to point out that a lock of his hair toward the front had been jostled from its previous place, but Staid must have read her expression. “I’ve no mirror,” he said, leaning a degree toward her. “Feel free to correct it, please, whatever it is.”

You look fine, sir. That is, just…” Opal hesitated and then accommodated him by reaching up to shift and smooth his lock back into order. She could only despair at the color she was certain came to call on her cheeks when she lowered her hand and her gaze found Staid’s, the moment extending a couple of beats after she’d already forgotten about his hair.

Oh. Oh, dear Providence. Do help me

Pick up a copy of Reviving the Commander

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The Sword of Truth by Gilbert Morris

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Sword of Truth by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The life of a serf, Myles Morgan, is forever changed when he becomes the heir of an English lord. But the path of Myles’s destiny will be anything but carefree, what with the hazards of Henry VIII’s court and the dangerous mission of a religious scholar Myles respects, William Tyndale, in The Sword of Truth by author Gilbert Morris.

Without question, it was the bold, excellent cover artwork and the strong, epic sound of the book titles that drew me to The Wakefield Dynasty historical ChristFic series.

As for this first novel, I found the writing style to be overdramatic, lacking subtlety, with the narrator and characters exclaiming (!) far too much. Instead of “showing,” the author “tells” everything, using an overabundance and frequent repetition of “-ly” adverbs on almost every page: “suddenly,” “instantly,” “quickly,” etc., over and over again.

Because the characters come off as unnatural, predictable caricatures, and the rudimentary emotional development lacks finesse, I wound up feeling rather indifferent to most of the characters—except for Myles, and not in the best way, as his high level of naïveté becomes unbelievable as the years pass.

However, what bothers me more than that is the way this novel portrays two of the devout Christian women when the men they love make confessions about the men’s other romantic pursuits or affairs. The story depicts a fantasy of sweet, holy femininity having no anger, feeling no sense of devastation for being two-timed or strung along, no sense of betrayal over her partner’s infidelity. Displaying meek acceptance of their men’s faults, the ladies are just all too happy to be with their men now, it’s God’s doing, and the men suffer no romantic consequences in their relationships with their oh-so-understanding women of faith.

I’m not at all okay with that.

Now, the diehard historical fiction fan in me enjoyed the history and related intrigue in the novel, even with its apparent biases (concerning “the great Columbus,” for one). And as for the novel’s stylistic issues, I know you can’t always judge an entire series by its first book, especially for series that are published over the course of years.

So, the diehard historical fiction fan in me will be checking out at least a little more of this dynasty.

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The Wakefield Dynasty Series

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