Iscariot by Tosca Lee

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.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Judas Iscariot. A name that’s become legendary in its link to perdition. The man notorious for committing the ultimate betrayal by essentially putting a price on the life of Christ. The infamous disciple tells his side of the story in Iscariot by author Tosca Lee.

This book has been on my radar for more than four years, I’d say. I knew it would be a dark tale meant to give a different angle on a figure widely viewed as villainous. The novel’s opening is haunting in its genius, and I was drawn through the thoughtfully rendered chapters that present Judas as a son. A brother. A husband. A father. A friend. A man with affection, grief, and sacred aspirations.

I always enjoy this author’s lyrical style, and this novel pulsates with social, political, and religious unrest and the gravity of Judas’s dilemmas. Yet, the material of the Gospels is a lot to cover, and it might have taken another book or two to really flesh more of that material out. Many of the events had a cursory, choppy feel to me, and I had some trouble wading through as the story’s flow seemed to fall into a repetitive mental and emotional cycle.

With so many characters coming into play, I couldn’t get more than a surface feel for most of them. This became especially difficult for me in regards to Jesus and His circle. I didn’t get a deep or convincing enough picture of their relationships to make their group seem more than cultish. And though Judas often mentions his love for and friendship with Jesus, I didn’t see friendship so much as a follower’s hero-worship toward someone who constantly baffles and frustrates him.

Still, this novel brings much for contemplation, worth the read for those with knowledge of the ancient story behind this fictional one.


Why the Jewels on These Book Award Medals?

Why are there jewels on the Annual Book Award medals at Prismatic Prospects? I’m glad you asked!

I’m sure you’ve heard expressions about finding hidden gems. Just how hidden a gem may be could depend on who’s doing the looking. 😀 Still, whether a book is traditionally or independently published, whether the author is famous or lesser known, whether the book is a new release or has been around for years—whatever the case, a great book is a great book. A gem. And this bibliophile is all about sharing the literary gems she discovers.

Admittedly, I had a doubt or two as I designed the latest version of my award medals. Would including a gemstone in the center mean the medals would be, you know—less than neutral? Too feminine, or something?


Huh. Well. I reckon if even kings and queens alike go for gemstones, then, hey. 😉

No telling what literary gems will be on my award lists later this year! The Annual Book Award winners so far are here.


Severed Signals by Steve Rzasa

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.

Severed Signals: A Vincent Chen Novella by Steve Rzasa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Kesek, a secret police agency, has spent many years arresting and killing people of faith, including the uncle of Captain Vincent Chen. Vincent, who sees to interstellar communications ferry maintenance for the Realm of Five, heads down to a colony to check out a malfunction. When he discovers that former Kesek agents are enslaved there, including the agents’ families, Vincent’s comms mission must take a critical turn in Severed Signals: A Vincent Chen Novella by author Steve Rzasa.

This is a new-to-me author, but no, I didn’t read the book blurb beforehand. Stumbled across the book, liked its cover, grabbed the book, jumped right in.

Now, even with all my past years of watching Star Trek, I’m still pretty much a newbie when it comes to science fiction reads, especially space operas. While I was interested in Vincent’s musings about his personal life in the first couple of chapters, I had trouble wrapping my head around all of his techno talk. Feeling at sea, I applied the practice I took up back when I started my first Jane Austen novel at thirteen. “Keep reading till it clicks.”

At the end of this novella’s second chapter: CLICK.

I became engrossed in the story’s themes of grief, seclusion, justice, recompense, vengeance, and the price of revenge. While I’m sometimes turned off by characters if they spread on the snark too thick, I could roll with Vincent. He’s quick and droll, has some unpredictability, isn’t incapable of recognizing when he’s being a jerk, and his areas of pain make him all the more relatable.

Although Vincent tells his story in the present, his narration slips into past tense a few times when it shouldn’t, but it’s not a big deal.

Here’s an engaging fusion of intrigue and action on the sci-fi front, with substance on the human-story front. A great series opening.


The Vincent Chen Series



Amos by Jessica Marie Holt

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 a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review.

Amos: Book Two in the Homecoming Series by Jessica Marie Holt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

“Where there is life, there is hope.”

Amos made his peace with his wife’s passing long ago, but his post-retirement life is still lonely, and rather monotonous. When the matter of his health gives his daughter ideas about what upcoming changes will be best for him, Amos has a decision to make in Amos by author Jessica Marie Holt.

Just like the story that precedes this one in the Homecoming series, this is an excellent example of how much substance a short story can have. It moves at a contemplative pace, and although the plot could have become too depressing for me, it takes an exciting turn when it needs to.

Something I appreciate about this series so far is the way it illustrates how people can take new risks and embark on new adventures later in life. And, also as I did while reading the previous story, I felt tears come to my eyes twice—once on account of a little heartbreak, and once on account of hope. Gentle triumph, really.

This author has such an ear for these characters, as well as a lovely and polished writing style. I can’t wait to see how this series wraps up.


Here’s my review of the first story in the Homecoming series, Elsie.