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Smashwords book reviews by Diane Rapp
- This Time
on May 30, 2012
Shakespeare got it wrong!
When a wealthy history buff endeavors to unravel the truth about his favorite English king, he funds a time travel project. According to Shakespeare’s play, King Richard III was a hunchback who murdered his wife and two nephews, but he was wrong. The novel opens as Richard III fights his last battle, the one where he gets cut down in a bloody massacre, but time-travel scientists drag him into 2004. They leave a “look alike” body behind so that history remains in tact. Unfortunately the rich historian thinks he owns Richard. He plans to “question” Richard and send him back to die.
While I was reading this fascinating book, I wondered who I’d like to snatch from history. There are so many remarkable people I’d enjoy meeting, but my favorite would be Benjamin Franklin—a pivotal character in our country’s forming. He franchised businesses, started the postal system and lending libraries, and served as ambassador for his fledgling country. It would be fun to meet him.
King Richard III did not have much “fun” as his captors grilled him about his life. Since he was an intelligent soldier, he immediately tried to find a way to escape from his prison. Wouldn’t anyone? How can he survive in a strange new world? He must develop allies. The excellent narrative follows his journey from an archaic royal to a modern man. We appreciate his struggle to learn modern English and catch up on history, while we cheer his romantic adventures and quest to save his son.
The author helps us understand King Richard III in a way that Shakespeare never imagined. I don’t know much about English history, but I learned a lot about the problems that faced royalty of that time period from this well-written novel. I peeked at the sequel, Loyalty Binds Me, and I’m anxious to find out how Dickon (his favorite nickname) manages to get into more trouble during the next phase of the story. Buy this book and discover how Shakespeare got it all wrong in his famous play. (I’m still wondering how we can snatch Benjamin Franklin.)
- Loyalty Binds Me
on June 18, 2012
A History Lesson With a Bang!
Having read This Time, the first book in the series, I felt compelled to discover what happened in the sequel. The author did not disappoint me. When Richard and his new family make a pilgrimage to England, they’re propelled into a political chess game between “friendly” world powers. Governments are anxious to secure the “time travel” device invented by Sarah, Richard’s new wife, but they also want proof that it works. Arrested for a crime that might have occurred 500 years ago, Richard is faced with a “no win” situation, lie or remain silent and get locked up for years as a “terrorist threat.” He might protect himself but what will happen to his family in the meantime?
Richard understood politics in ancient England, but a battle of wills involving the FBI and MI5 might be beyond his abilities. Luckily “Dickon” finds champions for his cause, a Ricardian solicitor and a feisty woman reporter. How can he “prove” he didn’t murder his nephews in 1483 when the authorities are determined to compare his DNA to bones found at the Tower of London?
I absorbed more English history in these novels than I ever learned in high school. That’s probably due to Joan’s superb skill as a writer. She brings the fascinating mystery and intrigue during the 15th century to life in a character who remembers the events. But why should anyone in modern times care enough about Richard III to form a society and hold “mock” trials about his guilt or innocence? Historians should follow Joan Szechtman’s example and “transport” their favorite characters from history into an interesting novel. We might all learn more than we ever thought possible. She weaves enough information from the first book into the sequel to make it a stand-alone novel. Buy this book today and get a “history lesson with a bang.”
on May 23, 2013
Sometimes heroes need to be scary!
If the mundane world understood what kind of heroes protected them from evil, they'd quake with terror. I happen to appreciate intimidating heroes, who should have a better chance at defeating evil monsters.
The immortal Wraiths and Senses work together to protect our world from dark fiends in the form of Vampires, Long Necks, GQs, Lilacs, CWOs, and other dangerous pests. Powerful Wraiths live in realm apart from Earth, leaving Senses do the dirty work to seek out and destroy evil on the planet. Unfortunately Senses' law forbids telling humans about their existence.
This creates problems for Balen, who has fallen in love with a mortal. The trouble started when he got captured and tortured by a powerful vampire. He could handle pain and threats--until the vampire captured a human. He grew to admire Danielle's strength and courage and soon fell in love. Determined to save her from becoming the vampire's slave, he drank the vampire's blood in a bargain that might cost Balen his life.
According to law, a Senses who drinks vampire's blood must die or be placed into Rest (a coma-like state where a Senses relives his worst memories until the sentence is complete). After Balen drank the vampire's blood, he spent the next two years hiding from his Talde (a Senses family) and purged the poison from his system. It worked. Now he's ready to face the council and accept his punishment. He deserves the worst sentence but feels compelled to see Danielle one last time.
When Danielle was rescued from the clutches of the vampire, her memory was wiped clean. That doesn't mean she's okay. In fact she's terrified by fleeting glimpses of her ordeal, can't let a man touch her, and she's plagued by dreams of an eerie man with vivid green eyes. As an artist, she's fascinated by the image and paints his portrait over and over, never satisfied with the result. As a woman she's drawn to the strength and compassion of the beautiful man.
Unknown to Balen and Danielle, someone cast a spell over them. They are bonded for life. If Balen goes away, Danielle falls deathly ill. If he dies or is placed into Rest, Danielle will undoubtedly die. They must fight for Balen's freedom to save Danielle's life, but they need Balen's Talde to help. Should Danielle risk her life and sanity for the man she loves and join him in a life she doesn't fathom? Can she submit to a commitment for eternity? She's always run from love before. Now love, loyalty, and strength of character might be the best weapons in their fight against evil.
This is a complex and gripping story that introduces a new realm of immortals into the age old battle of good versus evil. The saga will seize the imagination of new readers and sweep them into the intense drama. These heroes are not typical comic-book characters, they are gritty, flawed, and downright scary--the kind of people we should hope to have on our side. Get started on the series today.
- The Weeping Empress
on May 23, 2013
A dark “fairytale” worthy of the Brothers Grimm
When Chiyo wakes up in a strange world, dressed in pajamas, she’s unprepared for the violence and danger that await. How did she get there? Why did someone pluck her ordinary life with a husband and young daughter? Fortunately Chiyo meets two samurai warriors, Senka and Muhjah. Without knowing how to fight, the girl grabs a sword and jumps into the bloody battle to save herself. She gains a grain of respect from the warriors, who let her tag along in their journey.
She’s landed in a cruel world, filled with death, destruction, and unjust treatment by the rulers. Can Chiyo learn to survive while she searches for a way to return to her own world and find her family? This is not a fairytale where the lost princess finds a knight to fight her battles and lives happily ever after. This is a gritty tale of hardship and determination. Chiyo must swiftly learn to wield her own sword and steal herself against the revulsion of killing. She works hard and becomes good at it.
Chiyo joins the expert swordsmen to fight “hit and run” skirmishes against cruel rulers. Although survival fuels her efforts in the beginning, revenge becomes her motivation to live and fight day after day. Chiyo becomes a legend, and religious zealots seek to use her as a weapon to restore their power.
This is not a typical sword and sorcery tale. There’s plenty of bloody fighting, gruesome battles, dramatic sword play, and distasteful torture. Chiyo is not an ordinary beautiful damsel in distress. She dives in and wields a sword, learns to cultivate the “monster” inside that enjoys fighting, and wins one battle at a time. Chiyo won’t let others control her destiny, and uses her own sorrow and anger to wreak a just revenge. It’s a “fairytale” worthy of the Brothers Grimm but not one fit for children.