Tag Archives: historical

Eight Pointed Cross: A Novel of the Knights of Malta by Marthese Fenech

Reviewed by Rox Burkey

A Deliciously Ambitious History Saga!

Author Marthese Fenech presents the violent history of 16th century Malta with living breathing storytelling vignettes from one end to the other. The details of life for the Maltese people as they succumb to slave traders, bow to Christian Knights, and sometimes serve as common soldiers clearly conveyed the difficulty, harshness, and violence present in that era. The history is more digestible because of the character relationships within these interwoven tales; good and bad.

The myriad of stories within the book as a writing technique is awesome. It helped fill in the murky background and additional depth to the violence of the Ottoman Empire’s Muslim Turks. Many parts of this historical saga filled my eyes with tears, with the suffering of the Gozotain families particularly horrific. Wars and conquest are filled with terror and fear, but the heroes and heroines are often found in Eight Pointed Cross.

The siblings Domenicus and Katrina Montesa are so real and relatable as a family unit who grow up over the course of the book. I loved Katrina with her determination and independent thoughts, not common among females of the period. Yet her character is very relatable and sadly naive.  Frankly, all the characters are well developed regardless of their role from the Montesa siblings to their father; Angelic overcoming her initial suffering, and Demir who knows right from wrong in his heart and mind. Ms. Fenech laces her extensive research into a compelling history brought to life because of her amazing characters and their interactions. The story has twists and turns that are more enjoyable with the concise bite-sized chapters.

I was concerned initially with the length of this novel, but I was immediately captivated by the clear expression-filled voice of Simon Hester, as he embraced the superb prose. Simon’s voice adds a realistic richness to a historical fiction masterpiece. The overwhelming sincerity to his narration made me think he watched the scenes as they were occurring and related it just for me. Simon Hester is the ideal narrator for Eight Pointed Cross This audible book had no production issues and the quality was consistent from beginning to end.

I enjoyed listening to the comprehensive descriptions, richness of history, extensive character development, and personalization of this historical saga. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy listening to a story with unfiltered realism. Not for the squeamish, but then war and conquest never is.

5 Star Rating!

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Disclaimer: The audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias review.

Before the Reign Falls by David Black

Review by Rox Burkey

A Thoughtful Historical Fiction! 4 Stars

Author David Black uses literary license to relate the intense historical fiction of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen. A royal, descending from Henry VII, she was put on the throne only to be deposed by her cousin Mary, Queen Mary I.

This story unfolds using a diary type of format that has the listener moving between 16th century England and modern-day. The prologue sets the listener up with the history of the royals which provided me a suitable frame of reference for those times and the relationships. From there, the story moves to modern-day with Alice and Elliott traveling the backroads of England to help a buddy who is restoring an older property he purchased.

The combination of the historical back story told from the modern-day viewpoint was enjoyable. I liked how many of the characters told their own story, especially Lady Jane Grey. None of her short life was easy and though she was privileged I found her a tragic character.  The author weaves surprising twists and turns that piqued my interest all the way to the unexpected ending.

Sarah Jane Rose was a good choice as the narrator of this tale. She has a delightful quality to her voice, with accents ideal to the story location. Her speed and timing were perfect along with well-placed emotional highs and lows as the characters told their portion for the story.

The production quality of the audible was done well and without flaws.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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One if By Land, Two if By Submarine by Eileen Schnabel

History is about to change.  Paul Revere is missing, presumed kidnapped and Samuel Adams and John Hancock are in a precarious situation as well.  Kep, TJ, Max, and Tela are charged with traveling back and taking the infamous ride to warn the colonists of the British invasion as well as rescuing a trunk of documents for John Hancock that could put a deadlier spin on the outcome of the war.  Several twists keep this listen exciting and riveting!  Kep, TJ, Max and Tela are all kids and in 24 hours or less they must right the wrongs.

Action-packed, Eileen Schnabel captures our imagination and runs with it.  Well written, the plot is executed beautifully with finesse and charm.  One cannot help but fall in love with the kids and smile with the fresh take on Hancock and Adams.  It is a fresh way to look at time travel and the intrigue was fascinating.  The characters were very well developed, each character was realistic and her attention to detail made the story unforgettable.  Well written with realistic dialog and interactions, it is an easy listen.

Narrated by Kevin Clay, the story is wonderfully performed.  Clay moved the story along with his skilled voices and added just the right mix of emotions.  Clay brought the characters to life, including the nasty Fox and Rat Face!

The production quality of this book was well done and clear.

Regardless of your age, this is a book that will drag you in.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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The Fireraisers (Detective Watters Mysteries Book 1) by Malcolm Archibald

The Fireraisers consist of a series of mysteries within one another and although they do not appear connected, Detective Sergeant Watters of the Dundee Police discovers far more than he was expecting including arson, murder and disturbing connections.  When I first started to listen to this book, I discovered it needed a more dedicated listen in order to follow the events.  I have discovered that the author, Malcolm Archibald is very adept at creating intricate mysteries and a variety of intrigues.  His use of historical facts to create his fiction and his not being content to staying on one continent is uniquely done.

His character and plot development were solid and well done.  His dialog was spot on as well, making the story flow easily.  I thought his twists were well executed as well.  This story has it all – mystery, suspense, history, intrigue, adventure with a touch of humor.

The narrator, Max Best, performed the book very well although, in the beginning, his accent was a bit hard to understand it gave a more realistic feel to the characters and plot.  After a short bit, I enjoyed his performance thoroughly and became enthralled in the story.  I hope to hear more performances by Max Best.

There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

Star Rating: * * * *

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Sunflowers Under Fire by Diana Stevan

Based on her grandmother’s life and true stories, Diana Stevan intricately reveals the struggles and losses her grandmother, Lukia Mazuret endured during her life in Russia.  Lukia is a strong woman who faced and survived war, revolution, and raising eight children single-handedly after her husband Gregory left to join the service.  In a world torn by war and poverty, Lukia deals with protecting her daughters daily from the evils of men.  Until the unthinkable happens and a taboo relationship happens.

The experiences and tragedies of Lukia are performed by Diana Stevan who gives voice to her grandmother’s story in a sensitive and caring manner.  The passion and personal connection to the story are deep and provide the listener with an intense listen.  Nine hours and 25 minutes long, the time flies as the listener is swept into the world of Lukia through the careful construction of the story and the passionate telling by Ms. Stevan.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

Rating:  ****

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