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The Fifth House of the Heart
By: Ben Tripp
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 2015
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: August 21, 2015
On the outside Asmodeus Saxon-Tang, more commonly known as “Sax,” was a fine wealthy gentleman who seemed to consistently have his life together. For years Sax had made a well known name for himself as the best and most exclusive antique dealer around, seeming to acquire some of the most rare and amazing pieces in the world. However, Sax has a secret that has been the key to his long years of success - he steals from vampires. With eternity to find just the right pieces for their hoard, Sax knows that there is no other way to come upon exactly what he wants.
The first time Sax came upon a vampire it was completely by accident and with a stroke of luck and the right weapon he was able to kill that first vampire and make millions selling off every bit of unique furniture he found. Now, after killing two vampires and reaping the benefits, the tables have turned and a certain vampire is hunting him. With old age creeping up on him the idea of going after another vampire is not quite as appealing to Sax as it once was, for he is not sure if the reward will outweigh the cost. However, this vampire knows who he is which means everyone Sax knows and loves could be in danger. The main person on Sax’s mind is his niece Emily and he wants to do everything in his power to make sure she is protected, so instead of waiting for this vampire to find him, he decides to put together a team to find it first.
After traveling to Germany Sax starts to assemble a rag tag group of vampire hunters, ones that he describes as a band of sociopaths not psychopaths as with the danger of the situation he needs people who are a little crazy but will stay focused on the task at hand. For of course this was not a normal job but one that could cost all of their lives and as they get closer to this particular vampire Sax begins to wonder if this will be his last job as well.
Whenever there is a particular subject that becomes popular in the book world it is always interesting to me to see different authors present a different take on that subject. Recently vampires have definitely been a popular choice of authors to write about and Ben Tripp gives another intriguing take on this subject. Tripp’s novel allows the reader a glimpse into the history of vampires, the legends surrounding them, and intimate secrets of their dark lives. Instead of writing about all of the past and then moving into the present, Tripp intermingles the two in this novel in a way I absolutely enjoyed, as the pieces of the past were able to coincide easily with the present story and bring everything to light and make for an even better reading experience.
Quill says: A breathtaking and heart pounding glimpse into the dark side of vampires!
By: Christopher Madsen
Publisher: CMP Publishing
Publication Date: August 2015
Reviewed by: Charline Ratcliff
Date: August 16, 2015
When I was first asked if I would be interested in reviewing Rowdy, a non-fictional story about the renovation of a 1916 yacht, I don't think I realized what I was getting myself into. I do love books featuring historical ‘look-backs’ which is why I had readily agreed to read this book. However, upon its arrival, I was understandably stunned by the book’s massiveness and the words ''it's like a museum in a box'' flitted through my head. (Rowdy was so large that it arrived in a box – hence the reference).
Viewing this book for the first time, I imagine I felt a teeny tiny sense of the same ''what have I gotten myself into" that Christopher Madsen, the book's author and Rowdy's renovator, undoubtedly felt upon realizing he now had ownership of this rather derelict 1916 yacht – a sailing vessel (that unbeknownst to him then) had an amazing story to share.
Rowdy (the book) is divided into several accountings – and each one is engrossingly interesting. To say that I struggled to set this book down is an understatement. So, after Madsen's initial ‘about me’ (and his newest project) introduction, the reader will then be privy to his first phone call with Harriet Anne Duell. Harriet, who prefers to be called Hanny, is the last living child of Holland Duell – Rowdy’s original owner. Almost two years after that initial phone call, Hanny decided to pay a visit to the now renovated yacht that she hasn’t set foot on in 83 years. “Wow” is also an understatement.
After meeting Madsen in person, and after scampering around the yacht as if she were once again 10, Hanny gifts Madsen with the ‘Pandora's Box’ (or the holy grail as the case may be) of previously unknown-to-him information from Rowdy's original owner – Holland’s writings during World War One (which he later published as The History of the 306th Field Artillery). This is where the next section of Rowdy begins, and is labeled “The Journal.”
“The Journal” allows the reader to experience a first-hand accounting of the events that transpired from May 11, 1917 through May 10, 1919. Madsen also did a remarkable job of searching out and supplementing additional facts for these two years; making this section read as if it was Holland’s personal diary/journal. It was certainly an eye-opening and riveting look at a small time period within World War I; complete with drawings, diagrams, photographs and other remembrances from these years.
After the reader completes “The Journal” section, he/she will then learn about the Duell’s family history, including career choices (political and/or otherwise). Looking back almost one hundred years through time, I must say that familial ‘drama’ existed even then – it just seems we were a bit more ‘refined’ in how we dealt with it then…
I really don’t want to provide any further information about this book – I don’t want to take anything away from the reader’s journey of discovery. Rowdy is certainly a wonderful read. It’s interesting, well-written and provides a consistent stream of historical facts.
Quill says: If you’re a lover of reading anything nautical and/or historical then Rowdy will simply suck you in – not spitting you back out until you reach its conclusion.
Defender of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian D'Ibelin
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publisher: Wheatmark Inc.
Publication Date: August 2015
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 14, 2015
Most readers will agree that to create a biographical/historical tome that will entrance, excite and lure them in to the point where they literally do not want to stop reading until the six hundred or so pages are over, is a feat next to impossible. However, this is the second book in a series of three – the first being Knight of Jerusalem – that owns the power to do everything just stated above. The story is incredible. The locations are brought to life by this author with perfect clarity during a time in history that was more than confusing. This was a time where everyone seemed to work night and day to gain power – whether it was individuals with personal plans set in place, or entire religious sects that refused to step away.
In this second novel, Jerusalem (the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem) is under massive siege. Salah ad-Din is the Kurdish leader who is so vibrant that he can basically sell any idea to anyone (think the old adage of selling ice to the Eskimos). He was able to bring together two units to form one, Shiite Egypt and Sunnite Syria. Now that these two powerful forces are one team, so to speak, they declare jihad against the Christians. King Baldwin IV is already dealing with a horrific issue: leprosy. The disease is attacking him, and has been since he was a boy. But now he must rise up in the face of this monumental battle coming straight at him and find a way to stop Salah ad-Din from coming in and taking over the kingdom.
The one man who has already proven himself beyond a shadow of a doubt to King Baldwin is Balian. Balian d’Ibelin (for those who did not read the first in this amazing three-part series) was a man who had no land and no title. All he has this day is his background with the king. When the king was just a prince, Balian was placed in the kingdom by then monarch Amalric I, to take care of the boy with leprosy who was isolated from nearly everyone. Balian is still there beside him and has worked with the courage, strength, and bravery that outranks any knight or loyal follower. Balian is in this struggle for the long haul, and he is the one fence that this jihad will have to knock down in order to take out the people of Jerusalem, bury the king, and rip to shreds the basis of Christianity.
Watching Balian grow with the Prince was beyond memorable in the first book. He was involved in the inner core of this kingdom and made friends with the right ones, as well as some of the wrong who were sent away. Now, in the year 1178, his mission in life is anything but complete.
This is a book that is biographical, yes. But the real meat and bones of this story are the emotions. Everything from war to suspense; romance to kindness; good to absolute evil – and even the presence of the well-known and well-read Templar crusaders – everything is offered by this writer in order to bring Balian’s life, as well as the fight for Jerusalem, into full-blown Technicolor. (Note to Hollywood: This should be done on-screen in Technicolor, as well.) In addition, the author has included maps of the Holy Land during this period, genealogical family charts, as well as historical notes for readers to understand every crack and crevice of this kingdom and its legendary battles.
Quill says: This is a do-not-miss series that you will keep on your shelves in order to read again and again, with each time awakening more emotion and bringing Balian’s valiant history to life.