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4.24.2015

The Queen of Sparta ~ Review

The Queen of Sparta
By T. S. Chaudhry

What if?  What if the Greek resistance against Persia and her invasion of Greece was strategized by Queen Gorgo by Sparta.
The Queen of Sparta is historical fiction set in a time of war.  This is not a dry, boring reading experience, but rather an intriguing and engrossing story.

But when the imminent threat of Persia is ended with Greece's victory the Greek states and her people begin to turn on one another.  And then there is the matter of Greeks who collaborated with the Persians.

Prince Sherzada, who was Scythian, fought with the Persians and taken as a prisoner by the Spartans.  He provided much insight into the Persians and their mindset following their defeat.  His intelligence and wit seem to be well matched with Queen Gorgo.  But this prince, this Scythian is unusual in that he believes in one God.

As Sparta begins to unravel within as petty bickering threats the state's stability, Gorgo is left with a choice.  Should she stay and fight to save Sparta from itself or leave behind the life, the world, she has always known to save the life of her son and her own?

What follows is an exciting and interesting story based on what if.   This is the story that was shared years later with Alexander the Great during his campaign to conquer the world.

I was provided a copy of this book through PUYB in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.


About the Author

T. S. Chaudhry was born in Karachi, Pakistan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Formerly a Pakistani diplomat, Chaudhry currently works for
the United Nations on peace and security issues in Africa.

The Queen of Sparta is Chaudhry’s first novel. He came up with the idea to write a story about Queen Gorgo being the architect of the Greek resistance against the Persian invasion while reading Herodotus for his A-Level examination in England several
decades ago. “As a lover of history, or a ‘history-buff,’ I have always enjoyed reading both fiction and nonfiction about this period.”

Chaudhry is currently working on a “prequel” to The Queen of Sparta based on
events leading up to the Battle of Marathon, called Fennel Field.

For More Information
 Connect with T.S. on Facebook.
 Find out more about T.S. at Goodreads.

About the Book
Title: The Queen of Sparta
Author: T.S. Chaudhry
Publisher: Top Hat Books
Pages: 383
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Author T.S. Chaudhry offers a new spin on Spartan history in his novel, THE QUEEN
OF SPARTA. In the book, Queen Gorgo, the wife of the courageous Spartan leader,
Leonidas, surreptitiously organizes the Greek resistance against the invasion of the
mighty Persian king, Xerxes, and his massive army. Although founded on the writings of
historian, Herodotus, Chaudhry’s revision of the 480 B.C. invasion challenges readers to
imagine the brilliant and politically savvy Queen Gorgo as the Spartan leader who
wielded her power with stealth and cunning to end the Persian occupation of Greece.

Gorgo devises a strategy using espionage and diplomacy, in addition to Sparta’s military
might, to defeat the Persians and drive them out of Greece. During the last battle of the
war, Prince Sherzada, a Saka, is captured while fighting on the Persian side. He is
imprisoned by Gorgo, who has vowed to kill him. However, an unexpected alliance
blooms between Gorgo and Sherzada, based on common perceptions and a shared dark
secret. As allies, the queen and prince face new dangers from within Sparta that threaten
the safety of Gorgo and her young son, the king.

As the story progresses, Queen Gorgo must choose between confronting the reactionary
forces within Sparta directly or saving her life and the life of her child.

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA begins on the Banks of Indus, and takes the reader through
time and space to Greece, Tuscany, Rome, and the Baltic coast of northern Europe and
attempts to link some of the main cultures of that time period. “In the novel, I tried to
present the conflict through the eyes of two protagonists,” Chaudhry states. “The Greek
viewpoint is presented through Queen Gorgo, and the opposing one is represented by
Prince Sherzada, who becomes her prisoner. The whole story is also a deliberate attempt
to confuse ‘the possession’ of history because, actually, history belongs to all of us.”

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA informs the reader about the politics of ancient Greece in the
5th Century, B.C. and about Sparta, its people, and its culture; the book also describes
what made the Spartans great while sharing the flaws and contradictions within their
society. Chaudhry notes that “fiction is art immitating life. That is how I see the
relationship between historical fiction and history. History has wonderful stories to tell.
And it gets more wonderful the further in the past you go where evidence is sparse, but
the realm of creativity is rich. I love to find out how things happened the way they did.
Ancient history provides us with a rich variety of potential answers that are always fun to
explore.”

The author’s goal in writing THE QUEEN OF SPARTA was to share the message that
“one must stand for one’s principles, for what one believes to be right, even in the face of
overwhelming opposition.”

For More Information

 The Queen of Sparta is available at Amazon.
 Pick up your copy at Barnes and Noble.
 Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Excerpt 
The Agora
Sparta
Autumn, 480 BC 

The man was trying to sit very still. He was on horseback, in full armour, facing a throng
of mostly unarmed men and women. And yet he was trembling. He seemed too afraid
even to dismount his horse.

A man, in front of the crowd, laughed. He was tall, with hair falling well below
his shoulder and an equally long moustache-less beard. “This time they sent us a Greek.
Why did the Persians send you and not one of their own? Are they afraid we would stuff
them down the well again?”

Laughter roared across the marketplace.

The envoy, still shaking, cleared his throat and said, “I bring a message from the
Great King Xerxes to the King of Sparta.”

A small voice shouted, “I am he!”

Looking down, the envoy saw a small dark-haired boy of around eight years
looking up at him. He waited for someone to laugh at the boy’s impertinence or even
shout at him. But none did.

“I am Pleistarchus, son of Leonidas,” said the boy.

The messenger plucked enough courage to say, “Sparta has two kings. I wish to
speak with the older one.”

A young woman had stepped forward. She was long-haired and beautiful.
Standing behind the boy, she placed her hands on his small shoulders. “He is away,” she
said. “You will have to deliver your message to my son.”

 “Go on,” said the boy king, his tiny voice carrying authority.

“His Majesty, King Xerxes, says: I have destroyed your army at Thermopylae. My
forces have occupied Athens. And your turn will soon come. You are advised to submit
without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I shall destroy your farms,
slaughter your people, and raze your city to the ground.”

There was silence.

The boy king turned around and looked up at his mother. Her eyes blazed as she stared
into the eyes of the messenger. Her lips curled mischievously as she gave him her
response: “If!”


4.23.2015

Unplanned Blog Tour ~ Did You Know with Alana Terry

A first­ year college student adjusting to life in the States.
A brand ­new pregnancy center desperate for new volunteers.
A mysterious phone call from a girl who's far too young to be pregnant.





UNPLANNED
from winning suspense novelist Alana Terry

After volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, Kennedy Stern finds herself a pawn in a deadly game of intrigue, at the mercy of those who consider a few innocent lives a small ransom to pay for victory.


(Be sure to see below to get your own pre­release copy of Unplanned before it hits the bookstores.)




Did You Know? (Writing trivia from Alana Terry)

  • I started writing Unplanned at 12:15 am on January 1, 2015. The neighbor’s fireworks helped keep me awake.
  • The first draft of Unplanned was completed in three weeks.
  • About fifteen percent of Unplanned was composed on my dictation program, where I spoke the words out loud and the computer transcribed them. It had more errors to correct but was easier on my eyes and wrists than typing.
  • My research for Unplanned included interviews with an OB nurse, a crisis pregnancy center director, an EMT, and an FBI field agent.
  • I went to college just outside of Boston, near where Kennedy studies.
  • Like Kennedy, I was also a premed student. When I took the MCAT I scored higher on the writing section than on biology.
  • In Unplanned, Kennedy is reading Crime and Punishment for her Russian lit class. It's a book I've read three times, once in high school, once in my own college Russian lit class, and once after I graduated.
  • Kennedy's roommate is rehearsing for an adaptation of Twelfth Night, which is my favorite Shakespeare play.
  • When I was a volunteer for our local pregnancy center, I received a call very similar to the one Kennedy receives from Rose. I never did figure out who the girl was.
  • During one round of edits, I deleted the word just 93 times, even 103 times, and at least 23 times.
  • Even though Unplanned is the first book in the Kennedy Stern Christian Suspense series, it shares characters with my other books. Kennedy’s parents are the missionaries in Slave Again and Torn Asunder.
  • While I worked on Unplanned was the first time I’ve gotten choked up while writing.

WANT YOUR OWN COPY OF UNPLANNED  NOW?

Unplanned is the newest Christian suspense novel from award­winning author, Alana Terry.
PRE­ORDER the $2.99 ebook today, fill out the form below, and receive:
  • a pre­release copy of Unplanned (no waiting for launch day)
  • the Unplanned Bonus Materials (go behind­ the ­scenes with deleted scenes, bloopers, character studies, and more!)
  • 30 Days of Prayer to End Abortion devotional
  • an exclusive 20 ­minute video from the author answering readers' frequently asked questions (includes  the story of the mysterious phone call Alana received that was the basis for the novel)
Sound like a good deal? Pre­order Unplanned from amazon, then fill out the form below. You will receive your free pre­release copy and the extra bonus pack materials in one to two days.


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Form not working? Submit your information here, or forward your amazon receipt to alanaterrybooks@gmail.com.

4.21.2015

The Perfect Fool ~ Review

The Perfect Fool
By Bethany Zohner Herbert

The Perfect Fool is a perfectly delightful story.  "Little Thief" is growing up on the streets of Gridian when he picks the wrong person to "borrow" from.  This decision brings him to the court where he apprentices as a court jester, a fool.  Fools generally enjoyed greater freedoms than anyone else and in Gridian the fools had a unique position where the king was concerned.  As Little Thief grew in his abilities he became Farrago.

Growing up Farrago had a few close friends - first was Fendral, who took him in and trained him as a fool. Then there was Leofrick, who played the mandolin for the court.  King Giles was also among Farrago's circle and he often advised the king in matters of state.  And then there was Thea, a scullery maid whom was much more than she appeared to be.  

And when Thea's true identity is revealed Farrago is determined to win his true love's heart.  After all what fool would let a little thing like being queen of a neighboring nation stand in his way.  But winning Thea's hand might be a bit difficult when only those of noble bloodlines could seek to win her hand.  But this fool is nobody's fool, at least he hopes so.

But his efforts just might bring the nations to the brink of war especially when his quest to "win" Thea's hand makes him a target.  But for love even a fool will take risks.  But what will be the final cost?

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.

About the book:

Plucked from the streets to become a court jester, Farrago’s life couldn’t be better, especially now that he’s flirting with scullery maid Thea. But when Thea turns out to be a queen in disguise, Farrago may become as much a fool in love as in his occupation. This medieval tale is filled with romance, humor, and twists that will keep you guessing to the last page.

About the author:

Bethany Zohner Herbert was born in Salt Lake City, and aside from a short amount of time living in England and the South, she is back in her native Idaho where she grew up. She has been a fan of books since before she could write. She earned her Bachelor’s in creative writing from BYU-Idaho and her Master’s in literature and writing from Utah State University. When not coming up with weird stories, she likes participating in and teaching Zumba, making crafts (silly ones like puppets) reading, and dating her husband.

4.19.2015

The Legacy ~ Review

The Legacy
The Restoration series 4
By Dan Walsh
     and Gary Smalley

The Legacy is the concluding book in the Restoration series.  This is one family's journey to rediscovering the lives that they should be living as not only a family but as believers.  The Legacy focuses on the youngest Anderson son Doug who is now on his own at college.

But Doug is living two lives - one that his family thinks he's living and the one he's living at college.
But living in two worlds isn't possible for long and Doug is about to discover this all to suddenly when an incident brings his two worlds into contact.  Will this be the catalyst that finally drives a wedge into the family that can't be breached?  Or will this be the dose of reality that will help Doug find his way home?

The Legacy is a powerful lesson in the pain in loving a child who is determined to do it their own way, no matter the cost.  As Jim and Marilyn struggle with dealing with Doug's situation they find themselves reaching out again for advice from Uncle Henry and Aunt Myra.

Still dealing from Jim's years of inattentive parenting, Doug seems to be the last unresolved situation and learning to deal with it in a way that doesn't drive him further away offers hope to other families going through a similar situation.  All to often we try to force those we care about to change - to become who we know they should be, but in the process we actually hinder them by further driving them away.  The prodigal son is an interesting theme that runs throughout this story in a couple of unique ways.

This is a powerful conclusion to a moving and thoughtfully written series.  Though I'm sure each could be read individually to get the full impact and powerful message the series should be read in order.

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell through their Revell Reads blogger program in exchange for my honest review.

One young man is about to discover the true cost of independence

For years, Doug Anderson has been drifting slowly but steadily away from both his family and his faith. His parents have been trying to reach him before he falls too far. His friend Christina hopes what she is seeing online isn't true. But sometimes you have to hit bottom before you're ready to grow up.

Just as things begin to settle down a bit, Doug's life takes a turn that requires every bit of faith and patience for both his family and Christina--whose growing feelings for Doug, a man who writes her off as not worth his time, keep her off balance. Will Doug's crisis finally clear his vision and help him focus on what he has right in front of him?


The emotionally gripping conclusion to the series critics are calling . . .

"Captivating."--RT Book Reviews

"Emotional."--Booklist

"Uplifting."--Library Journal

"Satisfying."--New York Journal of Books


Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of many books, including The DanceThe Promise, and The Desire with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book ReviewsInspirational Book of the Year. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships and has appeared on national television programs such as OprahLarry King Live, and TODAY, as well as numerous national radio programs. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of many books, including the Baxter Family Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Missouri.

4.15.2015

April CSFF Blog Tour ~ Storm Siren Day 3

Welcome to the 3rd and final day of the April CSFF Blog Tour
This month's featured book is
Storm Siren by Mary Weber


Nym (Nymia) is an Elemental.  But unlike most Elementals she is not male, which is why she escaped execution at birth.

But what is an Elemental?

Storm Siren is an intriguing title and I decided to look into the meaning of this title in relation to how it relates to Nym as an Elemental.

Storm =  a disturbance of the atmosphere marked by wind and usually by rain, snow, hail, sleet, or thunder and lightning
or a serious disturbance of any element of nature
Siren =  a mythical creature that's female and lures men to their deaths 

And then I decided to look up the meaning of Elemental, also in reference to Nym.

Elemental = of, relating to, or resembling a great force of nature

One can assume from these definitions that Nym is indeed a great force of nature who can summon men to their deaths by her ability to effect disturbances in the natural elements of the atmosphere.

With book 2 Siren's Fury due in June I'm interested to see where the series goes next.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in conjunction with this CSFF Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.


Book Description

"I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you."
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.
As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.
Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.
Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.
But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?
Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Be sure to visit all the other stops over that were part of this 3 day tour.



Learn more about the book and author at:

Available for purchase at

Have Gavel Will Travel ~ Review

Have Gavel Will Travel
By Robert Braithwaite

If you'd like to take a look at what the life of a judge or magistrate is truly like you need to read Have Gavel Will Travel.  Covering a variety of situations that require a judgement, Robert Braithwaite takes you through the legal process.  Some cases are heart-breaking while others are completely unbelievable.

I agree with his assessment of Perry Mason, as my sisters and I have recently discovered these reruns. Why would the non-charged guilty individual always come undone at the end of the show, declaring before everyone not only their guilt but how they committed said crime.

I loved the bonus material at the end of the book where real world descriptions of legal terms are given.  It is amazing how these terms are archaic in regard to the modern usage of  words.  And how many people know what a Pro Hac Vice is?

The legal system is explained through various case examples taken from his career.  And the falsies of the fictional televised courtrooms are touched on.

If you want to read something that is entertaining and outside of your normal fiction fare take a look at Have Gravel Will Travel.  Though I haven't read her books some might be interested to learn that Robert Braithwaite is the father of Ally Condie (New York Times best-selling author of several YA books), whom is referenced a few times in the book as just Ally.

I was provided a digital PDF ARC file of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.


About the book:
What happens in a national park doesn’t stay in a national park. It often ends up in Robert Braithwaite’s courtroom—or sometimes on his kitchen table. Over a lifetime of administering justice, he saw everything from canoodling nudes to sheep hunters with drones to downright dangerous drug cartels. This collection of cases is so outrageous and bizarre you’ll have to read it to believe it.
Have-Gavel-Will-Travel-Blog-Tour-Banner-2
About the author:
Robert Braithwaite currently resides in Cedar City, Utah. He attended Southern Utah University and the University of Utah, graduating in 1973 with a B. S. in Political Science in 1973. He graduated from the University of Utah School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1976. As an attorney he maintained a private practice and served as City Attorney for Cedar City, Parowan and Springdale. He also served for eight years as a member of the Utah Air Conservation Committee, the statutorily-established body regulating pollution emissions in the state.
In a twenty-seven year career as a judge, Robert Braithwaite has been a circuit judge, a district judge, a juvenile judge, a pro tem Utah Supreme Court judge and is now a U. S. magistrate judge. While a state judge, he served on the Utah Judicial Council, the governing board of the Utah state judiciary, and served as chairman of its Policy and Planning subcommittee. As a part-time magistrate judge he now hears criminal cases arising in the southern half of Utah, usually occurring in National Parks and Monuments, National Forests, and federal lands. Needless to say, he rides a circuit, hearing cases in four diverse locations at St. George, Big Water, Moab, and Salt Lake City.
His wife is an artist and art professor. Together they have raised four children.

4.14.2015

CSFF April Blog Tour ~ Storm Siren Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of the April CSFF Blog Tour
This month's featured book is
Storm Siren 

Storm Siren
The Storm Siren Trilogy 1
By Mary Weber

Enjoy this short book trailer from Thomas Nelson

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in conjunction with this CSFF Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.

Book Description
"I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually,accidentally, I will destroy you."
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.
As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.
Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.
Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.
But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?
Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Be sure to visit all the other stops over the 3 day tour ~ April 14 - 16, 2015.



Learn more about the book and author at:

Available for purchase at