Wrath Of The Caid, Book Two – Joe O’neill Has struck Gold in The Sand a Second Time!

Caid

By
Joe O’Neill

Published by Black Ship Publishing

The Book!

They’re back, the four friends from the adventure which started in “Rebels Of The Kasbah“. Tariq, Fez, Aseem and Margaret, find themselves scattered to the wind this time. Margaret returns back to England with her mother and brother after heroic escape from the Kasbah. There Margaret find returning to normal life a difficulty; adjusting to school and society after her adventures in Morocco, all without her father, becomes too much for her. Meanwhile Tariq, Aseem and Fez, slip away from the rebels to learn what the Caid is up to and how he can be stopped, with the adventure continues at an intensity that will leave the reader on the edge of the seat.

The Caid has decided to exact his revenge in a big way and enlists the help of Black Mamba and the French military to bring down those who defy him. As things heat up, Tariq finds himself separated from his friends and encounters Melbourne Jack, while Margaret gets shipped off to France. Will the four find a way to stop the evil Caid, and will the rebels survive their biggest battle yet.
The Review!

Can we get up and cheer for this one? This one lives up to the first novel in the series, and brings the original characters back and expand with new and delightful characters. From Melbourne Jack the treasure hunter and the assassin known as Black Mamba to Miss Cromwell, the tyrannical headmistress at Margaret’s school, O’Neill draws in new characters to round out the cast, and brings the adventure to life. This one begins where Rebels left off, as the four friends adjust to the aftermath of their escape from the Casbah. the writing is bold and maintains that “hero” feel that O’Neill created in Rebel’s.

This novel reminds me of the famous series written by J. K. Rowling, no…there are no wizards or broomsticks, but the battle of good versus evil continues in O’Neill’s writing and you can’t help but get caught up in this story, and would totally adapt to big screen. The four main characters have solid ethics and morals and put themselves in harms way to stand for what is right, in the face of danger. The evil Caid and his minion Black Mamba are an apt match to the rebels and while there is little to like about the reprehensible Caid, one does find a soft spot for Mamba, as his story unfolds and his relationship to the young Jawad develops.

Another favorite in this piece, are the antics of Margaret and new found friend Alice, as they try to fit in at a school that isn’t tolerant of Margaret’s new found rebel heart. This friendship forms when the following occurs, and is one of many feel good moments in this novel.

Without another thought, Margaret picked up her lunch and began racing after Hillie. Her lunch consisted of warm shepherd’s pie, milk and an apple crisp.
Hillie was only six feet behind Alice, with her milk jug raised in the air, about to pour it on Alice’s head when…
Margaret dumped her entire lunch on Hillie!
The shepherd’s pie landed on her head and the gravy covered her whole scalp. Milk dripped down the entire front of her face and body, and the apple crisp splattered all over her perfect school uniform.
There wasn’t a spot anywhere above her neck that wasn’t covered in gravy, chunks of lamb, apple crisp or farmer’s milk. Hillie looked as if she had gone bobbing for apples in a pig trough.

This novel is brilliant, and already has this reviewer wanting the third book in the series Legends of the Rif. It has everything you’d hope for in a second novel, and carries the original story forward while developing new aspects to the adventure, to keep your interest piqued all the way to the last page.

The Rating!

If you’ve read Rebel’s of The Kasbah, and feel in love with this tale from 1912 Morocco, then Wrath Of The Caid is a definite must have book. O’Neill, brings to life an adventure that has the bells and whistles you’d look for in a series of this nature. He captured my interest in book one, and book two has captivated my interest even more…so for the first time, I’m giving a “Captivated” rating!

The Cover!

The cover of this book follows the format of the first in the series, which is brilliant for those who collect books as they arrive out in print. Also extremely well fitting for the story inside. Excellent choice.

The Author – Joe O’Neill!

Joe O’Neill has a bachelors degree in International Business from Washington State Universitywith a major in creative writing. He is the founder and CEO of Waquis, and travels frequently to Southern Asia.  It was on a trip to Sri Lanka that O’Neill got the idea to write this novel and he says it was a story waiting to be told. Joe ONeill

Take a sip – Thoughts on “The Birr Elixir” by Jo Sparkes

The-Birr-Elixir

by Jo Sparkes

printed by Oscar Press, Portland OR.

Tis an old Trueman saying; better to leap across a volcano than to stand too close to Legend.

From the mind of Jo Sparkes comes the first of the novels in The Legend Of The Gamesmen series.

The Book – The Birr Elixir

Gamesmen travel the realm playing Comet, a deathly and dangerous, exhilarating game of four opposing teams. The Gamesmen seek fame and for the first time in history this rag tag band of Truemen, known as The Hand Of Victory, have overcome a Team of Skullans. How? one might ask did they overtake the giant Skullans for the win? Try asking their new-found Brista, Marra, whom Drail rescued from the shop where she was apprenticed to learn potions. Marra appears to be nothing more than a mere girl, however when she manages to create the very difficult Birr Elixir, which sets the Gamesmen on the road to victory, the Gamesmen begin to see her as anything but.

As she sets off with them on the road to victory, toting along the sleepy headed stranger Tryst, Marra finds herself in a world she never imagined and begins to discover for herself that her strength and ability is more than even she could have guessed at. Strengths and abilities she may well need as danger and enemies seem to lurk at every turn. As the stranger awakes and The Hand Of Victory work their way toward the Championship, Marra hopes she can outsmart the enemies they face, long enough to figure a way out of the danger she is in. Will she learn the identity of the stranger Tryst and the secret, none of them have guessed….

With war looming in the distance, this novel will draw the reader into this mythical realm and leave you wanting more…

The Review.

Don’t you just love it when you take on a novel and author you’ve not read before and find a hidden gem. That’s what this novel should be all about. Jo Sparkes, has created a mythical realm where two races the Truemen and the Skullans co-exist, magic and potions are real, and the whole place is on the brink of a war. It’s in the midst of all this, that we meet Marra, an apprentice in what can best be described as an apothecary shop.

When we first meet Marra, our first description of her is as follows…

Marra’s dark red hair was long, and she spent a lot of time brushing the sand out. Some thought she was vain, and perhaps she was about the one thing that proclaimed she wasn’t born in San Cris. But long hair was a strength, the strength of warriors. Ans for Marra, it made her feel safer.

Marra is wonderfully written throughout the novel as she overcomes her self-doubt about her abilities, and finds she is much more capable and quick than she thought. Both her compassion and underlying strength make her delightful to read, Sparkes could not have made a better choice for a main character.

Also in this piece is Tryst, a crown prince who’s been abducted and put to sleep using some unknown means. It’s only when Marra manages to wake him, that we discover much about him, and most of that he keeps to himself, not allowing his secrets to be revealed to his fellow Gamesmen or Marra. A boy, who is getting his first taste of the world, and seeing much of what his father encouraged him to learn first hand.

You wish to rule the Skullan people without ever setting foot outside Missea?  Without talking to them in their villages, standing beside them on their ships?  You wish to decide the fate of Truemen without ever seeing who they are, how they live?

Tryst is equally well written and plays out well against the character of Marra.

Jo Sparkes has put a lot of thought into this piece, and the development of a whole realm, complete with sports, different races, history, and herbal potions, as well as a brilliantly written plot, could not have been a small undertaking. There is a lot packed into this piece, at only 175 (approximately) pages, I was worried there would not be space to pull it all together. But she did!!

If I were to nitpick at all, I would say my only struggle with this book, was that I felt I could not get my bearings for the first chapter or two, as it wasn’t readily clear where or when this book is set…My advice? Don’t worry about it, let the sand sweep you up into the story, and enjoy the ride. This one is good and will get you where you want to go.

Rating?

This is one of those, sit back with your favorite herb tea, curl up in your favorite afghan, on a long cool evening at the cottage, and enjoy. Its length, almost allows it to be read in one sitting.  It is just what it seems, a wonderfully written fantasy that will draw you into the story, and leave you with a smile on your face (unless you are as impatient to get to book two as I am). Let Jo take you on a magical adventure into her wonderfully created world and I’m betting she does not disappoint.

The Author Jo Sparkes

Jo-Sparkes

Jo Sparkes graduated from Washington College. She has written feature film scripts, scripts for children’s  live action and animated television programs.  Jo has served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School of Scottsdale Community College, More recently her book “Feedback, How To Give It How To Get It has garnered strong praise. When not perfecting her craft, she can be found exploring Portland with her husband Ian and their dog Oscar.

To learn more about Jo visit http://josparkes.com/

 

The Champion by Glen Robinson – Compelling battle against evil.

ChampionThe Champion

by Glen Robinson

Published 2013

 

“The greatest trick the Devil ever did was convincing the world that he didn’t exist” –Keyser Soze, The Usual Suspects

 

The Book

Harris Borden, felt that he wasn’t doing God’s work!   Sunday services, Church board meetings, deciding when to put in a water fountain, left him feeling empty and unfulfilled. So, he asked God to put him to work in the battle against evil….and God listened.

When Harris Borden  finished his prayer asking God to use him a larger way, out on the front line in the battle against evil,  he had no idea he would be visited by “The Messenger”!   An angel dressed as a young man, who tells him God has accepted his offer of help. He also tells him it will not be easy.   “The Messenger” leaves in a flash of light leaving Harris to begin on his own to discover what God has planned. His normal life quickly starts to unravel as Harris is forced to make massive sacrifices and take huge safety risks both for himself and those closest to him.  He is left questioning if he is willing to risk it all to do God’s work and to decide if he willing to make ultimate sacrifices to win the battle against the Demon Baal, and his followers.

The Champion shows us a battle in this world that many of us never see as we go about our daily lives, and raises the question to the reader, would you sacrifice all for your God and his work.

The Review

I have been wanting to pull this one from the pile for a while, it appeared to be thought provoking and distinct, and I’m thrilled to share that Robinson did not disappoint. This one opens with the Devil and three of his most trusted demons having a meeting…

 

Then it’s decided. In the end, we are just as mortal as man. But while God will save a few, we will corrupt and destroy the rest of them. That is the best way to hurt Him. While many worship what you represent, most will come to believe the existence of God is a myth.”

The woman spoke up “But if they think he is a myth, won’t they think you don’t exist either?”

The Chairman smiled broadly this time.

“Exactly.”

and then rolls ahead to Harris’ meeting with the angel known as “The Messenger”

“OK Messenger,” Harris said. “What’s the message you have from God for me?” He leaned back and cocked an eyebrow.

“What did you pray for?” the stranger asked. “No i’ll tell you what you prayed for. You asked God to be used in a bigger way. That request has been granted….

The novel really takes off at that point, and I appreciate Robinson’s pace and style of writing, as the story gets a clear message across to the reader, without feeling you are being delivered a sermon.

The surprising thing in this novel for this reader, was that you expect it to be a struggle of Good vs. Evil, which on the surface it is, however the larger conflict in this novel for me, was Harris’ struggle between God and himself. Allowing himself to trust fully in God and let go of his own thoughts, plans, tactics, and just to be lead fully by God. Its this struggle, (and yes there are times you are certain Harris will lose the battle) that captivates the reader.

Harris, journey takes him down a path where he loses nearly everything of importance to him, his wife, his church, his friends, and it seems he may even lose his faith, and must fight to continue to do good even when it looks as though God may have tossed him aside. His character grows so much throughout this novel that he’s not only physically not recognizable by the last few chapters, but he’s changed on a deeper level.

Not to give the novel away, this one has a superb climax, with all the bells and whistles you would want in a novel such as this.

The only heads up I will give, is that this one is part of a trilogy, which I didn’t catch until the end of the novel, so be warned that like most trilogy’s there are always a few loose ends to draw you into the second novel. That said, this one is a great read, very compelling and thought provoking and regardless of your personal beliefs it is one that will have you asking that question…what would I do?

RATING TIME!!!

Definitely one to pick up. I for one will be shopping come the weekend for book two The Heretic.
This one reads fast, so definitely a great choice for a quiet summer weekend away at the cottage.
If you pick up, shoot me a message back to let me know your thoughts.

AUTHOR GLEN ROBINSON

Glen Robinson is a university professor and the author of both Christian Suspense and Science fiction. He lives in North Texas and “The Champion” is his 13th book in print. Some of his other works include If Tomorrow Comes and Infinity’s Reach. To learn more about Glen and his writing visit his blog at

http://glenchen.com/

 

Glen Robinson

Sons Of Zeus by Noble Smith – Top Notch Summer Read!

   Sons Of ZeusSONS of  ZEUS

by Noble Smith

Published by Thomas Dunne Books/Saint Martins Press 2013

The God Of Death was in the stadium that blistering summer day.  He was among the forty thousand impatient men stomping their feet, calling for the pankration championship to begin That is what warriors would say years later – during the endless war between Athens and Sparta — when they talked about seeing the ill-omened match between the new fighters known as the bull and the Centaur.  – Papyrus fragment from the “Lost History” of the Peloponnesian War by the “Exiled Scribe”

Welcome back to Greece, 431 BC. This is the first book in the Warrior Trilogy by Noble Smith. Its the beginning of the war between Sparta and Athens for the ultimate control of Greece, and caught in the middle is the city-state of Plataea. Beautiful Plataea home of the young warrior Nikias and his grandfather, General Menesarkus.

Nikias is the perfect hero for this story. He’s young, impulsive, quick to act, passionate and hot headed. Dreaming of Olympic glory, he trains hard for pankration (no holds barred fighting); but more than glory he’d love to have the proud eye of his grandfather upon him. Nikias does, however have the eye of his beloved and beautiful Kallisto. While the two share an intimate moment, they find themselves interrupted by Kallisto’s brothers seeking revenge on Nikias for defiling their sister. When, Kallisto’s brother Lysander dies from an accidental injury; Nikias is arrested and faces exile for murder. As if this is not enough, a traitorous act leaves Plataea open to a violent attack.

This novel heats up, as the Plataean’s forced to fight for their lives in a battle that will set the tone of the impending war between Athen’s and Sparta, deal with betrayal from one of their own. Nikias must now grow up and be the man he’s been stuggling to become, and instead of battling in an arena, he is now in a battle to save his city, his family, and the woman he loves. Even his own life is at stake.

The Review

This one is an absolute ten on all sides. After having read “The One Armed Warrior” which is the prequel to this novel, my expectations were high for this novel. Smith carried through with the same force of writing on this novel as in the prequel and left me craving the next in the trilogy.

Nikias, our hero the perfect mix of boy becoming a man. Struggling against his own youth to become his own man, wanting so much to prove himself in the eyes of his grandfather, and at his darkest moments his heroism truly shines. Equally impressive in this piece is Menesarkus, hero of the Persian war, the “Bull Of Plataea”, now getting on years, fighting his own demons as his body no longer allows him to live as he’s accustomed; and during a skirmish with Nikias that he comes to this realization

Menesarkus realized, with a sinking in his gut, that he was afraid of his grandson.  He did not want to fight him anymore today.  He did not want to be beaten.

The relationship between these two will be a hit to fathers and sons the world over, its that classic struggle of the young man to gain his independence, while still needing that approval, all tied up with the impetuousness of youth. Its also the story of the older man, wanting to remain strong and fearless in the eyes of his family, fighting a body that age has taken its toll, and while the mind is young and fearless, the bones and muscle are aged and weak.

This one heats up, as the battle for Plataea comes to life. Smith delivers a thrilling battle, and pulls no punches when it comes to the brutality of war in ancient Greece. The scenes are gritty, strong, sometimes grotesque and paint a vivid picture of what it would have been like to be trapped within your own walls, with no way out except through the enemy who holds the gate. One truly feels that these characters are in a battle to save their home and lives. Risking certain death to overcome their enemies; betrayed by one of their own.

Plataea

The writing in this piece is bold, the characters are strong, and even in the midst of a violent battle, you are drawn into the romance between Nikias and Kallisto, the relationship between Nikias and his grandfather, and many more.  Smith’s characters are real, in that they all carry their own fears, frustrations, secrets, plots plans and agendas.   And not to give the tale away, but one even finds the most traitorous of them all can pull a little compassion from the reader as the story unfolds.

Brilliantly written, it is one that could be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the trilogy.  Smith has developed in its pages sufficient story lines to easily carry over into a second piece, while giving the one time reader everything they need to thoroughly enjoy this as a stand alone piece.  That said, if you aren’t chomping the bit for the 2nd book by the end of this one, this reader would be more than surprised.

Ruins of Plataea. (image from http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/ancient/plataea/ )

Rating!

Get it! Get It! YES GET IT NOW!!

Top notch! Loved it! Very anxious to read the second novel.  This one will be a pleasure to read for anyone with an interest in Ancient Greece.  Definitely has a home in my library and is on the list for re-read!  I will be reading the full trilogy as they hit the bookstores, so let me know your thoughts on this one when you’ve read it,

The Author!

Noble Smith is an award winning playwright, a documentary-film executive producer, and the media director of an international human rights foundation.    Other works by Noble Smith include Stolen from Gypsies and Wisdom of the Shire, A Short guide to a Long and Happy Life. Smith Lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.  Want to know more about Noble and the Warrior Trilogy?  Check out http://www.thewarriortrilogy.com/

Noble Smith