Short Story Review: Socrates Solves a Murder by Breni James

Socrates and his friend, Aristodemus, are walking through Athens towards the Lyceum.  On the way, they have a brief talk with a priestess of Apollo, Alecto, to discuss the morning’s omens before they continue on to their destination, and the swimming pool.  However, there is quite a crowd there that morning, including a man praying fervently at the base of a statue of Eros.  So Socrates and Aristodemus decide to go and sit down and talk instead, Socrates stating that he is happy to talk in a crowd but prefers to swim alone.

As the friends are sitting and talking, the statue of Eros suddenly topples over and kills the man praying at his feet, killing him.  And it doesn’t take long for Socrates to work out that this was no act of the god, but murder.  But who did it, and why?  With his clever way of getting information out of people, Socrates soon locates the culprit and solves the crime.

Socrates Solves a Murder is an interesting short story, quite unlike any I have read before, I think.  I attribute this to it’s style.  The dialogue included in the short story is more akin to a script rather than prose, with the name of the speaker preceding speech.  There was enough description provided to give a sense of what classical Athens was like, both in appearance and atmosphere, at the time of Socrates.

This short story was found in The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, ed Mike Ashley.

Historical Fiction Month Update

So, on the last day of Historical Fiction Month here, at Sammi Loves Books, I thought I had better post a quick update…

August has been a very hectic month for me, more so than I could have ever expected, and although I have managed to read nothing but historical fiction, I have fallen behind with the review-writing.  Hence the lack of book reviews posted this month.  So, I am going to remedy this over the next couple of days as I play catch-up.  The plan is to post once per day so that you, lovely readers, don’t get fed up with me :-)

I hope you have all had a beautiful summer, one that was full to bursting with good books :-)

Sammi

Book Review: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

The book begins in 1348, and news of the plague has reached England.  As the first victims begin to fall, panic begins to spread.  Under strained circumstances, where no-one is willing to completely trust another, a diverse group of people are brought together, for no matter how suspicious you are, you will not survive alone.

This company comprises of Camelot, a disfigured travelling relic-seller and pedlar of hope; Zophiel, a magician and conjuror with a wagon full of secrets; Rodrigo, a musician and his apprentice, Jofre, both natives of Venice; Osmund and Adela, a young couple on the run, and who are expecting their first child; Pleasance, a herbalist and midwife; Cygnus a storyteller with one arm and one wing and finally, a small strange girl, Narigorm, who reads the runes.

The company are forced to travel around in England in an attempt to out-run the plague as it begins sweeping across the country, but that is not the only danger.  Food is scarce; the land is slowly starving as a result of bad weather and poor harvests, and everyone has secrets, dark secrets that they want to ensure remain hidden at all costs.  But as the book description explains:…the lies you tell will be the death of you.

Company of Liars is absorbing, compelling reading.  It is easy to get lost in Medieval England as Karen Maitland provides accurately vivid descriptions of both the places the company visit and the people they meet on their travels.

Religion, superstition, fear, persecution, desperation…Company of Liars has it all.  Everything about this book is engaging and more than anything, I had to keep reading to learn whether or not the plague would finally catch up with them, and if it did, who would survive.  There were many twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing as to how the story would conclude.

Overall, Company of Liars was one of the best historical fiction novels I have read.  I expected no less from Karen Maitland and wasn’t disappointed.

I recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction.  A great read!

Book Review: The Eleventh Question by Dianne Gray

The Eleventh Question is a fabulous tale…one that had me in tears a few times!  Indeed, I think it is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read, and no doubt one I shall return to read again and again…

The characters are believable and the storyline captivating; in fact, once I began this book, I could not stop reading it until I had reached the end!  Well done to the author for writing such an endearing, heart-warming tale that has the ability to move between the worlds of fantasy and real life with ease.  On the one hand we are following the tale of Arista, a fifteen year old girl who, whilst going through a difficult period in her life, is faced with the big philosophical questions that we as humans face.  On the other hand we have Caro facing questions of a more spiritual nature.  These threads are woven together splendidly as we are taken through two separate journeys of loss and confusion leading us towards hope, inspiration, understanding and ultimately, empowerment.

Arista’s tale is set on one side of the world, whilst Caro’s is set on the other.

Arista’s story involves her struggle with bullying at school and a mother facing struggles of her own – an abusive boyfriend, alcohol and gambling.  Eventually, Arista is sent to stay with a foster-carer, Frankie, who is a rural vet; however, it is the surprise arrival of Archie, a well-behaved and well-trained rottweiler, that in the end leads the teenager to a place where she feels like she belongs and is happy.

Caro’s is the aduyante (helper / acolyte) of a powerful Seer named Diosa, who waits and watches for those who ask the big questions.  Together, they witness Arista’s tale and all she faces as reaches the questions, one by one.  It is Caro’s job to describe the emotions Arista is feeling to the Seer, but along the way, he finds himself trying to understand his own feelings and emotions, and place in the world.

The Eleventh Question makes you see the world around you in a different light.  It is certainly a captivating read, one that can inspire and empower the reader.

Highly Recommended!

I downloaded this ebook for free when the author had the book on promotion at Smashwords.

Looking Ahead

Not to get ahead of myself, as ‘Indie Only’ month is still in full swing, but…I have been putting together a pile of books for Historical Fiction Month (August).  I couldn’t help myself…

historical fiction month books

The pile is a little ambitious, especially as I am also hoping to find a few historical fiction ebooks to add to the reading list too.  I know that there are certain offerings that I am definitely planning on reading…Karen Maitland, Lindsey Davis and Ellis Peters…

If you have any suggestions for Historical Fiction Month, please let me know.  Indie Only Month has introduced me to new a handful of new authors whose work I have thoroughly enjoyed, so understandably, I have high hopes for Historical Fiction Month too. :-)

Short Story Review: Witch Flame by Tara West

Witch Flame is the prelude to the Keepers of the Stones series by Tara West.

When Witch Flame begins, Feira has recently discovered that she possesses the powers of a witch.  However, she has also been orphaned and she is following the guidance offered to her on the wind, guiding her towards Aloa-Shay, the village by the sea.  On the journey there she is taken in by an old woman, Akahi, who raises her.  She can immediately tell that Feira is a witch, and she knows that if the villagers find out she won’t be safe.

As Feira grows up, living with Akahi, they managed to keep her secret, but they know that it can’t be kept forever.  Soon Feira and her lover, her destiny, are forced to flee from Aloa-Shay, and the abilities that she has been forced to keep hidden are soon necessary as they travel to the island of Shifting Sands, in the hope of finding a new home.  But what sort of welcome can they expect?

I really enjoyed this quick fantasy read.  I loved the concepts that the author works with, such as the Elementals.  There is a depth to the world that Feira lives in, and details provided brought it to life.  I am intrigued to learn what happens to Feira in the rest of the series.

Included with Witch Flame is a bonus story, or rather a creation myth that explains how the world that Feira lives in was created.  I found this to be a very interesting read and a great addition to the short story.

I downloaded this short story for free from Smashwords.

Short Story Review: Hope by Destiny Rose

Hope is a beautiful, highly emotional short story.

Christy is a teenager without hope.  She thinks that she has only one option, and that involves a gun.

Can her mother, who Christy feels hasn’t been listening to her, which is something that has contributed to her current state of mind, persuade her that actually she has more to live for than she thinks?

Hope is a poignant, well-written read.  It is very short, at only a couple of pages long, so if you have moment, I recommend that you give it a read.

I downloaded this free short story from Smashwords.