Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review of Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

For my latest book review, I'm proud to present Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt.  Once again, I'm thrilled to be a part of the Virtual Author Book Tour.  Written in the Ashes is a historical fiction novel that provides such intensive historical detail that it is simply amazing.

The story is set in ancient Egypt during the period of time when Christianity was gaining a foothold in the empire and the struggle between the new religion and the traditional pagan beliefs was quickly erupting into violence and bloodshed.  At the center of the story is 20 year old Hannah, a beautiful shepherdess with the voice of an angel.  She is brutally kidnapped from her home in Sinai, where she lived with father, and brought to Alexandria, where half-dead, she is bought by Tarek.  Tarek brings her back to his father's house, the alchemist Alizar.  He treats her kindly and eventually allows her to study under the famed female philospher Hypatia at the Great Library.  This puts Hannah on a life-altering course and squarely in the middle of the conflict between Bishop Cyril and Hypatia.  Cyril wants to convert he populace to Christianity and resorts to ever worsening tactics in order to achieve his goal.

For this review, I'm switching things up a little.  Click below to watch a video interview of the author and check the Author Interviews page of this blog for an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

Written in the Ashes is so unique because it chooses to follow the story of a woman in a world and culture that was entirely male dominated.  The novel is so vividly detailed that readers are nearly transported to the world of ancient Egypt .  Even though the story is set centuries in the past, Hannah and Hypatia's struggle to carve a niche for themselves in a male dominated world will resonate with modern women readers.  There is a beautiful balance between action and romance, leaving something for readers of all genders and preferences.  I found myself reading late into the night on several occasions.  I could really see with my  mind's eye, the buildings, architecture, food, clothing, and people of ancient Egypt . When the novel finally concluded, I was pleased with the ending, but I find myself wanting a sequel!!!  As always, there are no plot spoilers on my blog, I can only tell you to buy this book and read it!  You won't be disappointed.                                                                              

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Acclaimed Author Gloria Naylor Passes Away at 66

2016 has dealt us all some tough losses, and the literary world has not been immune to this.  Gloria Naylor, most famous for her critically acclaimed novel The Women of Brewster Place, passed away at the age of 66 near her home in Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I.  According to her niece, the cause of death was heart failure.

Her 1983 novel, The Women of Brewster Place, went on to win a National Book Award and became a widely hailed tv miniseries starring Oprah Winfrey and Lynn Whitfield.  Subsequent novels including Linden Hills, Bailey's Cafe, and The Men of Brewster Place, which examined the lives of the men in the original novel, earned her a firm place as a leading African American author.

Naylor earned a B.A. in English from Brooklyn College and a master's degree from Yale.  She taught at several prestigious institutions, including The University of Pennsylvania and New York University.  Her other awards included the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  She leaves behind a sister, Bernice Harrison, a niece, and a nephew.

Hats off to another literary giant who has passed on.  Ms. Naylor may have left the physical world, but she lives on through her writing.