RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    I think it [Karna's Wheel] is magnificent. The portrait of Stephen the elder is extremely touching, perhaps even potentially dangerous. What would happen if everyone started cutting off their armour? Seamus is hilarious ... leaped off the page. ~ Dr Simon Brodbeck, Cardiff University (Sanskrit)

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Dazzling and inventive ... an enthralling journey into early twentieth century Calcutta and the dark corners of the Raj. ~ Andrew Duff, Author of 'Sikkim; requiem for a Himalayan kingdom.'

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Karna's Wheel is seriously good. Its combination of pacey page-turning story-telling, erudition and historical accuracy kept me engaged throughout. Bravo! ~ Tony Hastings, Organizer of educational tours in India

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    I thought Karna’s Wheel was exquisitely written. I found it quirky, remarkably well-paced and wonderfully readable. The book is touching, humorous, informative and pretty shocking. The research is faultless but never stands in the way of the telling of a good story. I hope this book gets to where it deserves to be – and that is on the bestseller lists. Incredible work. ~ Robin Pilcher, Novelist

  • Senator's Assignment, The
    Joan E. Histon
    Joan Histon has written an engrossing and well-informed novel that grips from the very first page. These are real people engaged in a real struggle, the work of a fine story-teller. ~ Adrian Plass, bestselling author

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Karna's Wheel is compelling, multi-layered and beautifully written. Set in Scotland and India, it interweaves class and colonialism across the generations in a novel which is never less than highly entertaining. ~ Chris Given-Wilson, shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2017

  • That They Might Lovely Be
    David Matthews
    This is a very descriptive book that makes you feel that you are there with the characters. The early twentieth century English village is brought to life with gossiping ladies, strict schoolmaster, lady of the manor, country gardens etc. For the first third I did wonder where the story was going to go, what was the fascination about a mute boy suddenly singing, but then the story takes you back to the 1930s and 1910s and the author allows you to put the story together yourself, which I found very satisfying! I particularly liked the WW1 part, Geoffrey's letter in particular will break your heart! This is a read to savour and I can see it as a beautiful Sunday night BBC drama.

    ~ Emily Shepherd, NetGalley

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    This was such a fun exploration of a story I thought couldn't be retold. But this was a truly innovative and realistic re-imagining of David's life. ~ Shanna Emmanuel, NetGalley

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    This Historical novel is really lovely to read.

    Based on some fact it is extremely well written and the descriptive prose of the islands of Skye is really quite poetic.

    Set in 1886, the book tells a tale of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife staying in the islands and the rich cast of characters that follow makes this a wonderful reader.

    Tom Masters, a Naval officer at first seems unconnected to this story but as we read on the connection is clear and this becomes a stunning tale of mystery and drama.

    I loved this and it is beautifully done.

    highly recommended ~ Tracy Shepherd, NetGalley

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    David and The Philistine Woman tells the story of David from the Bible, who's destiny is to slay the Goliath and lead the Israelites. The Philistine woman is an enemy to David and his people but one that has courage and strength of body and mind to do what is necessary.
    The story of David and Goliath that I know if brief and to the point. Paul Boorstin tells this story in a much more fleshed out way, bringing to life the rich characters and landscapes of the time. I really enjoyed this book and it kept my attention, pulling me into David's world. I would definitely recommend this book as a interesting read and I look forward to seeing what else the author has to offer. ~ Memona Ahmed, Amazon/NetGalley

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    Liz MacRae Shaw weaves her way between reality and fiction with ambition and skill in another fine historical novel. Its characters are rich and fully drawn...and she pulls her narrative threads together with ease.
    ‘No Safe Anchorage’ is another fine book from an extremely interesting author. North-west Highland and Island history could not be in the hands of a better modern novelist. ~ Roger Hutchinson , West Highland Free Press

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    Hard to put down. ~ Janice Matthews, Coffee And Ink

  • Her Morning Shadow
    Ron Semple
    Last evening I finished rereading “Black Tom: Terror on the Hudson.” My decision to reread it turned out to be a fortunate one. I enjoyed it even more and appreciated your writing talents more than ever. I also perceived things I'd missed in my first reading. For example, this time I recognized Abie, thanks to having read your latest book, “Her Morning Shadow.” And the characters in Black Tom increased their depth and became more memorable. Your thirst for and grasp of history, combined with the ability to create fictitious but authentic personalities is amazing. Reading the product of that rare combination, is an enjoyable way to learn history. Oops. This starts to sound like a fan letter, eh? – Leslie Wilbur, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California. ~ Les Wilbur, Emeritus Professor, University of Southern California

  • Her Morning Shadow
    Ron Semple
    Her Morning Shadow is set in the time of World War I and tells of a young Jewish Ukrainian immigrant to America who forms connections in this country just as the world is exploding overseas; but although the war and its changes form the backdrop for this story, it's the immigrant experience which powers the tale.

    The story literally opens with the bang of real events as German saboteurs commit a terrorist act by planting a chemical bomb in a freight car loaded with ammunition at Black Tom. The descriptions are exquisitely relayed to readers ("Rounds began to cook off lighting up the sky and peppering the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with shrapnel.") as events unfold and an America not yet involved in the war finds its commitment to neutrality shaken, lending Her Morning Shadow an introduction that's unexpectedly powered by real events in American history.

    Private Ashansky ("Abie") is introduced in the next chapter: a Ukraine immigrant who ironically fled Russia, not wanting to get conscripted into the military's war, and who now finds himself defending his adopted country.

    Nobody wants to die as a war is winding down. Millions are dead, millions more wounded, and Abie survives to see the Great War's conclusion even if everyone is too weary and battle-shocked to celebrate it.

    But while Allied forces celebrate, many in other countries are devastated and suffering. Abie is tapped to continue his journeys beyond American shores, his fluent French deemed a useful skill to the military, in an effort that leads him on a personal mission as well: to locate missing fiancée Rachel Zeidman and bring her to his adopted home in America.

    Personal quests, a world torn apart by war and struggling to piece itself back together, and a Jewish man trying to make his way through life, forging new connections and renewing old ones, makes for the engrossing story of an immigrant's journey which unexpectedly takes place far from American shores.

    Add a murder investigation, social observations and prejudices, trials and tribulations, and a growing immersion of immigrant perspective into American culture newly redefined by different opportunities and connections and you have a hard-hitting story. Her Morning Shadow winds through military and civilian life, embracing the perspectives, special challenges, and hard-fought achievements of a community where 'family' is defined not just by one's blood relatives, but by the values and roots built from adversity, strife, and danger.

    Fiction readers will appreciate the powerful focus on how a cobbled-together family seeks peace and will find much to appreciate in this survey of how Abie's world not only unwinds, but expands to embrace others.

    Her Morning Shadow is very highly recommended, especially for readers of immigrant experience who want a better-rounded perspective than is offered by most novels on the subject. ~ D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    I enjoyed reading thing book very much. It is a retale of the Bible story - David & Goliath. I appreciate this fresh take on an old tired tale, which highlighted strong women. The descriptions were great & the writing was superb!

    ~ Macy Rodriguez, NetGalley

  • Senator's Assignment, The
    Joan E. Histon
    A pacey, intelligent plot will delight lovers of Roman history. ~ Richard Tearle, Discovering Diamonds Reviewer

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    This is a fascinating twist of the story of David and Goliath, giving the Philistine point of view. Although it's fictional, it's based on archeological and cultural data. It's a great story and if you know the Biblical account of David's life, it will give you some food for thought. The characters are well developed and I connected with them. I got an insight into the ancient Philistine culture. ~ Cynthia Trotter, Missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1996 M.A.

  • Senator's Assignment, The
    Joan E. Histon
    Joan is an innovative writer and moving story-teller. Over 250 writers and published authors have been part of the Lakes Writers' Retreat and Joan's writing always enamours the other writers, as she draws in readers to carefully crafted scenes with believable characters and intriguing plots. ~ Mark Finnie, Director at Biblica

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    This work of biblical fiction concentrates on the period of David's youth, from his days as a shepherd until his famous clash with Goliath. Based on chapter 17 of the first Book of Samuel, the novel provides imagined details about background, characters, and conversations that colorfully and creatively enhance the original text.

    Paul Boorstin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter with experience working for Discovery, History, and National Geographic. He brings his trained eye to the story of David before he becomes King of the Israelites, delving into David's strained relationships with his father and brothers, and difficult encounters with the unstable King Saul. His mother, who isn't mentioned in the Bible, has a large role here. We witness the tentative budding romance between David and Michal, daughter of King Saul and the hard-won friendship between David and Jonathan, the fearless warrior son of King Saul, who is next in line for the throne.

    David the shepherd wanders alone, worshipping G-d through his kindness for the flock and attention to the rhythms of nature. He is belittled by his warrior brothers and by his pious father, who spends his days and nights praying alone. His mother, however, believes he is destined for greatness, so David isn't surprised when he is anointed secretly by the prophet Samuel. David constantly awaits to hear the voice of G-d but is disappointed again and again; instead he learns to follow his own heart and instincts to gain the high level of confidence needed for leadership.

    Boorstin also places the biblical story within a broader religious landscape, highlighting four different types of worship prevalent at the time. The Israelites are forbidden graven images and believe in the invisible one G-d whose Ten Commandments are housed in the Ark of the Covenant and protected by priests. The Philistines worship Dagon, who is depicted in menacing graven images that necessitate the constant sacrifice of animals. A hidden society of hunted women believe in the female goddess Ashdoda, a beautiful idol whose tears became powerful stones when they fell to earth; women secretly pray to her for fertility and other blessings. There are Nubian traders who worship serpents, which are tattooed onto their skin.

    Goliath is a singular giant warrior who leads the Philistines of Gath in their mortal fight against the Israelites. The Dagon priests search for a bride for Goliath, a woman who equals him in stature and strength to create an army of giants. Nara illegally forges excellent iron weapons for her father Ezel which the Philistines use against the Israelite's lesser weapons. Nara's development provides a backdrop for the ultimate battlefield meeting between David and Goliath.

    In the vein of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Anne Roiphe's Water from the Well, Rebecca Kohn’s The Gilded Chamber, and so many more, David and the Philistine Woman may engender enough curiosity to encourage the reader to go back the original texts of the Bible. This is just one more reason to devour this luscious novel and look forward to more smart, entertaining books by Paul Boorstin.

    http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/david-and-the-philistine-woman ~ Miriam Bradman Abrahams, The Jewish Book Council

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    ‘David and the Philistine Woman’ imagines the man behind the mythical King David

    Nothing in the Bible is quite like the life story of King David, as told in the Book of Samuel, for its potent blend of politics and passion. It’s the stuff of both Shakespearean tragedy and tabloid scandal, which is exactly why David has attracted the attention of authors ranging from John Dryden to William Faulkner to Joseph Heller, among many more.

    The latest writer to reimagine King David is Paul Boorstin, the Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker whose debut historical novel, “David and the Philistine Woman” (Top Hat Books), is rooted in the biblical text and yet soars into the realm of imagination. Where the Bible is spare and suggestive, Boorstin is ornate and explicit. Indeed, his real accomplishment is to extract David from pious tradition — the “sweet singer of Israel,” God’s “beloved” and anointed king — and present him to us as a flesh-and-blood human being.

    Young David, for example, has long been depicted in religious art with a lyre in his hand, the instrument with which he soothed the rage and lifted the depression of King Saul. Boorstin, however, allows us to enter David’s mind as he plucks the strings of his famous instrument and, in doing so, deftly reminds us of David’s humble origins as a shepherd.

    “The taut strands of sheep sinew allowed David to sense what would take place before his eyes could see it or his ears could hear,” the author writes. “Sometimes there was a sweetness in the notes, like turtle-doves at dawn, which filled him with hope. At other times, the notes stung like thorns, announcing that a dust storm was brewing or that a pack of wolves had cornered a ram in a ravine.”

    Thus does Boorstin echo biblical words and phrases while evoking the setting in which a real shepherd would have worked. When David comes upon a ewe about to give birth, he wonders: “Had the Almighty sent him a sign at last?” But he quickly breaks off his reverie and sets about the task of easing the delivery. “In that tense moment, David did not pray to the Almighty. There was no time for prayer. It was his way to act quickly and let the work of his hands serve as prayer enough. He hastily wiped the mucous from the lamb’s nostrils with his tunic, to make it easier for the creature to breathe.”

    Still, Boorstin recognizes and honors the charisma that the biblical David possesses. He adopts the name given to David’s mother in the Talmud, Nitzevet — she is unnamed in the Bible — and depicts her as a doting Jewish mother who sees greatness in her son: “Moses they respected,” David’s mother is made to say by the author to her son, “but you the people will love.”

    Among the wealth of stories that are told about David in the Bible, Boorstin singles out the mythic battle between David and Goliath. As it appears in the Book of Samuel, the incident seems like a fairy tale, but Boorstin boldly introduces new and wholly imaginary characters and exploits to the old Sunday school favorite. For example, he credits Nitzevet for giving young David his first slingshot and teaching him how to use it. “The lyre allows you to feel,” she tells him, “but the sling allows you to act.”

    Much of the narrative, in fact, is pure invention. Boorstin imagines a woman named Nara, the daughter of a Philistine ironsmith who secretly initiates her into the skills and rituals of making weapons, a craft that is reserved for men alone. Nara, who is unusually tall, is singled out to marry Goliath, “a fitting match for him in her strength and stature” precisely because she possesses “a body created by the god Dagon to bring forth Goliath’s heirs.” And the author contrives an elaborate conspiracy between David and Nara, each of whom is assigned a crucial role in the life and death of Goliath that appears nowhere in the Bible.

    Pious readers of the Bible may object to the liberties Boorstin has taken with the ancient text. But “David and the Philistine Woman,” like other post-biblical works of art and authorship, also can be approached as a kind of midrash, if only because it may send the attentive reader back to the family Bible to find out what actually is written there and what originates only in the author’s imagination. Entirely aside from such hermeneutics, Boorstin deserves praise for writing a novel so full of adventure, intrigue and passion that it stands entirely on its own as a great yarn.

    JONATHAN KIRSCH, book editor of the Jewish Journal, is the author of “King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel.” ~ Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

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