#ThrowbackThurday ~ The Vatican Princess – A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner #Historical Fiction #AudiobookReview

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week it’s the turn of another audiobook.  The Vatican Princess – A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia, written by C.W. Gortner and narrated by Julia Whelan, it was originally published in 2016. 

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The Vatican Princess ~ A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner #Audio #Histfic @CWGortner

  • 25614810Audiobook Review
  • Author: C.W. Gortner
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Released: February 2016 by Random House Audio
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, a gripping novel that follows the extraordinary life of young Lucrezia Borgia, the legendary Renaissance Pope Alexander’s beautiful daughter. Was she the heartless seductress of legend? Or merely an unsuspecting pawn in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and her own survival?

There are so so many books out there on the Borgias, Lucrezia in particular, you might be tempted to wonder… why another one? This is an approach I haven’t seen before. Granted, I haven’t read a huge amount on the subject and what I did read was many years ago. I do, however, remember being fascinated by the stories of one of the most infamous families in European history, and so when this audiobook became available, narrated by the wonderful Julia Whelan, I chose it without hesitation. I haven’t read C.W. Gortner before but after this I will definitely be looking for more of his books. Continue reading

A Counterfeit Priest

  • ACounterfeitPriestAuthor: Paul Cross
  • Published: October 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Religious Thriller
  • three-half-stars

Blaming the Catholic Church for the death of his wife, filmmaker Henry Hawkins is determined to make an expose revealing the Church’s responsibility. Not divulging the true intentions of his documentary, Henry’s quest leads him to Rome where he’s promised access to the Vatican by its highest ranking cardinal, Silvio Contini, the Secretary of State of Vatican City. After arriving in the Eternal City, Cardinal Contini reneges on his agreement to meet with Henry. Refusing to have his plan compromised, Henry devises a bold scheme to get behind the impregnable walls of the Vatican to confront Contini.

I was given a copy in return for an honest review.

Religion can be a tricky and sensitive subject for many people, personally I can’t imagine the Vatican being dissimilar to any multi million dollar enterprise with the resulting politics, corruption and unscrupulousness in the ranks. Equally, I’m sure there are also those who do have a strong belief and a selflessness in what they are trying to achieve. This story will challenge spiritually and intellectually.

How amazing, Henry thought, that all this magnificence he saw before him had nothing whatever to do with what Jesus taught, but for the sole purpose of wielding power over the masses, not to mention the pilfering of their money in order to hoard great wealth.Great wealth which was used by the self-appointed holy ones to live in magnificent splendour.

There’s a lot of very interesting behind the scenes action and fascinating insights into the inner processes of the Vatican, be they fact, fiction or a mixture of both, and the overall picture is described in detail. It’s a thought-provoking and believable scenario given the scandals and secrets of the Vatican and church in general through the ages and up to the present day.

The characters are intriguing and are portrayed well. Did Henry make the right decision after his eventual inner struggle whether or not he could or should voice his disappointment and disenchantment with the Catholic church and it’s teachings in his quest to avenge his wife’s death? It would be a tough call either way.

The mixture of past and present tense in the narrative is a little off-putting so that and the dialogue would benefit from some editing but, that said, it’s a very entertaining story.

A Counterfeit Priest may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the author

PaulCrossPAUL CROSS is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, director and producer with many feature films including OPERATION TERROR, and SEVERE VISIBILITY, and television movies such as STUDS LONIGAN and AMAZONS to his credits. He is also the writer/director/producer of the award-winning documentaries, FOLLOW the LEADER and WEST END STORY. His novel A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST is the basis for his screenplay by the same title. Paul lives in Hollywood, California.
 http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0189237/

The Trinity Game

  • 41JyMA2TQIL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Author: Sean Chercover
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: July 2012 by Audible
  • Published by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Thriller/Suspense
  • five-stars

Daniel Byrne is a priest working for a secret branch of the Vatican, the Office of the Devil’s Advocate, investigating the validity of so-called miracles reported around the world. When he is charged with investigating his uncle, the Reverend Tim Trinity, Daniel has no doubt he will debunk the claims of his uncle’s miraculous happenings in no time at all.

Daniel has been estranged from his uncle since he discovered Trinity was just a con man extorting money from his ‘flock’ and not a man of faith as Daniel had believed.

However when Daniel arrives in Atlanta, from where his uncle now operates, he finds things are not at all as straightforward as he imagined.

My Review

A very well crafted and exceptionally engaging story which, although it seems clearcut at the start, quickly evolves into an engrossing, fast paced and suspenseful plot with an interesting cast of  well-developed characters. The writing has depth and the imagery is vivid, both in the characterisation and the descriptions of places and situations.

Daniel and Tim Trinity are especially intriguing and likeable characters, each troubled in their own way. Daniel because he’s growing increasingly disillusioned with the church, unsure of it’s credibility and still has feelings for his ex girlfriend. Tim because he has a complete epiphany and turns out to be the kind of person Daniel always wanted him to be.

Although the general topic of the story is religion, in one form or another, it’s so much more complex than just that. Daniel and Tim, both on a kind of journey of self discovery albeit coming from different directions, are embroiled in conflicts, within the church and with fanatics and mobsters, which result in a highly charged and thrilling ride.

The multi-layered subject matter has been well researched, including the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The aspects of religion and belief, both negative and positive, are handled and explored in a very astute way. Even down to the concept of someone being able to predict the future in a weird and wonderful way. And, although there’s an explanation of sorts at the end, would that really cause a phenomenon like the one described.

I love this book and am really glad there will be more. Luke Daniels’ narration is terrific, he does a great job with Tim Trinity and if he ever needs another profession a travelling preacher might just be the ticket 😉 He ups the tension with the action scenes and the menace of the bad guys is distinct.

Buy the book from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Last Day ~ the book

 

  • 1813844Author: Glenn Kleier
  • Published: September 1998
  • Category: Religious Thriller
  • five-stars

Just in time for the millennium, Glenn Kleier mixes bioengineering and religion, miracles and modern warfare, politics and physics to produce a gripping tale set in the Middle East at the dawn of the 21st century.

As the millennium approaches there is an unexplained explosion in the desert in Southern Israel which completely destroys a laboratory.  One person survives and there begins an extraordinary story.  When an ethereal young woman appears on New Years Eve things start happening in earnest, involving the news media, the Vatican, assassination plots and reports of miracles not to mention conspiracies and an aspect of science fiction too.

This is a very engrossing read. The research and details are amazing and the plot intricate and involved.  There’s no treading softly or cautiously here, it challenges the reader psychologically and well as spiritually.

A fascinating story which opens the door to many thought-provoking questions, not least about the incredible wealth and pomp of the Vatican and the Church in general, also ‘religious trivia and rituals’ and their relevance in the bigger picture.

The suspense and tension build throughout, it’s masterful, challenging and still very relevant given the ongoing intolerance between religions. This book takes you on an extraordinary journey into the ‘what ifs’ which seem entirely conceivable, rocking many boats along the way. An unexpected and moving ending.

Highly recommended and I’m very much looking forward to Mr Kleier’s next book!

Buy the book from Amazon UK and Amazon US