Welcome to Book Lovers Paradise

Welcome to my attempt at blogging. I am a true to heart bibliophile. Here I will discuss and review books as I read them. You are welcome to do the same. The only rules are no profanity, no politics, no religion, and have fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Templars and the Holy Lance (Spear of Destiny) in one book--an explosive combination!!

02_The Holy Lance_Cover

Publication Date: March 24, 2015 Knox Robinson Publishing Formats: eBook, Hardcover Pages: 360 Series: The English Templars (Book One) Genre: Historical Fiction/Middle Ages
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 The year is 1191. A daring counterattack against the Saracens' last-ditch effort to relieve the besieged city of Acre has not only saved the Christian host from a fatal defeat; it has also brought the leader of that counterattack, English Templar Michael Fitz Alan, to the attention of King Richard the Lionheart. In the days that follow, the king charges Fitz Alan with a life-or-death mission ñ to recover the Holy Lance, a long-lost religious relic widely believed to be responsible for the near-miraculous success of the First Crusade. The ensuing quest leads Fitz Alan and a hand-picked band of Templars on a journey deep into enemy territory, where they battle Saracens, Assassins, hostile Christians and even a traitor within their own ranks as they seek to return the Holy Lance to Christian hands and thereby ensure the success of the crusade.

Early Praise for The Holy Lance

"A timely and compelling novel. The Crusades inform and often infect our understanding of the contemporary Middle East, and while this book is fiction it reveals much of the truth about that misunderstood era. Outstanding reading." - Michael Coren, award-winning television host, radio personality, syndicated columnist, and best-selling author of fourteen books, including most recently The Future of Catholicism

 "A fascinating and thrilling story played out under the boiling heat of Palestine at a time when two cultures clashed violently over the ultimate prize of Jerusalem. Andrew Latham has created a believable and sympathetic lead character in the Templar Fitz Alan as well as providing us with a thrilling insight into the mysteries of the Templar order. A most enjoyable tale, like that of an experienced jongleur, set against the personal conflict between Richard of England and Saladin. It vividly resurrects the life and death struggle between Saracen and Crusader."- Dr. Paul Doherty, OBE, historian and critically acclaimed author of dozens of works of historical fiction, including The Templar, The Templar Magician and most recently The Last of Days

 "Grizzled warriors, an epic conflict, a fabled quest: Latham's engrossing tale of violence and faith careens savagely through the Third Crusade and its legendary clash of wills with 'Coeur de Lion' versus 'Saladin', 'Frank' versus 'Saracen'. The splendid English Templar, Michael Fitz Alan is flawed, fearless, lethal - here joins the front rank of historical fiction's greatest warriors."- Dr. Dean F. Oliver, award-winning author, director of research at the Canadian Museum of History, and Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau

"Violent and visceral . meticulously researched, superbly plotted,. The Holy Lance is historical fiction at its best!"- Steven A. McKay, bestselling author of Wolf's Head and The Wolf and the Raven

"If you're looking for an historical adventure soaked in blood, The Holy Lance delivers,. Latham shows a welcome attention to the complexities of the Crusader world and to the details of Templar life. A satisfying amount of blood is shed as Michael Fitz Alan and his Templar troops battle their way towards their goal. And the book offers a rousing conclusion, with the promise of more to come. Bring it on!" - Jack Hight, author of The Saladin Trilogy

Pre-Order the Book

Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes & Noble Book Depository IndieBound

About the Author03_Andrew Latham_Author

Knox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war. Trained as a Political Scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages. He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. His most recent book is a work of non-fiction entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades. Latham was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States. He graduated from York University in Toronto with a BA (Honours) in Political Science, later earned an MA from Queen's University in Kingston and, later yet, a PhD from his alma mater, York. Latham is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers' Association and De Re Militari: The Society For Medieval Military History. Since 1997 Latham has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he where he lives with his wife Wendy, daughter Bernadette and son Michael. For more information and updates, please visit Andrew Latham's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Holy Lance Blog Tour Schedule

 Monday, May 4 Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
  Thursday, May 7 Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
  Friday, May 8 Guest Post at The Writing Desk
  Sunday, May 10 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
  Monday, May 11 Review at A Book Geek Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
  Tuesday, May 12 Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
  Wednesday, May 13 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Spotlight at CelticLady's  Reviews
 Thursday, May 14 Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise
 Friday, May 15 Review at Bookramblings Review at Flashlight Commentary Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

my thoughts:

This book starts with a bang and the action just keeps coming. As a lover of Templar lore, I couldn't wait to read this book. I was not disappointed. This book portrays the Templars as they probably really existed, not as some Hollywood, made up group of people, but devout Catholic soldiers doing battle for God. The characters are amazing, especially Fitz Alan, a true Templar knight, and Richard the Lionhearted, not the nice guy we were always led to believe..

Imagine, the Templars and the Holy Lance, aka The Spear of Destiny, in the same book!!! 

Professor Latham has created a well researched, well written novel that is fantastically gripping, He is not only an expert on theTemplars, but on creating fabulous stories. I can't wait for book two. I'm anxious to see what happens with Fitz Alan and Richard the Lionhearted.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest post by Jeanne Lyet Gassman. Author of Blood of Stone

For now, we turn over BookLovers Paradise to Jeanne Lyet Gassman, author of BLOOD OF STONE.   Take it away Jeanne....

It Began With a Dream

By Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Guest Blog Post for Book Lovers Paradise

When people ask me about my debut historical novel, Blood of a Stone, one of the first questions they pose is: "Where did you get the idea for this book?"

The answer: "From a dream." Well, to be fair, the idea originated from a dream my husband had. In our family, my husband is renowned for his vivid, interesting dreams, and he likes to share them with me over breakfast. The story of Blood of a Stone was born in just this way.

My husband told me he had dreamed he was working on the set of a movie directed by Kirk Douglas. I was fixing toast and searching for the margarine, so my attention was not entirely focused on his story, but then he said, "The movie was about a man plotting to assassinate Jesus Christ."

"What?" I said, as I closed the refrigerator and turned to listen more closely. "What did you say?" But before he could answer, I took off with the idea. "That would make a great book. What if the main character wasn't Jewish or Roman but an outsider to the culture? Where would he come from? Why would he want to kill Jesus? What kind of trouble would he be in? What if..." The ideas came spinning forth. Abandoning breakfast, I ducked into my home office.

"Wait," my husband called. "I never told you what happened in my dream."

"It doesn't matter. I already know."

For the past year, I had been flailing with my first novel, a family drama about a prodigal son returning home to help out with the family business. It doesn't sound so original now, but I thought I had a good story at the time, and I had even come close to finding a publisher when an editor asked to see the opening chapters before the book was finished. But I was unable to complete the book on the editor's deadline and so, the book languished, leaving me to wonder if I could write a novel at all--until my husband had a dream.

I locked myself in my office. The words poured out of me. When I finally came up for air, I had written 65 pages in four days, and I still had much more to say. I knew this character. I knew what he looked like, what he wanted, what he feared, and I could imagine him in this place called first century Palestine. There was only one problem. I had done no research. My knowledge of this time and place was limited to Sunday school lessons.

For the next year, I buried myself in the research while the story waited for me. I visited museums and libraries, bought books and resource materials, called total strangers at universities, zoos, and botanical gardens to ask questions about the lifestyle, the flora, and the fauna. Most people were so flattered to be asked about their specialties that they gave unexpected and wonderful details. One botanist even tasted the leaves of a particular plant so I could describe its taste in my book. As I continued my research, I became my own kind of expert about the odd and exotic. I can tell you exactly what to look for when buying a camel, and I know the proper rituals for a haruspication, which is the reading of an animal liver to predict the future. Eventually, I returned to writing the book.

But life gets in the way. With two small children under the age of three, my writing time was scarce. I added a chapter here and there to the book when I could and wrote a lot of short stories to keep me going.

My children were almost grown when I returned to school to complete an MFA in Writing. And that book? I planned to write another chapter or two or three during the program, but my advisor had other ideas. No more dabbling, no excuses. I had to finish the book. I wrote the entire novel during one semester, typing the magic words, THE END, on Thanksgiving Day while my loving family prepared the holiday dinner. I revised the book the following semester and then began the arduous process of finding a publisher. Almost five years later, Blood of a Stone was released by Tuscany Press, and I can honestly say it is a dream come true!

My husband had another good dream a couple of weeks ago. He was a little reluctant to talk about it, but I pried it out of him, and I know exactly what's going to happen. I just have to write it.

Monday, May 11, 2015


02_Blood of a Stone Cover

Publication Date: March 17, 2015 Tuscany Press Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle 371 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption. Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar. However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices. Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?

Praise for Blood of a Stone

"Blood of a Stone takes the reader on an adventure in a fascinating period of history where the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity converge. An extremely well written historical novel. -Amazon Best Selling Author of The Olivia Series, Yael Politis

"Jeanne Gassman has composed a spiritual journey of one man's heart-rending path to redemption on the fringe of the Jesus movement. Wrapped in polished prose and vivid depictions of life in 1st Century Palestine, Gassman's story transcends genres to offer a rich biblical tale of love, loss, forgiveness, and the restorative power of faith." -Barbara Devlin, Bestselling Author of the Brethren of the Coast series

 "BLOOD OF A STONE by Jeanne Gassman is an enthralling, introspective historical tale that studies the human spirit in all its various forms: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. The novel is touching, wonderfully written and has a stunning story line that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommend!" -Eliza Knight, USA Today Bestselling Author, My Lady Viper

 "Details of 1st-Century Palestine come alive as Jeanne Lyet Gassman weaves a compelling story of unspeakable challenge and the search for redemption. Trapped in a life of desperation, Demetrios will do whatever it takes to escape, even kill those who enslave him. But when his life comes in contact with the man, Jesus, everything that seemed so important begins to shift. The story moves from pulse-pounding action to heart-wrenching honesty, as Demetrios pursues the Peace every heart craves."-Amazon Best-seller Author, Christy M. Bellar, The Lady and the Mountain Man

 "Grace, one of the most challenging journeys of life and literature, is explored in this fine debut novel by Jeanne Lyet Gassman. Set in first century Palestine during the time of Jesus, BLOOD OF A STONE is a moving, well-researched, beautifully turned novel that had me engaged and in tears. Highly recommended!" -Best-selling author Allegra Jordan, The End of Innocence

 "Jeanne Gassman is a remarkable writer who brings a Biblical era stunningly to life in this powerful and fast-moving tale of sin and redemption." -American Fiction Prize Winner, Clint McCown, author of Haints

 "In art man finds a conduit to the divine. Blood of a Stone, Jeanne L. Gassman's artful debut, is a tale of murder, love, betrayal, and redemption in 1st century Judea. Crafted with imagination and superlative style, her story tracks slaves Demetrios and Elazar's arduous climb from sin to forgiveness." -Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award, David Beckett, The Cana Mystery

 "Jeanne Lyet Gassman's stunning evocation of 1st-century Palestine in all its teeming, multifaceted complexity compelled me, page after page, to follow the fateful pilgrimage to Jerusalem while also walking the rocky path from undeserved suffering and terrible guilt to the possibility--open to all of us--of forgiving and being forgiven." -Diane Lefer, co-author of The Blessing Next to the Wound

 "Blood of a Stone is a gripping story of friendship and betrayal, love against all odds, a brutal Roman Empire, and the threat of a revolt that becomes instead the beginnings of freedom. Jeanne Lyet Gassman tells us what it was like to live in the time of emperors and slavery, a world into which Christ was born." -National Book Award Winner, Gloria Whelan, Homeless Bird

 "A meditative journey on the ways that life cripple us all -- and the choices we make that lead to bitterness and blame or joy and forgiveness -- Gassman's BLOOD OF A STONE is a biblical journey of self-discovery that will strike a chord in every reader." -Michelle Zink, Author of Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy

 "Jeanne Lyet Gassman is an astonishingly good writer. The ancient world of Blood of a Stone feels alive on every page. And if you think there's nothing fresh to say about the fragility of freedom and the difficult road towards redemption, this novelóchock-full of compelling characters and propelled by a polished, downright luminous proseówill provide new and heartfelt insights." -Nance Van Winckel, author of Boneland: Linked Stories

 "In Blood of a Stone, author Jeanne Lyet Gassman leads the reader on a journey of surprise and suspense. Her well-researched work is the story of Demetrios, a slave who sinks to murder to defend his own life. He is a Gentile, in partnership with Elazar, a Jew. They travel Palestine in the midst of the Jesus movement and each in his own way finds his life changed." -Wall Street Journal Top Ten book selection author, Donna Foley Mabrey, Maude

Available at

Amazon Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author03_Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Jeanne Lyet Gassman lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellowships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In addition to writing, Jeanne teaches creative writing workshops in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. Her work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse, among many others. Blood of a Stone is her debut novel.

Author Links

Jeanne Lyet Gassman Jeanne's Writing Desk Facebook Author Page Goodreads Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn

my thoughts:

Two slaves escaping in an evil Roman master.  Set in the later days of the 'Jesus movement", this book centered on two slaves, Demetrios, a gentile, and Elazar, a Jew.   They travel all around and encounter not only Jesus himself, but his disciples and many he's touched.    The main character is Demetrios, the gentile.  He's committed a terrible crime, and spends his days in an almost paranoid manner.  He becomes a caravan leader.  He's leading the Jews to Jerusalem during Passover.  The story focuses on his feelings of betrayal, paranoia and (spoiler) 

eventual forgiveness after meeting Jesus.   Demetrios is an interesting character. He spent a great deal of time feeling angry.  Angry with himself, angry with Elazar, angry with just about everyone, even Jesus.  

This book is well written.  The author brings us into Jerusalem during the time of Christ.  Jesus himself is a minor character, as are Peter, Mary, John and Judas.  I found myself imagining life at this time. Was it as the author described?  Probably, she did such a fantastic job with her descriptions of the characters and the settings.   

I give this book 4/5 stars for it's concept, originality and ability to hold my interest.

Blood of a Stone Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4 Spotlight at Curling Up With A Good Book Tuesday, May 5 Excerpt at What Is That Book About Wednesday, May 6 Spotlight at Cheryl's Book Nook Thursday, May 7 Excerpt & Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book Friday, May 8 Review at Book Nerd Tuesday, May 12 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Wednesday, May 13 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise Thursday, May 14 Review at A Book Geek Monday, May 18 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation Tuesday, May 19 Guest Post & Giveaway at Latte Da Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads Wednesday, May 20 Review at Genre Queen Thursday, May 21 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews Guest Post & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl Friday, May 22 Blog Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past  photo d53958ab-b3a9-48d9-a52a-dfbef1cd6bae.png