Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seven Wonders of the World; and More!

by Suzie Johnson
I always get excited when I discover a new author with a style so distinctive I feel driven to read every single book they’ve written. Earlier this year I had a bookstore punch card that was almost full. I only needed to purchase one more book and I’d get one free. But none of my usual authors had new books on the shelves. I was a little disappointed, and I started pulling unfamiliar books off the shelf hoping to find something that intrigued me. After I looked at all the books, I kept going back to one in particular – Guardian of the Flame by T.L. Higley. Nothing like the books I usually read, the back cover copy was too interesting to resist.

It wasn’t long before I was caught up in an unfamiliar world that I wanted to learn more about. Needless to say, I've read every T.L. Higley book I could find. And now I get to share them with you. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

Guardian of the Flame is set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 48 BC. Sophia lives in the magnificent lighthouse of Alexandria, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Widowed, bitter, she spends her days tending the lighthouse, and making sure the flame is always lit. She also manages to get herself involved in a little bit of intrigue when Julius Caesar arrives in Alexandria. Sophia’s dear friend, Cleopatra, is also caught up in the intrigue, as are a group of ancient scholars. Things get really interesting when Caesar sends one of his soldiers to occupy the lighthouse.

I didn’t realize at the time, but Guardian of the Flame is actually book three in the Seven Wonders series. They need not be read in order.

Shadow of Colossus is set in 227 BC., on the island of Rhodes. As a hetaera (a courtesan) to one of the most powerful men on the island, Tessa of Delos has something no other hetaera has: the respect and admiration of every man in power. She’s intelligent enough and well-spoken enough to make them sit up and listen to her, but a bold decision after her owner dies, plunges her into a very dangerous game. The deception could cost her life if she can’t find a way to escape in time. Then there’s a little matter of an impending earthquake! As you might be able to tell from this gorgeous cover, the Wonder this book centers around is the Colossus of Rhodes.

City of the Dead is among the most interesting books I’ve ever read. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book told entirely from a male point of view. It’s extremely well done and, like the cover suggests, centers around the Great Pyramid of Giza. Told from the viewpoint of Hemiunu, the man who designed the pyramid, as he tries to find a murderer, this book is a fascinating insight into the people of ancient Egypt.

Marduk’s Tablet is not a Seven Wonders book. But it’s every bit as good as the others. This book is actually set in the present day, where a young woman is hired to transcribe an ancient tablet believed to have powers. The storyline kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t stop reading until I finished because I couldn’t sleep until I knew if the tablet really had special powers. Just a small warning here – there are a few scenes that appear to have supernatural happenings. They’re very good scenes, but they could be disturbing to people like me who have overactive imaginations. But then, I can scare myself just walking through my house in the dark.

These next two books are not part of the Seven Wonders, either. I really have no words to tell you just how much I loved reading Pompeii: City on Fire, and Petra: City of Stone. These are my absolute favorite T.L. Higley books, with Pompeii edging Petra by a slight margin. It's kind of like choosing between chocolate and a lemon bar. I love them both, but I'll always chose the lemon bar.

Pompeii’s heroine, Ariella, a Jewish slave, quickly became my favorite heroine ever. Brave and innovative, she trades one kind of slavery for another when she disguises herself as a boy and becomes a gladiator. While fighting with the hope of one day winning her freedom, she catches the eye of a man who’s trying to change the political climate of Pompeii. And in the background, there’s something brewing that is far more dangerous than gladiators, slave owners or corrupt politicians…Vesuvius.

Perhaps the most vivid parts of Petra, set in the first century, are the descriptions of a city carved out of stone. As in the other books, these characters waste no time eliciting your undivided attention. Cassia is a young mother desperately trying to rescue her son before an evil queen can make good on her promise to destroy him. One thing I loved about this book was the author’s depiction of the power of God as His people are being persecuted.

There’s another Seven Wonders book coming soon, and I just discovered a book on T.L. Higley’s website that I haven’t read yet. I can’t wait. Biblical truth, a rich and powerful history, intrigue, and adventure set against amazing backdrops – T.L. Higley

You can visit T.L.Higley’s website to learn more about her books, the history behind them, and her adventures as she researches them.


  1. I've read and enjoyed many of these books. It's so interesting to find novels set during unusual periods like these.

    The research for this kind of story must be incredibly involved.

  2. oh my. Suzie, you have to stop doing this. Or I have to find a sugar daddy and quit my job. I still have your Lisa Bergrens on the table next to my recliner!

    I know you've been talking about T.L.Higley's books within the walls of Inktropolis, so I'm glad you had a chance to talk em up today with our readers (you lurkers...I'm talking to you!)

  3. DeAnna, on her website, she talks about her research and it's unbelievable. It just boggles my mind the amount of work that goes into her books.

  4. Ah, Deb, I know what you mean. There's never enough time to read everything we want to read.

  5. Suzie - thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I never knew.

    Of course, my TBR pile is so big I don't go out scouring the shelves for new authors, but TL Higley's books sound wonderful!

    Yes, she would have to do an inordinate amount of research to cover the time periods. Does her research include visits? I bet she has some fun stories about those.

    Perhaps you could invite her to guest on a Fiction Wed, Suzie? I would love to talk with her. (Providing blogger cooperates, of course.)


  6. Ah, Anita. I think inviting her to talk about her research is a great idea. I'll do what I can. Oh, and yes, she does travel for her research. Can you just imagine seeing some of those sights? Wow.

  7. Oh, Anita, I almost forgot! I know this is off topic, but remember when you blogged about sprouts? I have this bird seed I kept putting out for the birds, but when we finally had our two weeks of summer, they left. There were sunflower seeds in with the seed mix, and they never ate them. Yesterday I noticed an odd circle around the seeds that were still there when the birds left. They are sprouts from the sunflower seeds. They are so cool! I wonder if they'll turn into sunflowers? It's so cool.

  8. Suzie,

    Isn't T.L. Higley's work awesome?? :) Several years ago I won a copy of City of the Dead on a blog, and I was hooked after that. I can't wait for her new 7 Wonders book! :D


  9. I've read some of these too. She is a really good writer and I loved them. I too love the unusual settings. Can't wait to read more.

  10. Suzie - re the sunflower seeds... yes, that is cool. Keep me informed of the results, will ya? Have you taken a photo yet?

  11. Wow... that's quite the collection! Lots of interesting reading possibilities to check out!

    Enjoy your day...

  12. Hi Amber. Yes! I just love her work. I think the next book is Garden of Madness. Oooh, that title brings up all sorts of possibilities!

  13. Hi Lisa! I love the settings, too. I think that's what initially drew me in. That lighthouse in ancient Egypt... I imagined all sorts of possibilities, but she surprised me at every turn and it exceeded my expectations.

  14. Anita, I haven't take a picture yet, but I will. I've been busy working on my science experiment and it's driving me CRAZY!!!!! But when I'm done, I'll take a picture. I have to figure out some way to protect them because a guy is coming on Monday to mow the lawn. I don't want him to chop them down.

  15. Oh, Brenda, they are really something. If you could only read one book, I'd be torn between Petra and Pompeii, with Pompeii winning. However, you should base it on the story-line that is most intriguing to you, since we all like different things. If you do read one of her books, let me know how you liked it! You have a great day, too. Mine will get better as soon as my science experiment is finished. Lol.

  16. Suzie - the seedlings need room to grow, eh. Even if your 'guy' doesn't mow them down, you'll need to leave 4-6" between them. And the bigger varieties that provide bird seed, need to be spaced out 10-12" apart. Otherwise they grow straggly and weak.

  17. Anita, are you telling me I need to dig them up and move them? Could I put them in big pots? Maybe one or two in each pot? We have very rocky soil. That's why our island is nicknamed "The Rock". You can break your back trying to dig one hole.


  18. Well, if you want to save them you could dig them up and transplant them. But not into big pots - small ones. You can use a styrofoam coffee cup with holes in the bottom. When they're sturdy, you can transplant where you want.

    If your soil is rocky, dig out what you can and replace with a small bag of potting soil. Make sure it contains peat moss or perlite. Then add your seedlings - but don't crowd them or you'll just have to pull them out later. :(

    I have to add however, that sunflowers have come a long way in the past 10 yrs. Along with the tall yellow and black ones, you have a whole range of autumn colours. And they're not all tall - many are short 24 inch ones with a multitude of flowers. These smaller varieties are perfect for drying which you can then keep in your house all winter. If you want to check them online or in the seed catalogues, they might be listed under helianthus although my memory might have the spelling wrong.

  19. I'm going to give it a try, Anita. Hopefully sunflowers will grow from these sprouts that grew from sunflower seeds in a bag of birdseed. How cool is that? :)

  20. I've had my eye on this author for a while, but I have to know, is there any romance involved in the stories?

  21. I'm loving Deb's sugar daddy comment.

    I've been curious about these books, but now I'm totally interested in checking them out. Thanks for the recommendations!

  22. Dina, yes, there is romance in these books. It's done in a lovely way, not forced. You can truly see the characters falling in love. It is never contrived. The road is rough for all of heroine's, but there's definitely romance.

    Hey, Susie, let me know how you like whichever one you read.


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