Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFiction

Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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On how I acquired the book & my connection to the publicist:

I was selected to participate on The Judgment blog tour coordinated by Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, run by a fellow book blogger and friend of mine: Erin Al-Mehairi. I crossed paths with Erin via her book blog Oh for the Hook of a Book when I first started hosting blog tours for historical fiction writers via HFVBTs. Our friendship developed out of a shared passion for riveting historicals with compelling stories and incredibly dimensional characters who felt they could walk off the pages! Friendship aside, as I start to host for her authors my opinions are based solely on the story I am reading for review and are never influenced by my connection to Erin. I take each story I am reading as a new experience whether or not I know the author or publicist directly or have only met them for the first time by accepting a book to review.

I received my complimentary copy of The Judgment direct from the author D.J. Niko in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘The Judgment’:

(initial reaction)

I’ve seen her novels on blog tours, but the timing was never good for me to participate or get involved whilst the tours were progressing. I liked the fact this historical takes place in Ancient History! I’ve been wanting to find authors who write during this section of history, as Biblical Historical Fiction fascinates me! I also love the Ancient Civilisations of Egypt and Rome, whilst learning more about History so far removed from our present world to soak inside something wonderfully different! This was one reason I was so keen to read Stephanie Thornton’s “Daughter of the Gods” which I thoroughly LOVED!

Expanding on my initial joyous celebration of being selected to read my first Niko novel, and thereby my second Biblical Historical novel, I wanted to recaptialise on things I had shared during a blog tour about Women of the Bible: Scripture Princesses by Rebecca J. Greenwood (see Review & the Q&A) wherein I talked about my appreciation for ‘meeting’ some of the remarkable women of the Biblical Historical past. When I first encountered the book blogosphere, I went instinctively to my favourite author’s blogs (i.e. Lauren Willig* & Julie Lessman) before finding The Word Wenches*, Heroes, Heroines & History, and routed myself through the INSPY Fiction blogs which took me to a lot of incredible authors & book bloggers sites alike! I was stumbling across writers for Biblical Historical Fiction along that route as well, except to say, this isn’t a new pursuit of mine!

Going back into my childhood, when I would visit book shoppes quite regularly, seeking a wicked good story that may or may not be designated for my age group (as once I fought to understand how to read, I grew easily bored remaining inside my age group of selections! thus, I read adult novels by thirteen; although I sampled a bit prior to that! there wasn’t such a designated genre to explore like there is today for ‘young adult’.) – thus, I started to fetch an eye of interest for the Biblical fiction authors even back then! At the time, I knew the issues and story-lines facing those characters were going to be difficult to read, so I side-stepped them for lighter INSPY novels – mostly Historical Romance or a story of the Amish, as Amish & Mennonite Fiction always delighted me, as I had a bakery IRL as a teenager run by a local Mennonite family.

My curiosity for this section of literature, was re-inspired by Stephanie Thorton’s novel (as foresaid) but also by the Early Reader introduction by Ms Greenwood! I simply haven’t had the proper chance to sort through what is readily available to read whilst dipping further back into the past, than perhaps, I routinely do! We all have our ‘favourite’ timescapes and settings; for me, I like to continue to challenge myself to even move further back into the past, root out new heroines and heroes of time I may never have heard of or only know by ‘name’ but not on a personal level of saying ‘this person lived this life & accomplished this’.

When I caught sight of the premise behind The Judgment, I felt this was as good of a place as any to continue my journey — reading a story set against the backdrop of Kings would be an easy transition for me, as I spend enough hours wrapped up in the Royal Courts of England (throughout their extensive historical past!) to know a bit about life at court inasmuch as the political potboilers & changing tides that goes along with that kind of a life.

Some (aspects) of the story I know loosely based on lessons I learnt ages ago in Sunday School but I never would say my classes dipped past the superficial acknowledgement of things; hence one of the wrinkles I oft found with Sunday School. We might have been told about King Solomon being a ruler, but the lessons fell flat just as my lessons in school always did as well – names, dates, event markers in time; but never the exploration of who a particular person was or how that person lived or even, what happened between their birth, major event and date of death?

There is so much between ‘dates’ and ‘events’ – this is one reason I have drawn a pleasurable passion in reading Historical Fiction; imagine what is awaiting me in Biblical Historical Fiction!? Not to mention, in this instance it’s partially ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’, too! To say I was excited would be putting it mildly!

*NOTE: As I read across genres, I also read across Mainstream & INSPY literary spectrums; these two were earmarked to say, they were not INSPY but Mainstream. As literature to me is forever all-encompassing. To find out which INSPY authors are marked on my most immediate ‘next reads’ list, please visit my 70 Authors Challenge!

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Notation on Cover Art: It is hard not to readily notice the cover art on behalf of ‘The Judgment’ due to how strong the woman on the cover is portrayed! You immediately think back towards King Solomon’s era of life – where boldness was paramount to power; where women had to endeavour to overcome great odds & find the will to reign even when their heart was not fully invested. It was a time of uncertainty and a time where bold colours are felt to have flourished; thus I felt the make-up choices and the darker lit design befitted the quick impression that flitted to mind after reading the  premise of the story! Once I greeted Basemath in the first Chapter, everything pulled together nicely! It truly is a striking book cover but to match the character is beyond brilliant! Unfortunately for me, I believe my first inclination to believe which character is featured on the cover was mistaken.

Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFictionThe Judgment
by D.J. Niko
Source: Direct from Author via Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

965 BCE

Upon the death of his father, Solomon has been appointed king of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah and charged with building the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. He travels to Egypt to negotiate with Pharaoh Psusennes II for gold for the temple and to improve relations between the two nations. There he falls in love with the pharaoh’s beautiful daughter, Nicaule, and the two kings agree to an arranged marriage. Against her will, for she loves another, Nicaule follows her new husband to Israel.

Forty years later, Solomon’s empire is on the verge of collapse. Power has made him arrogant, permissive, and blind to the scheming of his wife and one of his lieutenants to topple the united monarchy. As the king’s faith falters and his people’s morals collapse, enemies gather at the gates of Israel. A visit from a mysterious queen restores Solomon’s perspective in time to save his soul—but it is too late to preserve his kingdom.

Someone who once was loyal to King Solomon has come back to claim the crown of Israel—and tear Solomon’s empire asunder.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Biblical Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction

Published by Medallion Press

on 10th May, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 317

Published By: Medallion Press (@medallionpress)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheJudgment, #AncientHistory & #WomenInHistory

+ #BiblicalFiction or #HistFic

Read the Guest Post attached to the blog tour I appreciated the most | The Lit Bitch

About D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko is the pseudonym for Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer who has spent her entire adult life traveling the world.

As a former travel writer and zealous adventurer, she has visited remote spots on six continents, many of which have inspired her archaeological thriller series, The Sarah Weston Chronicles. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and now resides in Florida with her family.

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My Review of The Judgment:

The strength of a father’s legacy passes to his daughter, a fiercely confident woman who trusts his judgment upon her but also his assessment of her strength – even if there is a moment arising right now, that tests her belief if she truly does have her father’s will to survive during times of upset. We meet Basemath on the brink of battle – as the surge of forces arriving at the walls of her fortress are approaching quite quickly, whilst we are given a small bit of time to understand her character; especially her state of mind. She is full of memories of what once was and what might yet become; her daughter Ana is with her, as are her people; those who trusted her instincts and her determination to overcome the fight that will require all of their courage to overcome.

Basemath’s husband Ahimaaz graduated into a position of warrior amongst men whilst their enemy bears down on their encampment. The husband and wife would prefer to keep their time of peace, but war changes everything; including limiting the space between spouses to where they can only hold quick to their love and hope for the best in end. Niko gave them a fleeting moment to lock eyes and in their silence, they spoke volumes between them. Basemath lived during an age where nothing in life was a given; there was never promise of sustained peace, thereby you had to buckle down and face each new jolt of adversity as if your courage preceded your fear at every turn. They did not waste time to doubt what they could not do, but rather they forged ahead certain they could handle what would come to pass. A good way to approach life, as no one is ever fully certain of what will cross anyone’s path at any given point in time; better to bolster strength than to dilute fear. They acted on faith without the security of a future.

By the time the Egyptians (see Fly in the Ointment) ravaged the stronghold of Basemath and her people, unsettling events (the women and children taken as hostages; one led to death) disrupted the fracture of hope they had to outlive this devastating attack. Basemath herself was forced to endure the loss of her daughter Ana (taken against her will) whilst being told of unknown power changes affecting her life and those of her kin. It was enough to break her spirit but she was Solomon daughter; she refused to accept defeat when it was ingrained in her to fight. It is through Basemath we learn of the alliance between Israel and Egypt through marriage and how her mother’s union had granted a certain level of peace between the two countries. The history of why this peace was unravelling was also revealled, as it is thickened by the complexities of interpretation of rule and order. Through the window of Basemath’s mind, we draw closer to the emerging truths where deception and insurrection became her people’s downfall.

We shift backwards into 965 BCE in Chapter Four – where we are privy to the pattern of actions and choices that helped to shape King Solomon’s reign. Including how he came to marry his wife and where Jeroboam would first start to inch his way into Solomon’s favour; granting him privileged information on his kingdom. Despite the intentions of Niko to accurately represent the back-story of what led to the siege where Basemath introduced the story, I felt I could have suffered through less back-story and more forward motion on Basemath’s behalf. For Niko held my attention with Basemath, Ana and Ahimaaz; the latter of whom was sent at Basemath’s request to attempt to restore the peace by thwarting the advancement of the Egyptians. She sent her beloved away in order to give them all a chance to live more than the day they had already.

There was such a strong opening gambit in this arc where Basemath truly had such a strong voice, I did not feel as if I had to retrace her father’s footsteps in order to understand her heart’s remorse on the news delivered to her by Jeroboam. I felt the story became a bit too bogged down in showing the historical reasons for what happened in 925 BCE; rather than allow the story to read as any wicked good war drama does to prove how ordinary people can do extraordinary things with every obstacle stacked against them.

I fear my impatience to resume Basemath’s tale had to await Chapter Twenty arriving on page 271! I do admit, I skipped several chapters as I simply could not bring myself to care much about Nicaule; unfortunately for her, I have grown a bit distasteful of women like her as I have come across characters like her previously; to where they never draw a lot of empathy out of me. They have the tendency to be cold-hearted, conceited and selfish; loyalty to no one save themselves. I was not quite prepared for what I found afterward, though sadly and rather somberly I cannot say I was surprised. Basemath’s story breaks your heart to read, but her courage and her faith were steadfast even when all else was lost. This is a critical life lesson to embrace but it’s how her life was altered by deception first learnt through prophecy (to her father, King Solomon) that is hard to reconcile.

As an aside, there is an extensive Author’s Note in the back of the novel, where truth and fiction co-merge to expound upon the story’s inspiration from Niko’s point of view. Within this, we learn what was fictionalised and what was suggested out of the historical documents used in the author’s research. Also revealled is that this novel, ‘The Judgment’ is the prequel to Niko’s other novel involving Solomon: ‘The Riddle of Solomon’. I will not be continuing the story myself, but in case, my readers or those following the tour are keen on the story themselves, I’d advise reading both of these together.

Fly in the Ointment:

Although I know most scrimmages and battles in Biblical History are far more bloodier and gruesome than what I regularly read, as those are the passages I have never read due to how intense they are visually to take-in; I had a feeling there might be portions of The Judgment I might not appreciate finding included. I was quite shocked on one hand for the inclusion of the sudden cold blooded murder of a young child when the women & children fled underground to ride out the siege by the Egyptians; yet, on the other hand, I knew it was fitting of the timescape. There was too much opposition fed on deep seeded prejudiced mindsets between the two parties not to lead to heinous acts of violence. Knowing what might be arriving in the context of the story is one thing, seeing it on the pages is quite the other. Therefore, I admit, it was a bit much for me to read as I could have read a simpler passage wherein it was merely said ‘a boy was killed out of the hatred for his race and the misconstrument of his actions’.

I am unsure if there are other scenes equally hard to read, as I skipped forward quite a bit as I felt detached from the central threading of the story until I reached the conclusion where Basemath’s fate is revealled.

On the writing style of D.J. Niko:

Visually, Niko has used eloquent shadows of the past to paint the scene for us, giving us just a feather drop of a picture in which to acquaint ourselves to what 925 BCE could plausibly look like through the eyes of those of us in the 21st Century. It’s quite clever how deepening her narrative yields, as you have an emotional threading of ‘urgency’ tied directly to the present moment we alight inside this story. I appreciated how Niko choose to begin her novel but also, how she presented Basemath herself; her likeness on the book cover truly befits the woman inside the novel!

When I first started reading The Judgment, portions of the synopsis were not aligning with the text, until I realised there would be time slippage within the narrative arc of telling the story within. It was a fitting way to encase the fullness of the history of showing which actions proved the insurrection was going to happen lateron but also, how and why the actions of a few can carry discourse over the majority; many of whom were innocent of the deceit and caught unawares.

The only curious thing for me is realising the person who was in the lead of the story’s vision was a different woman than the one I became attached to knowing more about! This has happened in the past, as when I read my second Stephanie Thornton novel The Tiger Queens, I sadly appreciated one character over the other; and clearly it happened again now – as I would have preferred the main thread of attention to be placed on Basemath’s shoulders not Nicaule. This isn’t something you can have foreknowledge of when your reading a novel – it happens somewhere in the context of your readings, when characters start to speak to you and your heart becomes attached to the story they are yielding to reveal.

Note: There is a slight disagreement about the classification of this story being referenced as “Biblical Historical Fiction” rather than “Ancient History or Ancient Civilisation”. I classified it as “Biblical Historical Fiction” as this is how the story impressed me as I read it and how it’s written narrative voice spoke to me, as the author references a lot of history from Biblical Times. There is a natural cross-referencing of both distinctions of the historical past, however, I could not dismiss the fact this is rooted on the legacy of King Solomon and how his life affected his descendants. I did cross-reference this as ‘Ancient Civilisation’ on my blog, as I cross-reference everything I am reviewing – however, for me as a reader, it’s main thread of context is Biblical History.

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This book review is courtesy of: Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

Click the tour banner to follow the rest of the tour!

meet the other book bloggers who are reading the story and/or are sharing guest author features on behalf of the author!

The Judgment Blog Tour via Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “The Judgment”, author biography, author photograph of D.J. Niko, book synopsis, and tour badge were provided by Hook of a Book Media & Publicity and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov in 10th Century BC, 1st Millennium BC, A Father's Heart, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biblical Fiction, Biblical History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Christianity, Content Note, Domestic Violence, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Iron Age, King Solomon, Mental Health, Military Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women of Power & Rule

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