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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Realistic Book
In City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy Higly, Ariella has been taken captive by the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem and made a slave. Her owner is terrible, so she makes a drastic decision to leave him and change places with a gladiator, disguising herself as a boy. After being unsuccessful in the ring, she is bought by another owner and her lot seems to...
Published 9 months ago by N. Shoemaker

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "City on Fire: A Novel of Pomeii"- Book Review
Tracy Higley transported me back in time to the city of Pompeii, to a time that I did not know much about. There was enough description that helped me get a picture of what Pompeii was like before, during, and after it's end.

However, I did not fall in love with the story. I had a hard time getting into it, and there was quite a bit of immoral practices...
Published 10 months ago by BookGrace


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Realistic Book, December 17, 2013
In City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy Higly, Ariella has been taken captive by the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem and made a slave. Her owner is terrible, so she makes a drastic decision to leave him and change places with a gladiator, disguising herself as a boy. After being unsuccessful in the ring, she is bought by another owner and her lot seems to improve. But her friendship with another slave Jeremiah makes her rethink her decision to turn her back on God. Is He really there? Does He really care? Who is this Messiah everyone is talking about? Then her past resurfaces and threatens to drown her. And of course, the climax of this book takes place during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

I really enjoyed this book about ancient Rome. The history it contains seems to be true, and in the afterword, Higly tells how she researched this book. The story is exciting and suspenseful, keeping one reading. And the characters are well-rounded and believable. It's a relatively small thing, but I appreciated that no matter how hard Ariella trains, she is unable to beat any other gladiator. I hate it when women are portrayed as just as strong as men because we're not. I'll be looking for more of Higly's books to read.

I want to thank BookSneeze for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping historical fiction, November 16, 2013
At the base of Mount Vesuvius lies the coastal town of Pompeii, a city churning with political unrest and filled with a people who embrace all that Rome has to offer. Cato has recently moved to Pompeii after giving up on ever changing the corrupt political landscape of Rome. Along with his mother and sister, he has come to Pompeii for a fresh start, intent on embracing the life of a vineyard owner. He soon meets another newcomer to Pompeii, a young gladiator training to fight. However, the gladiator is guarding a deadly secret, that she's a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella. Despite his intentions, Cato soon finds himself fighting the political corruption in Pompeii, while Ariella finds herself fighting for a fame that she hopes will lead to her freedom. Both soon find themselves fighting for their lives and those whom they love.

"City On Fire" is a gripping read, bringing to life the historical city of Pompeii in such a vivid way that I felt like I was watching the scenes play across my mind. It was chilling to observe the Roman customs, of a people devoted to worshipping false gods while satisfying every sort of lust imaginable. The characters of Ariella and Cato are both utterly fascinating, Cato as he encounters corruption and Ariella as she struggles to survive in a harsh world. Their journey to discover the truth of Jesus is a beautiful one to observe, and I marvelled at Higley's ability to write a suspenseful novel that also provides a clear gospel message. The novel is well-written and moves along very well, with nary a dull moment to be found. The reader may have to suspend their belief somewhat at the idea of a young woman being able to truly disguise her gender among 100 male gladiators. But the story itself is simply absorbing, and the final chapters had me racing through the pages as the author brings to life the eruption of Vesuvius and the end of Pompeii.

I thoroughly enjoyed "City on Fire", and continue to consider Higley to be one of the best historical authors in the Christian marketplace. I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "City on Fire: A Novel of Pomeii"- Book Review, October 31, 2013
Tracy Higley transported me back in time to the city of Pompeii, to a time that I did not know much about. There was enough description that helped me get a picture of what Pompeii was like before, during, and after it's end.

However, I did not fall in love with the story. I had a hard time getting into it, and there was quite a bit of immoral practices mentioned, or hinted at , that I did not care for. While I suppose that this stuff probably did happen, I wasn't expecting there to be as much as there was in the book before I started it. It lowered my fondness for the tale.

Other than that stuff, the story was somewhat interesting- gladiator fighting, some romance(there really wasn't an overload of romance in the whole story), and Higley even made the part of Ariella, a female, being a gladiator realistic.

I give "City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii" by Tracy L. Higley a rating of three. I do not recommend this for young readers(eighteen and under) due to some of the immoral things mentioned in the story.

With thanks to BookSneeze for a free e book copy of this story in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreams on Fire (alternate title idea), August 5, 2014
By 
Cheryl Harris (Ashland, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
I would not have believed that I could have suspended disbelief for a female gladiator, but Tracy Higley knows how to weave a spell. I shouldn't talk about it as magic; having read many of her books, I know her as a skilled author who does her research about history. More importantly, however, she understands the human heart. She doesn't shy away from the depths of human depravity (and in this novel they go pretty deep!) but she doesn't get crude and disgusting about it either. While clearly writing about Christians, she skillfully avoids the "Christianese" that has arisen in the church community.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but definitely geared more for adults, October 28, 2013
This review is from: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
Ariella is a young girl who has witnessed the destruction and demise of her family. As she tries to flee the war torn land she is taken captive and sold into slavery. Nine years passes by and Ariella seizes the opportunity for escape--cutting her hair and masquerading as a young man she joins the gladiators.

When her troupe finds themselves in Pompeii it becomes increasingly difficult to conceal her true identity. An older Jewish man who is serving as a slave guesses her predicament and befriends her. He begins to share the gospel with her and promises to pray for her safety.

After time she meets Cato; a young man who is determined to stand for right and fight against the evil that plague the city of Pompeii. Cato finds out about her predicament and desires to help her but he is torn and doesn't know how to help. Especially since Ari views him and all other romans as bloodthirsty killers.

Cato however turns his life over to Christ; despite the threat of death or severe punishment for aligning himself with fellow Christians. This action is the turning point in the story. In the midst of all of this terror there is finally a thin thread of hope--though, Ari is not yet aware and as true life, you only come to the morning through the shadows!
This book had some seriously dark content and I would suggest it for a more mature audience. The vile state of man in ancient Pompeii, especially by Christian standards was very depraved; if not reprobated! Details were not explicit but some may still find the debauchery hard to digest. However, I feel that revealing such depravity was historically accurate and essential to the telling of this tale.

Beautifully written and intriguing; I strongly suggest this book to readers who are fans of Historical fiction. I've never been disappointed in any Higley book but I think this is one of her best.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <[...]> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bringing history to life, October 25, 2013
There's something exciting about picking up a Tracy Higley book. As her website suggests, a good book is almost the same as time traveling! What a gift Tracy has for making history come alive.

"City on Fire" is the story of Ariella, a Jewish slave in Rome whose spirit has grown dim under the harsh hand of her master. One dark night she manages to escape and, disguising herself as a boy, begins training to be a gladiator. The troupe is soon leaving for Pompeii, putting further distance between her and years of bad memories.

New in Pompeii is Quintus Portius Cato, a young politician whose failed career in Rome has left him eager for a fresh start in a new place with a new business. The political circuit is the last thing he wants to think about, but he is soon sought out by those under the oppression of Maius, an unethical local ruler who has the whole city in his grasp. No one is brave enough to run against him in the upcoming election. Cato cannot bear to see injustice, and when Maius's evil gaze turns in the direction of his family, Cato decides he must stand and fight.

Ariella is beginning to feel alive with her training as a fighter. When her true identity is discovered by Portius Cato, she fears his attention is merely a step in using her for his own gains. Will he ruin her plans to make a name and free herself from the chains she has known so long?

As the story unfolds, the volcano Vesuvius churns nearby. We know from history what its eruption will do to this city on the sea. Who will escape the destruction, and who will be caught in its grip?

My favorite part of the story was seeing Higley's portrayal of the first century church. I loved how well she showed that they were a family, and their Christian love crossed all social barriers. Slaves were as welcome as the wealthy. It was also special to see some minor characters again, whom I had first met in another Higley book. I must note that due to the nature of the culture in which this story is set, this isn't a tale I would recommend for young readers. Higley handles it tastefully, but she doesn't pretend it wasn't there. For discerning readers who love historical fiction, you cannot go wrong with Tracy Higley. I am a huge fan!

I received the book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched Historical Romance, October 25, 2013
Ariella has witnessed the destruction of her beloved Jerusalem, the loss of her family, and death of her people. Now a runaway slave, she disguises herself as a male gladiator, fighting for the hope of winning the crowd and her freedom. Wealthy politician Portius Cato, is also running away in a sense-he has left Rome and the political sphere hoping to live a peaceable life in Pompeii as a winegrower, but is immediately caught up in politics as he begins to fight against social injustice and the personal affronts to his family. Cato and Ariella's paths cross as they separately encounter a group of Christians, and each learn to surrender their individual challenges and stubbornness for a greater hope and purpose.

This is the third of Higley's books that I have read, and while they were all good, I enjoyed this one best. I enjoyed the characters' personalities, the suspense of knowing that Mt. Vesuvius would erupt at some point in the midst of their plans, and the historical setting of Pompeii, which has always interested me. I connected with Ariella's strength, Cato's sense of justice, and the Roman world, which is not far off from our own.

The author also has a very cool website with photos of her journey through Pompeii and the surrounding areas during her research, details about the writing of the book, and all sorts of other things. I love that Higley puts so much thought into portraying the historical elements of the story accurately, and enjoy following her on that adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the history of Pompeii, September 22, 2013
From the publisher:

In the coastal town of Pompeii, a new gladiator prepares to fight. But this gladiator hides a deadly secret: she's a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella, disguised as a young boy. A savvy fighter, Ariella determines to triumph in the arena, knowing her life will be forfeit should anyone uncover the truth.

Cato, a wealthy politician, moved to Pompeii after tiring of the corruption in Rome. But he soon learns that Pompeii is just as corrupt, and if he doesn't play the game, his family could pay the price. Determined to bring about justice for the citizens of Pompeii, Cato searches for allies. But what he discovers instead is a confounding group of Christians . . . and a young female gladiator whose fame is growing daily.

Political unrest reaches a boiling point as Christians are jailed and executed, and the mountain in the distance threatens to destroy the city with its river of fire. Cato and Ariella must act quickly and courageously to save their loved ones before all is lost.

___________

Tracy Higley writes very strong and somewhat modern women characters. If you enjoy women who know what they wants and don't let themselves be pushed around by society then you will enjoy reading her books.

Ariella is one of those strong characters, and while her situation and story is less believable than some would enjoy, others may find her an enjoyable character.

Cato, for me was the more believable character. His actions, and even his coming to the Christian walk was something that made sense as you could see his journey over the years even before this story started.

I chose this book because I enjoy historical fiction and wanted to know more about Pompeii. Readers will enjoy the historical work that Higley has done for this book. At her website there are pictures and a blog/journal where you can see Pompeii and her travels. [...] After reading the book, you will definitely want to see real pictures of the place.

I received this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living the nightmare, August 19, 2014
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This review is from: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
This author makes the story of Pompeii come alive for the reader. it was much more satisfying than the museum display in Los Angeles
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really Enjoyed it, June 27, 2014
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Tracy did a great job of researching the history of Pompeii and the time period. It had some predictable moments, but she also threw in a few curve balls. I highly recommend it, if you are fascinated with this time period. Good Job Tracy. I will be reading more of your books
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City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
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