Saturday, 30 October 2010

Halloween 2010 - some runic magic occuring in the kitchen

HALLOWEEN 2010

Now firstly I would like to say this, there is actually something viking norse mythology related to Halloween. The end of October is meant to mark not only the onset of winter and the long dark, stormy days and nights ahead but also when Odin, his godly family and his loyal valkyries set forth from Asgard each night to keep at bay the creatures for darkness who come out into the world as it gets darker. 
So if you're lucky enough to experience a heavy rain storm this winter don't feel scared at the howling winds, it's just the Valkyries shrieking with battle joy as they hunt down fel beasts, not the crashing thunder and Thor has probably just hit something dead with his might hammer Mjollnir.

This Halloween has seen me take my first steps into using flour in more than just pancakes and trying to control an electric whisk for the first time. It was a suprisingly none messy experience but a very creative one.

I decided to make some buns for the first time and decorate them to celebrate Halloween. And to show that I'm not entirely commercialised I've gone against the design on the ready to bake mix packet and created my own rune stone buns as well as a few halloween ones for my boyfriend.

Can you gues what the runes say?

"SOUL CHASER"

So may you all have a spook free Halloween, whether your hosting a fancy dress party or trick n treating with your children.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A third author takes his place amongst the few who write superb Norse Fantasy - Special Becky Bookworm Book review: Wolfsangel by M D Lachlan

WolfsangelWolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


MD Lachlan has become one of only three authors I can name who have magically blended the historical world of vikings with that of norse mythology. He now joins the ranks of my favourite norse fantasy authors being Betsy Tobin with her fantastic Ice Land and Joanne Harris with Runemarks.

He grasps the reader by the hand in a firm yet gentle grip of storytelling that enchants the reader as much as the characters of Vali, Fealig and Adilsa are bound by fates, magic and the gods of war and mischief.
It is a norse saga of kings, princes, beserkers, fair maidens, long ship battles, raids, kidnap, sorcery, runes, witches and of course wolves. Yet it is as fine a saga tale as Shakespeares with all its twists, turns, plots, subplots, mysteries and magical mayhem.

The story is so full of suprises both exciting and shocking that nothing is ever as certain as it appears until you reach the final page and even then MD Lachlan leaves a nice twist which will be the build up to his next book.

It is as it says no the front cover a DEFINITE MUST READ for all fans of VIKINGS and NORSE MYTHOLOGY. You won't be disappointed and you'll be left hungering for more like the wolves of chaos in the story.

If I could give this book 10 stars I would. It is that goood!



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Monday, 18 October 2010

Me and my valkyries will be making a literary appearance in order to celebrate the Huddersfield Authors Circle's 75 years!

Huddersfield Author's Circle - October 28

Budding authors and those who enjoy poetry and prose are invited to join in the celebrations of one of the oldest running writer’s circles in the UK, the Huddersfield Author’s Circle, on Thursday October 28 from 5-7pm.
The Huddersfield Author’s Circle will be celebrating with an evening of poetry and prose at Huddersfield Library, as well as launching a competition which will be open ‘world wide.’
  
***Featuring a performance by me, Rebecca Wilson, reading a specially selected short story or extract from my many Valkyrie tales of adventure in the norse afterlife. I will be proudly displaying my handmade Valkyrie Soul Chaser T-shirt so if you do come along, spot the t-shirt and you've found me! ***

Guests will have the chance to ask about the group and learn how to join. Copies of poetry books and novels written by members of the group will be available to buy during the evening.

Refreshments will also be provided.

Huddersfield Library, Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield. FREE, no need to book!

This is going to be a fantastic evening full of poetry and great tales from current members of the Circle hoping to entire fresh blood and raw talent into our collective group. And even if you're not keen on writing groups why not come along, share some company with friendly writers and learn about our great Creative Writing competition we've organised to celebrate the Circle's existence for three quarters of a century!

So please do spread the word about this great event - all writers of any ability or age are welcome. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Famous Favourite Author Meeting No: 3 in 2010 - An evening with Bernard Cornwell at Manchester Literature Festival

Me  and my No:1 Favourite Viking Historical Author - BERNARD CORNWELL!

This delightful meeting occured at 'An evening with' event as part of the Manchester Literature Festival this year. I only heard about his mighty appearence thanks to the information sharing of Twitter. And so of course I had to book tickets asap in order to meet and thank the guy who truly captured my heart and mind on the subject of Vikings.
I only ever came across his Uhtred Anglo-Saxon/Viking series many years ago when I was watching an evening long re-run of the BBC documentary Blood of the Vikings on what used to be known as the History Channel. In between all the usual adverts was a book advert displaying his first Uhtred book 'The Last Kingdom'. Of course I got it and was hooked! He created such a fantastically amazing world and so began my long lover affair with any historical fiction that featured Vikings. Which later introduced me to Tim Severin's Viking trilogy, Robert Low's Oathsworn series (whom I also saw at my first Huddersfield Literature Festival event - didn't get my book signed though silly me) and my newest favourite Giles Kristian with his Raven trilogy.
The over all evening with Bernard was very exciting even though I never got to ask him a question my hand was pounding hard with excitement and nerves as I kept going over in my heard all the questions I wanted to ask. Sadly no one spotted my hand waving frantically in the air but I did get some answers when others asked similar questions.
Turns out the the very character of Uhtred is closely and personally linked to Bernard who it turns out didn't meet his true biological father until the age of 57 (didn't know he had been adopted) and apparently it is from that side of the family that a family tree is shown to have relatives going back to being near enough Lords of Mercia at the time the story is set.
He also answered a suprising number of questions on writing - first he said "always write your story the way you want and the way that suits the story best. If a creative writing tutor says there are rules to writing don't pay him, he's already duped you. Always write the story you want to read first. Writing is a solitary process, there is only ever you doing it when you begin so just do what you think is right, not what other people tell you what they think is right"
Which we all agreed with and this was in response from an american asking whether's its ever ok to write in first person as his writing tutor has told him first person stories never make it. Bernard added "I would simply say, call me Ishmail, Moby Dick was written in first person and it's still a classic literature success. It's always ok to write in first person if you feel it suits the story you're trying to write."
There were many questions and many long and often hilarious answers to them but these two snippets that truly highlighted what a great and understanding guy he is.
When it came to getting my book signed I immediatly wished I had brougth my entire Uhtred series as there quite a few with nice piles of his collection. But he made up for it when he said "I like your t-shirt"  I quickly gabbled out that I had made it, he said "I thought you might have done." Which I wasn't sure if that was a good remark or not so I mumbled "It's a valkyrie from my own writing." At that point we posed for a photo and my fifteen seconds of famous company was over.
It was a fantastic night and I went home on a high. Meeting him has only further made me feel guilty for not writing Soul Chaser as much as I should be doing so I'm going to try really hard to get back into the habit of doing 1k in words at least a day and then who knows I might actually hit the half way point by christmas.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

A weekend not to be missed in Malton, North Yorkshire - My hometown's 1st Literature Festival 22-24th October 2010

Literature Festival

Programme
An Introduction To The Malton
Literature Festival
It gives us great pleasure to introduce the first Malton Literature Festival. Over the course of three days in October, we will be throwing open the doors of Malton and Norton to a host of writers, playwrights, poets, lyricists and lovers of the spoken and written word. We have readings, performances and workshops from established authors and newcomers to the literary scene. There's storytelling for families, a Dickens extravaganza for those who love the classics, an irreverent musical re-imagining of the Faust legend, and even an erotic poetry night for that frisson of something seductive and sexy.
Workshops of all kinds will be taking place for those who want to give their creativity a boost. Experienced workshop leaders will be bringing the craft of poetry and storytelling alive for first-time writers and seasoned enthusiasts alike. Whether it's expressing words through dance or writing your own rom-com, there'll be something for you!
We're especially proud to be hosting the Malton and Norton Town Crier Competition and to welcome contestants in our first ever Open Creative Writing Competitions. The winning writers' work will be showcased at our closing event on the afternoon of Sunday 24th at the King's Head. Our guest judge, award winning local poet Andy Humphrey, will be performing some of his own work there too.
What makes Malton unique among the regional literature festivals is the wholehearted support we've received from local businesses. We would like to thank all those hosts who have provided venues, ambience, and some exceptional food and drink with premium local produce to the fore. Above all, thank you for your enthusiasm. The Festival really couldn't happen without you!
Zoe Plummer. Wendy Loveday. Nick Thompson. Gemma Magson. Sarah Lally Marley. David Jackson (Town Crier Contest).
Friday 22nd October
  • 10am – 4pm Dickens’ Open Day at Scrooge’s Office
  • 7pm Dinner at Hope Central with Andy Seed as Guest Speaker. Tickets £5 inc. dinner.
  • 7pm-8pm Festival Launch with Music by Rob Nightingale - Upstairs in The Kings Head.
  • 8.30pm Erotic Poetry Road Show – Upstairs in The Kings Head. Tickets £5 inc. a drink.
Book Fair in the Milton Rooms (Fitzwilliam Rooms) 10am -4pm
Exhibition of Bibles Through The Ages – Baptist Church
An Exhibition Celebrating the Work of Herbert Read, Local Poet,
Writer, Academic & Anarchist. Malton Library.
Saturday 23rd October
  • 10am-3pm Dickens’ Open Day at Scrooge’s Office
  • 10am-4pm Contest for Loyal Company of Town Crier Members – Norton (am) & Malton (pm), incorporating a Junior Town Crier Contest open to all under 16s.
  • 10.30am Miles Caine & Oz Hardwick in Norton Library – Music & Prose for a Teenage Audience
  • 10am-12pm Poetry Workshop with Alan & Rose, Poets In Residence, in Ambiente. Tickets £7 inc. light lunch at 12.15pm*
  • 10.30am-11.30am Poetry & Performance for 7-11 year olds. Hope Central. Tickets £1.
  • 11am-12pm Musical Children’s Story Telling by Pied Piper in Malton Library.
  • 12pm-1pm Readings from African Children’s Stories - Insignia
  • 12.30pm Creative Writing Workshop & Reading by Kate Lock in Malton Library.
  • 1pm – 3pm Performance Workshop with Alan & Rose, Poets In Residence, in Ambiente. Tickets £7 inc. light lunch at 12.15pm*
  • 2pm-3pm WW1 Poetry & Open Mic Session with David Hughes. Bar 13. Tickets £2 inc. tea & biscuits.
  • 2.30pm Cooking Up A Storm with Sophie Legard. Cookery Demonstration & Foodie Literature in Malton Relish.
  • 3pm -5pm. Drop In Centre – Book Collecting. Tips on building up a book collection & book valuation with Richard Todd. Ambiente.
  • 3pm ‘Inspiration’ – Learn about music, moments & methods that have stimulated the writings of Harriet Vyner with readings from Groovy Bob performed by Quadrophenia star Garry Cooper in Duckett & Jeffreys.
  • 3pm Performing with Confidence with Jude Simpson. Malton Tourist Information Centre. Tickets £5.
  • 3pm Creative Writing Workshop with Ruth Hardy. Next Steps, Norton. Tickets £5 inc. tea & scones.
  • 5pm-6pm – Faust The Musical in Suddaby’s Festival Hall. Tickets £5 inc. a drink.
  • 7pm Dinner with Jude Simpson in Hope Central. Ticket £5 inc. dinner.
Book Signings in Hoppers including Emma Martin, Charlie Charters & Suzanne Marshall Book Fair in the Milton Rooms (Fitzwilliam Rooms) 10am -4pm An Exhibition Celebrating the Work of Herbert Read, Local Poet, Writer, Academic & Anarchist. Malton Library
*Tickets for both workshops are available for the reduced price of £10.
Sunday 24th October
  • 9.30am -1pm Rural Arts – Expressing Words Through Dance. Workshops for 3-6yrs (9.30am -11am) & 7-11yrs (11.30am-1pm)
  • 10am – 4pm Dickens’ Open Day at Scrooge’s Office
  • 11am Brunch with Nick David in Ambiente. Be entertained by Flamenco guitar & readings from Nick’s latest book – Feria. Tickets £6 inc. brunch.
  • 12 -4pm Drop In Centre - Writing & Publishing Your Own Book – Christine Bulmer & Paul Andrews. Ambiente
  • 12-4pm Drop In Centre – Book Collecting. Tips on building up a book collection & book valuation with Richard Todd. Ambiente.
  • 12 -1.30pm or 2.30-4pm Dickensian Lunch with an Abridged Performance of A Christmas Carol. The Counting House CafĂ©. Tickets £7.50 inc. food & drink
  • 1pm-3pm Lyric Writing Workshop with Sharon from Two – Upstairs at The Kings Head. Tickets £5 inc. a drink.
  • 1pm-3pm Allie Spencer. Readings & Romantic Comedy Workshop. Tuis. Tickets £5 inc. a Cosmo Cocktail
  • 2pm Creative Writing Workshop with Ruth Hardy. Next Steps, Norton. Tickets £5 inc. tea & scones
  • 2pm ‘From Lives to Literature’ – The principles of researching & writing biographies based around Harriet Vyner’s Groovy Bob & her biography of Jools Holland – Bare Faced Lies. Duckett & Jeffreys.
  • 2.30pm-3.30pm Whales & Snails & Windmill Sails. Stories of young eco heros from around the world for adults & children of all ages read by Nettlefoot Kate. Tickets £4/adult & £2.50/child inc. a drink & biscuits.
  • 2.30pm-4pm Readings & Talks by The Herbert Read of Ryedale Group. Malton Library
  • 3pm Romcom readings from Jane Lovering. Readings & Chocolate Afternoon Tea. The Hidden Monkey. Tickets £5 including afternoon tea.
  • 3pm Andrew McMillan – Unpretentious, engaging & moving poetry from one of Britain’s risng stars. Wills Bar. Tickets £5 inc. a drink.
  • 4pm – The Grand Finale Event. Prize Giving & Performances by The Exhibitionists, Andy Humphrey & The Scarborough Poets Group followed by an open mic session for all. – Upstairs in The Kings Head
  • 4.30pm What The Dickens – The Milton Rooms. Tickets £8 including afternoon tea. Click here for poster and more information.
  • 8pm “Cold Blood, Cold Heart” – From Book to Play – A Gothic Horror Farce – with the audience as participants! The Milton Rooms (in The Fitzwilliam Bar). Tickets £5 inc. a drink.
Herbert Read Exhibition & Readings. Malton Library. For more information on Herbert Read, click here.
Book Fair in the Milton Rooms (Fitzwilliam Rooms) 10am -4pm
Exhibition of Bibles Through The Ages – Baptist Church
An Exhibition Celebrating the Work of Herbert Read, Local Poet,
Writer, Academic & Anarchist. Malton Library

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Becky Bookworm Book Review - The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

The Savage GardenThe Savage Garden by Mark Mills

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The majority of the plot is a mysterious garden in Tuscany which a young English student is sent over to investigate for a potential thesis at university. It almost reads a bit like a mini mystery of symbols like a David Langdon adventure of Dan Brown style. Yet it is interrupted occasionally by the history of world war two and the influence of warfare and german soldiers on the family and household of Villa Docci. Simmering beneath the mystery of the garden is the mystery of the top floor of the villa which was sealed shut and has been since the death of a son from German occupying soldiers many years ago. It is this that turns out to be the most crucial mystery by the end although it doesn't take presidence until the garden mystery is solved just over half way through the book.
Over all the plot is smooth despite the jump between mysteries and the range of characters involved in each plot but you definitely grow to like and admire the three main characters which for me are Signora Docci, Antonella and Andrew Strickland. Yet at the end the mysteries now solved make the story seem a bit dry as there is no hint at all what the characters plans are next or if they all have a happy ending.



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Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Business of Life and Death - a new and improved Valkyrie short story

***Please note this short story is a mix of two different short stories involving the same characters, same setting but a different plot. So if you have read/reviewed my first short story titled 'The Old Ways Never Die' then the first half is more or less the same with a few more additions but it is the second half which is different to the aforementioned short story. On the whole this an entirely original version so please do not think you will be reading the same thing. Thank you. ***

The Business of Life and Death

My work took me to the old Viking city of the north, York. I had been there many times before and each time I always struggled to decide whether it was better or worse. I sipped my hot cappuccino in Starbucks and crossed off another name on my quota. I heard the radio in the corner announce that a serious car crash had occurred on the A64, east of York, and the road would be closed for at least four hours. I wondered which of my colleagues had performed well this time.
    I gazed out through the open door and into the street. I observed tourists, teenagers and families, who passed by going left, carried no bags but the necessaries. The rest of the crowd, going right, held several bags from a variety of stores. York was always good at selling. It was a renowned trading centre in the old days and I am pleased it still is.
    A shadow came over me as Kate joined me for our first coffee break of the day. A silver torque bracelet, the trade mark of our group, dangled around her slender right wrist. She took off her large, yet oddly stylish hat, as she sat down, revealing her always shimmering corn blonde hair.
    “Just like the weather back home isn’t it?” She placed hat and bag under the table. She noticed my quota out before me and clearly struggled with the temptation to look closer. Her eyes switching from me and the list until she sat down and finally met my gaze.
    “It is indeed. How many have you got left to visit today?” I always found it funny at how competitive we all were, to finish our work and return home first. In our line of business we had to be competitive, otherwise the few clients we can catch would be absorbed into the massive giant corporations we constantly struggle against.
    “Have about, ten, maybe eight left. How about you?”
    “Same, more or less. Would you like a coffee?” My hand already reaching into my bag for my purse and also putting my quota away.
    “Oh no thanks, Jenny, perhaps once today is done. I don’t feel I’ve worked hard enough for one yet.” She fiddled with the drinks menu, looking around the coffee shop and watching the other customers’ que up for their hit of hot caffeine or sweet overdose of sugar from the cakes and pastries.
    The radio’s voice just about dominating the mix of conversations informed any who were listening about the sixth soldier to die in Iraq in as many days.
    “I can’t believe the Boss chose Alison and Joanne to go to Iraq, of all places.” She complained suddenly to my surprise, her hands folding the menu into even more tighter squares.
    “Are you saying you would have liked to go there?” This was the first sign of any interest in the jobs in Iraq she had shown, at least before me.
    She looked at me with a small, sheepish smile. “Well, it would be nice to do a job abroad for a change. I’m getting bored of Europe that’s all. I’ve been working this area for too long.”
    “You should have nominated yourself if you’re that bored of this place.”   
“So, where is your next visit of the day?” She opted to change the subject avoiding my rather accurate comment, refusing to blame anyone or anything but herself for this missed opportunity. I let her do so with a sly smirk.
    “The hospital.”
    “Great, I have a child to visit there as well.” It would mean one more child to add to her vast flock of orphans that she brings to our fold.
    I glanced through the windows, turning in my chair so I could see the now familiar towers of York Minster. My mind changed focus, from the present to the past. I could remember when the Minster’s great towers didn’t dominate the sky. Even when Clifford’s Tower was made of wood.
Landmarks, structures and even town names always reminded me about how much time has truly passed. In each case I remember how I came to be in the position I am now, and all I’ve done since. All the women on the team, like me, live a torn existence between what was, what is and what can never be.
“That night in March, I think it was, when all those Jews were trapped inside and the tower was set alight. That was my first job with you and the girls.” My voice became distant as memories drifted around me. I found my gaze had returned to my half empty cappuccino. I didn’t see the warm liquid but all the faces of those I had saved and lost, swirling in the froth and rising in the steam.
    “We had a challenge that night. What with the children and women crying and the men, well they weren’t being much help to anyone.”
    “Oh Kate, have you forgotten how you felt when you discovered the truth?”
    She paused, I could see the answer in her eyes. The endless battle to control the memories, the sights, the sounds, the faces, the emotions. She couldn’t have forgotten, no one ever does. The truth is the truth, unavoidable and undeniable. It is now a part of us we can never escape nor forget.
“OK, I admit it; if you weren’t there we wouldn’t have been able to escort so many to Valhalla safely. It was unfortunate that we had to lose so many of the men, but Hel must always claim some, we can never save everyone. Besides it’s not our fault that the powers that be took so long arguing over who should be allocated where. Lucky for them we don’t turn away suicides. We weren’t the Angels they were all hoping for but, after more than a century in purgatory they wanted peace with anyone.”
I chose to allow this change of subject. She was my elder in more ways than would appear in this light of day. She has seen and witnessed far greater change in the world than I had during my time with the team. I owed her a lot of respect for the way she aided my own conversion to this new life.
    “Our methods have changed a lot since then. Now we have to copy what the Angels do. It is not the most effective way of selecting worthy warriors.”
    “I agree. Things worked better the way they used to be. I miss the old days when it was all decided by the way you died, not by the way you lived. If you died bravely or by the sword you go up, if you die of old age or illness you go down. It was so much simpler back then.” She sighed, finally releasing the bent and worn menu to slowly unfold from the creases Kate had inflicted upon it.
The Bitfrost test is a method we now use to determine what afterlife a soul deserves. It is a method my Elders hate using but the traditional methods can only ever be applied in areas of war and civil conflict. I realised then that was the reason why Kate was jealous of Alice and Joanne. She missed the old days and its old ways. To go to Iraq would be to relive their glorious memories of centuries gone by. To perform their role in life the way they were mean tot, not the way human development and technological advances have forced them to. So many things had been twisted besides our method of selecting clients in order to survive such a secular world that the twentieth century was creating. We all feared the day where our original values would be so diluted that our society would be barely recognisable, to the strong, proud and wealthy society we were over ten centuries ago. As Kate once described to me, we were a small pebble in the river of time, trying not to be swept away with the ever changing current, struggling for our values not to be worn away into the dust of the river bed.
She glanced at her watch. “Anyway, as much as I would enjoy chatting all day, we have still got work to do.”
    “Ok, let’s go.”
With that we left Starbucks and made our way through the throbbing streets towards the York District hospital.

At the York District hospital car park we walked to a shaded corner away from curious eyes. Upon Kate’s nod we both took out a handful of crushed leaves from our sacred Ash tree. Once we had a good handful we blew them into the air. The fragments immediately glided out in a large radius on a powerful and silent wind. We had evoked the spiritual plane of the earth around us. Only spiritual beings, such as ourselves and those that have passed from the physical plane into this would exist, everything else became a background of statues. We both unfolded our bags into our luscious white swan feather cloaks. The contents of which were kept in special pockets so in either form nothing was lost. We strapped around our waists a leather belt with several sheathed daggers hanging from it. Every job has its dangers.
    “Mine is on the second floor, where is yours?” Kate asked after checking her own quota.
    “On the fourth floor. Wait for me here when you are done, I don’t know how long I am going to be with this one.”
    With a final nod to each other we strode back round the corner, across the car park and into the building. No one gave us a glance as we walked around the motionless people inside.
***
I found the man I sought in a room at the far end of the ward. He lay still in his bed, his drips and monitor leads hung loose on the floor. The woman who sat beside him was milk white with red eyes from tears.
    “Mr. Garret?” I said softly, sitting at the end of his bed, watching his eyes flutter open.
    “Huh? Yes?” He became wary once he noticed me. “Who are you? What do you want?”
    “There’s, no easy way of saying this, Mr. Garret, but you have, just died.” It was inevitable that he wouldn’t believe me. After all, a woman in a white feathered cloak, against a skirt and blouse, and holding a tall spear, promote the signs of a deluded mind.  “Welcome to the next life!”
    “Preposterous! I’m sat here talking to you aren’t I? Tell her Laura, you can see I’m quite alive can’t you?” He turned to the pale faced woman sat beside him. She didn’t blink. She didn’t say a word.
    “If you are alive, give your daughter a hug. Prove me wrong.” The only way for the deceased to believe me was if they discovered it the hard way.
    He shot me an angry glare and got out of his bed, unaware yet that his pain had vanished and leaned in towards his daughter. He passed straight through her and her chair, landing on all fours on the floor. Panic in his eyes, his breath quickening with fear, disbelief freezing his senses. I stepped towards him and offered him my hand.
    “It’s ok, you can touch me. You can even hit me if it makes you feel any better.”
    “But how? Why? I...I...was sleeping...only sleeping...I felt so tired...I...”
    “I know it’s hard to accept. I went through the same thing. Now can I talk to you about what happens next?”
    “Next?” The puzzlement and possible curiosity seemed to calm him down a bit as I walked him slowly towards the window.
    “Yes, the small matter of life after death.”
    “Oh, I never really believed in that kind of thing.” He reflected quite openly.
    “Yes, I know that Mr. Garret. Now, as you are not a follower of any faith for that matter, my Boss has decided to lay claim on your soul.”
    “Your boss?”
    “Yes, the deity I work for.”
    “Are you an Angel?”
    I laughed. “My job is similar to that of Angels but I am not one of them. My Boss is of an older faith. He has many names but you may refer to him as Odin. His followers once ruled this place when it was known as Jorvik. You will know them as Vikings.” We stopped at the window. “Before you begin your afterlife there is a test you must do first.”
    “Am I being judged?”
“In a way, it tests the person you have become, not the way you lived. We don’t judge everyone by their mistakes, only by the way they atone for them.” I gave a comforting smile, opening the window that looked out across a still and silent city. I pointed my spear downwards and engraved runes onto the floor with its silver tip. A rainbow bridge appeared linking our window to the ground below.
    “What do I have to do?” he asked, staring suspiciously at my runes and the rainbow.
    “You must simply walk along this bridge. If you are worthy you will reach the other end and live happily in Asgard, if not, well....”
    He knew what my silence meant. Even in death he knew that there was always a deep, dark and dangerous place to any heavenly abode. “Will it hold me?” he asked, shaking as I urged him forward.
    “It’s perfectly safe. Trust me, that’s it... steady ...see its fine.” Watching him stand for the first time on his own upon the colours. “Now face forward and walk, reach the end and all will be well. I hope to see you at the other side.”
    He was doing well at first, five steps in and it seemed he might make it, but then the true test of his soul began. Visions of those he had wronged in life appeared before him asking for answers, explanations and apologies. All asking for one thing before he departed. David was too set on self preservation to care about appeasing these spirits. He waved them away, pushed past their pleading faces and ignored their words. Then he came face to face with the vision of his wife. It certainly made him pause. Her lips moved silently with her spiritual plea to him and whatever she said he didn’t like.
    “It wasn’t exactly stealing Margery.” He mumbled thrusting his hands into his hospital gown pockets. “It paid for your new car didn’t it?”
    The vision of Margery paled and began to sob and yell at him.
    “Yes, yes I should have told you the bank was a bit tight but didn’t want you to worry. And my Mum was never going to use all she had whilst in a care home now was she? I mean, she had dementia Margery, she wasn’t aware of anything anymore.”
    His wife asked him something.
    “No, we won’t get done by the police, whose going to report us? I’m the person who has legal rights to sign over her money. If I didn’t do it then who knows what mess my Mum would get into. We might find out she has signed away her savings to some scam if I didn’t take control of it all.” He stepped a bit closer to his wife. “Look, I know it may seem what I’ve done is morally wrong but the way I see it is this. My Mum would want us to use her money to make us happy. We’d get it all when she passes on anyway.”
    At that remark the vision of Margery sobbed even harder, turning her back on her deceased husband.
    “Oh, Margery, don’t get so upset. It was only a few grand. Nothing more. I haven’t touched it for the past few months.”
    The vision of Margery spun back round on him with an angry glare and spat something at him.
    “What about the golf weekend? No, no that was paid for as a collective, I and the lads all chipped in for that. None of Mum’s money funded it at all, Margery.”
    That seemed to appease the vision a bit.
    “Come now, Margery, can we get past this if I promise not to touch Mum’s account again?”
    The vision made another claim on him.
    “The children? Yes, I guess we can save the lot for them, it would please Mum to help fund their education and the grandchildren. And yes, we have already had our fair share but I wouldn’t say I’ve robbed her before she’s in the grave. Now can you please forgive me? I am sorry that you had to find out this way.”
    The vision of Margery gave him a smile and opened her arms for a hug. Upon their embrace all the spirits vanished, leaving Mr. Garret alone on the rainbow bridge.
    I gathered my cloak and glided down to join him.
    “Success Mr. Garrett, you have proved yourself worthy.”
    “That was all a test? Does Margery truly know what I did?” The runic magic of the test fading from this vision, awakening him to the truth of the scene.
    “No, but the scenario had to take place to allow you to acknowledge what you had done and accept the responsibility of betraying both your Mum and your wife’s trust.”
    “What? So that was all unreal? That wasn’t really Margery?”
    “It was her essence…”
    “So I’m off the hook. She doesn’t know.” He smiled with visible relief.
    “Oh Mr. Garret that isn’t how you’re meant to react to this experience. You’re meant to join us enlightened, not relieved at avoiding such an opportunity for understanding.”
    “How enlightened can I get? I’m dead and I discover there are more than Angels in this world.” His sarcasm and frustration at the test revealing his true qualities.
    I sighed wearily, jumping up to hover a few feet above him and the bridge. “And now there are a lot more than Angels after your soul Mr. Garret. I must say I’m not disappointed, your life credentials didn’t bode well for you.”
    “Huh? What do you mean after my soul? Thought I was going somewhere with you. I passed didn’t I?” Panic trembled his voice as he stumbled around beneath me.
    “You were until a minute ago. You clearly didn’t genuinely accept the fact that you betrayed a loved one’s trust. Goodbye Mr. Garret, it’s been nice doing business with you.”
    The rainbow bridge had begun to shake, cracks fracturing the colours beneath his feet. A vivid red light glowed through the cracks as they crumbled away and opened up. Mr. Garret tried his best by running back up the bridge to the Hospital floor but within a few steps that end was already receding towards him in pieces. He turned to go the opposite way but that was also falling towards him. Screams began to echo from the blotch of magma red pulsating on the piece he was left standing on.
    “Wait! Please! Help me? I don’t deserve this! I want to live!”
    “The afterlife has no place for those that deceive. No matter the reason.” I replied to him just before he fell into the gathering abyss and the rainbow bridge promptly faded in shattered pieces.
    “Awwwww no demons in the show!” A voice called up from far beneath me. It was Kate, leaning against a tree in the odd piece of vegetation in the large car park surrounding the hospital building.
    I laughed as I flew down to join her. “No, not this time, he wasn’t that bad but he had the potential to be.”
    “What did he do?”
    “Not accept when he did wrong. He’d rather live whatever life he can get without ever confessing up to it. Even to himself.”
    “He should count himself lucky he’s only going to be a snack for Hel then. I hear the Angels cut out liar’s tongues and make them pronounce ‘Thou Shalt Not Lie’ until the Apocalypse.”
    “Who have you got to visit next?”  I asked shrugging away that gruesome image of eternal punishment.
    She took out her list from her bag. “A Lieutenant Matthews, a World War Two veteran.”
    “He’ll get the special treatment then?”
    “Yep, the whole silver jar and youth restoration treatment. I might even throw in an old flame to escort him over the bridge if he tells us a good battle story.”
    “Can I join you?”
    “Sure. But you have others to visit?”
    “Yeah, but I enjoy a good story as much as you. Besides, you know as well as I, a Valkyries work is never done.”

The End

Friday, 8 October 2010

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine - Obsessively Good

Daughters of FireDaughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is about the great power that is obsession in love, hatred and longing. How such a power has transcended the ages from Iron Age Celts to present day and the troubled souls who want their true story to be heard against the Roman account of their invasion pick two unsuspecting expert historians who slowly become pawns to the echoing memories of the past.

The book is a fantastic read! Hooks you from the start and keeps you turning page after page, always wanting to know what was going to happen next, both in the past and present setting. The characters are all strong before the reader, each unique and special in their own way and each endearing. It's hard to pick a favourite as their is a broad cast of characters but throughout you learn love, hate, like and fear each one in their own turn.

The plot itself is complex and does go on for a lot longer than you think but there is no point where Barbara gets you confused although she does suprise you with each characters individual motive - the bad guy at the start won't always be the bad guy when you reach the end.

It is a brilliant read for any fans of Labyrinth by Kate Mosse as it is in the genre style but I dare say it is even that bit better. A great read for anyone who likes historical fiction too.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

THOR - the Movie - Kenneth Branagh Interviews

Now if you are a viking fanatic like me then SURELY by now you are aware of the developing existence of a Thor - the Movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh, due to be released next year. There has already been some contraversy surrounding it as he has cast a black male actor to play Heimdall and many hard core fans don't know how a dominantly white pagan faith can feature any coloured cultural differences but I say hey just look at the mythology behind Hiemdall. It is said he was sired by Odin from 9 DIFFERENT GIANT MOTHERS! If you are made from 9 different wombs I don't see why the hell not you can't be black as well! But I digress.

I am pleased to say that there are some very interesting and revealing interviews with Kenneth as Director and Tom Hiddleston who will be playing Loki - sadly his costume consists of a giant twisted horned helmet (not undevil like in the least is it? Disappointing really). The interviews took place at this years Movie-Con where the lucky people in attendance did get to see some sneak preview 3D footage. The interviews are very interesting and definitely worth watching and listening too if like me you are eager for April 27th to come sooner.

Just follow this link: http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=29105  and you'll find the three interview videos in relation material at the bottom of the article. The first one shown is part 1, part 2 is found by clicking the arrow and part 3 is found back next to part 1. All make very good listening.

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