Saturday, 29 December 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Fade by A K Morgen

Another fantasticly innovative and refreshing norse fantasy featuring not valkyries or gods but the almost forgotten favourites of Odin - Wolves and Ravens in an epic adventure filled with passion and danger that had my gripped all the way through. Click the book cover for my full review.

Fade (The Ragnarök Prophesies, #1)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson



Introducing yet ANOTHER FAB VALKYRIE NOVEL! That is now sitting proudly on my shelf along my other favourite Valkyrie novels - it is a rare few but they are the best ones :) Click on the cover to read my full review and keep an eye on this blog as I'm in discussion with Ingrid to host a blog interview on her novel and her valkyries coming soon. :)

Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie, #1)

Valkyrie Giveaway - rose-petal soap, Brisingamen Pendant and Dead Radiance + Dead Embers Swag!


Bryn’s Rose Soap Giveaway! courtesy of Valkyrie novel author T.G. Ayer
Prize
One bar of Bryn's Rose-petal encrusted Asgard Shea-Butter Soap.
One Replica of Bryn's Amber Brisingamen Pendant,
One swag pack containing bookmarks and book cards all signed for both Dead Radiance and Dead Embers
Follow the link for all the details on how to enter this fab competition - DEADLINE IS 15th DECEMBER!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Harald Hardrada: The Warrior's Way by John Marsden

I do believe this is the only type of military biography and the life and battle career of the infamous Harald Hardrada. You won't find it available on Amazon, I managed to find it on Play.com. He is one of my favourite historic scandinavians amongst Eirik Bloodaxe and King Canute. Click the image to read my full review and to discover a fictional adventure starring the warlord himself.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Valkyrie to Valkyrie - a blog interview with norse fantasy author Tee G Ayer

One of my favourite norse fantasy authors currently (I have several) is fulfilling my dreams with ease in that she's written a captivating and gripping book featuring my favourite norse mythical being VALKYRIES!
Author Tee G Ayer is the proud creator of the great and fantastic Valkyrie Novels - Dead Radiance and recently released, Dead Embers:
Dead  Radiance - Valkyrie Novel 1
Dead Embers - Valkyrie Novel 2
I sat down to chat with her (via email and Word) about how it all began for her .....

When did you first start to write?
I've written most of my life- little stories, poems etc. but although my writing was always something I couldn't help but do, it was always just the thing I did for me.
When did you decide to try to get your writing published?
I never seriously considered pursuing publication until 2010 when I met Science Fiction author Julie Czerneda. She gave me all the encouragement I needed to take the next step and begin writing and learning the craft. A million thanks to you dear Julie
How long did it take you to write Dead Radiance? Did it require several rewrites or any major edits and cutbacks?
It took three weeks to write, and four to do one round of edits. It was almost like a writing war that I held with myself. The idea had percolated, I'd done a very bare bones outline, and daydreamed a lot until the day I began to write. I'd stayed home to write full time, promising DH that all I needed was two years. And in the first month home, Dead Radiance was written in entirety. I do wish I could repeat that now with Dead Chaos or with any other book I  want to write, but juggling edits for one book, writing a second  and researching/outlining a third can make digging down and doing regular word wars a little difficult. maybe some day soon I can repeat the book-in-a-month feat.
What was your experience like when you tried to get it published? Did you aim initially for an e-book or did you try the traditional route as well?
I tried the traditional route, got a few full requests, then decided I'd expand my possibilities with small press. A friend gave me a few not so subtle jabs in the ribs to send my MS to Evolved Publishing and I finally agreed. Never looked back since.
Do you have an agent? If so what help has having one made? Or if not, what is it like managing it by yourself?
No, I don't have an agent. I'm not against having one either, except that I quite like the hands-on approach that EP allows. I have cover and layout control which I love and I have the benefit of professional editors and well marketed launches and promotions.
How would you describe your writing style? For example do you find you write best in the morning, afternoon, early hours?
I'm a night owl but I've had to fight it. I work all day, then take a break to spend time with the teens and DH. Then I'm back at the PC for a few hours. I usually like to get my emails out of the way first thing in the morning so my inbox doesn't pout.
Where is your best writing location? For example on holiday? In a study? In a library? In a coffee shop?
My study nook. I've gotten into such a routine that my study is the most comfortable place for me- I need to have a really good chair for back support as I get cranky if I'm uncomfortable in any way. Also, it helps me to identify work and play, gives me time off on the couch. My bed, though, will always double as a place for reading. On the odd day, the coffee shop does work wonders for me too.
When did you get interested in Norse Mythology?
Truthfully, I fell in love with Norse Mythology the day I looked up the meaning of Thursday in our encyclopaedia. As soon as I realised that we paid homage to the Norse pantheon every week, I was driven to learn more about the gods and the stories.
What is your favourite Norse god/goddess or Norse legend?
Loki. Loki is mercurial, the trickster. He follows his heart and instinct first. Some readers don't like that I've portrayed him almost as a bad guy. But he's not really a bad guy at all. To me he's sometimes more real, and more human than the other gods are.
Did you do a lot of research into the pantheon and what resources did you use? For examples books, encyclopaedias, the internet, museum artefacts etc?
Oodles of research. I used everything, textbooks, art websites, history buff websites, even Wikipedia. I trolled the net, reading tonnes. But the one thing I never did was read another book that uses Norse mythology as a strong story arc. I refused to allow myself to read them in case I unconsciously borrowed from them.
What is it do you think that still interests and captivates people about these forgotten gods and goddesses?
I personally think that gods and goddesses represent immortality and greatness, two things that people instinctively yearn for. And even when people no longer worship those gods, they live vicariously through stories told about the gods,
When did the idea for Dead Radiance first pop into your head?
Well, I was watching NatGeo doco of a discovery of a tomb. They were interviewing DNA specialists and I laughed to myself saying DNA Specialists, as if they would actually try to clone the mummy itself. As you know that's sort of where the Prologue of Dead Radiance burst to life.
Why did you pick Valkyries as a focus for your book?
Valkyries were the winged creature of choice because I wanted to write something with an angelic lien but not the average overdone fallen angel story.
What inspired you to create the Ullfr and Sleippnir and other Nordic creatures and beings in the manner you have? I believe you are the first to take this approach with them; other Norse fantasy authors have kept them as individuals not as a race or species.
To be honest it was not a conscious thing. I wanted to keep the story true to Norse mythology but I also wanted an original story, something similar yet different enough that could allow me to expand on the realms and create more possibilities for the series. I also crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn't offend anyone with my take on the myths... *fingers still crossed
Whenever I was reading your description of the buildings and landscape of Asgard I almost felt like it was on an epic and beautiful scale similar to the world of Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. It had that deep charm and vision about it. Is that how you intended it to come across? If not would you explain the reasoning behind your version of Asgard?
I live in NZ, the backdrop of the LOTR series. I also hail from Southern Africa, with its Drakensberg Mountains and it Valley of a Thousand hills. When presented with such sheer majesty of nature I do believe we are compelled to incorporated nature into our novels where appropriate. It didn't help either, when my alpha and beta readers would respond and say, 'Omg this would make a great movie!!' Lol
Why did you choose teenagers as the age of your main characters? Did you always intend to write a YA novel and Valkyries just happened to be involved?
In fact, I'd fully intended on writing supernatural horror but with teen daughters who thought I was crazy to suggest writing something they wouldn't read, I was stuck with YA. And I've had so much fun I've never looked back...
The plot in Dead Radiance is full of thrilling twists and exciting discoveries; did you have to plan it all out chapter by chapter before writing it down or the other way round?
The story of Dead Radiance had built up within my mind so much that all I did was write down the barest of plans. Twelve points along the story, three major turning points in the tale, and a total word count of 80k as a goal. Then I sat down and wrote, challenging myself to write at least 5k per day. I did little else besides writing. I wrote only on weekdays, leaving the evenings and weekends to mull over the story, or read up on Norse Myths. I Insisted on my mulling time, and forced myself to stop even if I felt like writing. And in this fashion it took 3 weeks to a full first draft. I did increase my word count to 6k per day in the last week. Every twist and turn came from the writing of it. I'd never sat and planned this novel at all. Not that I would never have planned, it's just that I was family new to writing itself and I just did what I thought was right at the time.
Was it as you neared the end of Dead Radiance you decided it was going to be a trilogy? Or did you have a three book plot idea already?
The Valkyrie series has never been a trilogy. It's always just been a series in my head only because I have no idea how long it will be. At the moment it's three, maybe four books and who knows it may be more than that in the end. Just depends on the characters and the story I guess
A lot of paranormal and supernatural myths and legends are making a comeback on the YA novel scene at the moment (Not mentioning vampires), Angels, Succubuss, vampire/half-human hunters, faeries, witches, werewolves etc. Do you think there is a space for Valkyries and the Norse Gods to catch some of the lime light? And if so why do you think teenagers would be interested?
I've been noticing a trend actually. Current adult paranormal fiction whether romantic or urban fantasy feature characters that run the gamut of fantasy. Every creature possible has been used within such fictional tales and I find it no surprise at all that this type of characterisation will feed into YA fiction. It makes perfect sense really. Teens read YA then the look for more fantasy and move on to more adult Parnormal reads.
I like to think Valkyries as main characters offer a fresh approach to paranormal/supernatural fiction. As often in other paranormal/supernatural tales the young girl/woman character is stuck in a love triangle between whatever mythical creatures are involved in the tale and more often than not that girl/woman character is emotionally strong but physically powerless. The only strong female supernatural/paranormal characters tend to come in to the form of vampire hunters/witches etc. Valkyries help balance that out possessing physical and emotional strength which I feel Bryn demonstrates brilliantly with her love for Adrian and her resolve in battle. What are your thoughts on the above?
Valkyries themselves aren't new to YA or urban fantasy, but I do know that t my Valkyrie series does portray this particular Norse creature in a slightly different light. They are strong characters in themselves, and even the folklore will certainly corroborate that Valkyries were not your average fainting wallflower. I'm not sure ifs can comment too much on the whole genre per se. My reading tastes have never been specific to one genre so I'm hardly in a position to say I've read through the YA genre. What I can say is that I hope that writing about the Valkyrie, creatures who within the myths were treated as glorified barmaids, now have the opportunity to prove that they were powerful warriors too. Why would legends tell of great princesses becoming avenging Valkyrie?
Have you read any other books on a similar theme to yours, what I term as Norse Fantasy?
It may seem odd but I tried not to read other books in the genre of Norse Mythology, specifically because it want any unconscious transference. When my series is completed I will certainly have a stack of books waiting for me.
Can you give us any hint to the challenges that face Bryn in Dead Chaos?
Bryn will face tougher challenges in both her life as a Valkyrie and in the problems of her heart. Like most people she will question what she has, and make her choices accordingly. How she does it? Well, eager readers of the series will have to wait and see. Unless you're a book reviewer... Then you get to see an ARC in advance of publication for an honest review :) 
When is Dead Chaos planned to release?
Dead Chaos is the third in the Valkyrie series, and at this point we are looking at a early second quarter 2013 release. 
Finally, what advice, tips or suggestions would you give for someone, like myself, who is writing with a paranormal/supernatural theme?
I'd say ensure your world-building is sound.  Before you do anything with your story make sure it makes sense and is believable. All fantasy requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief but it is vital you never overstep the mark. Believe me, readers are smart and they don't like being messed with.

You can learn more about her Valkyrie novel series and read my reviews of both Dead Radiance and Dead Embers by clicking here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson

The Splintered Kingdom (The Bloody Aftermath of 1066, #2)The Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Well, if you think Tancred got into enough trouble with his lord being murdered by a hoarde of anglo-saxons and then getting involved with a traitorous cleric who was trying to salvage the body of the 'usurper' Harold Godwineson - think again! James Aitcheson brings back the scary revelation of how troublesome the years after 1066 were and in Splintered Kingdom he reveals that it wasn't just the English wanting to get rid of the Normans, the Welsh also were quite good at kicking up a fuss. Such attacks by the Welsh were like pesky mosquito bites to the fragile Norman regime William was trying to enforce and Tancred becomes not just personally devestated by such attacks but also embroiled in an attempt to crush the Welsh rebellions once and for all.
But James doesn't leave the plot line as tidy as that for the strategy fails and backfires horribly on Tancred's honour creating new enemies and estranging his closest comrades in arms. But if you think that is the worse Tancred has to face well dear reader each stage of this battle-full saga will break your heart for our dearest Norman knight as much worse is yet to come and Tancred will have to somehow survive if he is to keep his name intact let alone a head on his shoulders.
This is a truly astonishing sequel to Sworn Sword, more packed with battles, enemies, blood-shed, trauma and of course shock and horror as events unfold to a climactic ending which no one will see coming and leaves us all gasping not just for breath but the adventures to continue in the next book.
As a firm viking fan I must admitt, James Aitcheson has shown that the Vikings didn't have all the fun adventures and battles, for Normans invading and conquering a foreign land, every day was a new adventure and a new battle to be fought and won.



View all my reviews

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Dead Embers by T G Ayer - Valkyrie Novel 2

Yet again I've been blown away by the imagination of author T G Ayer as her Valkyrie novel trilogy continues from Dead Radiance to Dead Embers. She's one of my author heroes for bringing Valkyries to the fore in Norse Fantasy and for showing that Valkyries are way coooler than Angels falling in love with morals or Vampires falling in love with mortals any day!
So to see my review of Dead Embers simply click the cover image link and scroll down to find it immediately after Dead Radiance (just to briefly refresh yourself on how much I loved the first one). The least I can say is that I wasn't disappointed and other readers of the series won't be.

Dead Embers (Valkyrie, #2)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier

This book is EPIC historical fiction at its EPIC BEST! I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone who loves reading about vikings and history. Please click the cover to read my full review.

Wolfskin (The Light Isles, #1)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted a book review but not only was I reading an epicly long ebook on my Kindle (review will be up soon) but I was also reading this enchanting monster of a book 'Shadow of Night' by Deborah Harkness, the second in her All Souls Trilogy which is just the magic-thriller without-a-love-triangle-in-sight story that all us adults have been waiting for! It kicks Twilight's ass any day! Anyhow, it is a hefty text but every minute was worth it. So here is my review:

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If you thought Discovery of Witches would blow your mind - you quite literally haven't experienced any of the powerful magic of treats and tricks that Deborah Harkness has up her sleeve. She recreates Elizabethan London and Europe with godly detail that immerses not only of course Diana and Matthew but also the reader. You meet so many influential and powerful people - including of course the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, although the reader doesn't encounter him via the main characteras as you expect. And of course like many of Shakespeare's plays there is secrets galore, hidden agendas, lethal plots and power struggles both amongst these magical beings of witch, vampire and daemon but also within the human realms themselves. So it makes a real long struggle for Diana and Matthew not only to learn how to tame her wildly developed powers (scenes of which do take your breath away) but also get close to the fated book Ashmole 782.
Any reader who enjoyed Discovery of Witches MUST read this book as it reveals so many answers to the previous as well as open up a whole lot more that just have to be answered, but for that we must all wait with baited breath and a thudding heart for the next and final book in the All Souls Trilogy. I do believe that although Hilary Mantel may have won awards for her historical fiction set in Henry VIII's England, I think Deborah Harkness herself could win awards for her envigorating eye-opener intil Elizabethan England with a nice big dollop of magic, witchcraft and handsomely dark figures who stalk the night.



View all my reviews

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Past and Future of Libraries @ Worcester's Hive library + Cathedral Library

The evidence for this blogpost title can be witnessed entirely in the city of Worcester.

First lets start logically and go backwards, in time that is, and visit the Worcester Cathedral Library where they house a wonderful collection of medieval and earlier manuscripts....
Here is a good introduction vid (no audio) showing the library itself and a few of its precious manuscripts.


It includes in its prized collection THE VENERABLE BEDE's copy of 'Poetry & Grammar'! It still proudly bares the stamped book plate the monks gave it in the 10th century! Still has it's original cover although the spine is very faded.

The Librarian at the cathedral then surprised me by reveal some Viking related objects.

The first piece was rather gruesome, in fact it is the pieces of dead human skin, reputedly from a Danish viking, who decided to be brave and steal the Sanctus bell from the cathedral but was caught, flayed and had his skin pinned to the cathedral door!



But the best was yet to come when he revealed to me a tombstone sized book written in the 16th Centruy by the Dean of Worcester, George Hickes, who decided to perform a study and almost revival into the norse language, which was almost forgotten in the period, and this included runic inscriptions! The Latin name for this volume is Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus but in English it is also known as "Grammatical-critical and archaeological thesaurus of the old northern tongues". It was the first such study of its kind and is an impressive achievement and is now one of the writings George Hickes is best remembered.

The page the Librarian showed me specifically - displaying a list of runic alphabets! Although it's all written in Latin I could make out the word NORWEGIAN and ICELANDIC! YAY!
 *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Now let's skip back to the present, or should I say, glimpse the future of libraries in the present, and this is all embodied in the new Hive building at Worcester which is a surprisingly successful amalgamation of both the Public Library, University Library, Council Services and Worcester's archeological and historical document archive.
Watch this video to glimpse it 6 months before opening....I hope you're impressed


But as we visited when it was open, running well and most importantly BUSY - see my own pictures to have the total transformation revealed to you.
This is a beautiful shot taken approaching The Hive from the back from Foregate St station. Modern looking isn't it?

The rather cool, funky and multipurpose children's section. Which kid wouldn't want to enjoy a good book on those beanbags?

This is looking out from the far side of the first floor which is the 'Explore the Past' level - housing the archeology department, historical documents and some worthy museum artefacts displaying Worcester's physical history. You can see the stairs which begin right near the entrance just behind it.

The 2nd floor which is 'Read, Learn, Imagine' housing the total fiction and non-fiction collection. The slotted sky window at the top is one of the four pyramid-like towers of the Hive, it lets in daylight and also assists the natural ventilation and air flow. The wood panels add a nice soft touch instead of having it all just white washed like the shelves and walls.

The comfy seeting area in the Fiction section. There is more behind where I took this shot.

Opposite the seating area shown above is a large wall sized window looking out onto the front carpark and gardens with their fancy grass designs. Note the funky modern seating area ontop of that concrete tower to the right.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Odinsons by Dan De Witt

Odinsons is a an ok/good norse fantasy that centres around the Ragnarok myth with a few surprising (and sometimes concerning) modern twists. It isn't the best one I've read, and demonstrates a male view quite strongly at times but its plot is enjoyable for the twists involved although the ending is, for me, frustrating. Click on the cover image to see my full review.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Sigrun's Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen

This is another fantastic viking historical fiction e-book with a dash of magic written by the wonderful Marie-Louise Jensen and proves a more than worthy sequel to the previous book I read by her titled Daughter of Fire and Ice. Click the cover below for a review of Sigrun's Secret which also comes with a link back to Daughter of Fire and Ice. Enjoy!

Sigrun's Secret

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Becky Bookworm Bumper Book Reviews: Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster by Mike Vasich + Daughter of Fire and Ice by Marie-Louise Jensen + Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon

Here are three reviews of 2 brilliant books I finished during my summer holidays raiding and pillaging in the lands of Wessex. Firstly we have a brief but remarkably enteraining revival of Loki's adventures in Loki: Nine Tales of the Trickster with an ending which you will either like or hate. We have Daughter of Fire and Ice a truly gripping norse historical fiction with a delightful touch of the supernatural AND Hawk Quest a truly EPIC 10th century adventure covering much of the historical world of the time, across land and seas and involving as many different nationalities as possible (including Norwegians and Icelanders both the peaceful settlers and the raiding vikings), with some truly impressive characters and some truly daunting dangers in all its various forms. Both very highly recommended reads - take a peak at my review and see if you're tempted to use these to drive away your autumn moods.

Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster

Daughter of Fire and Ice

 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Why is it when Odin appeared as a Buzzard, Loki as a fox, that Thor comes as an old boat AND a mini steam engine?

Well I'm baaaack! Back from my northern family's annual invasion of Wessex to visit our Anglo-Saxon kin, recieve tribute in the form of fine food and drink, go exploring and raiding with them around their Dorset lands and then return back to our northern stronghold with lots treasure and memories.
This all happened after celebrating my 25 winters on this earth and what better way than to have a nice cruise down the river Ouse on a "longboat" towards Acaster Malbis, raid their pub for a tasty meal before returning to Jorvik on the water to see it all lit up in the night.
Heading on boat towards Skeldergate bridge, which is an old norse name for street of the shield makers
Jorvik lighting up the night upon the rider Ouse.
For my 25th birthday my mum got me this beautiful Wade longboat. Now all I need is a mini sail and a mini crew to explore the seas and maybe raid a pixie village hehehe. I love it though :)

Who will come gain fame and glory upon this fine vessel?
Now returning to the points mentioned in the title of this post, it refers to something I only discovered upon reflection today regarding any nordic sights during my travels on holiday. Sadly I didn't see many viking historic sites or monuments etc (plan is next year for a boat cruise from Pool Quay to Wareham -which did burn under a viking raid- and a trip to Winchester Cathedral to pay homage to the old bones of King Cnut and Queen Emma).

BUT I did witness manifestations of THOR 
on 2 CONESCUTIVE 'Thors'-days!! 

To begin with he appeared on the night of my dinner cruise on the Ouse which was the 9th of August, the Thors-day before my birthday on the 10th. He appeared as an old tug boat and I go so excited I couldn't help but photograph him...
THOR! As a boat Thors-day 9th August 2012
Then the following week when on holiday he appeared again on his name day, as a mini steam train. Didn't see it physically but at the mini station where we had a ride on such an engine there was a notice board up with proof he had taken such a form - again I took a photograph for evidence.
THOR! As a mini steamengine train 16th August 2012
Pretty wierd and COOL huh?

I did see a few other steam engines with historical names:

An age old King of Mercia who built a large Dyke earth wall between his lands and the start of Wales, the remains which can still be seen and dominate the landscape in that area. This was actually the train me and my family had a ride on.
The first reported King of England once he'd fought off most of the vikings in each old saxon territory.
And that sadly is about it for any cool historical stuff I came across on my holiday but as I mentioned earlier we've planned lots more on our 2013 raid and pillage trip to Wessex.

However, that's in the long term plans - for the short term plans I have got some very interesting Vikingy events coming up soon in September which you may also want to note for your diaries. Click on the link for more details.

Eating through the ages - Roman and Viking food and drink - 22nd September @ St Sampsons Square, York *Part of the York Food Festival


Fulford Battlefield Walk - 23rd September @ Fulford

Viking-Age Sculpture: an introduction with author and history professor V M Whitworth - September 24th @ Valhalla exhibition, York

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