Sunday, 19 July 2015

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Hybrid by Nick Stead (Debut Horror/Werewolf Author)

HybridHybrid by Nick Stead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From a debut horror author this werewolf tale takes a pinch of inspiration from Interview with a Vampire, a dollop of teenager issues from BBC Wolfblood and all the raw gore from every decent horror film possible. It is also what some may call a personal fantasy reliving of someones life to a degree or two.
There is a teenage with the usual problems of family feuds, bully fights and GCSEs and then there is the teenager werewolf who has a horid passion for meat both cooked and raw and a dual of minds and wills with the Inner Wolf inside. Oh and the extra challenge in that he is the last of his kind and is being hunted by a mysterious secret faction call Demon Slayers who know its more than werewolves that go bump in the night.
The reader gets on a truly wild ride with this story that I think really rewrites the image of the werewolf. You enter the story literally in the prologue with a direct 2nd person narrative. From Chap 1 it's all about Nick the teenager with a fascination of wolves and then following the bite which comes the reader gets to know the Wolf within Nick and that is a refreshing non-human twist on the myth. That Werewolve are in fact homosapien and lupine blended together in a freakish mental combination.
I particularly liked one chapter, after the discovery of a horrific and devestating murder (there is a lot of violent deaths in this book so readers had best have a strong stomach) Nick out of anger mentally attacks and argues with his Inner Wolf and the argument is really quite insightful into how a predator sees and acts when compared with that of humanity.
The first half of the book is all about a teenager adjusting to a very unusual sudden set of conditions but as the body count rises and his normal life becomes more and more fragmented by the impact of his actions under the full moon the second half leads into a savage and viscous mindset where Nick may have to loose his idea of humanity to stay alive as the Slayers pose an ever increasing threat.
Although I would have preffered more action and bloody drama from the go the slow first half does help as a poignant reminder of the boy Nick no longer is by the end of the book.

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Apple Throne by Tessa Gratton (United States of Asgard Book 3) 
Since discovering the wonderful world that is The United States of Asgard created by the magician that is Tessa Gratton - I have been a fan! As a passionate lover of all things vikingy, in particular their mythology, why wouldn't I want to live in a parallel world where all of America is pagan, Odin hangs out with the Presidents, there is a Council of Valkyries as well as a special few Valkyries that deal with the death, where Beserkers are people with very real and dangerous anger problems to put it simply and where Lokiskin are the travellers of the countryside, visiting towns, hosting fairs and trading. All topped off of course with the wonderful power of Seeresses like Astrid who you meet in the first book, Lost Sun. Well Astrid is back and although she finds herself at the centre of all things, quite literally, she won't let the ribbons of fate bind her when her lover Soren is in trouble.
With all the action, adventure, mystery, danger and even more powerful magic than the first two - this is Astrid's story... click on the  cover for my full review.

Becky Bookworm Book Review - Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell (Saxon Saga 8)

The Empty Throne (The Saxon Stories, #8)The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another superbly brilliant historical adventure with Uhtred and our favourite historical heroine Athelflaed. Lots of battles, intrigue, danger and surprises especially at the end. This book has a particular hint of the older Uhtred in term of reflection on the events taking place.
Very much looking forward to the Dark Warriors sequel out later this year as the Vikings make even more trouble for both Mercians and West Saxons alike. After reading this I will be amazed if Uhtred survives to attend the Battle of Brannaburgh. Which as he says in historical comments is the key defining moment for England as newly united country.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - King's Assassin by Angus Donald (Outlaw Chronicles 7)

The King's AssassinThe King's Assassin by Angus Donald

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading this excellent additional historical adventure with Robin and Alan. I soon realised that this may be the first book that centres more on Alan then on his role as accomplice with Robin. We see him struggle with his role as a Father and as a Lord to protect and safeguard not just his family but the people of his lands against the growing financial tyranny of King John.
This historical adventure revolves around the creation of the Magna Carter and through the book the reader comes to realise it was more than some unhappy nobles that brought it about. As witnessed in the other books King John was never as good a King as his brother or others but even Robin remarks that not all Kings are perfect.
Yet amongst the backdrop of the Great Charter past decisions made by Robin and Alan have arisen in the form of traitors and danger both on and off the battlefield. It is a nice reflection of how the Kings past choices have built up the demand for Magna Carter and how even on an individual level can resonate years later and impact those closest to you.
It was another truly exciting read and I particularly liked the new turn with the narrative technique used between each section. It is a worthy end for one character and also a worthy start for the end of the series. I believe many a tear will be shed as we follow the Lord of Sherwood one final time.

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Northmen's Fury: A History of the Viking World by Philip Parker


A beautifully covered and extremely enjoyable and interesting, detailed and thorough history of the global impact, imprint & effect the Vikings had on societies, culture and countries across the centuries.

If you have any interest in Vikings this is a highly recommended read.

Click on the cover for my full review

Becky Bookworm Book Review : Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell (Queen Emma Book 2)

Price of Blood is the second book in a trilogy & sequel to 'Shadow on the Crown' that follows the life of Emma, daughter to the Duke of Normandy, placed into an arranged marriage with King Ethelread of England in order to buy peace from the Vikings.
In the first book the reader watches Emma get accustomed to life in England and try and establish a place for herself in the hearts of the people she now rules, at the royal court and by her new husband's side as Wife, Queen and most crucially as a Mother, to produce a son & heir.

In Price of Blood we watch Emma start to grow her family in order to further secure herself to the throne and the kingdom but with a husband and King who's haunted paranoia sees everyone as a threat, even his own Queen, and the new surge of Viking attacks, Emma has to battle immense forces both internal and external to survive at court and outside of it.

It is another tremendous piece of well written gripping historical fiction, showing that there was plenty of political court intrigue & drama well before the reign of the Tudors and more.

For my full review please click on the cover.

Price of Blood is available to buy in the UK from TODAY - if you read & loved the first one, honour the memory of Emma's life & her role in our history by ordering Price of Blood now!

Hybrid by Nick Stead - Debut Author Blog Interview (Werewolf/Horror)

'A full moon rises and blood is about to be spilled. Nick Stead, once a
regular teenage boy falls prey to the werewolf curse.  He begins to
change in ways he cannot understand. The first transformation after
receiving the bite is only the beginning. From that moment on, death
follows in his wake as he seeks to satisfy the insatiable hunger awoken
within. But hunter can easily become the hunted, and whilst battling his
own lupine instincts, he must also hide his lycanthropy from those who
would seek to wipe out his race. A clandestine faction known as the
Demon Slayers are closing in on his trail and mean to wipe out his kind
once and for all.'

Watch the exclusive Hybrid Book Trailer here....


1. Name 3 things that you love about Wolves.

The goth/horror fan in me loves the ferocity of wolves and other predators, but I also admire their loyal nature to the pack and their amazing endurance - some hunts can go on for hours!

2. Can you remember when you first became fascinated by them?

I always loved animals from as far back as I can remember and I think I was pretty young - maybe around five years old - when I latched on to wolves as 'my animal' and developed a real fascination with them.

3. Can you explain why you became interested in Werewolves instead of REAL wolves?

I think my love of werewolves probably started with the feeling as a kid that humans are pretty boring as a species - we have no natural weapons and if it weren't for opposable thumbs we'd have never climbed up the food chain! The idea of being able to transform into something more powerful really grabbed me, and I was fascinated by the idea of both shape shifters that could become full animals in form as well as the type of 'bipedal' werewolf described in Hybrid. I remember getting Altered Beast for the Mega Drive and thinking it was the best game ever, and I would complete it over and over again on a weekend and in school holidays. I loved the idea of becoming a creature that not only had the ability to use tools like a human, but also had the natural weapons, power and ferocity of a great predator.

4. Have you read any Werewolfish novels before? And if so can you recommend any? 

Yeah I've read a few; I think my first was probably The Werewolf of Fever Swamp in the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine! Those books were all the rage growing up in the 90s; I had dozens of them. As a young adult I discovered The Wereling trilogy by Stephen Cole which I really enjoyed, and more recently a friend bought me High Moor by Graeme Reynolds which I would highly recommend - I'm eagerly awaiting the third book to come out. I also love M.D. Lachlan's Wolfsangel series which is a really awesome original spin on the classic werewolf myth.

5. Did your interest in Werewolves begin as part of your interest in Horror?

That was probably part of it yeah; I was always fascinated by horror monsters and the supernatural, and werewolves were the ones I really connected with for reasons mentioned above and because of my love of wolves. I've always enjoyed reading the folklore and mythology behind many of the popular monsters we still talk about to this day, as well as discovering more of the obscure legends from different parts of the world. 

6. Where did the idea for Hybrid come from? 

It all started with my cousin 'Lady' Sarah. She's also a big horror fan, although her favourite monster is vampires rather than werewolves, and many of the visits to my Aunt's would be spent talking to Sarah about the latest horror movies when we were younger. She'd written a short fantasy story which I loved but she got fed up of me nagging her to write more, so eventually she encouraged me to write my own and we had a brainstorming session for the first three chapters. Sarah didn't have to ask what I would want to write about - it was always going to be a werewolf story and I think the first thing she said was something along the lines of "Okay, if you're going to get turned you first need to be bitten and somehow survive the attack." Originally it was intended to be a short story like she'd done, but I would be sat in school daydreaming while teachers droned on and all these ideas would come to me. Some were inspired by real events that happened at school while other scenes were completely fictional. I soon realised I had a novel in the works, and then when more ideas came that went beyond the ending which had already come to me for book one, I decided it was going to be a series. 

7. How long did it take you to write until it was ready for Wild Wolf to publish it?

I started the very first draft back in my GCSE years at school, twelve years ago! I finished the first draft just before starting college, but then the manuscript was sat on my computer awaiting a much needed rewrite. When I eventually went back to it in my early twenties I realised the 'instant bestseller' my fifteen year old self had been convinced he'd written needed a major rewrite before it was publishable. The plot hasn't really changed since the very first finished draft, but the narrative took a lot of work to get right. The original version read much more like Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire - I remember a friend recommending I should read it and I was like wow, this is like Hybrid but with a vampire instead of a werewolf. That worked for Anne Rice's novels, but I felt the original Hybrid was just too depressing, mostly because school was a dark time for me in real life as well as for my character in my book, and I struggled to read through it when I was in a better place. So I tried to make the tone more light hearted in the early chapters to make it more readable and to give it more of a contrast between the mostly average teenager we meet at the start of the book, and the changes he goes through as a result of the curse and the horrific things it drives him to do, which took a few months. When I first contacted Wild Wolf after three years of unsuccessful submissions to literary agencies, they advised it still needed work before it was ready for publishing and that I should try and think about the target audience to help get the tone right - was it aimed at young adults or was it 'full on adult horror' as they put it. I had always intended it to be for adults and I realised the redraft had become more young adult in the early chapters, so then I spent a really intensive month giving it another major redraft, which involved many late nights/early starts. Some of the chapters have remained virtually untouched from when I first wrote them at fifteen, but chapter one was completely reworked during the first redraft and then it needed further work to make the tone more adult again, and chapters three, four and five also went through a lot of rewriting before I resubmitted to Wild Wolf.

8. Did you ever come across the legend of Fenrir the wolf from Norse Mythology?

Yeah, I do like some Norse mythology and I am really enjoying the TV series Vikings. I can't remember when I first read the legend of Fenrir online but once we got the internet in our house in my teens that was it - I would spend many evenings researching the myths and legends I'd always been fascinated by, and I probably saw a link to the story of Fenrir on a werewolf site somewhere.

9. Do you know much about wolves or werewolves in other legends & myths? 

I've read up on many different werewolf myths and legends. There's the story of Lycaon in Greek mythology which I used for the believed origins of my werewolves in Hybrid and there's also Romulus and Remus who were raised by a wolf according to Roman legend. There's a few other stories from around that time in history and then there was a resurgence in the widespread belief of werewolves in the Middle Ages. Some of the older werewolf and vampire mythology is almost interchangeable, and the belief in shapeshifting is worldwide - generally in local folklore the person becomes whichever is the biggest predator in that region, so in Africa you have werelions and wereleopards, and in India weretigers, etc. The idea of werecreatures is as old as mankind itself, according to experts who've discovered cave paintings depicting animalistic humanoids. I could probably fill a non-fiction book on everything I've learned over the years about werewolf mythology!

10. What do you think makes Hybrid different from other werewolf novels?

I think Hybrid really explores the classic werewolf story to a new depth that's not been done before (at least as far as I'm aware). I took my knowledge of the different beliefs around werewolves that have been around over the years and then used my favourite myths to create the 'rules' for my werewolves, as well as some of my own ideas. I tried to think about why the full moon is often a blackout period in many werewolf stories, and then I thought about real world personality disorders where a person can't remember what they did when their 'other' self was in control. That gave me the idea of treating the werewolf curse like a split personality, which meant the wolfish side to my character's personality became a character in himself. By setting the novel over the course of a year it gave me the freedom to explore how the curse might change a person gradually, over time. There's also other things going on with the idea of the Demon Slayers and the secret war going on which will come into it more in later books, but the primary theme of the first novel is change, not just for the main character as a human but also his inner wolf evolves somewhat over the course of the book.

Interested readers can download Hybrid today from:

You can learn more about Nick as an author and read exclusive short stories for free via his website:

And follow him on social media too to learn more Hybrid:

Twitter: @nick_stead


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