Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Winter's Fire by Giles Kristian (Sigurd's Saga Book 2)


God of Vengeance was all about - Vengeance. And family and honour and betrayal.
Winter's Fire is about Reputation and Patience and Survival.
Sigurd and the company had some serious big adventures and that did earn Sigurd a reputation and even a nick-name - Odin-Favoured. But Sigurd knows it will take more than this new reputation and the head of a Jarl to have any battle luck against King Gorm. Who will now be even more determined to squash the threat from Sigurd before it becomes serious. So Sigurd and Co head south, away from Gorms reach to earn more war-fame, silver and loyal sword-norse.... but danger stalks them at every turn.
The adventures that happen in this sequel are more frequent albeit more small in scale compared to previous book. But each twist in the weft and warp of this growing saga shows Giles is still a Master of Kennings and a skillful Skald for keeping the pages turning. We grow even more on the current cast and equally learn to love or hate new characters that enter the tapestry of the tale. I particularly love a brilliant plot line that Giles has dedicated to Sigurd's sister Runa as it matches my favourite aspect of the Vikings. I won't reveal any further details so I don't spoil it.
I would best describe this as a simmering and bubbling sequel that is as enjoyable as the first with gripping beats of drama and tension all the way through.
It is building a great expectation for an epic dramatic finale in Wings of the Storm where the heat of the drama is turned to boiling point. I for one can not wait to see blood spill over the edge of this literary vessel and watch with baited breath to see who survives.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Click on the cover to read my full review of this exciting & very funny new YA Norse fantasy series by Rick Riordan...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Last Viking by Berwick Coates

Click on the cover to read my full review of The Last Viking - a new historical novel on 1066...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Valkyrie's Song by MD Lachlan (Wolfsangel Cycle Book 4)

Click on the cover to read my full review on MD Lachlan's 4th blood-soaked saga of the Fenrir curse set in the Harrying of the North...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Immortals - Hereward (Book 5) by James Wilde

Absolutely bloody fantastic! Another page-turner, edge-of-seat read with more cliffhanging action, drama and battles than Game of Thrones and The Bourgois put together! James Wilde is giving Hereward the adventure of a lifetime and the reader a tour of historical events with the power of a whirlwind. Truly enjoyed every chapter. Immediately pre-ordered Book 6 upon finishing last page. At least I don't have long to wait for my next Hereward fix. Historical fiction fans MUST READ this series. This forgotten English hero deserves everyone's attention as James's writing deserves every word to be read.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Chronicles of the Vikings by R. I. Page

Chronicles of the VikingsChronicles of the Vikings by R.I. Page

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A really interesting if old book that carefully goes explores nearly every aspect of Viking culture and history from geographical aspects through to their customs and beliefs. All through the words of the Vikings themselves, from runestones, sagas and other historical documents. Definitely recommend for anyone with a strong interest in Vikings.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review: Valkyrie: War of the Realms (Book 3) by Kate O'Hearn

Click on the cover to read my full and final review of a truly exciting series by Kate O'Hearn...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Shieldwall by Justin Hill

Click on the cover to read my full review of this exciting new historical novel set in the huge historic moments of the year 1066...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Weight of Stars by Tessa Gratton

Click on the cover to read my full review of this Novella compilation to accompany the 3 United States of Asgard books... (found near the bottom of the page link)

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Fin Gall by James L. Nelson

Click on the cover to read my full review of this historical novel set in Norse Ireland...

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Harrowing by James Aitcheson

The HarrowingThe Harrowing by James Aitcheson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to begin - how about from the very beginning - I must warn all future readers that this book is one of those where it is what it says on the cover - Harrowing - this is a book that deals with the grim, the dark, the deadly, the deceitful, the shameful, even sinful, parts of humanity. All set within the bleakest period of medieval English history - the Harrowing of the North - where the Normans led by Duke William (and King of England alas) came and 'laid waste' to the northern shires. So if you are at all squeamish this probably isn't the best choice - not that James has filled every chapter with hangings, murder, rape, hall burning, starvation etc. In fact the actual carnage of the setting is presented in a more sinister manner, with a great subtlety that will chill you. As horrific as the previous list of incidents involved in The Harrowing is, James shows you that for a survivor the empty landscape, lack of food & water and absence of family, friends, homes and most importantly TRUST, is perhaps a bigger danger than the blades of the Normans themselves.
So welcome to the world of 1068 and you will learn, see, feel, hear and experience why so many of the time thought it was the End of the World and that God was indeed punishing them all for their wicked ways through the medium of Norman tyranny.
The Reader will get to know 5 characters in this dark & foreboding world - Tova a servant, Merewyn a Lady, Beorn a Warrior, Guthred a Priest and Oslac a Minstrel. Each flees not just the Normans but also a secret past, a secret sin, each struggles against suspicion to forge an unlikely alliance of travellers as they try to reach a place in the far north where an army of rebels is gathering to strike back at the Normans. Over 7 days and 7 nights, each character battles not just the severe winter elements, the sights of their people butchered and the constant threat of the approaching Norman army; each also battles with their own fear of the future, each tries in vain to keep any hope of freedom, peace, even normality, returning to their once simple lives.
This is a very different book compared to James's original trilogy involving Tancred a Norman Knight. Not just in point of view - the majority of the tale is told from Tova's eyes, you only ever hear her thoughts and opinions and feelings towards the group of survivors - this makes a noticeable different in that James is writing from a female voice, not a male voice. He also uses multiple voices as this story is about five people, not just Tova. This technique is perhaps the most challenging to write as you must make each voice distinctive as each character is and he does this masterfully well. The toning and phrasing is just right for each character - as the Reader travels with these characters I am sure each reader will have their own favourite and each will not only judge but also change their minds about others as their secrets are revealed one by one, and these secrets will have an impact on the groups survival. It is another wonderful masterstroke by James to weave five characters and five stories together as one but to also enable the past of each character to have such a direct and guaranteed surprising & shocking impact on the 'Present' of the story. Shows great story craftsmanship as well as planning & plotting to pull it off so completely without any flaws or tangles.
Yet again James has managed to illuminate in full colour, sound & sensation a much over-looked sometimes forgotten period of English history and remind us all through these five unique characters how very human the Anglo-Saxons were and the very real life-changing danger they all lived through.

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