Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Becky Bookworm Book Reivew - Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor (Book 2) by Rick Riordan

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another gripping and hugely entertaining read. The most original and humorous re imagining of Norse mythology in recent years but also deals with such real human issues from honour to family to love to diversity and equality. Highly recommended reading for everyone and anyone.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Flame (Book 3 of the Ragnarok Prophesies) by A K Morgen

Flame (The Ragnarök Prophesies #3)Flame by A.K. Morgen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading this many months after Fall and so I did have to trawl my memory to remind who is who, who is good and bad, each time a name was mentioned. Of course I couldn't ever forget Arionna and Dace and their two kindred wolf spirit/souls Geri and Freki. Their evolving relationship between each other and between their wolves made such a huge impact on me emotionally and psychologically during the first two books Fade and Fall.
This book I think, after reading it, feels shorter than the previous two but each piece of drama and action is highly intense. Plus there is a strong focus on trust, loyalty, lies and secrets in this third book. Both between Dace and Arionna but also amongst their small group of friend and family, semi-human and shifter alike, but also amongst their enemies as hidden agendas and true identities are revealed - not least of all that of Hati and Skol - the eternal enemies of Geri and Freki.
The danger gets closer to Dace and Arionna than either had predicted and proves their worst fears - that there is no safety for either of them and that they are incredibly unprepared for defending let along attacking the enemy and preventing Ragnarok.
There is also danger on an individual level from within as Arionna struggles to form a bond with Freki to make her strong enough to survive any attack without relying on Dace and Geri. But her human health is compromised with each new connection, leaving her more vulnerable despite the cost.
In the end a two-pronged attack is launched by the pair and their few remaining allies and although a minor victory is won - the sacrifice required to gain is one the reader will never see coming.
It leaves an ending that isn't in fact the final conclusion and I for one sincerely hope that A K Morgen continues to write out this stunning piece of Norse fantasy. I just hope it doesn't take too long for Book 4 to appear as I will most certainly not take so long to read it with this jaw-dropping cliff-hanger leaving me gasping for more.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead (Book 3) by Rick Riordan

The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3)The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am personally heart-broken that this is the final book in the most fun-diverse-saga-loving norse fantasy trilogy.
As in the previous books the fate of the world, humans and gods rests on Magnus's shoulders but thanks to some very quirky magical objects - including a banana yellow boat that can fold away into a hankerchief - and of course his incredible group of friends including an American Civil War soldier, a Viking boy, an Irish girl caught up in the IRA, a Muslim Valkyrie, a Dwarf tailor, a deaf Elf mage and Shape-Shifter Gender-fluid daughter/son of Loki.
As in the previous books there is lots of danger on Magnus & Co's journey to stop Loki and his Ship of the Dead leaving the icy north. Indeed the reader and Magnus go on quite a journey courtesy of the banana yellow boat. From the bottom of the ocean in Grand-father Njord's hall and his troublesome seven daughers, the Waves, across the world to York, England, aka Jorvik and a brief cameo from the legendary Jorvik Viking Centre (albeit involving an ancient stone giant - and clay model making), across the sea again to Gunderson's home in Norway and beyond to the ultimate show-down between Magnus & Co vs. Loki & Giants & Undead... and I am pleased to say also featuring giant rubber ducks! Yes - only the magical mind of Rick Riordan could involve rubber ducks in the most epic of battles. There is much more action and adventure involved but I won't reveal all the details but the ones named are some of my favourite bits.
Throughout it all of course is endless laughter, friendship, loyalty, bravery, cleverness, magic, a bit of mayhem and love.
This final book truly was EPIC in all it's mere four letters and 100% full meaning - I can only hope that this isn't a forever goodbye to Magnus & Co. I really kind of love having them in my life.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - The Northern Queen by Kelly Evans

The Northern QueenThe Northern Queen by Kelly Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always respected and admired Canute and Emma so to read about a woman who due to Emma's own records is portrayed as an enemy of the royal family was a bit of a personal challenge. However I did come to also respect if not admire Aelgifu's life and her impact on history.
Yet I do advise future readers to research the real history around this book as it does end at a specific point for the benefit of the story. In this case the truth is better than fiction about this very real game of thrones with two remarkable women.
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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Freya by Matthew Laurence

Freya (Freya #1)Freya by Matthew Laurence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book. It is refreshing to find a norse fantasy novel that focuses on a single god and not the whole pantheon. It is also highly refreshing for the underlying moral/ethical debate behind the characters and storyline. That of If Gods are real, do they do more harm than good? This is explored well within the character of Freya who is a Goddess of multiple specialities - Love, War, Beauty and Death.
For in Freya's story you learn that a lot of gods from centuries past have survived despite critical low levels of belief or worship keeping them alive. However, soon Freya's secret life in a psychiatric care home is discovered by an elusive powerful and well connected coorporation looking to recruit Gods with the offer of factory produced belief in exchanging of utilising their powers for the companies own ends - or non-existence.
Freya of course being the type of God she is doesnt comply but due to her weakened state she runs. Dragging Nate, a mortal who had just got a new job at the care home, into a life changing adventure.
Involving Disney World, magic, secrets, gods from other pantheons, danger but also some touching moments of laughter.
Great fun to read and definitely the first in a series. I for one look forward to Freya's next adventure.

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Monday, 4 September 2017

Becky Bookworm Book Review - From Asgard to Valhalla: Remarkable History of Norse Myths by Heather O'Donoghue

For anyone with an even remote interest in Norse mythology and fascination with how the Viking legends and culture have influence society - this is the book for you!

Click on the cover for my full review:

Becky Bookworm Book Review - The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

The first book devoted to one of the many overlooked Goddesses in Norse Mythology - Hel, Queen of the Underworld. She has quite a tale to tell, for many do not know or have forgotten how she was given this role and the realm of the dead. Indeed the role she will play in the lead up to the Ragnarok the end of the world.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Don't know how I haven't posted this review yet considering I read it as soon as it came out on release this spring. But if you haven't enjoyed this yet please do add it to your wish list. It is a joy for those familiar and unfamiliar with the legends of the gods.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Daugher of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

Another epic time parallel tale of Vikings, women, exploration of time, place and also belief. Absolutely loved this from start to end. A powerful message with memorable and relatable characters in settings both old and contemporary.

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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Name Meaning Pride - A Poem inspired by Dragon Age Inquisition : Trespasser (DLC)


A Name Meaning Pride

by Rebecca Hill

Halamshiral summoned.
Soldiers march and standards rise.
Nations gather under Orlesian skies.

Divine Victoria, sacred judge.
Friends and Allies re-unite.
Each concerned about the political fight.

Two years of peace.
But can peace last without a war?
Is the Inquisition needed anymore?

Hidden agendas, angry words.
Amidst the tension, a dead Qunari is found.
Danger imminent, suspicion on all around.

Eluvian secrets, Elvhen ruins.
Well of Sorrows whispers in your ears.
Lyrium and gatlock, deepens their fears.

Bombs detected, foiled, prevented.
Suspect locations found in all cities.
All parties have conflicting priorities.

Inquisitor and companions leave.
Journeying through Eluvian, chasing Qunari.
Aware of an unknown agent party.

The Anchor, glares green and bright.
What magic has re-activated your wound?
Such pain, is your life already doomed?

Fen’harel, god or man?
Stories long forgotten, revealed in Anchor’s light.
Is anything the Dalish know, true and right?

Viddasalla spits a name.
Believe her or not, suspicion is planted.
Only from HE can answers be granted.

Saarath freed, power seized.
Battle for the truth is intense and hard.
Spells cast and swords slash, yard by yard.

Qunari statues, stone and silent.
Ahead you find him, traitor or friend.
All you want is for the lies to end.

Solas is Fen’Harel.
Ancient stories true and not true.
He says he didn’t want to hurt you.

Restoration and sacrifice.
His quest for the past, will destroy your future.
Your heart breaks and the Anchor rupture.

You beg, he denies.
The return of Arlathan and all that once was.
Not even your love will stop his cause.

Pain intensifies, body crumbles.
A shared kiss, farewell given, Anchor sealed.
Your arm is lost, no power left to wield.

Eluvian closes, left alone.
Anger and sadness combust inside.
You scream at the world, a name meaning Pride.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Becky Bookworm Book Review - Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War, #1)Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very different but very engaging and exciting fantasy set in an alterative post-nuclear-war-global-flooding world where countries are Kingdoms and the Middle Ages blends with Renaissance depending on which country you are in.
Princley Rogue and Scoundrel of a protoganist and a gentle but battle-forged giant of a Viking make a very animated and captivating duo. As each becomes entangled in a complex and far reaching spell that will require them to survive together for many will try to tear them apart...
Hugely entertaining. Great imagining of an alternative world where current civilisation has fallen. Many superb lines of dialogue and descriptions evoke scenes clear as crystal.
Hugely delighted to have discovered this series as a gift from a student. Looking forward to starting book two.

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Becky Bookworm Book Review - Swordland by Edward Ruadh Butler

Swordland (Swordland Series)Swordland by Ruadh Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who knew such a small book could contain such drama, action, adventure and war.
Which isn't surprising considering the main cast of characters are Norman - the people who assumed the mantle of Warlords after the age of the Vikings.
However, it may be surprising to many whom like me aren't familiar with Norman history beyond October 1066, that this tale is set not in England, but firstly in Wales and then on to Ireland.
For the Normans didn't just transform the fate of England, but also our neighbours in both land and sea. The Welsh weren't entirely happy having the Normans as new neighbours and so proved problematic, yet it seemed the only people who were even slightly happy for the Norman's arrival - were the Irish, or some of the Irish. Mainly those who were losing an age old feud against other feudal Lords and the High King. They see an opportunity to lure theses masters of war with the offer of land, so they can defeat their enemies and claim back more land than they lost.
Thus you are introduced to Robert Fitz Stephen, a proud Norman who will prove to be both Ireland's saviour and it's doom.
The drama kicks off from the very first sentence on the first page and keeps up all the way through. So many characters both good and bad or in-between, both Norman, Welsh and Irish, and even the settled Norsemen of Ireland who also had to face the Normans, all help give the reader a 360 degree omniscient view of the entire story.

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Friday, 17 March 2017

Becky's Big Day in London: British Museum & Last Kingdom Season 2 Premier

Sometimes luck and fate can work together to allow your dreams to come true.

Such events are rare and I have been blessed to encounter a few in my life and one occured recently that combines my love of history and anything vikingy.

It all began when a special invite to attend the Premier of Season 2 of The Last Kingdom - a hit BBC/Netflix TV series based upon the bestselling Anglo-Saxon chronicle series which follows the epic and historical founding of England under the rise of King Alfred against the Viking Danes - landed in my Twitter DM inbox on Friday 3rd March.

I have been a fan of the books since I was sixteen and it was in fact The Last Kingdom book which ignited my love of all things vikingy as I fell in love with the way of life and the mythology just like Uthred, the fictional protagonist who was born a Saxon but kidnapped and raised as a Dane.

I was truly delighted and love the first TV series adapation back in 2015/2016. The cast, the action, the dialogue and of course setting and costume were all top quality.

So I was overjoyed when I learned Season 2 begins tonight, two weeks ago, and jumped over the moon when the Team at TLK decided to invite me, a humble fan to watch the 1st episode before everyone else and meet the cast!?

I was overwhelmed with the gratitude for them to invite me and I will be eternally thankful to my employers to let me have the day off to attend.

I decided to make the most of my day in London by visiting the British Museum before my special event at NBC Universal Studio Offices.
I of course went straight to the Anglo-Saxon section and marvelled at the wonders of Sutton Hoo. Followed by the Viking section where my jaw dropped as I finally got up close to the Franks Caskett which is a rare and beautiful object.
I did take LOTS of photographs of many different objects but these two were my favourite.
Replica of the Sutton Hoo Helmet - must have been a true marvel of craftsmanship even then.
My fav side of the Franks Caskett (all 4 equally stunningly carved) - this depicts a Norse myth of Weyland the Smith on the left - then on the right the 3 Kings presenting gifts to Mary & Jesus
Then it was onto TLK HQ where me and other fans and members of the production team were ushered into a luxurious inhouse cinema room to watch the first episode.
The only thing missing was popcorn.
It was as good as if not better than the first series combined, we rejoined familar characters and also met new ones, there are lots of new plot twists accompanied by superb dialogue and epic action and drama.
Have no doubts or fears fellow fans - Season 2 of TLK is going to be as awesome as the first if not a whole other level up.
Afterwards we had chance to mingle with the cast!
My first encounter was the tall and considerate Rune Temte who played Ubba in Season 1. He showed a genuine interest in me as a fan which he also is despite no longer featuring in the story.
Rune with his Ubba face on... he really isn't that scary at all...
I then met the superb gentleman that is David Dawson who plays King Alfred. He again happily answered my questions and recognised me as a fellow Northerner. We both agreed Aethelflaed, Alfreds daughter, deserves more recognition.
Such a charming gentlemen
I then met Harry McEntire who plays the mischievous Aethelwold and he was really sweet and I loved telling him how I appreciate his character as he isn't outright evil but he definitely likes to have his own agenda.
He is just a loveable rogue in real life.
I then went up to Eliza who plays Aelswith, Alfreds stern and scary wife. Eliza is the complete opposite which just shows that she is a brilliant actress to act so against her naturally friendly and warm personality. 

Last but by no means least was meeting Alexander Dreymon, Uhtred son of Uhtred. He was really charming and I felt the most nervous talking to him. I bravely asked him how he felt having long hair and he did admitt it could be its own entity at time when filming and he revealed it took 9hrs to put in all those extentions and the same to take them all out.
I met Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred!
The whole day was a dream, the sun was shining, seeing my fav artifacts of history was amazing, the first episode and meeting the cast was epic - I owe one of the best days of my life to the TLK team for choosing little old me.

I wish and hope that Season 2 brings them more success and secures a third season.
Everyone who works on it from the costume designer to the stunt team to hair and make up to the writers and of course the actors deserve fame and recognition for excellent tv drama.
This as precious to me as Uhtred's sword is to him.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy

The Serpent Sword (Bernicia Chronicles #1)The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is clearly written with a love for this historical period which I must confess is a tad earlier than what I normally read - my usual tastes for Historical fiction start in the early 8th-9th century, or whenever Vikings started making trouble.
This is well before Vikings were even a threat to anyone in England, for this was when the Kingdom of England was still many different feuding Kings each trying to conquer the other and in a time where surprisingly it was the Welsh that were taking on the role of menace.
Into this mix comes Beobrand, a young man who seems to have come from a kingdom far to the south, don't ask me about my historical geography but as his accent was so distinct to the Northumbrians/Bernicans I figured a Southerner. He has left behind a dead family & burnt home, he seeks to join his eldest brother and the King he has sworn under, yet, not all is as it seems and the reader learns that truth from the very first page. For in these brutal times a man survived not just by his blade but by his honour, loyalty and bravery. Beobrand will learn this lesson, and many more, in cruel and shocking ways throughout the book as he faces friend and foes alike in a personal quest that always frustratingly never accomplished until...
Over all the action, drama, characters, landscape, detail is all brilliant, a very good story well told and as soon as I reached the last page I went straight to the Kindle store and downloaded Book 2 The Cross and the Curse as I want to see what Beobrand faces next as well as observe how much he has changed & grown from Book 1.
There is however a but, for me personally I found it slightly jarring when the narrator leapt from one characters head to another within the same passage - there are good clear breaks between characters points of view but sometimes it felt a bit like hop scotch between thoughts but it may not bother others.

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