Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: The United States of Vinland

I loved this "what if" story of the founding of the USA by the Vikings.  I read it in two days - my attention was held from the start.  I have read the sagas of the founding of both Iceland and Greenland, so this extension (if you like) of the Viking journey to the north American seaboard is not really that far-fetched.  In fact, there is some conjecture that "others" had reached these shores long before Columbus - this explores one of those ideas - and well.

The Landing is the story of the first arrivals and their struggles to establish themselves in this new land after such a perilous and tragic journey. We meet the cast of characters and discover that sometimes new beginnings are a lot harder than first visualised.

I am so looking forward to the second installment which, I believe, begins 20 years after the first landings.

Colin's style of writing is easy to read and flowing - not too bogged down with over descriptive narrative and of the land and its peoples, leaving just enough for your imagination to take full flight - which is what a good novel should do.

Highly recommended for those interested in history with a twist.

Colin's website: The Fall of Ossard

About the Author - in his own words:
"I’ve spent most of my life in Australia, sometimes on the west coast, sometimes on the east. Currently, I live in Perth, where I drink far too much coffee, while writing and looking after hundreds of young sapling trees. I also work in a bookshop to keep the cash coming in. Over the years, I’ve done many things, from working in banking, retail, publishing, to dish-pigging, event management, and even running a tree farm. Through it all, I’ve written."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: Anne of Cleves: Henry's Luckiest Wife

I had the pleasure of reading a new (and soon to be published) work by David featuring the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and entitled "Anne of Cleves: Henry's Luckiest Wife".

Anne has had a bit of a rough time at the hands of chroniclers and writers, being described as being most unpleasant in appearance and personal charm, folksy and uncultured, the Flanders Mare; and yet she also comes across as smart, personable and even pleasant of appearance, and certainly shrewd enough to make a financially beneficial “divorce” from Henry which set her up for the rest of her life in England.  Even today, Anne remains an enigma.

This retelling of Anne’s life is initially told to us in the first person by Anne herself, as she reflects upon her life and the events leading up to her marriage to Henry VIII, King of England.  Anne’s recollections are interspersed with a more standard retelling of events as they occurred before, during and after her marriage.  We find Anne adjusting to court life around her and to her change of status once the divorce was made formal. We are then taken through the events that took place from the death of Henry VIII to Anne’s own demise.

I found this to be a rather enjoyable read, and David presents Anne in a more personable light, attributing to her some measure of intelligence and understanding of the politics of the day, as well as being a typical Tudor-era woman who enjoyed the finer things in life – friends, fashion, gossip, the good life.

Anne certainly was the luckiest of Henry’s wives – she married Henry and managed to keep her head!  And she outlasted both Henry and all his other wives, dying aged 41 in 1557.

For those with a love of all things Tudor, this is a must for your personal library.

David has written a number of  works that readers will enjoy – I certainly found his book on Shakespeare quite intriguing!

You can see a full list of David's books at his website - author website and Goodreads website

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Reign - A Story of Jezebel

It is an age old story – a young woman is given to a man not of her choosing; they share nothing in common but this; they worship differently; their countries differ in status; and yet they are thrown together to make the best of it. Can good come of this union – possibly. But this is the story of Jezebel of Phoenicia and Ahab of Israel, and it is hard for many to view this story for what it is without any prior (Biblical) misconceptions.

We begin with Jezebel as 12yo (886BC) participating in the ritual sacrifices of the day in her native Phoenicia. She reflects on her earlier life – of her mistreatment at the hands of her own family and those around her, and of her growing dedication to the religion of her people – this will be her strength.

Four years later Jezebel is betrothed to Ahab, Prince of Israel (882BC) – it is a union welcomed by neither Jezebel nor Ahab – but it is a union between two nations. And so the story interweaves from the viewpoint of the three main characters – Jezebel, Ahab and Obidaiah (servant to Ahab). 

We are taken through the familiar Biblical stories of the introduction of the priests of Jezebel; the struggle of Ahab between accommodating his new wife’s religion and the constant need to please the prophet and God of Israel. Jezebel slowly begins to feel her strength when both she and Ahab ascend to the throne of Israel. But for Ahab, the internal conflict only increases between his duty to his country and his religion – can they both co-exist.

As she tells us, Jezebel had given everything for a throne - and what she hadn't given was taken from her. Whilst Ahab is depicted as a weak ruler, sinking ever deeper into a melancholy – hovering between his loyalty to his God or his country - Jezebel takes on his role as ruler and has strength to follow her convictions in the face of opposition. Jezebel takes more of a leading role, making decisions that Ahab is afraid to make (the story of Naboth’s garden is a prime example) – that which he covets but cannot obtain, Jezebel obtains. 

Events take place from the marriage of Jezebel and Ahab to the point of Ahab’s death – and this is where Jezebel leaves us – with a footnote from the author as to her future.

I have enjoyed this new look at a woman who has been tarred with the same brush as Eve – it is an intriguing story of how this woman came to be – and what drove her.

"Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Wolves Among Us, Chosen, Desired, Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA.

Focusing on ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets."