First of all thank you to @blogspells for organizing and putting so much time and effort into the #Norsevember reading challenge, and to @paperbackbex for tagging me in this fun Book Tag challenge as part of the readathon. The #Norsevember Book Tag was originally set by Faye @Bookchocoholic. Her prompts are really well thought out and had me racking my brains to think of something appropriate to choose for each prompt!
Faye’s video explaining the Tag challenge can be viewed here. Anyone who wants to can take part – you don’t need to be tagged:
Paperbackbex’s choices for the Tag can be found here. Find her on Twitter @paperbackbex Read and follow her blog here:
And these are mine…
1. Longships – a book set at sea
I had trouble thinking of a book I’ve read recently which is set at sea. The first few chapters of The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger are set at sea, since it is the story of the Pilgrims who fled religious persecution in England, traveling to America on the Mayflower. The part set at sea is a very small percentage of the total book though.
My review of The Last Pilgrim can be found here: The Last Pilgrim – The Life Of Mary Allerton Cushman by Noelle Granger
However I do have a book on my Kindle, waiting to be read, which fits the ‘set at sea’ bill, so I hope that counts. It sounds interesting, so watch this space for a review – probably in December. It has a lovely atmospheric cover, which we all know is very important in helping decide whether or not to read something, right? I think it was designed by the author’s daughter – bonus points there too! I have reviewed other books by this author here on my blog. Follow him on Twitter: @carlrackman
Reviews for this book can be found here: www.goodreads.com
The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.
Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.
Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.
Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.
But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.
Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?
2. Horned Helmets – a book with a lot of metaphor
This was a tricky prompt for me. I often miss metaphors and am amazed when people say things like: ‘You do realize The Matrix was a metaphor for transgender themes, don’t you?’ Well no, I didn’t – for me The Matrix is all about leather trench coats, kick ass acrobatics, a great soundtrack, the colour green and a girl crush on Trinity. Would I have enjoyed it more or less if I’d noticed the metaphor? Probably neither.
A chocolate teapot is a metaphor for a thing which has no use – but, if you ignore the metaphor and take it at face value you can enjoy a cool gift and some yummy chocolate, so surely that makes it useful and the metaphor invalid, and I’m glad I ignored the metaphor and took the gift at face value. (It was very yummy.) Why is she going on about chocolate teapots in a book blog, I hear you ask. Well, maybe it’s a metaphor for the use of too much metaphor. Personally I prefer a spade to be called a spade (and not a chocolate teapot) so I know where I am with things.
Enough nonsense and on with the Tag.
For this prompt I chose Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince).
An aviator, downed in the desert and facing long odds of survival, encounters a strange young person, neither man nor really boy, who, it emerges over time, has travelled from his solitary home on a distant asteroid, where he lives alone with a single rose. The rose has made him so miserable that, in torment, he has taken advantage of a flock of birds to convey him to other planets. He is instructed by a wise if cautious fox, and by a sinister angel of death, the snake.
A lot of people assume this is a kids’ story, but it is actually a metaphor for the effects of war on France and its people.
“Not an allegory of war, rather, a fable of it, in which the central emotions of conflict—isolation, fear, and uncertainty—are alleviated only by intimate speech and love. But the “Petit Prince” is a war story in a very literal sense, too—everything about its making has to do not just with the onset of war but with the “strange defeat” of France, with the experience of Vichy and the Occupation.”
This article explains it way better than I ever could: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-strange-triumph-of-the-little-prince
3. Spread Eagle – a gruesome book
Any of the GoT books by George R. R. Martin.
I don’t like gruesome – I find it upsetting and unsettling. So I tend not to read it. I did persevere with the GoT books however, long before they were a TV series.
Any of the books in the Game of Thrones series are seriously gruesome – particularly Theon Greyjoy’s story arc. I wasn’t able to continue watching the TV show, having already read the books, when I knew what was going to be coming up next. Just didn’t want those images in my head!! That was a shame really because I loved the world building that went into GoT and a lot of the characters were fantastically well-written. Also … dragons!!!
4. Shield Maidens – a book with badass ladies
For this prompt I chose Northern Wrath, the debut novel by Thilde Hold Koldt, which I loved and I think we can all agree it has a gorgeous cover. Find her on Twitter here: @koldholdt
The characters of Siv, Hilda and Tyra are totally badass! When their village in Jutland is attacked by southern Christians while all the warriors are away at sea, these three women are the sole survivors of a fierce battle and their characters go from strength to strength as the story unfolds.
Read my full review here: Northern Wrath (Part One of The Hanged God Trilogy) by Thilde Kold Holdt
Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.
A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.
A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.
A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.
The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.
5. The Halls of Valhalla – a book about death
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is my choice for a book about death. It isn’t actually about death per se, but takes place mostly after the main character has died, while she comes to terms with herself before moving on.
I have read a fair amount of YA fiction and this book falls into that genre. I read it quite a few years ago, because it is by the same author as my favourite YA trilogy – Delirium, so I was interested to read something else by her. It was enjoyable but I didn’t love it and wouldn’t recommend it to adults. I would recommend it to teenagers though, to help them see that their words and actions have consequences and effects on the people around them.
The story follows a particularly self-obsessed American teenage girl who has no perception of the consequences of her actions. She dies in a car accident following a party, but is somehow able to relive the last day of her life seven times, each time becoming slightly more aware of how mean she is and gradually changing her personality as she gains some perspective on her actions and their effects.
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power i than she ever imagined.
6. Odin – a book with gods at its center
I chose The Testament of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
This is the sequel to The Gospel of Loki, which I have not read. Set in the present day, Loki is the narrator. Long after Ragnarök and after hundreds of years languishing in the Black Fortress of Netherworld, Loki escapes via the World of Dream & finds himself in a video game, able to possess a 17 year old female gamer & enter the present world of pizza, phones & Facebook. It seemed more YA than adult, and the author has said she prefers the reader to decide which genre her books belong to. My full review can be read here.
The end of the world—also known as Ragnarok to the Norse gods—has occurred, and Loki has been trapped in a seemingly endless purgatory, in torture, until he finds a way to escape. It seems that he still exists in the minds of humanity and uses that as a way to our time.
Back in the ninth world (Earth), Loki finds himself sharing the mind of a teenage girl named Jumps, who is a bit of a mess. She’s also not happy about Loki sneaking his way into her mind since she was originally calling on Thor. Worse, her friends have also been co-opted by the gods: Odin, Jump’s one-eyed best friend in a wheelchair, and Freya, the pretty one. Thor escapes the netherworld as well and shares the mind of a dog, and he finds that it suits him.
Odin has a plan to bring back the Norse gods ascendancy, but Loki has his own ideas on how things can go—and nothing goes according to plan.
7. The nine realms – a book set in another world
My immediate reaction was LoTR. But then I thought about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld because who doesn’t like the idea of a flat world being balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. I am specifically choosing the book “Guards, Guards!” due to the latest illustrated version being due out on November 20th in the UK, but which doesn’t seem to be available here in the US (and because… a dragon!). It has a beautiful cover and I am reliably informed by @RewanTremethick that he also got a free advent calendar featuring the Librarian with his copy. If you just want the advent calendar it is available in the shop at http://www.discworld.com along with loads of cool badges, key rings, fridge magnets and book marks. Exit via the gift shop, please…
Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco nobilis (“noble dragon” for those who don’t understand italics) has appeared in Discworld’s greatest city. Not only does this unwelcome visitor have a nasty habit of charbroiling everything in its path, in rather short order it is crowned King (it is a noble dragon, after all…). How did it get there? How is the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night involved? Can the Ankh-Morpork City Watch restore order – and the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork to power?
Magic, mayhem, and a marauding dragon…who could ask for anything more?
8. Mitgard – a book set in our world
Hope and Wasteland by Terry Tyler are set in the UK in the not too distant future. 2028 and 2061 respectively. They are both gripping dystopian novels, set in a world ruled by a single megacorporation with politicians in its thrall.
New PM Guy Morrissey and his fitness guru wife Mona (hashtag MoMo) are hailed as the motivational couple to get the UK #FitForWork, with Mona promising to ‘change the BMI of the nation’.
Lita Stone is an influential blogger and social media addict, who watches as Guy and Mona’s policies become increasingly ruthless. Unemployment and homelessness are out of control. The solution? Vast new compounds all over the country, to house those who can no longer afford to keep a roof over their heads.
These are the Hope Villages, financed by US corporation Nutricorp.
The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.
9. Loki – a book that deceived you
For this I chose Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This is a murder mystery set in a fishing village in 1960s North Carolina. I was deceived into believing I knew both who the murderer was, and the character of the main protagonist, Kya, right up until the end when there is a cunning twist to the story that was definitely worthy of Loki himself!
My full review can be read on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com
In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.
10. The frozen north – a book with a cold setting
For this one I chose Storytellers by Björn Larssen. Set in Iceland in 1920 an injured traveller takes up residence in Gunnar the blacksmith’s home while he recuperates, in return for his telling Gunnar an entertaining story. The cold climate of Iceland can almost be felt throughout the story, as can the lack of emotional warmth in Gunnar’s life.
Would you murder your brothers to keep them from telling the truth about themselves?
On a long, cold Icelandic night in March 1920, Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith, finds himself with an unwanted lodger – Sigurd, an injured stranger who offers a story from the past. But some stories, even those of an old man who can barely walk, are too dangerous to hear. They alter the listeners’ lives forever… by ending them.
Others are keen on changing Gunnar’s life as well. Depending on who gets to tell his story, it might lead towards an unwanted marriage, an intervention, rejoining the Church, letting the elf drive him insane, or succumbing to the demons in his mind. Will he manage to write his own last chapter?
Read my full review of Storytellers here.
Now to tag some other bloggers in the hope they will take on the challenge.
Go ahead and check out their fantastic blogs:
WeHaeBooks @BooksHae https://wehaebooks.wordpress.com/
Cassidee (omnilegent_antr) @sassidee https://sassideeee.blog/
Jordan @J_A_Duncan of Coffee Book and Candle @bookish_witches https://www.coffeebookandcandle.com/
Fantasy Book Nerd @fantasybooknerd www.fantasybooknerd.com/