Tag: amreading

Sunday Summary – 15th April 2018

Good morning everyone!!
My Sunday Summary is coming to you a wee bit earlier today, as I have forcefully dragged myself out of bed to do so. I had a really exciting week – and not of it is all about the books! My sister is visiting from Uni this weekend for a family occasion, so I have been off work for a few days (always a bonus!) So, I have gotten out of bed RIDICULOUSLY early is for two reasons;

  • to make sure you wonderful fellows get this lovely update post from me before I go back to visiting my family. As Sunday Summary posts are the most popular on my site, I’d be foolish not to make one;
  • I have had so many lie-ins over the past few days – if I had another one today, I would not sleep AT ALL tonight and I would be dead when I get back to work tomorrow (I probably will be anyway, sigh).

 
So aside from family… what has been going on this week?
Well, knowing that I was going to be preoccupied with family for the latter stages of the week, I prepared and posted an audiobook review of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on Wednesday. Also, in the spur of the moment last week I said I would publish a post about my favourite Terry Pratchett quotes from the book so far, but admittedly I haven’t done this yet. I actually found a post I wrote a while ago – Top 5 Inspirational Quotes by Terry Pratchett. If you feel you are missing out, you could always check this post out? Sorry guys… maybe I can get this post to you next week. My schedule has been thrown off somewhat, but I’ll be back to the daily grind next week!!! (yay…)
On a cheerier note, let’s take a look at what I have been reading this week!
 

Books Read


 
When I left you last week, I had read about 75% of Soul Music by Terry Pratchett; finishing this book was how I kicked off my week. I love Pratchett’s humour and easy writing style, so whilst this wasn’t my favourite book of the series, it still made for an enjoyable read.
Next I started reading The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith, and this book picks up the story where Taita left off in River God – only thousands of years into the future (modern day, to us folks). Royan and Duraid are trying to decipher the enigma Taita has left for them (the location of the tomb of Mamose), when disaster strikes. I wasn’t sure I would take to this change of perspective very well, but actually it isn’t as difficult to adjust to as I thought. I’ve only made a fledgling start on the book really, with my progress at 13%, but we have to start somewhere, right?
A couple of days into reading The Seventh Scroll I became conscious that time is not on my side this month. I have some pretty big reads ahead so I wanted to up my game. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne is also a library loan and I didn’t want to incur any fees for running over term on this one. Being only a couple of hundred pages long, I thought this would be a perfect speed read and would make me feel I am making progress. I finished this late last night. When I committed to reading the book I fully expected it would make me cry… but I didn’t! I love that it is written in such a way that you know what is going on, based on prior knowledge, but not in a harsh way.
Lastly, also on the slightly morbid subject, I have made more progress on listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. I am about half-way through this audiobook now, if memory serves, so I imagine this will be finished by the end of the month. Despite the content matter, I am really enjoying this book! Aren’t I such a cheery soul?
 

Books Discovered

This is a rare occasion indeed, for I have absolutely NOTHING to report this week! I’ve spent too much time playing Minecraft to look for new books this week…
Not that it’s a bad thing necessarily, I have more than enough to read. Yes, I’ve re-discovered my love of Minecraft lately… although I’m not particularly sure what’s brought it on. I’ve also been watching a lot of videos on YouTube…
Guys – I may have a problem, haha!
 

Coming Up…

So, normal scheduling resumes from next week.
On Wednesday, I will publish my review of my latest Netgalley read, Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law.
I am going to write the post about my favourite Terry Pratchett quotes. Usually (I’ve noticed), if I don’t commit to a day that I’ll publish a post, it means I’m not sure I’ll get around to it. I shouldn’t do that really, so I’ll commit to a day. Let’s say Thursday.
Have you got anything exciting lined up for next week?
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Living on A Rainbow – Calvin Wade

I downloaded Living on A Rainbow for free from Amazon a little while ago, after reading a sample of the first chapter of the book. I was instantly captivated.

Living on a Rainbow

Goodreads – Living on a Rainbow

‘Living On A Rainbow’ is a story about mental health, bullying, growing up, battling against adversity but most of all it is a story about love. The love between a man and a woman. The love between a boy and his best friend. The love between a mother and her son and the love between a boy and his father.

Harry ‘H’ McCoy is not an ordinary boy and his life is not an ordinary life.

 

The cover perfectly illustrates where we find our main character, H, at the beginning of the story – stood on the edge of a bridge, both afraid and morbidly fascinated with heights. His best friend Andy at his side, trying to talk him down and convince him that his life isn’t over.

In Living on A Rainbow we re-live H’s rollercoaster life, rewinding the years from that precarious moment on the edge, back through his adulthood and teenage angst to where it all begins – with a happy child in a loving family and the kind of best friend we have all wished for.

As well as themes of mental illness, one of the most important messages in the book is that love for one another is one of the best gifts we have. Relationships form and fracture, as they do naturally throughout life, but we get to see the impact they truly have.

The first couple of chapters really drew me in. I wanted to learn what had happened to make H want to end his life. Then, as we experience H’s life from his childhood, I found the pace slowed. This isn’t a bad thing – it gives you the time to think and relate to his experiences. It grows on you. At the time, I thought the narrative would benefit from being broken down by chapters bringing us back to the present time, but having finished the book, I have changed my mind.

For me, the greatest revelation in the book comes right at the end – it’s how subtle/gradual a decline in mental state is. I will say now that I (luckily) have never experienced mental illness, although I have in my own way been able to relate to H towards the end. External influences are often attributed to stress in life and it isn’t always apparent that our perception or outlook has changed. In the past year I have had difficulty with bad mood swings as a result of a hormone imbalance. It took somebody else having a word with me to make me realise it was more than circumstantial. As far as I knew I was just having a bad time; I had job uncertainty and a close family member was recovering from illness. Naturally, I attributed my bad moods to these things. Having experienced what I have, I can hand-on-heart say that this has been written in a way that I strongly identify with. If anyone was to read this book as a means of understanding mental illness, I would say that this is an accurate representation of one of many mental illnesses out there.

I think Living on A Rainbow is an insightful read and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more. Inevitably, mental illness is a personal experience and differs between us all, so I would also recommend reading it in conjunction with other books of a similar nature in order to build a bigger picture.
Rebecca mono

Book Review: The Fall – Steve Campitelli

Happy Wednesday everyone!
If you checked out my blog post yesterday, an Interview with Steve Campitelli, then thank you very much! If you haven’t read it yet and would like to know a little bit more about this book, please go and check out this post afterwards!
Today, I get the privilege of sharing my thoughts about the book with you.

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

The Fall

Goodreads – The Fall

Melbourne, 2052, two years since The Fall.
A wave of infection, the Jackson Virus, has swept the world, leaving in its wake a terrifying apocalyptic wasteland populated by wild cleanskin survivor groups and the ravenous, infected night predators – the jacks. In this nightmare landscape, one of the last remaining sanctuaries is Kulin Wallcom, a community enclosed by a 10-metre wall patrolled by what’s left of the military. The wallcoms are the last remaining bastions of defence and security in a world gone over the edge.
But the people of Kulin can’t stay behind their wall forever.
Recovery expert, John Bradley, is part of a major operation into the wasteland looking to not only ensure the survival of Kulin by bringing back critical supplies from the abandoned Southstone Supermall, but, more crucially, to also locate and extract the only person left who may be able to reverse the tide of infection.
However, the mission faces danger at every turn. It seems to be compromised from the inside, Southstone is thought to be an impossible target overrun with infected, and wasteland survivor bands, led by the psychopathic wasteland leader, the Headhunter, are bent on making sure the operation has to fight each step of the way to get back to the wallcom before nightfall.
Because that’s when the jacks come out.
And they will find you.
Welcome to the world of The Fall.

How would you cope, being thrown into a world overrun with infected?
I sure wouldn’t.
Nothing screams desolation better than the hot, dry, and almost uninhabited Wastelands of Melbourne, Australia – at least, it isn’t inhabited by many humans. Only small, ramshackle communities remain, but not by choice. Infected stalk their prey in the night, looking to feast off human flesh and infect the remaining population. Life for the remaining survivors is not an easy one.
Kulin is not wholly self-sustainable, and when they undertake their most ambitious “pick” yet, will the operation run smoothly? There is a lot to play for and much to gain; personal ambition may threaten the entire operation.
The post-apocalyptic vibe of this book reminded me of another book I enjoyed last year, Bad City by Matt Mayr. I’ve also been listening to The Stand by Stephen King, and whilst this is of a different genre entirely, they have one thing in common – the world as we know it being ripped apart by a deadly virus and civilisation scraping together to start again as best they can.
The narrative is well thought out and constructed in a diarised format, giving each POV an almost personal touch. The text is still written in third person (which admittedly is my favourite), but each chapter clearly states who our perspective is from. There are a sizeable number of POV’s but some of these aren’t extensive contributors to the book. For example Helen, whilst being a significant character in the narrative as a medic in Kulin, only has a small number of chapters to her name. Bearing this in mind, I think these entries have been written in the best way to help the reader keep track.
I understand why certain characters viewpoints were favoured, such as Bradley’s and Skylar’s; however, I would have liked to see a little more contribution from Helen. The other infrequent contributors had less of a part to play in the novel and their mere five minutes of fame is therefore understandable, but maybe as the series progresses we will get to see more of the minor characters.
The book is set with the right pace, allowing events to unfold in their own good time – such meticulous planning cannot be rushed. As the “BIG” operation is planned out, he outlines the everyday lives and hazards of the residents of Kulin, in order to make us understand just how huge a risk they are taking. Inevitably, the first few chapters are necessary to acquaint the reader and in this genre, this is all the more important. The rules are different and they need to be outlined. The first couple of chapters weren’t my favourite, (I didn’t fall in love straight away, but I didn’t dislike them either) but they accurately set the tone for the rest of the book. For me, the narrative picked up when the wheels are set in motion for the planning of the expedition.
I am also glad that Steve isn’t precious about any of the characters – after all, they live in a harsh world! It hardly seems realistic if the main characters somehow live in a protective bubble and manage to dodge all the bullets. Events transpire with the appropriate level of impact, and that is a skill to be admired.
The characters vulnerability makes them relatable to us as a reader. Fear is an emotion we all experience at one time or another – and in expressing our fear many of us let our guard down. Out on the Wasteland, adrenaline runs high. One lapse in concentration can mean death or infection, if not for you, then one of your buddies. Tragedy is only around the corner and it affects everyone in different ways. The diversity of characters, their personal background and their varied approaches to the situation they live in are an asset to the narrative and its development, as well as portraying an all-too-realistic response to this fictional pandemic.
The Fall is an enjoyable, read and makes a perfect introduction to what has the potential to be an excellent series. I think you could read The Fall as a standalone story if you wanted to, as the immediate conflicts are resolved, there are leads that will no doubt be carried forward into the future series and I for one would love to see how these get resolved.
Rebecca mono

Author Interview: Steve Campitelli

Hi everyone!!!
As you may know, I recently undertook reading The Fall as a part of my January TBR, and I am excited to be bringing you my thoughts and review of the book tomorrow!
I always like to give authors a chance to talk about their own books, and today is no exception. Steve has very kindly taken the time to answer some questions I had after reading The Fall:-

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, the setting for the book. I’ve lived most of my life here, apart from a 6-year stint living and working in Japan. I’ve been involved in education for 30-odd years in a few forms, and have also been working with text and editing work for about 15 of those years. I’ve always been a movie and reading junkie – the sort of idiot who likes catching the train to work as it gives me reading time. I am open to most genres but reserve a special place for post-apocalyptic, and I always knew that when it came to writing a book, it was going to be post-apoc!
 

What inspired you to write The Fall?

What inspired me to write The Fall? I grew up in the 70s and that era gave us some classics in post-apocalyptic, sci-fi and disaster movies like Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, The Poseidon Adventure, Rollerball, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green – these movies influenced me hugely. Later on, came George Miller’s Mad Max 1 and the second instalment in that series, Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior, was a pivotal movie for me, a real turning point. I found it visually stunning with a classic storyline, and it was significant as it was also an Australian movie – it showed we could make these types of stories too and, perhaps subconsciously, I took something out of that. I thought then, as I do now, it is almost the perfect movie, and it planted a seed around post-apoc stories that influenced The Fall some 30 years later. That notion of the last people standing, island of calm in a sea of danger that Mad Max 2 portrayed so beautifully, I tried to echo in The Fall with Kulin Wallcom, an oasis of safety in the nightmare wasteland. The Omega Man remake I am Legend was another influence. I’ve always been drawn to the faster and for me more terrifying quick infected beings, such as those found in I am Legend and 28 Days/Weeks Later, as opposed to slow, shuffling zombies. I wanted to write something which combined those elements. I hope I got it right!
 

Do you think it’s possible that some of the technology available becomes a reality?

This is great question and the answer is yes, absolutely, some of the tech in the story will be a reality and in fact, already is. I wanted to write a close-future story that contained elements of the recognisable and known to us, plus future tech, but I didn’t want it to be ‘magical’ and to dominate the story. I wanted it to be grounded in reality, to just be there and almost taken for granted, like we do the tech we have now, so I needed it to be very believable and logical and used in an everyday way. The BACC suit body armour and the ultra-strong materials it’s made of already exist and are being used, not quite as presented in the book. Other things such as coagulant spray, the tech portrayed by the ‘medeval’ (early ID of illness, remote diagnosis), driverless transports, virtual keyboards all exist and are being used now. The highlight tech piece in The Fall is the 360, featuring the virtual wrap-around screen in front of the face, which doesn’t exist as yet, but the technological basis for it does. I had this notion that future communications technology would transition from the hand-held phone to wearable tech positioned around the head and activated in front of the face. I drew on the tactile-virtual objects featured in movies such as Minority Report and Ironman, and essentially fused that with app technology of mobile phones. The technology for ultrasound-based tactile or touchable virtual objects exists now, so it seems a logical step for communications tech to go in that direction – it’s augmented/virtual reality. Another one which exists now is nano technology – the future of that is very exciting and real.
 

In terms of the infected and the mutations, was any research required before you wrote the book? If so, what did you look into?

In terms of the infected and what the virus might do, yes, I did quite a fair bit of research. I was presenting an unreal viral agent (the Jackson Virus) but I wanted to write things supporting it which would hold up and be believable as part of the world I was trying to establish. So I did a fair bit of reading on science, tech and medical websites and government CDC-type sites, on viruses, contagion, pandemics, procedures, nomenclature, physiology, emotional contagion, aggression, addictive drugs, ‘turning’ off infection at the cellular level – the types of things I have written about in the book are grounded in the things I have read and then taken up a few levels with a few liberties, health, tech and reality-wise. It was also important for me to write at least partially from the infected ‘perspective’ – to explain them and to make them more real as opposed to just being targets for the non-infected. I wanted them and the discussion around them to be more nuanced, so it was important to really ground the whole thing in believability.
 

The setting of the book is a post-apocalyptic Australia – why did you choose this setting?

Why did I choose post-apocalyptic Australia? I’ve probably already partially answered this in question 2 with the influence and appeal of Mad Max 2; I just love that dusty, wasteland setting. The Prologue of the book is set in The Mallee, a dry, hot wheat farming area hundreds of kilometres from Melbourne in north-west Victoria, much like the setting for MM2 in many respects. It’s a place I visited a few times as a child as my mother had good friends who had a farm there, and to get there we had to take an overnight train – it just felt like the end of the world; an appropriate place to start the apocalypse! When I first started writing the book, the Prologue was set in China at the base of a shale mountain and I was doing all this reading on it and I suddenly stopped and asked myself why was I setting the story in a place I knew nothing about? I then resolved to stick to what I know, so the Prologue transferred to rural Victoria, and the main part of the book, which was always going to be Australia not China, I set in an area familiar to me, south-east Melbourne. That notion of using familiarity also explains the Japanese angle: my wife is Japanese, I lived there, and the language peppered through the book is a reflection of that. There’s a lot you can do with research, but there’s also a lot to be gained from who you are and your experiences.
 

I get the distinct impression that The Fall is to be a part of a series. Any news on a next book?

Yes, The Fall Conversion is the first in what I intend to be a three part series. I am working on book 2 now, Reversion, which rewinds back to 2050 at ground zero with the virus’ namesake Dr Riley Jackson, before coming back to 2052 in the second half with John Bradley again as the feature. I hope to get it out mid-2018, but realistically, it’s probably going to be later in the second half of the year. The third part, Redemption, will be the resolution of the story. I hope you can be there for the ride.
The Fall
S.T. Campitelli
@stcampitelli
http://thefall-book.weebly.com/ 
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0762XCH57
 

A huge thank you to Steve for his time with the interview! If you’d like to find out more about the book, then please keep an eye out for my review, which is being posted tomorrow! I hope to see you there!

Reading List: January 2018

Hi everyone! *waves emphatically*
January is here! The blogging/reading records are wiped off the slate and it’s time to start all over again.
I started the blog last year and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it! Having taken a wee step back over Christmas to spend time with family and wind down, I am ready to throw myself back into the deep end and get stuck in!
Not only am I excited because I had a couple of late review requests to squeeze in, I GOT TWO REQUESTS IN ONE DAY!! There’s my first record of the year sorted!
I truly am flattered that people take the time out of their day to ask me to review their books. I know that it benefits you, but out of the many, many… many blogs out there, the fact you have taken the time to look at mine still astonishes me. So thank you – to everyone.
So,  I have a busy month ahead of me…
 

Snobbity Snowman – Maria Bardyukova & Quiet Riley

Snobbity Snowman
Goodreads – Snobbity Snowman
I was approached by the author to review this children’s picture book back in December, and I fell in love with the idea straight away. I enjoyed reviewing another book last year aimed at the younger generation (although not QUITE so young as this one), and I figure, why not take the opportunity to read and review the kinds of books from my childhood that made me the reader I am today?
Given the time of year, (I am listening to storm Eleanor raging outside my window as I type), I think it couldn’t be more appropriate!
 

The Fall – Steve Campitelli

The Fall
Goodreads – The Fall
This is the first of the late submissions to my reading list. I have read books of a similar nature before, such as Bad City by Matt Mayr and I am also listening to The Stand by Stephen King and really enjoying that too! Whilst this has no elements of horror like King’s novel, based on experience, this should be something I really enjoy!
 

A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage

A Mentor and Her Muse
Goodreads – A Mentor and Her Muse
I received this request on the same day as The Fall, on the 1st January and accepted as I was intrigued by the psychology aspect of the characters implied in the blurb. The fact that the main character is also a “frustrated writer” makes me suspect strong development – after all, it takes one to know one… or so they say. I’m still waiting for the digital copy of this book, but with the promise of it being sent through soon, I have added it to this month’s list.
 

Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Former.ly
Goodreads – Former.ly
I managed to make a respectable start on this last month, but Christmas happened and it ended up on the back-burner somewhat. Again for this month, the same thing applies as all my requests get priority. Fingers crossed I’ll get to finish it this month, get my review on Netgalley and get my rating score up a tad. It’s looking very sorry for itself at the moment – which is what happens when you get excitable and take on more than you can manage…
 

ReWired – S R Johannes

ReWired
Goodreads – ReWired
Again, much the same for this one. I downloaded this from Netgalley and I need to get my review (and rating) up. This also follows a technology vibe, which is something I haven’t really read much of since reading Aaru by David Meredith in November.
 

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist
Goodreads – The Miniaturist
This is the only paid book I have on the list for this month, and I have tagged it onto the end for a reason – motivation to get reading! I recorded and watched the BBC’s TV adaptation of this book on New Year’s Eve and fell in love with it straightaway!! This book was quite a bit further down the reading list and wasn’t due to be read for some time yet, but I’ve shamelessly bumped it up the list, because I can.
Divider mono
So there you have it – what books are you starting the year with? Have you set your reading challenges? How many books are you attempting to read this year?
Rebecca mono

Top Ten Tuesday – Books of the Year

Hi everyone!!
So I figured it was about time I shared my top reads of the year with you, as we are fast approaching the end of the year (and those all-important reading challenge deadlines!) I’m pleased to say I am so close to mine, being on the LAST BOOK of my challenge, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
I’m keeping matters brief here, but if you want to read more of my thoughts about any of these book, I have linked my reviews to each title for you.
So, without any further preamble (to which I am apt), here are my Top Ten Reads of the Year:-

10 River God – Wilbur Smith

River God
River God was recommended to me by a work colleague and I am glad I have started the series. The writing style is wonderful, and I am also blessed to know that a dear family member of mine used to love the works of Wilbur Smith. Knowing that gives me another little thing to remember them by. I can’t say I love all the characters all the time, but I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes us.
 

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien

LOTR Return cover
I am both sad and gladdened to have finished this series this year. That probably sounds odd to some, but there is nothing quite the same about reading a book again for the second time. That won’t stop me, but it doesn’t have that magic spark you get when you don’t know what is going to happen and the suspense is killing you. Admittedly, you probably pick up on more subtle hints when you read again… I’ll have to find out when I revisit.
 

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom
Here is another series started on the basis of both watching the TV series and on a recommendation. Cornwell’s writing is also fantastic and he succeeds in writing Uhtred’s character in such a way that he is loveably arrogant – and that is hard to do. I also love the historical fiction element, and with the filming of the next series starting next year, I’ll have to get reading!!
 

Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad.jpg
This is, so far, my favourite book by Terry Pratchett. I love the fairytale theme and the messages he so often likes to portray. Greed and vanity can be your downfall if you let it rule you. I also love to see the development of Gytha Ogg’s character. In the prior Witches books, she takes more of a backseat and that doesn’t suit her. I love the bawdy jokes, her huge personality and “don’t give a monkeys” attitude. Witches Abroad is satire at its best.
 

Making History – Stephen Fry

Making History
I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. Again taking a leaf out of History’s book, it considers what might have happened had Adolf Hitler not been born and the impact on the rest of the world. It is an entertaining, fictional read, with our main character progressing from bumbling through life to changing the course of History rapidly, and each of the characters are very relatable.
 

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird.jpg
I’m glad I tackled this classic this year. It is a book that was available to study through school, though it wasn’t one I was ever fortunate enough to read there. I’m glad I took the plunge though, as it makes for provocative reading in terms of educating ourselves on the injustice of the system in place not all that long ago. Makes you think, huh.
 

The Green Mile – Stephen King

Green Mile
I have lost count of the number of excited rants I have had about this book, and I am not going to go into another one because we could be here all day! Again, as in with To Kill a Mockingbird, The Green Mile is a real eye-opener as to how segregated society was (and arguably, still is). I won’t get into it though. If you want to read more, check out my full review by clicking on the title.
 

IT – Stephen King

IT
This is the longest book I have read all year. Not only that, it captures your attention and stirs your imagination, wondering what could be so terrible as to haunt the town of Derry so brutally. The fact that a book can be so long and both 1) popular and 2) keep your attention throughout, says a lot about Stephen King’s writing. What a legend this man is.
 

2     The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings 2
If I have one regret about this book, it is that I haven’t picked it up sooner. I literally only started reading this in October and I can testify it promises to be a fantastic series! Book 3 0f 10, Oathbringer, has only just been released, so I am going to have to pace myself I think.
Who am I kidding, I am not going to pace myself at all…
 

1     Thank you for review requests!


Lastly, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all you independent authors that approached me with review requests this year. I am very humbled that each of you took the time to read my blog and chose to approach me for a review. I couldn’t possibly pick any one of these over the others as a favourite, as I have read such wonderful and diverse books, so I wanted to take the time to celebrate them all.
 
I truly have been able to read some fantastic books this year and I hope to have as much success next year. What have you been reading and absolutely loved? If you have any recommendations for next year I would love to hear them!!
Rebecca mono

Review: Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Following my post on Thursday, written in all haste in the last ten minutes of my lunch hour, I announced that to celebrate reaching 100 followers I was going to post an extra review this week!

I was fishing for an excuse really. It had already crossed my mind that I was going to be falling behind if I didn’t throw some extras in. Nevertheless, today I am posting the review, as promised!

Dunstan
GoodReads – Dunstan

The year is 937. England is a nation divided, ruled by minor kings and Viking lords. Each vies for land and power. The Wessex king Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a spear into the north.

As would-be kings line up to claim the throne, one man stands in their way.

Dunstan, a fatherless child raised by monks on the moors of Glastonbury Tor, has learned that real power comes not from God, but from discovering one’s true place on Earth. Fearless in pursuit of his own interests, his ambition will take him from the courts of princes to the fields of battle, from exile to exaltation.

For if you cannot be born a king, or made a king, you can still anoint a king.

Under Dunstan’s hand, England may come together as one country – or fall apart in anarchy . . .

From Conn Iggulden, one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and murderer, liar and visionary, traitor and kingmaker – the man who changed the fate of England.

 

I originally decided I was going to read this book as I was introduced to this particular period of history by a work colleague, in the form of another series of books by Bernard Cornwell. Maybe this particular period of history is new to you. Perhaps you had the opportunity to watch “The Last Kingdom”, which aired on BBC Two here in the UK. I am also assured by other sources on the world-wide-web that it was shown on BBC America and the first season is also available on Netflix. If historical dramas are of interest to you – I really recommend it!

Dunstan picks up a little after the reign of Alfred the Great, whose reign and resistance to the Viking invasion features in the aforementioned series. Having loved this particular set of books so far I wanted to see how history panned out after the invasion.

Turns out, whilst England was under one rule, much of the struggles faced by King Alfred the Great live on past his reign.

Some slaves are kings and some kings, slaves, but that is because the world is corrupt and in ruins, no matter how high we build. – Dunstan

The history and turbulence within the monarchy following King Æthelstan’s death is narrated by Dunstan, who dedicated his life to the restoration of the Abbey at Glastonbury. You would expect a man in this position to be a humble one, serving God through his position as Abbot. Think again. He is far from honest: he cheats, he lies and he is a murderer. He’s a manipulator. At one point he saves his brother from death by performing a risky surgical procedure on him and succeeds. The fact that he then later emotionally blackmails Wulfric and puts him in the position of committing treason for his own gain, well, I think that tells you everything about our MC. There is only one person Dunstan will truly look out for, and that’s Dunstan.

Naturally, I didn’t like our far from humble and backstabbing narrator, but the narration from his perspective was not completely spoiled by this brat of a human being. We get to experience first hand the repelling of the Scots and the Danes in Ireland, as well as the reformation of the Royal Mint.

Dunstan finds himself serving many Kings following Æthelstan’s death. He had very clear ideas about who he liked and who he disliked. Of course, those in his favour were either his friends or people he felt he could influence with his affiliation to God. I found it laughable at Dunstan’s distaste for Prince Edwy. In my humble opinion, he was very much like Dunstan and their clash is probably as a result of having similar personalities!! Dunstan favoured Edwy’s younger brother to be King, voted for at a Witten (a meeting of influential lords, landowners etc).

I am not going to turn this review into a history lesson. In my experience, you are either interested or you are not, so I’m not going to be that person to throw facts and figures at you. If you are interested, I would recommend the book to you. Whilst exploring the history of the English monarchy, it is still an entertaining read. Please note that my opinions are my own – let them cloud your judgement. You may have a different opinion. The only way you will know is if you find out for yourself. If anyone has read this book – I would love to hear your thoughts!!
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