Tag: amreading

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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