Monday, February 26, 2018

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

When Ragnvald Eysteinsson returns with his crewmates from a season of raiding, the Norwegian expects to return home to claim his father's land from his stepfather now that he has reached his majority and to marry Hilda from a neighboring farm.  Instead, he is betrayed by the captain of his ship, Solvi, cut by his sword and pushed overboard.  As the ship disappears, Ragnvald tries to reach shore but soon finds himself drowning.  As he slips under the water, he has a vision of a great golden wolf that he must follow.  He regains the surface and is rescued by a fisherman.

Returning home, he realises that Olaf, his stepfather, has no intention of turning his land over and that in fact, he has probably been behind the treachery Ragnvald has encountered.  After trying and failing to best Olaf in the annual court, he falls in with soldiers and is soon in the court of King Hakor.  He knows Hakor's bastard son, Oddi, who brings him to Hakor's attention.  Known for his wisdom and fairness, he becomes an advisor and is sent to accompany Hakor's sons to the camp of a contender to unite all of Norway.  This is Harald, just a boy but already a feared warrior.  His goal is to unite all of Norway under his rule.  Could he be the golden wolf Ragnvald is to follow?

In the meantime, Solvi heads up the opposition.  Even more galling, he has taken Ragnvald's sister, Svanhild, as his wife.  Everything Ragnvald has done has been done with the thought of protecting his sister and to find her now the wife of his greatest enemy is almost more than he can bear.  As events move toward a climatic battle between the two forces, Ragnvald's destiny as well as that of Norway will be decided.

This novel is a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Vikings.  Long glorified in fantasy, this story shows the short, brutal lives of many in the culture and how alliances and betrayals were the stuff of daily life.  Along the way to showing how Norway became a united country, it narrates the daily lives of these people.  This is Linnea Hartsuyker's debut novel and she has exploded onto the historical literature genre.  This book is recommended for historical fiction readers and anyone interested in a fascinating story.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith

It's a normal day at Comoran Strike's London detective agency.  Or at least, it's normal until his assistant, Robin, opens a package and finds a severed human leg in it. 

The police are called and they of course want to know who would send Cormoran such a thing.  Cormoran can think of at least four people.  One was a mobster he helped put away, one a man he arrested while he was military police, another a pedophile he was instrumental in stopping and the last is his stepfather, a semi-famous musician whom Comoran has always believed murdered his mother.

Robin's appalled but there are other issues.  She is about to marry Matthew who she has been with for years.  He insists she quit her job immediately and as this is a sore subject between them for years, she knows this will only strengthen his case.  She is determined to continue working as a detective and to do so despite Matthew's objections and Cormoran's determination to at least protect her while she's working.

The two detectives start off on a journey to determine who is so set on destroying Comoran and his agency.  After the police find the rest of the girl, they soon discover that this is not a one time affair.  Instead, this is a man who has killed before and as he quickly proves, will kill again.  Worse, he seems fixated on Robin and things quickly get dangerous.  Can Comoran and Robin find him before he finds and finishes them?

This is the third novel in the series and readers of the first two will be happy with this effort.  Comoran is a wonderful character, one of those rough and ready men who are magnets to women without trying and who would be surprised to know it.  Robin continues to show strength and ingenuity and is a strong female character.  The book ends on a cliffhanger that will have readers anxiously awaiting the fourth book in the series.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Booksie's Shelves, February 20, 2018

It's almost the end of February with spring on its way.  My daffodils will be blooming sometime this week and I can't wait to see them; they are so optimistic and happy.  I've been reading a lot but haven't finished a lot.  I've only finished two books this month which may be a record for me but that number will go up by the end of the month as I have several that I'll finish before then.  Sports are almost over for me for the year and that's when my reading goes up.  I watch football all the way to the end; with college basketball I watch only till the Tarheels are out of the Big Dance.  Last year, of course, they went all the way and won and I can only hope they do that well this year.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  Snow City, G.A. Kthryns, thriller, sent by author
2.  How Hard Can It Be?, Allison Pearson, women's lit, won online
3.  Autumn, Ali Simith, literary fiction, purchased
4.  The Burial Society, Nina Sadowsky, mystery, Amazon Vine review book
5.  The Standard Grand, Jay Baron Nicorvo, literary fiction, Amazon Vine review book
6.  Quietus, Vivian Schilling, thriller, sent by publisher
7.  The Lauras, Sara Taylor, literary fiction, Amazon Vine review book
8.  False Friend, Andrew Grant, mystery, Amazon Vine review book
9.  Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira, historical fiction, sent by publisher
10.  The Storm King, Brendan Duffy, thriller, sent by publisher
11.  The New Boy, Tracy Chevalier, literary fiction, sent by publisher
12.  Crimson Lake, Candice Fox, thriller, sent by publisher
13.  The Darkling Bride, Laura Andersen, historical fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  Career Of Evil, Robert Galbraith, audio
2.  Strangler, Cory Mitchell, Kindle
3.  You, Caroline Kepnes, paper
4.  The Jury Returns, Louis Nizer, hardback
5.  Possession, A.S.Byatt, hardback
6.  The Woman In The Window, A.J. Finn, Kindle Fire

7.  A Book Of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates, Kindle Fire
8.  Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead, Kindle
9.  The Abomination, Jonathan Holt, Kindle Fire
10.  The Half-Drowned King, Linnea Hartsuyler, hardback

11,  The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers, various, paperback

Happy Reading!


Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Truth by Terry Pratchett

In Ankh-Morpork, the city thrives on rumors.  Of course, no one really knows what's going on, but that's okay.  But William de Worde doesn't think so.  He has renounced his wealthy family and must scratch out his own living.  He does so by sending letters to various men of influence telling them what is going on.

William's life changes when he meets Gunilla Goodmountain and his fellow dwarfs.  They have come to Ankh-Morpork to make their living and have brought their printing press with them.  William is entranced with the rapidity that news can be distributed and before you know it, he has created the first newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times.  He hires Sacharissa Cripslock, a beautiful girl who is determined to make her way as a writer and who seems perfect for the business.  He also hires Otto as the photographer.  Otto is a vampire and every time he takes a flash picture, he crumbles into ashes and must be reconstituted.  Together, the group soon has a thriving business.

But all is not well.  Another newspaper, The Inquirer, starts up and it has a different business plan.  It's so hard to figure out what is going on so they just make up stories.  Not the truth but very popular with the readers.  One of their stories is about the top administrator, Lord Vetinari.  He has disappeared and the rumor is that he stole money before his disappearance.  William is sure Lord Vetinari is innocent and in fact, in danger, but few believe him.  The appearance of two of the most murderous villains, Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, tends to back up William, but can he survive long enough to bring the truth to his readers?

This is the twenty-fifth novel in Terry Pratchett's enormously successful series, Discworld.  It was published in 2009, but is prescient of the 'truth' or 'false news' controversies swirling around in today's world.  The humor is sly and omnipresent.  Fans of Pratchett's world will rejoice in this title, and those, like me, for whom this is an introduction, will wonder what took them so long to discover Pratchett's genius.  This book is recommended for fantasy fans.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Plague Of Giants by Kevin Hearne

In this new epic fantasy, a disaster has come upon the lands.  Bone Giants have invaded and are determined to take whatever they want.  They can throw up a city in mere weeks, and their response when meeting with anyone from any of the surrounding countries is to kill everything they encounter.  In this world, every country is the site of a Keening, an extraordinary talent that is given to some of its inhabitants.  There are five known kennings.  In a country near the sea, the keening is to control water; another country controls rock and earth while another controls all plant life.  There is talk of seven kennings but only five have been discovered and used.  All the other countries band together to fight the invasion and the death and destruction the giants bring.

Dervan is an academic.  He grew up with the ruler of his country and many of the refugees from the giant's invasion have ended up in his country.  The ruler asks Dervan to do two things.  First, he must learn how to speak with a giant that has been captured and imprisoned in order to see what he can determine about their plans.  Then he is to work with and report on a bard who has come to town.

Fintan is the bard.  He is a shape shifter and uses his talent to take on the character and forms of those he tells tales about.  He gathers an ever-growing crowd each day to tell them about what is happening; how the giants have come, what they have already done and plan to do and what the various countries plan to counter them.  He talks of heroes and disasters, of tragedy and courage and disaster and hope.  The crowds grow every day to hear him and the rulers want to have someone there to be sure what Fintan is saying, as there is also suspicion that he is a spy.  Can the other countries pull together to defeat the greatest enemy any have encountered?  There is a rumor that the Sixth Keening has been discovered and perhaps it will provide the answer.

This is the first novel of a planned trilogy by one of the masters of fantasy.  Hearne's Iron Druid series is a masterpiece in the fantasy genre and this new series promises to be another one.  The world building is epic and his ability to juggle myriad characters while advancing the story is amazing.  The structure of having the bard tell the story in daily implements allows Herne to introduce all the characters in detail while filling in the story of how the giants are to be defeated.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.