Book Review: VIKINGS: THE TRUTH ABOUT LAGERTHA AND RAGNAR

Since the TV series hit our screens, there has been a great deal of interest generated in the Vikings. Personally, and not having seen the series, I wasn’t bothered in finding out more about them. But then I read Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha and Ragnar by Rachel Tsoumbakos.

Before we go any further, here’s the fantastic front cover:And now here’s the blurb:

Lagertha was known to be one of the wives of the famous Viking, Ragnar Lodbrok. But did you know they first met each other at a brothel?

And just how long did their marriage last?

Plus, was Lagertha really the revered shield maiden we see her as today?

‘Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha And Ragnar’ will unravel all these secrets and reveal a story that is more interesting than anything you knew about them previously.

In Part One their story is brought to life with a historically accurate retelling. Part Two then explores the historical facts surrounding this story.

‘Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha And Ragnar’ aims to discover just how much of what we know of the shield maiden, Lagertha, and the famous Ragnar Lodbrok in popular culture today is actually true.

Discover the truth today!

The ‘Viking Secrets’ series explores the historical fact from present day fiction in regards to the Vikings and the extraordinary women who existed in the Viking era.

PLEASE NOTE: Each of the books in this series can be read as standalone books due to the nature of the sagas involved. Therefore, the book numbering indicates the order in which the stories were published and not the order in which they are required to be read.

My review:

This book has been cleverly written in two parts: the first part is what happened to both characters in story form; the second are historical facts. Both parts make for an extremely entertaining and interesting read.

In part one, Tsoumbakos brings the characters to life to such an extent that I was totally hooked and had trouble putting the book down. I became so invested in Lagertha and Ragnar’s story due to how well the characters were drawn. The emotions portrayed were relatable and not exaggerated giving additional intensity and showing the complexity of the characters. This shows the talent of the author.

The story itself was easy to follow and flowed effortlessly. The descriptions used, while not overdone, were sufficient for me to picture each scene as clearly as if I were there.

The dialogue was realistic, although we obviously don’t know for sure exactly how they spoke in the Viking era, but it gave extra depth to both the story and the characters.

Overall, I can honestly say it is one of the best stories I’ve read in the past six-months (and I’ve read quite a lot)!

With part two being more factual, I wasn’t gripped like I was with the story. However, the facts were well-presented and interesting enough to keep me reading until the end. Tsoumbakos has obviously researched the subject thoroughly and with the way this part is written, it’s easy to make correlations with part one.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book, even if you aren’t into Vikings. The story alone is exceptional enough to capture your interest and well worth investing in!

Rachel Tsoumbakos

Author Bio:

Rachel Tsoumbakos has had several articles published through mainstream magazines and currently writes extensively for The Inquisitr.

Over the years, Rachel has been interested in many aspects of history. When studying a Library Studies diploma, she discovered just how much she enjoyed researching and has since used these skills in several of her novels. However, it was her work with The Inquisitr that brought her into the world of the Vikings and she has spent several years delving into the sagas of this culture as well as the history of the Viking Era.

Rachel lives with her husband, two kids, three cats and a flock of chickens in the idyllic Yarra Ranges, Australia. When she isn’t writing, she is working on her cardio as she trains for the zombie apocalypse.

Amazon Buy Links:

hyperurl.co/LagsandRags

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Author Interview: K J Waters

A couple of days ago, I revealed the book launch and an exclusive excerpt of Stealing Time by K J Waters. Click here if you missed it. I was so excited and intrigued by this book that I asked the author if she’d be kind enough to grant me an interview. She very kindly agreed so here it is:

kj pic

Welcome KJ. It’s great to have you here. Are you ready for a grilling?

Thank you so much Carlie, great to be here. Yes, let’s put the shrimp on the barbie! Wait… you meant the other kind of grilling. Yes, hit me with it!

CC: Your book Stealing Time deals with time travel. How long have you been interested in this subject and what was it that attracted you to it?

KJ: When I was a kid my step mother would read to us on long walks in the woods. We would sit down on a bed of leaves surrounded by the sounds of nature, the smell of pine, and the view of a canopy of tall trees and lose ourselves in the book. It set the tone for our mystical and beautiful adventures with C.S. Lewis, J. R. Tolkien, Richard Adams and more. One of books she read to us was A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle and it really sparked my imagination, and believe it or not starts with the famous Snoopy line, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

I soon discovered that the possibilities were endless with time travel. When I began writing, it was even more magical because you can go anywhere and change anything you want to suit your needs and tell an exciting story.

CC: I agree, the possibilities are endless with time travel – there are so many places you can take your characters to! I was particularly interested that you featured Hurricane Charley in the book. I was actually in Florida when it hit and lived through it myself. Did you experience this first hand? If so, how were you affected by it?

KJ: We have that in common, Carlie. I hope nothing too dastardly happened to you. Hurricane Charley was my welcome to Florida. I moved there and just like in Stealing Time, three days later Charley paid us a visit. Rude, don’t you think?

I’ve grown up on the East Coast and it seems where ever I’ve lived the hurricanes chose that location to wallop us. The prior year I was in Virginia Beach where Hurricane Isabelle devastated North Carolina and Southern Virginia coastline. I have been in over 15 hurricanes and tropical storms in my life, so it was an easy subject matter to convey the terror and helplessness you feel as the storm is raging around you, dropping trees and tornados as Mother Nature throws her tantrum.

I was lucky with Hurricane Charley, and for that matter, Francis, Ivan, and Jeanne that same summer in Florida also hit, but didn’t sustain any real damage, mostly just a lot of clean up. The last hour of the last hurricane, Jeanne to be exact, a branch from a Loblolly pine dropped and pierced our Florida room roof. Other than that was just a messy clean up and the dreaded no power or cable service for a week or more after each storm. It was a hot summer anyway, but throw in no power and zero entertainment… well you were there so you know.

CC: I was actually quite lucky. I didn’t lose power or water. It sounds like you had a rough time there. Moving on though, one of your characters ends up in London – have you ever been to the UK or has all your information come from research?

KJ: I visited London with my best friend after I finished grad school. I have always been fascinated with English history and how people lived back before modern conveniences. The details and social issues I had to research, but I felt very natural writing in that place and time.

I’m definitely an Anglophile and loved visiting the castles and other historical buildings when I was there. We also visited Ireland and Scotland on that visit and I was equally enamoured with the land, the history, and the people.

CC: If you come back to the UK, we’ll have to meet up! Anyway, I’ve given away a few minor details about Stealing Time, but can you tell us more about it?

KJ: Stealing Time starts with Ronnie Andrews and her best friend Stephanie McKay watching news coverage about Hurricane Charley. Ronnie gets a call from her boyfriend to spend the night at his weather lab, he is monitoring the storm, and it’s her birthday. He shares a very special gift with her – a watch she found on her trip to London with Stephanie the month prior. The watch is a very important part of the story.

During the peak of the storm, Ronnie is thrown back in time to 1752 London, where she struggles to figure out what brought her there and how to return. She is a modern woman and the people around her start to notice differences in her speech and behaviour and accuse her of being a witch. Ronnie struggles to find her way out of the life and death struggle to return to Florida and save her neck from the witch trials that ensue.

Meanwhile, Steph heads back home and invites her hot friend Nick over so she is not alone when the hurricane hits. She and Nick are caught out in the middle of the storm a few times and quickly find everything is falling apart around them, and are faced with losing everything.

CC: I noticed it has Volume 1 on the cover. How many books do you plan to write in this series?

KJ: I started Stealing Time as one book, but as I got so detailed in the telling and found so many cool twists and turns I decided to turn it into a trilogy. I neatly ended Book 1 after the storm and will pick up Book 2 immediately after. The third book will be the final in this trilogy. If you ask my son, who is my helper on the ideas of the books, he has mapped out 3 more trilogies after this. I’ve no idea if I’ll want to move on to something different after the first three books or keep it up. We shall see.

CC: I’m so glad there’s another book in the works. Can you give us a few hints about what’s coming in the next book?

KJ: Book Two has been so much fun to write. I have Hurricane Francis approaching and if you were there, Carlie, you remember it was the size of Texas and a category 5 as it approached Florida.  In Book Two, many of the same characters, and several new and quite colourful ones emerge as heroes and villains. To give you a quick 30 second snapshot of book two I’ll provide a list of highlights.

Stealing more time, seduction, rape, deceit, mud slides, Hurricane seeding and steering, drowning, suicides, Puerto Rico, Wild West shootouts, Hurricane Jeanne, the black plague, London 1666, and past life theories coupled with string theory, fifth dimension and other religious, cultural and belief systems to explain the time travel method I’ve invented.

CC: That sounds fantastic and maybe a little darker than book one. Changing the subject, I understand you also design book covers. How long have you been doing this and how did it come about?

KJ: Great question. I designed the cover to Stealing Time with a professional photographer friend of mine, Jody Smyers. A year later, I had several author friends approach me wanting to know who did my cover and if they would help them with theirs. I’m an indie author and I know the importance of having professional cover that captures the mood of your book – as you know everyone does judge your book by the cover. I’ve seen too many indie authors either pay way too much for a good cover or struggle to create their own without the marketing and editing knowledge on how to pull it off.

I talked to Jody and asked if he’d be interested in going into the business of book cover design and he was game. We started in January 2014 and you can see some of our covers here:

book cover from calendar graphic

We offer the usual book cover services of design and we can use your photo, one you purchase or as a niche market that most don’t offer, we can create a custom photo shoot to capture the cover you want. You can see a mixture of these methods on the book covers we’ve done.

CC: What do you do when you’re not writing?

KJ: Well I’m a water lover so if it’s warm out I’m neck deep in some body of water, whether it’s my pool or preferably I’m on a trip somewhere awesome. This summer will be Cape Cod.

I spend a lot of time with my gorgeous children and help them with school, or develop fun learning things for us to do during summer with my Camp Waters, where I invite their friends over for learning, lunch, and swimming.

When it’s not warm out, I write about my love of water on my blog, Blondie in the Water (kjwatersauthor.blogspot.com) and you can see some of my water adventures here.

I love the gym and you can find me there 4 days a week, if I’m not too busy.

CC: What sort of books do you enjoy reading? Do you have an all-time favourite?

KJ: I like a lot of different genres, from Michael Criton’s science fiction to Dan Brown, but my all-time favourite is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She is the main reason I decided to write a book. Her stories are so rich in history, character development, humour and time travel, that it inspired me to create a story of my own with more modern tilt.

CC: Let’s have a few fun ones to finish off with.

Gold or Silver?

KJ: Gold

CC: Cats or dogs?

KJ: Dogs, although I really like cats, too.

CC: Sandals or bare feet?

KJ: Bare feet, unless it’s cold. Then boots!

CC: Summer or winter?

KJ: Summer a million times over!

CC: Witches or vampires?

KJ: Witches.

CC: Hot or cold?

KJ: Hot! Hate being cold!

CC: Sweet or savoury?

KJ: I have a massive sweet tooth!

CC: And finally, pizza or chilli?

KJ: Pizza!

CC: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come and talk to me today. I wish you every success with Stealing Time!

KJ: It has been a pleasure Carlie! Thank you so much for having me on your blog!!

CC: You’re very welcome.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did! KJ has kindly agreed to write a guest post on what inspires her so I’ll be posting that in a couple of days time. It’s another chance to learn more about her so make sure you keep checking the blog for the next post.

If you’re interested in buying Stealing Time, the buy links are on the launch post (see top of this page for the link to the post)

 

Darker Places by Shaun Allan

Every now and then you have the privilege of coming across an author whose writing style it so different yet imaginative that it makes your toes curl. One such author is Shaun Allan.

I read his book Sin and absolutely loved it. It wasn’t the sort of book I’d normally read, but I’d heard so many great things about it, I became curious and picked myself up a copy. I’ve been a huge fan of his work ever since. I’ve also met Shaun and he is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He also likes my bacon sandwiches, a point which raises him in my estimation!

Today, Shaun launches his latest offering, Darker Places, a collection of thirteen stories and thirteen poems in the horror genre. I’m honoured to be able to reveal the cover here today. Look at this beauty and tell me what it says to you…

DarkerPlaces_96dpi_100%

And here’s the blurb:

What if you could steal the final moments from the dying? What if you had the darkest secret, but couldn’t think what it might be? What if you entered the forest in the deep of the night. Who is the melting man? And are your neighbours really whom they appear to be?

So many questions.

To find the answers, you must enter a darker place. Thirteen stories. Thirteen poems. Thirteen more doorways.

Well, if that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will! If it already has, here’s the buy link: Amazon UK and Amazon US

I’ve already got a copy of this book and can’t wait to read it. You can be sure that as soon as I have, there’ll be a review on here for you!

Shaun Allan

Shaun Allan

A writer of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into Sin’s point of view and sense of humour although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

Deities Rule, Okay?

Yesterday we had one or two technical difficulties – the gods weren’t on our side so hence no post.

However, today they are playing nicely so I’m able to bring you two day’s worth of awesomeness instead of just one.

First up we have the lovely Sherry Fundin, who has an exciting excerpt for you. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a deity! Click here to read more.

Last evening, I was on Writer-Chat with the charming Gerald Hornsby. The last time he interviewed me, my webcam decided not to work so every time I spoke there was a black screen. Luckily that didn’t happen this time! Gerald and I discuss Heart Search: Betrayal, my latest work in progress, and editing. You can catch the entire interview here.

 

Today, my dear friend and fellow author at Myrddin Publishing, Connie J Jasperson pulled out a chair, plonked me in it, and grilled me for a time while tipping tea down my neck at fairly regular intervals. I’m only joking – she was the perfect hostess! Catch the interview here. On a more serious note, Connie is definitely an author to watch out for if you love fantasy – she writes some amazing stories and I love her work (and I’m not just saying that because I’m her main editor)!

Last, but by no means least, another awesome author and friend from Myrddin Publishing, Shaun Allan, has an excerpt where Remy gets let off the hook. But from what? You’ll have to read it to find out! Click here and join me in the asylum once again.

Catch you tomorrow!

 

Radio Presenter Interview

Isn’t it amazing the different people who suddenly cross your path and become friends?

Last year I was introduced to Sarah Banham by my friend, Sarah-Jane Bird (she of the Made By Birdies jewellery that features in my giveaway). She is not only an author, but a radio presenter. I was honoured to be asked to be a guest on her show, Writer’s Block, last year and it was great. I’d met Sarah before the event as she wanted to get to know me a bit so when the big day came, I didn’t feel nervous and she made it such a fun experience. Funnily enough, Sarah-Jane and I were guests together a couple of months later talking about the writing group I run and a kids writing competition we were running (which was Sarah-Jane’s brainchild).

Anyway, when I put out a call for bloggers to help with the Heart Search: Betrayal blog tour, she was one of the first to raise her hand. She and I got together and she interviewed me. You can read it here.

hand up

Just think, if it wasn’t for Sarah-Jane introducing us, all the foregoing would never have happened. It’s a funny world sometimes!

Someone’s in Trouble!

I love picking out unique excerpts from Heart Search for people to post. I always try and stop it when it leaves a question in readers’ minds. Does that sound wicked to you?

Maybe it is in some ways, but when you look at it from an Indie author’s point of view, anything which generates interest in their work is a really good thing. Every author wants to create ‘a buzz’ about their books and the more people talk about them, the more well known they become.

Betrayal front cover

Today’s stop on day 4 of the Heart Search: Betrayal blog tour is Maria V A Johnson and she’s got an excerpt from chapter two that will certainly make you wonder what happens next. Click here to read it.

 

Book Review – Kiatana’s Journey by Natalie Erin

Kiatana's Journey

This book was a little different to what I expected. It contained everything described on the blurb and a bit more besides.

I loved the character of Kiatana. She was feisty, opinionated, and didn’t like people disagreeing with her or answering back. Maybe it was due to her upbringing and the fact she’s a princess with her own realm. However, she cares passionately about all the creatures in her forest kingdom, and has a softer and more playful side to her.

The characters of Lottie and Lilja were an absolute joy and I loved to see their journey from pups into adulthood. At times they had me laughing out loud and in one place I had a lump in my throat. The book was definitely the richer for their inclusion.

Some of the other characters were well crafted, especially Ionan, but others left me wondering &/or rolling my eyes. I felt Keota was a bit of a wimp with not much common sense at times. Although he could be quite assertive with Ionan, when it came to dealing with Kiatana or anyone else, he seemed to be a hapless twit. At the end, he seemed to grow within himself, but for me it was too little, too late. The other character who didn’t seem quite real was Casiff. When he first entered the story, he was a real nasty piece of work and at that point he was well written, but further in he did a complete 180 degree turn and became Mr Nice and Generous. It could be argued that meeting a certain powerful lady had something to do with it and I’m sure she was influential in his change of heart, but for me it was too abrupt a change to be realistic.

Most of the scenery was well described and I could use my imagination to fill in the gaps the author left, which I really liked.

For me, the one let-down in the book was how little space was given to the plague in the forest which sent Kiatana on her journey in the first place. It could have been drawn out a little more to give a real sense of urgency, with more detail of the sickness and how it affected different species.

Despite some of the things I wasn’t so keen on, I did enjoy this book. There was a twist I didn’t see coming and the ending has been left in such a way as to allow for a second book. I hope Natalie Erin will take the foregoing as constructive criticism as she undoubtedly has talent and I look forward to seeing her next offering.