New Read: Kin

After reading Lynn’s wonderful thoughts on the new, Viking murder mystery, Kin by Snorri Kristjansson, I knew I needed to read it. So I immediately requested my own copy from Netgalley, but then patiently saved it for the perfect darker, cooler days of autumn to read it.

In the summer of 970, legendary Viking warlord, Unnthor Reginsson has reached the winter of his years, he’s sixty-two, and has long since retired from raiding. Now Unnthor lives quietly at his farm, Riverside, with his wife, Hildigunnur, their adoptive daughter, Helga and his sworn brother Jaki and his son, Einar. Both Unnthor and his wife are well-respected in the valley and surrounding area, but as much as he denies it, rumours and gossip persists of a large treasure horde secretly buried on his land. All of which is to bubble dangerously to the surface when Unnthor arranges a whole family reunion.

Through the eyes of the young, intelligent and insightful Helga, we witness the preparation and arrival of Unnthor and Hildigunnur’s grown children and their families. There are three sons: the dark, dangerous Karl; the giant Bjorn and the gentle, henpecked Aslak, and one daughter: the lithe, clever Jorunn. With the gathering of the siblings, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface, as they all make their moves on the old man’s treasure. Then one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed… kin has been slain!

I daren’t go any further with the plot in case of spoilers! What I can say is what follows is a fast, gripping and twisting murder mystery, as Helga races against time to solve this terrible crime, before an innocent is blamed and there can be anymore bloodshed. As an adoptive daughter she has a more objective view and open mind than the others, and she has a wisdom that belies her young years. Also she puts all the cunning traits she has learnt from her wise adoptive mother, Hildigunnur, to work her way through this large cast, wheedling out all their resentments and secrets.

What was a very good murder mystery, which could perhaps be transposed to any time period, was taken to a whole new level by the fantastic, historical Viking setting. The picturesque, wooded Norwegian valley, with the Riverside farm and longhouse nestled within, where life is quiet, isolated and closely tied to the seasons. Then the reunion explodes this life apart with the busy, continuous slaughtering of animals, making beds, cooking food, bringing up the best wine and ale, and entertaining guests. We also have the chance to see traditional Norse games, sports and a blood sacrifice to the gods.

Overall I thought Kin was an excellent Viking murder mystery, which shows a different side to the raiding and pillaging Vikings. On finishing this book, I discovered that it is the first in a planned series, so I look forward to reading more of Helga Finnsdottir’s adventures. Great read.

Thank you to Quercus Books for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other Viking books?

This was also my third read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event.


Challenge: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII (End)

Having said goodbye to October, we also have to say goodbye to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event, hosted this year by Heather of My Capricious Life. Here’s what I managed to read:

  1. Cauldstane by Linda Gillard – A book with all the things I love: mystery; romance; history; a big, old house and a touch of the paranormal.
  2. Stop Press Murder by Peter Bartram – A page-turning, nostalgic murder mystery, with ace crime reporter, Colin Crampton in 1960’s Brighton.
  3. Kin by Snorri Kristjansson –  A dark, intense Viking murder mystery, which is the first book in a planned series, so I look forward to more!
  4. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King – The third nostalgic and thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery for me.

As I signed up for Peril the First level, I was aiming to read four books, so… nailed it! Although I do have a couple of reviews to catch up with, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

Did you take part in this event? Have you been reading anything dark, creepy or mysterious recently?

Adaptations: October 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here are the adaptations I watched in October:

Killing Eve (2018)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

Last month, I became hooked on this new BBC drama, based on Luke Jennings’ thriller novella series: Codename Villanelle. We are introduced to Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a low-wrung officer for MI5, who gets the chance to hunt down the deadly female assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer). This show had me gripped, scared and laughing in equal measure, as Oh and Comer portrayed brilliantly these two strong women become dangerously obsessed with each other. Great watch.

Mr. Holmes (2015)
Not Read     Film     Television

Having missed this when it was initially aired, I was thrilled to be able to catch this new Sherlock Holmes mystery film, based on Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, on the BBC iPlayer. In 1947, the long-retired Holmes (Ian McKellan), aged 93, is desperately struggling to recall the details of his final case, as his mind slowly deteriorates. There are no huge thrills in this film, instead what you get is an emotionally charged, well-wrought and superbly acted drama. Great watch.

Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Not Read     Film     Television

I caught this real-life, disaster film, based on the Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours article by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul, when it made its terrestrial premiere on Channel 4. A star-studded cast, including: Mark Wahlbeg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich, bring vividly to life the terrible night a giant explosion rocks the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and triggers a deadly fire and massive offshore oil spillage. Good read.

That is three new-to-me adaptations and I have also enjoyed a re-watch of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) on ITV1. Which brings my total up to four adaptations watched over the month. I also continued watching Sky’s new drama, A Discovery of Witches (2018), based on Deborah Harkness’ popular All Souls trilogy.

As for non-adaptations, I became hooked and watched the whole box set of Sky Atlantic’s glamorous drama, Riviera (2017), starring Julia Stiles. And my Saturday evening viewing is pretty much fixed now for the rest of the year, with the BBC’s new series of Strictly Come Dancing!

Have you watched any of these? What did you watch in October?

Goodbye October, Hello November 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are well? Autumn has truly arrived here in the UK and with our first snow fall in some parts, winter feels very close! It has been a very busy month at work, but I also enjoyed seeing my favourite, long-haired Scotsman, Neil Oliver do a talk on British history, and an amazing, belated birthday, trip to Warner Bros, Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter! Now here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3           Non-Fiction: 0

At the start of the month, I finished re-reading the gritty, dystopian Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in Collins’ bestselling young adult trilogy. Next I picked up the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event again, with the dark, intense Viking murder mystery, Kin by Snorri Kristjansson. The gripping first book in a planned series, so I look forward to more! Then I swiftly continued my R.I.P reading with the historical mystery, A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King, the third nostalgic and thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery for me.

Pick of the Month: Kin

Altogether that is three books finished. Another lower month, however in good news I now have only two reviews to catch up with! Over the month, I have also been reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland. So there are few reviews for you to look forward to and I will also soon be doing a round-up post for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event.

In November, I look forward to several family members’ birthdays and to going to see a stage adaptation of Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of the Four. As well as enjoying more reading, whilst snuggled up in a blanket with copious amounts of hot chocolate, as the nights draw in.

What did you do and read in October? What are your plans for November?

The Classics Club: Gothic Book Tag

I don’t really do horror being a big scaredy-cat at heart, but I couldn’t resist giving this all new scary book tag ago, from The Classics Club in honour of their Gothic month #CCdare. Which contains thirteen questions to creep you out and send shivers up your spine!

If you’re interested in joining in too, here are the easy rules:

  • Answer the 13 questions with classic books in mind.
  • How you define ‘classic’ is up to you.
  • How you define ‘scary’ is up to you (content, size of book, genre etc).
  • Add your link back here when you’re done.
  • If you’re feeling social, visit other blogs and leave a comment or share your thoughts on twitter, fb, instagram or goodreads using #CCgothicbooktag
  • Join in if you dare.

1) Which classic book has scared you the most?

That would probably have to be Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. I was so gripped I read it in one sitting, and completely spooked myself as I started reading in the light of day and when I resurfaced from this spooky tale, night had crept in completely unobserved by me!

2) Scariest moment in a book?

One of the most spine-chilling moments for me is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where a ghostly ship comes out of the fog and runs aground on the shores of Whitby. The captain is found dead and lashed to the helm, whilst his entire crew have disappeared!

3) Classic villain that you love to hate?

You just have to love to hate Charles Dickens’ infamously, wicked and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, the antagonist of the ghostly tale of redemption, A Christmas Carol.

4) Creepiest setting in a book?

I don’t think anything could be creepier than a carnival at night! Like in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, where two boys discover the evil that lurks at a sinister carnival that silently rolls into their small town one, chill October eve.

5) Best scary cover ever?

This cover on my edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is pretty darn scary to me:






6) Book you’re too scared to read?

Great Russian classics, like Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, really scare me! With their epic length; depressing story lines and large sections of philosophical discussion, I doubt I will ever be brave enough to pick them up!

7) Spookiest creature in a book?

That would have to be the tragic creature of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, who having been cruelly abandoned, relentlessly chases down his creator, with chilling intelligence and inhuman strength and speed.

8) Classic book that haunts you to this day?

It has been many years since I read Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but its quiet, creeping, sinister nature still haunts me! I think it is high time for a re-read!

9) Favourite cliff-hanger or unexpected twist?

My favourite unexpected twist comes at the end of Daphne du Maurier’s modern Gothic classic, Rebecca, but I can’t say anymore or it will spoil it!

10) Classic book you really, really disliked?

I can’t think of a classic I ‘really, really disliked’, however I really struggled with Robert Louis Stevenson’ Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

11) Character death that disturbed/upset you the most?

The death of the shy, gentle and kind Beth March, in Louisa May Alcott’s children’s classic, Little Women, left her family and me utterly heartbroken.

12) List your top 5 Gothic/scary/horror classic reads.

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

13) Share your scariest/creepiest quote, poem or meme.

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

What do you think of my choices? What are your top Gothic/scary/horror classic reads? Also, if you have taken part in this tag please share your link in the comments below, so we can check out your answers.

Cookbooks: October 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have transitioned from the UK’s glorious summer to chillier days of autumn, here are the new recipes I have tried:

Hungover Noodles
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Veg – Page 32

A quick and tasty recipe Jamie says is perfect for when you’re feeling a little down or, ahem, hung over! And this big bowl of Asian dressed egg noodles, broccoli and mangetout, topped with a runny fried egg and hot chilli sauce, certainly was definitely a great pick me up. I just need a bit more practice to make this quicker. Good recipe.

All-in-One-Pot Summery Chicken
The Co-operative Magazine

Having previously enjoyed three of the Co-op’s rice based recipes, I thought I would try this comforting, one-pot chicken and rice recipe, that I had cut out and saved. A super simple dish that had me cooking chicken thighs with onions, peppers, spices, chilli, chickpeas and risotto rice in one big pot in the oven. Although it says ‘summery’ in the name, I think this was an ideal recipe for sunny but cooler days, served with some fresh greens. Great recipe.

Spanish-Style Chicken Bake
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pan Dishes – Page 45

Another one-tray chicken recipe this month, that recreated the taste of sunny Spain, with chicken thighs roasted with chorizo, tomatoes, new potatoes, onion, peppers and lots of garlic! Took a little more work than the previous recipe, but this was still a yummy meal all cooked altogether and ready to serve up immediately. Good recipe.

Baked Fish with Chorizo Crust
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Real Food Fast – Page 35

Based on a recipe they first cooked on a beach in Patagonia, but with a lower calorie count. A little naughty chorizo goes a long way, when blitzed with garlic and bread to create a crumb for white fish fillets. I popped the crusted fish in the oven to roast, with some Mediterranean-style vegetables and returned to a delicious, healthy family meal. Definitely be making this again, maybe with some creamy, mashed potato as it gets colder. Great recipe.

That’s four more fabulous recipes tried altogether over the month. I also remade new favourites: Trish Sebben-Krupka’s Hearty Chilli with The Co-op’s Mexican Rice and old favourites: The Hairy Bikers’ A Big Soup and Minted Pea and Feta Omelette. Recently, I got my hands on a copy of The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers too, so I am really looking forward to delving into that soon to discover more new recipes!

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Re-Read: Catching Fire

Back in September, I picked up Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins which continued my planned re-read of Collins’ highly successful, young adult dystopian trilogy. A trilogy that went on to spawn a film franchise that was a massive box-office success. After enjoying the films a lot, I was excited to remind myself of the extra details in the books. (Warning: this will probably contain spoilers for the first book).

Against all the odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have both survived the Hunger Games and come home as joint winners. Katniss should be relieved, perhaps even happy, but her brave act to save them both has set a dangerous spark of hope and now there are whispers of bloody rebellion against the Capitol. To protect herself, her family and her friends from the wrath of President Snow, she must convince everyone she is just a silly girl, madly in love with Peeta. In love and not a rebel! Which is made hard as Peeta truly loves her, but she has complicated feelings for her longtime friend Gale.

Again I really felt for Katniss, because she is a young woman who finds her life and love taken out of her control. While she has true affection for both Peeta and Gale, the real truth is she isn’t ready to fall in love with anyone. (Although for me it would hands down be Peeta!). However the show must go on, so Katniss and Peeta find themselves packed off on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour of the districts. Where they must come face-to-face with the people of the other tributes that did not live, some of whom they killed or failed to save, like little Rue. And with all eyes on them, they can make no wrong move or the consequences could be horrifying.

Then, if it didn’t seem bad enough for Katniss, The Capital announces the 75th Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games that happens every twenty-five years. The shocking twist for this Quarter Quell is that the ‘tributes’ will be chosen from the existing pool of winners. Even on re-reading it was heartbreaking as realisation dawns that Katniss is the only female to ever win from District 12. It would seem someone has it in for her! And so with stomachs churning we witness Katniss enter the arena for the second time. Can she possibly beat the odds and win for a second time?!

Again Catching Fire is a gritty, dystopian young adult adventure, full of hardship, danger, love, death, friendship and courage; that has lost known of its edge or shock on re-reading it. I am now intrigued to move on to a re-read of the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, because I was a little disappointed with it first time around. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?