Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, What am I reading? #5


Its been a while, but its time for that Meme again from the Book Journey website. Pleasure reading time has been somewhat limited at times (an hour or two here or there), what with my MA Studies and, well general life.

At present I have two 'currently reading' titles on the Christian Fiction list. The first: 

God's Daughter, Vikings of the New World Saga Book One by Heather Day Gilbert
October 29th, Self-Published  

One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to the New World.

In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.

But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself--and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.

Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God's Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir--daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.

I'm with the author in thinking it sad that mainstream Christian Publishers don't have much time for books set in the Medieval period- probably because I'm a Medievalist, and I love the period so much. For a self-published title, Heather has done well, well indeed.
Though I must admit, the Vikings are not my favourite people, (more a fan of the Saxons)  but the author Heather did ask me to be an 'advance' (rather behind actually) reader for her book, and I was interested. So just under halfway through, what are my thoughts?
Its good generally, and I think realistically portrays the struggles of the Viking settlers in the new world. That said, I'm finding it a little hard to keep up sometimes, with this character and that, and perhaps the pacing of things. Perhaps rapid reading of some passages has that effect...

Can't help thinking there's something a bit odd about Gudrid and her 'wolf' though, which seems to have an uncanny ability to know when something dangerous or bad is going to happen.
Also, I have noticed a few modern Americanisms in Gudrid's first person narration, but I suppose that's to be expected in a way- and this Medievalist can have far too high standards sometimes. 
Second up is: 

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears 
 October 31st, Bethany House 

A Tender Tale of Love on the Prairie Perfect for CBA Readers 

Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again--not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

Now again, I must admit, 19th century America is not my favourite period setting for novels like this. I think perhaps it just doesn't have the attraction of Medieval Europe. So what steered me towards this one? I think it was mostly that Melissa has been a long-term follower of this blog, and we had some interesting conversations in 'the early days'. So the least I could do was read her book courtesy if Netgalley, right?

So for its seems quite sweet and lighthearted, good for reading in the late evening coming back home on the train. Also, there's some element of mystery as the female protagonist Julia seems to have a secret she's ashamed of regarding a former relationship.
I'm only about a quarter of the way through this one, so need to finish before it expires. 

That's my contribution for today. Any thoughts from readers on the above? Or do you just have to gush about your own wonderful reads?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Uncomfortable Truth?

Visiting the website of author and Historian M.M.Bennetts last night as a break from essay writing bought up thus interesting article, revealing some perhaps uncomfortable truths about the war of 1812. I for one have recently developed an interest in this particular conflict, even though its far outside 'my' period of expertise, mainly because so many Christian Historical Novels seem to be set during this period.

Yet it would seem that is a period that is much misunderstood and oversimplified. Amongst other things it would seem that: 

  • Not only did Britain face the threat of Napoleon and a French takeover, but the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in the March of 1812
  • As many as 50% of the crews of American vessels may have been British born 
  • Thomas Jefferson and James Madison seem to have had a deep rooted hatred of the the British,  but the latter was was a 'confirmed Francophile', and may even have had dealings with Napoleon and...
  • The notion that the war was waged to defend 'sailors rights' was an 'absolute nonsense'..
The above might be challenging and controversial, but sometimes the truth, as they say, can be painful, yet it is, I believe necessary. Those interested in learning more may wish to read the following:

http://mmbennetts.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/getting-it-wrong/

and another article I came across today..

http://mmbennetts.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-challenge-britain-against-america-in-the-naval-war-of-1812/?relatedposts_exclude=5853


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