Book Review: Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

About the Book:

Written by a thirteen-year-old author, this exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago…

How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake… one that could ruin her forever?

My Thoughts:

Legal Crime is a YA Fiction debut novel written by 13 year old Samiksha Bhattacharjee. For this, I have to commend her and say how proud I am of the book and her efforts to write it. As you read, you will find out the meaning behind the title as the book progresses!

The story follows Fiona, a sixteen year old teenager who runs away from home and tries to make it on her own. The first step in her plan is to disguise herself and then find shelter. The story is written in sections, as Fiona changes her identity and tries to blend in, hiding from her parents and the police. The author tries to highlight the different phases of her journey in different sections, showing us how she handles the different hurdles she encounters.

We meet many new people, many old ones from Fiona’s childhood whom she has forgotten about, and many who want her out of the way. She soon realizes that being on your own is more difficult than it looks. Life is not so glamorous. With the help of her friends, she also becomes a YouTube singing sensation and gets to perform on stage with a famous singer. Amongst all this, we see a girl who is dealing with peer pressure, trying to live up to an image and expectations that make her change who she is. She finally learns to respect the bonds of family, friendship and to trust in the people around her.

Now let us take a look at the plot. It is strong enough to carry forward through the book. However, there are some minor gaps that make it a little hard to place the events and people. The characters are well thought out, but once again, we miss some of their background and the development that leads to where they are. Also, there are some jumps back and forth in time which take a little getting used to.

However, all this does not take away from the fact that Samiksha has done a great job. It is not easy to write a story and definitely not so easy to handle as many characters as she has. The writing feels personal and more relatable considering that the entire story is written like diary entries. Though the writing is a little amateurish, I think Samiksha has amazing potential. The concepts she has chosen to handle in this book are pertinent and take a lot of effort to write about. Samiksha has managed to handle all of this delicately and in a very mature way which is amazing for a thirteen year old! Way to go!

Book Review: The Viscount’s Heir (Heirs of Cornwall #2) by Veronica Crowe

About the Book:

The Viscount's Heir (Heirs of Cornwall, #2)

The Viscount’s Heir: Book 2 of the Heirs of Cornwall Series tells the tale of two stubborn personalities determined to escape the matrimonial trap.

Allayne Carlyle, the only son and heir of Viscount Rose, is in a conundrum. All his friends are happily married, and his mother has decided it is time for him to do the same deed. But Allayne has no intentions of entering the parson’s mousetrap. He is wealthy, handsome, and free. The world is at his fingertips. He is not done sowing his wild oats, and frankly, he wants to keep sowing said oats for the next decade. Or two. Why would he want to get leg-shackled, when there are too many alluring widows to bed, and even more beautiful actresses to pursue?

Lady Alexandra Davenport, the only daughter of the Earl of Weston, is in a similar predicament. She has been cleverly avoiding the matrimonial trap, but now that her twenty-fifth birthday has come around, her father has finally put his foot down. He had threatened to confiscate her most treasured possessions: her horse and her pistols if she does not come around and accept one of her many suitors. But Alexandra is in no haste to get betrothed. She would rather spend her days participating in her charities, practicing her shooting and fencing skills, and if truth be told, she could not bear to leave her father and live elsewhere with a husband she doesn’t truly adore. Why would she want to marry some wretched man who would take her money, when she is happy and content where she is at?

Unbeknownst to our hero and heroine, their parents have been scheming. What will happen when these two stubborn personalities collide? Will they chase each other with a hatchet, or will the sparks fly?

Join Allayne and Alexandra, as they conquer the mystery of that little word, they have been trying their best to avoid: Love.

My Thoughts:

This is a quick and quite a fun read! The Viscount’s Heir is the second book in the series and follows Alexandra and Allayne through a series of adventures, misadventures, misunderstandings, heartbreak and finally second chances. Confused? Let me explain. Without knowing, Allayne and Alexandra are brought together, but of their own accord they do not reveal to each other who they are. They fall in love but assuming that the other is a servant, each of them leave and finally not knowing who they are, they move on with their live, quite heartbroken.

Alexandra is later forced to take decisions for herself that will help her situation. As time goes by, the two end up in the same place and realize who they are. Though a lot has changed, they realize that their love for one another is still as strong as ever. Perhaps this is their second chance at a life together.

The characters are well thought out and quite entertaining. They bring the story to life and the author has kept it quite realistic. I truly enjoyed reading this book even though the sad parts and I am impressed with the resilience shown by Alexandra. She is truly a motivation and a pillar of strength given her circumstances.

I recommend this book to all those who love romance and would like a quick but emotional read!

Note: I received a copy of the book from NetGalley and am grateful for the opportunity to have read this book!

Book Blitz: Beneath the Lies (Forgotten Trilogy #1) by Sapna Bhog

 

A saga of Forgotten Love and Second Chances

How would you feel when the man you have known and loved for the last five years is not who he said he was? That everything he ever told you was all a lie.

An accident changed our lives forever and now I have to bring him back to us because he doesn’t remember our life, our family or us. One minute, I was just a regular girl from India married to a man she loved, and the next, my life has changed completely because I’m married to an English Duke, who doesn’t remember me.

My name is Aaliya Singh Talbot and I will do whatever it takes to bring my husband back from the darkness and into the light.

I will make him remember no matter what I have to do!

I will make him remember everything – beneath all the lies!

 

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com * Other Platforms

Read an Excerpt from Beneath the Lies

Aaliya

Mumbai

Someone is screaming!

In a heartbeat, I know it’s me. I jerk awake and sit upright on my bed, my heart roaring against my ribcage. My hand trembles as I push my long hair back from my damp forehead. He can’t be dead; this was just a dream! I chant that thought while taking huge calming breaths. This is the third time this week I’ve woken up like this, feeling like he’s gone. The fact that I’ve lost all touch with him screams inside me that something is drastically wrong else he’d never be silent for this long; his phone would never be switched off like it has been this last week. I shut my eyes, anxiety weighing me down. How long should I convince myself there is a reason for his silence?
I grab the photo frame from my bedside table. It is a picture of Damien and I from our honeymoon. His arm is around me and both of us are smiling into the camera, the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing behind us.
I run a finger along his face, tracing that bearded jaw, visualizing him in my mind’s eye. Those striking grey-green eyes that sparkle whenever they rest on me, that heart-stopping smile that almost always makes me melt. I miss him! I miss being tucked under his chin when he hugs me. I miss his scent and I miss how his strong arms and tall frame wrap around me when we sleep, making me feel protected and cherished. This is the first time we’ve been separated for so long and perhaps that’s what is making me anxious. I shake my head. No, something is wrong. I can sense it.
God! Please let him be safe, I pray.
Love is a strange yet powerful emotion that hit me when I least expected it and swept me off my feet without me even knowing it. And now, five years later, it is the faith I have in that love that makes me believe he would never leave me without contact—unless he was in trouble.
Fear for him slithers like a poisonous snake across my veins but I have to tamper it down because I have one more reason to remain sane, to stay anchored to the belief that Damien will be fine, no matter what. I breathe in deep, letting the familiar hum of the air conditioner soothe my nerves before I slide off the bed. My feet hit the cold marble floor and I head to the other bedroom where I tip toe inside.
My darling little boy—an angel with his mouth open and a tiny hand clutching his rather overlong hair—is sleeping in his cot. A small smile skates across my lips and my heart warms as I stare at him for a moment before lifting him carefully and putting him on my shoulder. He wriggles for a moment but soon relaxes in my arms, his nose digging into the side of my neck. I inhale his soft, sweet fragrance, and shut my eyes for a few seconds. Rian is ten months old and the love of our lives. Reluctant to let go of him, I hold him for a second longer before I gently tuck him back in his cot and caress his beloved face, so similar to his father.
My cell phone rings and I run to my room, glancing at the clock that shows that it’s three in the morning. I pray fervently that it’s finally him calling. Please God, let that be my husband!
I lift the cell, scanning the caller id and my shoulders slump.
“Gabriel!” I breathe into the phone. “Where is Damien? It’s been a week since I heard from him. One whole week with his phone switched off and you giving me a different excuse each time I call. I’m scared, Gabe. You can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts running through my mind.”
His silence only fuels my fear.
“Gabe, please,” I plead. “Where is he?”
“Aaliya, he…he’s been in a car accident!”
“No! God, no!” I shudder. “Is he-”
I swallow against the pain in my throat and try again, because I need to know. “Is he fine? Please tell me he’s alive!”
“Aaliya, he’s fine. He was in a coma for a week. He’s just woken up now.”
“One week!” I gasp out. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Tears burn my eyes, threatening to spill over. “His trip to London was planned for two days not ten, Gabe. I’ve lived in terror this last week ever since I lost contact with him. You knew how worried I was and yet you fed me with one excuse after the other. How could you keep his accident from me? I deserved to know, Gabe.”
“Aaliya…”
“Don’t you dare try and placate me!” I yell, unable to hold it back any longer. “You should’ve called me the minute he was admitted to the hospital.”
“Aaliya, I’m sorry. I truly am!” His voice comes out broken. “This is hard for me too. I didn’t tell you because he told me to look after you and Rian first if anything happened to him. I never imagined that he’d meet with an accident so soon after. You may not understand this now, Aaliya, but I did this to protect you both.”
 “Protect us from what?”
Gabe sighs. “How much do you know of the English aristocracy?”
My fist squeezes tighter around my phone. “I don’t care about the damn English aristocracy. Tell me about Damien. How is he?”
“Like I said, he’s fine now. He woke up a few hours ago. He’s injured his head, but he will be fine. There’s a lot to tell you, Aaliya. Damien hasn’t told you entirely who he was…is.”
“What do you mean, Gabe? Don’t talk to me in riddles. Besides, I know who he was…” I shake my head. “…he is. I know about his life in England. So, stop trying to tell me something else.”
I’ve known Gabriel Westcott for as long as I’ve known Damien, which is five years now. He is Damien’s best friend, his business partner and was his best man at our wedding. Since Damien was an orphan, Gabe was also the only person to attend from Damien’s side. This last week he’s given me one excuse after the other regarding the silence from Damien and now he’s feeding me some nonsense about my husband that I refuse to believe.
“Damn it, Aaliya. You need to listen to me!” Gabe shouts. “Damien is the second son of the Duke of Kittridge. He returned here to England ten days ago not on a business trip, like he told you, but because his father and brother died in a car crash. He came for their funeral and because of his new responsibility. Damien is now the Duke of Kittridge.”
“No!” I whisper, dropping down on the bed. “That can’t be true. He would have told me. No! I don’t believe you.”
“Google it. Now! It’s K I T T R I D G E.”
He spells the word as I grab my laptop and open Google and type the letters. My eyes widen in shock. Oh my God! The cords in my neck strain as I stare at the images on the screen. There are dozens of pictures of Damien. He’s at a funeral. He’s with an older woman. Another picture shows him with his arm around a younger blonde woman, comforting her. Who are these women? What in the hell is going on? I read tweets on him.
“The new Duke of Kittridge”
“Missing son returns after five years”
“The Devil Lord is now the Devil Duke”
The Internet has the whole history of Damien; it knows things I’ve never known. My Damien is not Damien Alexander, as I’ve always known him; he is Damien Alexander Talbot, now the Duke of Kittridge.
“How…how is this possible?” My voice trembles. “How could I have not known?”
“I will explain it all to you, Aaliya. But first, you need to come to London as soon as you can. Can you organize to leave Rian with someone for a few days?”
“I’ll bring him with me. Damien will want to see him.”
“Aaliya,” Gabe lowers his tone and my heartbeat accelerates yet again, “he doesn’t remember you. He has no memory of the last five years of his life, which includes Rian and you.”
Did he just say that? No! It can’t be true. But I know to the core of my being that it is true. This is why my instincts have been roaring at me since the last few days. My stomach plummets, the hollowness spreading through every inch of my body. A whimper escapes my mouth and I press a hand on my lips to stop myself from screaming.

About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers.

Sapna on the Web:
Twitter * Facebook * Instagram

In Conversation with Sverrir Sigurdsson

I have the pleasure of talking to author Sverrir Sigurdsson on the blog.

His book, Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir is a prize winner of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards organized by a group of UK authors.

“Not only a well written memoir, but an interesting take on Icelandic history from post-World War Two until present day. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended.” – The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

Get the book on Amazon.

Read on to know more about Sverrir Sigurdsson, his book and advice for all his readers!

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m originally from Iceland, born and raised there.  At the age of 19, I left my country to explore the world.  My first stop was Finland.  After getting an architecture degree there, I took on an international career so I could see the world and have somebody pay for my travels.  I’ve visited 60 countries on 5 continents, and done work from building a harem for the ruler of Abu Dhabi to building schools in poor countries in Africa and elsewhere.

What prompted you to start writing your memoir?

I love telling stories of my international adventures.  My friends encouraged me to write them down.  So I did and saved them as “episodes” on my computer, kind of like dumping photos in a shoebox.  Then I showed some pages to my wife, Veronica Li, who’s a published author.  She read them and was surprised to discover what an interesting guy I was.  She helped me put my episodes into a memoir called Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.

We wanted to make it a human interest story that appeals to a wide audience.  At the time of our writing, Iceland was a tourist hot spot.  (In a country of 360,000, we had 2 million tourists in 2019!)  The literature on Iceland, however, was mostly travel guides.  We decided I could tell tourists about my country by introducing them to my family, our way of life, and the road we’ve traveled to be where we are today.

How easy/difficult was it to write your memoir?

Writing is never easy, but fortunately we were two heads working together.  We make a good team because we’re so different.  I’m a hardware person good at brick and mortar stuff, while Veronica is a software person, in tune with feelings and human relationships.  Our strengths and weaknesses complemented each other.

During the pandemic lockdown, we were most happy to have our writing to obsess about.  We would have gone crazy otherwise!

Sverrir and his wife, Veronica

How much time did you spend on writing on average per day?

Veronica and I both like to write in the morning.  From around 9am to noon, we would be at our respective desks.  When something needs to be discussed, we know exactly where to find each other.

What is one thing you discovered on this journey that you did not know beforehand?

I’ve always known Icelandic fishermen have a tough life, especially before the advent of modern technology.  But I didn’t know how tough it was until I listened to a recording of my uncle Óli, which was part of the National Library’s cultural heritage project.  My uncle, a fisherman since the age of 10, talked about the blustery, icy weather, the cramped conditions on the boat, the monotony of the food (fish and potatoes), the nonstop work once the boat reached a fishing ground, and the danger of storms.  Many have perished, including my own grandfather and his first-born.

Reliving the hardships of previous generations makes me appreciate all the more the progress Iceland has made in a short time.  From a dirt poor nation, it has become one of the most prosperous in the world.

The fishing boat skippered by Sverrir Sigurdsson’s grandfather

How do you feel about your Viking ancestry?

First of all, are Vikings good guys or bad guys?  To Icelanders, they’re heroes, adventurers who brought home wealth and glory.  To people of the British Isles, they’re definitely villains who pillaged and plundered.  This type of Viking, however, lasted only 200 years.  After that period, Icelanders left home to serve a foreign leader and prove themselves in battle before returning home.

Modern-day Vikings are yet another breed.  Being a small nation Icelanders have to go overseas to study and learn from more advanced nations.  I think of myself as an example.  I left Iceland to study architecture in Finland, and afterwards I traveled the world to acquire experience.  Except that I didn’t return home as planned.  I’m now settled in the US.  My heart, however, will always be Icelandic.  Be they heroes or villains, I admire my Viking forefathers for their self-sufficiency, resilience, and endurance.

What kind of impact did this journey of discovery have on you?

My friends often call me a Viking for running around in short sleeves when they’re shivering in jackets.  I never took their joking to heart.  But writing my memoir made me discover how truly Viking I am.  My childhood in Iceland taught me all the skills I needed to survive in the world.  The moment I finished high school, I left my homeland to make my fortune.  Retracing my journey makes me realize that I’ve indeed found my fortune, not in riches but in the wealth of experiences gathered from the places I’ve visited and people met.

What kind of books do you like to read? Give us some examples or recommendations.

I like to read thrillers, especially those that involve international politics and intrigue.  Some of my favorite authors are Frederik Forsyth, John le Carré, and Richard North Patterson.

Which is your favourite place to visit or talk about?

Despite my worldwide travels, my favorite place is still Iceland.  I guess you’ve heard about the volcano eruption going on there.  Icelanders call it a “tourist eruption,” spectacular fireworks that attract tourists but does no harm.  This area is part of the volcano belt that gave Iceland its name, “land of ice and fire.”  In south Iceland, where I spent summers working on a farm, glaciers lie atop volcanoes gurgling and biding their time to erupt.  My book cover shows the scenery of this area: in the foreground stands a cliff with a doorway carved by the sea, in the middle a mountain that was once an island, and in the background the snow-capped volcano that shut down Trans-Atlantic air travel in 2010.  The landscape is the wild and wonderful creations of violent volcanic activity.  Each of these features was formed when fire met ice or seawater, causing the rapidly cooling lava to turn into a rock formation called “tuff” or palagonite.  Iceland is full of such fantastic landscape.

Sverrir Sigurdsson’s book cover

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

My true love is carpentry.  In my youth I’d aspired to become a carpenter when I grew up.  My older sister nudged me to take it one step further and become an architect.  I’m most grateful to her for helping me choose my career.  In my heart, though, I remain a carpenter.  One woodwork project or another is always on my plate.  I just finished building a fence around my backyard to keep out the deer.  Hope it works!

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

I encourage everyone to travel, not just as a tourist, but to live and work for a spell in a foreign country.  You’ll be surprised what kind of opportunities you’ll find.  Most of all, you’ll be surprised to find out who you are and what you’re capable of.

Book Review: Night of the Wolf Moon (New World Shifters Book 1) by Kimberly Loth (Author), Nina Walker

About the Book:

Night of the Wolf Moon (New World Shifters Book 1)

I’m not supposed to be sacrificed to the wolves, that fate belongs to my  sister. 

As the eldest daughter, she’ll join our village’s claimed girls when she turns eighteen. Together, they will go to the wolf shifter city, never to return. 

But a terrible tragedy strikes our family, requiring me to go in her stead.

I never trained for what comes next—a glittering world of beautiful people and pretty dresses, a wolf pack entirely made of men, and a dark underbelly sustaining it all. 

In the Carolina pack, breaking the rules equals death and competition rules it all. 

Twenty girls. 

Five men. 

The winners get husbands. The losers go to the mating houses. And as for me? I fall for the wrong man. 

I’m soon faced with an impossible choice: fight for survival or fight for love. 

Introducing Night of the Wolf Moon, by USA Today bestselling author Nina Walker and International bestseller Kimberly Loth. The New World Shifters series is perfect for fans of shifters, rejected mates, and dark paranormal romance. One click today!

My Thoughts:

First off I have to reiterate that I am a huge fan of Nina Walker’s books. I have also been closely following her recent posts and information regarding her upcoming books. So, it was natural that when she posted about this book written in collaboration with author Kimberly Loth, I jumped at the chance to join the ARC team.

This is the first book in a series in the fantasy fiction genre focusing on shifters, mates and all things paranormal. This book also falls into the romance genre which is perfect for those looking for these combinations. The story follows Poppy as she joins the claimed in place of her murdered sister. As she struggles to fit in and not get into trouble with the shifters, she catches the eye of the Alpha. There is something special about Poppy and I love how she does not hesitate to stand up for herself (whenever she can!). She also starts to make friends and enemies among the others while also showing a protective streak in herself.

The authors are quite brutal in their depictions of the shifters, their mannerisms and who they are. Nothing is sugarcoated, but somehow this just adds to the allure of the book. The characters are an interesting mix and they add to the mystery surrounding most of the story. The authors take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride, dragging us to hell and back along with Poppy and the other girls. We fall in love with the characters, we learn to hate some of them and we even want to kill some (trust me, the authors have done a great job with the descriptions!). The setting is also well described and the concept of this story is quite different from those in the same genre that I have read!

Overall, I love this book and story and cannot wait to read the next book.

Book Review: Long Walk Home by Ellyn Oaksmith

About the Book:

Lola was struck by just how quickly she recognized him. It had been ten long years since she’d seen him; ten years of thinking that maybe she hadn’t really loved him. But there he was. And he still took her breath away.

Lola has turned her life around since her wild teenage years, but one thing hasn’t changed: how her sister sees her. Her sister Carmen only remembers the mistakes she’s made and can’t see the potential of Lola’s plans to expand the family vineyard business at Blue Hills. But Lola is determined to win Carmen round—and gain her respect once and for all.

Then Lola’s high school sweetheart Gus arrives back in town, and everything changes. He was her first love, the bad boy she used to climb out of windows to see. But he’d broken her heart when he left town suddenly, without so much as a goodbye. And after that, she’d never seen him again. Until now.

Gus isn’t that same rebel anymore. It’s taken everything he has to come back to this town full of bittersweet memories, but he owes it to himself, and to Lola, to make amends. But she’s not that lovesick girl anymore and she knows she can’t let him turn her head again. So why can’t she stop thinking about how his strong arms would feel wrapped around her?

Then fate intervenes, and they’re forced to work together on Lola’s biggest project—and the sparks begin to fly once more…

As the sun sets over the mountains and meadows of Blue Hills, can two people who’d thought they could never be together find their way home to each other?

An utterly romantic feel-good read about being true to yourself and becoming the person you were always meant to be, Long Walk Home will make you laugh, make you cry and show you that true love always finds a way. For fans of Robyn Carr, Carolyn Brown and Mary Ellen Taylor.

About the Author:


Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today and Kindle bestselling author of addictively fun love stories. She has never run a winery, been attacked by drones or nearly drowned someone but she loves putting her characters in challenging situations. Ellyn also enjoys chatting with readers on social media. Especially when she should be writing.

Ellyn began her writing life as a screenwriter in Los Angeles which, outside of writing hours, is exactly as crazy as it seems in the movies. After hightailing it back to her native Seattle, Ellyn began writing comedic romances and never looked back.

Ellyn lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s part of a competitive rowing team. You can often find her on Lake Sammamish rowing in the dark.

Author website: www.EllynOaksmith.com
Facebook: @EllynOaksmith
Instagram: @EllynOaksmith

My Thoughts:

Note: Read and reviewed this book as a part of the blog tour by Bookouture.

Long Walk Home by Ellyn Oaksmith is a feel good romance that will tug at your heartstrings. The story is simple and well-written as it follows Lola and Gus, the main protagonists.

Lola is the youngest of three and is always treated like the baby of the family. She feels that her opinions and ideas are not considered and she sets out to build tiny cabins in a bid to expand their family business. Having been separated from Gus for more than ten years, Lola doesn’t expect to still be in love with him. As the two main characters deal with their personal issues, they also start to rediscover their bonds as they end up spending more time around one another due to Lola’s project.

The characters are interesting and well thought out. The author has brought out the interactions between the siblings very well and it is honestly quite relatable. This is a story of second chances, standing up for oneself and making amends. This is a story of finding love and being true to family. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am sure that you all will too! It is a wonderful choice for a light read that ensures the reader is hooked until the very end. A happy and simple read, this book is full of hope and positive vibes.

Guest Post: Digging into My Roots by author Sverrir Sigurdsson

It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of hosting an author on my blog. I am pleased to restart the same by hosting author Sverrir Sigurdsson as he talks about the events leading up to his memoir, Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.

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About the Book:

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MDMRM66

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Guest Post by Sverrir Sigurdsson

A memoirist is supposed to depend mostly on his memory.  But when I started writing my memoirs, I felt what was stored in my brain wasn’t enough.  To get to the bottom of who I was, I needed to burrow into the consciousness of the people I came from. 

My dad had researched the family tree of my maternal grandmother and traced it all the way to our ancestors who lived in Sognefjord, Norway in the late seventh century.  In other words, I’m a descendant of the original Vikings who left Norway for Iceland in protest over King Harald the Beautiful Hair’s efforts to unify the country.  My ancestral pantheon includes Erik the Red and his son, Leif Eriksson the explorer.  But names alone weren’t enough; I wanted to know these people, how they lived, what they did in life, and what they were made of. 

I started by digging into my grandparents’ stories.  My maternal grandmother was no stranger to me as she lived with the family until she died.  She was as gentle as a lamb with me, but she had to have the heart of a lioness to face down the tragedy of losing her husband and son in one fell swoop and continue to raise her four other children.  The other three grandparents, however, had passed away before I was born. 

Since I was located in the US, I was worried that accessing material for my memoirs might pose a challenge.  To my delight, the internet brought the world to my fingertips.  My first seminal find happened while browsing the online catalogue of the Icelandic National Library.  My Uncle Óli’s name appeared in a cultural heritage project conducted by the library some years ago.  I emailed the librarian, who promptly sent me the digitized cassette tapes of his interview.   I clicked on one of the files, and there was my long-dead uncle speaking to me in his gravelly voice.  In the interviews, he describes life as a seaman fishing the rough seas around Iceland.  Having started his maritime career at the age of ten, the working age of Icelandic children in those days, he had plenty to tell.  His words fill five hours of recording.

His accounts also shed light on his father, my grandfather.  He was a self-made man who started as an orphaned farmhand and ended as skipper of a lucrative fishing vessel called Gyða.  One day in 1910, his ship disappeared during a storm.  Forty some years later, the ship’s mast was recovered from the bottom of the fjord, but none of the remains of the skipper, his first-born son and the other six crew members have been found.  Uncle Óli would have gone down with them if he hadn’t stayed behind to take a school leaving exam that day.

On another internet search, I stumbled on the digitized logbook of Gyða’s first captain, the one before my grandfather.  The log is typically terse and dry, recording the weather, the catch, and the ship’s location, which could reach as far north as the Polar Circle.  Some entries are more interesting than others, and here is one: 

“A flu epidemic ravaged the town that winter.  By the time Gyða set sail, three men had come down with the flu, and a fourth would join them by the time they reached the fishing grounds.  Despite good weather and an abundance of fish, the lines were idle because all but the skipper and one crew member were in bed, delirious with fever.  When the skipper finally succumbed to the flu, some of the other patients had recovered sufficiently to execute the sailing chores.  A few days later, the crew was still weak but well enough to resume fishing.  However, the bait, herring, had gone bad because the ice had melted while they were ill.”

I struck a goldmine on the website www.timarit.is . Until recently, accessing newspaper articles in Icelandic papers would have been a formidable task.  But a few years ago, the University of Iceland and the National Libraries of Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland joined hands to digitize every newspaper article and periodical printed from the beginning of news publishing in the 1800s until today.  To date, almost six million pages of searchable text are available to anyone for free at the site.

A story about my father’s side of the family came from an unexpected source—a Canadian newspaper that serves the Icelandic diaspora in North America.  This heroic tale of devastation and salvation took place during the exceptionally long and cold winter of 1880-1881.  Runólfur, a farmer in northeast Iceland, was then old and infirm.  He foresaw a shortage of hay in spring and asked for help from farmers in a nearby valley where the weather was milder.  They came to his rescue, sheltering and feeding his sheep until early May.  Assuming the winter was over, they sent the sheep back.  But shortly after, snowstorms hit Runólfur’s farm again, dumping four feet of snow, which quickly turned into a solid sheet of ice.  The neighboring farmers rallied once again.  They crossed the snow- and ice-covered mountain pass on foot and skis and herded the sheep back across the pass.  To keep the starving sheep moving, the rescuers carried on their backs sacks of hay, which they emptied now and then to entice the sheep to go on.  They did the trek not once but twice in order to get all the sheep, horses, and cows, as well as people to safety.  My grandfather, Runólfur Hannesson, born in 1867, was the nephew of his namesake in the above story.

These people and their stories were never far from my mind when I wrote Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.  Their endurance kept the nation going until conditions were ripe for Iceland to prosper.  To them I owe my golden childhood and the superb education that equipped me to compete in the world.  The spirit of these same people egged me to pursue an architecture degree in Finland and from thereon to adventures around the world.  To them I owe my fortune, not in monetary terms but in the wealth of experiences gathered from the places I visited and people met.  Vikings traveled the world to seek their fortune; I’ve indeed found mine.

———————————————- xxx ————————————————

Book Review – 7 SIMPLE RULES: How to live peacefully despite everything else by Sam Sadar

About the Book:

GET A GRIP ON YOUR LIFE BY FOLLOWING 7 SIMPLE RULES

What if you had the power to stay calm and peaceful even in the midst of emotional storms? What if you could stop worrying and build a new life where you are the master of your mind?

After years of study on concepts of spirituality, and closely observing and examining the psychology of the mind, Sam Sadar shares remarkable insights into the inner workings of our minds. By interviewing people like you and me–the real common folks, and through their life stories, Sam answers the question: how do I lead a calm, peaceful, happy life every day, despite all my problems?

In this book, you’ll learn:

1. The formula to think productively and reduce stress

2. The AAA principle to navigate through your problems

3. How to live more fully each day

4. What smart people do to make more money

5. A simple secret to overcome your mental struggles and anxieties

6. How to remove the roadblocks to your potential and success

7. A 3-point strategy for financial security

Read this book now to earn yourself a life of peace, power and potential!

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank Saumita Banerjee, founder of LetsAuthor, for reaching out to me with the opportunity to read and review this book. Normally I do not read a lot of non-fiction, but the premise of this book had me intrigued and seemed quite relevant in today’s context of the worldwide pandemic.

In a nutshell, I really like how this book has come together. It is relevant and brings out the reality of how the pandemic has affected our day to day lives. Through this book, the author seeks to bring some lessons derived from the different experiences that could help us handle the situation better on a personal front. The introduction of the book deserves special mention, being quite matter of fact, apt and well written.

This book summarizes the last year, mixing both general facts and people’s experiences to weave together a narrative and derive lessons to be learnt. I think this entire book is relatable to almost everyone in India and perhaps even the world! This book comes at a time when we are all going through so much and have dealt with one year of staying home and are looking at more of the same! With everything that has changed around us, our lives as we knew it has changed and I think that this book and it’s rules would be helpful for many people who open up to the idea of it.

The book is not preaching to us and does not compel anyone with the rules defined. It is more of a suggestion to live better and approach life in a way that we can deal with the current situation and any situation in general better!

I do recommend this book to all. Look out for it’s release on 12th May 2021!

Book Review: Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski

Book Blurb:

Would you work with the devil to build a paradise on Earth?

Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen joins long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky to recreate Las Vegas in 1950s Havana. When dictator President Batista gives them the opportunity to build their dream casino complexes, Alex must choose between dancing with this devil or being in debt to the Italian mob.

If he takes the mafia money then he will be tied to the men who planned his earlier downfall and removed his mentor, Lucky Luciano from the syndicate. If he refuses their investment then he will be beholden to the tinpot generalissimo and his bloated ego. But Alex knows that there is more at stake than mere gelt–now he has his family surrounding him and they will suffer the ultimate price if he makes a bad decision.

The fifth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which tears at the heart of the Jewish mob’s role in pre-revolution Cuba. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction gives each reader the shocking skinny into the building of modern America.

About Leopold Borstinski:

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski @borstinski

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeoBorstinski/

Website: https://www.leopoldborstinski.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/borstinski/

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2PLrtt2

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3dkwzEp

Leopold Borstinski’s website: https://www.leopoldborstinski.com/books/cuban-heel/

Publishing Information:

Published by Sobriety Press on 30th April 2021

My Thoughts:

This is the fifth book in the Alex Cohen series. Having read only the first one, I was a little skeptical to read this one. However, I am very happy that I enjoyed this book just as much. Even though there were some events that I missed, the overall story made sense and was easy to follow.

The story follows Alex Cohen as he sets out to help his long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky set up an entertainment industry in Havana through Casinos. The story centers on the unrest in Cuba around the time of the pre-revolution. The story was an eye opener and written in the authors signature fast-paced style. The atmosphere is rife with politics, corruption, money-making plans and Alex’s attempt to keep his sons out of the illegitimate part of his dealings.

The author has done a great job in portraying the various relationships and in building the characters to where they are in this current book. It was wonderful to see how Alex has grown and evolved in spite of his ruthlessness. There are so many layers to the characters and the historical significance of the events are enough to keep the readers hooked until the very end!

I definitely recommend this series by Leopold Borstinski and am sure that fans of historical fiction, crime fiction and and the mafia will devour these books!

Note: Read and reviewed this book as part of the Book Tour organized by damppebbles blog tours

Book Review: The Billionaire’s Mask by Margarette Grey

About the Book:

“I am a monster, Miss Hart. You wouldn’t want nor wish to see me…”

He is mysterious and brilliant, wealthy and prominent, but no single person has seen him in person. Well, no one should see him—that’s one of his many rules. No one can touch him either; that’s also another rule.

Except for me because I have broken every rule.

Now I’m extremely drawn to him. His peculiarity is out of this world, and his beauty is beyond physical.
But the Master has demons of his own and is being chased by his brutal past. Suddenly, we’ve become the reflection of each other’s nightmares. I realize that the Master and I are not so different.

Is this newly found bond just another uncertain fate that could deepen our wounds, or is it finally going to be our redemption?

My Thoughts:

The first time I came across this book was on Wattpad. While scrolling for new books to read, I came upon this title and something about it and the cover grabbed my attention. I devoured the book in one night and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The moment I found out that this book is due for release, I jumped at the chance to talk about it!

This story follows Alayna as she takes up a job in the house of Brandon Lucien, mainly referred to as “the Master”. There are rules to be followed in the house, but as we discover, the phrase “rules are meant to be broken” speaks true. The author brings to us amazingly well developed characters with depth and pasts full of secrets. As we discover each one, we are exposed to trauma, hurt, loss and so much love.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and fell in love with the characters as much as I did the story. Brandon is your typical brooding man with a hidden past and the fact that he himself stays hidden from the world adds to the mystery. He allows only two people to meet him or be around him, that is until Alayna turns up. Slowly she begins to break down his walls and bring light into his dark life.

This story reminded me of The Beauty and The Beast, but had it’s own unique spin to it. The author has done a wonderful job with this book ensuring that the readers are hooked until the very end. Honestly? I am excited and cannot wait to read the next books and to follow our beloved characters further!