Historical fiction · War

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwall ★★★★

Blurb; This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

My Review; This is one of my friends’ favourite book series’s, so she kindly lent me book one and honestly I thought it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But I actually really enjoyed it. Historical. War. Ships. Death. Coming of age. The note at the back says it was closely based on true stories with a few fictional characters thrown in. The Danes vs. all of England. A gripping read where we get to see uhtred grow in strength and into a young man with his own family. This surprised me. I liked it. A well-deserved four stars.

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Young adult

Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes? – Holly Bourne ★★★★

Blurb; Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for the new friends she never expected to make – who each have their own reasons for being there. Luckily Olive has a plan to solve all their problems. But how do you fix the world when you can’t fix yourself?

My Review; I love this author, so I knew I was in for a treat. I devoured this. This book could help so many young people. It is about mental health and how to find ways to cope with it alongside other mental health problems like OCD, noise control, smells, and anxieties. Meet the young people who are trialling a new scheme/vacation to a mental health facility to see if they can be cured, along the way they make friends and come up with their own plan to spread kindness. A wonderful, uplifting, and hopeful read. I really enjoyed it. A perfect YA read. Highly recommend. A well-deserved four stars from me.

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Little Prisons – Ilona Bannister ★★★★

Blurb; When you can’t get out, let kindness in.

In a non-descript building in a gentrifying corner of London, Penny is doing daily battle with her mind. She is convinced that the world beyond her door is too dangerous for her, though her heart knows it isn’t. Penny’s neighbour, Carla, an American expat and single mother of two teens, has lived in a coercive relationship for many years, too worn down by her controlling husband to escape her situation. Mable, Penny’s upstairs neighbour, an elderly Jamaican pensioner and devout Jehovah’s Witness, has sacrificed everything for her faith, including her relationship with her family. And Woman, the housekeeper and nanny on the second floor, has been trafficked. When she is not cleaning and cooking, she works in the laundrette the landlord owns on the ground floor, a hidden slave in full view of the public.

Through grocery deliveries, glimpses through windows, and overheard conversations in the stairwell, the women come to know each other. Their small acts of compassion help them each find a way to mend the broken paths in their lives.

My Review; This was one off my library pile and is told through each of the different characters who all live in the same block of flats with thin walls. Each character has their own problems, and there are some hard-hitting subjects to contend with in this story, including control, slaves, religion, and anxiety about leaving their home. It’s is a story of hope, coming together and all wraps up beautifully at the end. This book is unique as the author actually gives us four different endings to choose from, and you pick the one you want it to end on. I love that. Highly recommend. A well-deserved four stars from me.

Amazon Link UK

Apologies could not find this on Amazon US.