Viking Voyager by Sverrir Sigurdsson #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

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 favourable 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!

My Review

From a childhood in wartime Iceland to retirement in Chesapeake Bay, Sverrir Sigurdsson followed the life of a modern-day Viking. Working and travelling widely in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa through turbulent times he has given us a life story full of fascinating encounters and observations. The development of Iceland from its simple, traditional lifestyle to the modern successful country of today is shown in the lives of Sverrir’s family and friends and you can’t help but admire his personal adaptability and skills. The range of languages he has acquired have enabled him, as a trained architect and later project manager of educational developments all over the world, to gain satisfaction in his achievements. There have been problems along the way in his personal life, but he has two successful children and happiness with his second wife Veronica Li who co-wrote this biography.

 I learnt a great deal about world history in the second half of the twentieth century from this informative book and the extraordinary escapades Sverrir experienced driving his family through remote parts of Asia and southern Africa are amazing to read. The inclusion of maps and photographs enhance the content.  I would certainly enjoy sitting next to this energetic Viking at a dinner party, as I suspect he has many more tales to tell.

Viking Voyager on Amazon UK

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies, as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and co-author, Veronica.

Book Reviews

The Lifeline by Deborah Swift #NewRelease #TuesdayBookBlog

1942, Nazi-occupied Norway

Schoolteacher Astrid Dahl has always kept out of trouble. But when she is told to teach the fascist Nazi curriculum, she refuses and starts a teacher’s rebellion, persuading eight thousand teachers to go on strike.  The Germans arrest her, and terrified of what punishment her trial might bring, she is forced to go into hiding.

Astrid’s boyfriend, Jørgen Nystrøm, has joined the Norwegian Resistance. When his cover is blown he escapes to Shetland where he is taken on as crew for the Shetland Bus; a dangerous clandestine operation of small fishing boats that supply arms and intelligence to war-torn Norway.

In Shetland, hearing Astrid is in trouble, Jørgen sets off through enemy waters to meet her.  But the Nazis have a spy on Shetland and have been tipped off about the Shetland Bus.  With the enemy in pursuit from both directions, will Astrid and Jørgen be able to find each other?  Or will they be separated forever by the brutal Nazi regime?

My Review

Having previously read The Occupation, Deborah Swifts’ story about Nazi occupied Jersey, I was sure that this book would give me an accurate picture of what it had been like to live in Norway in the 1940s. Under the government of President Quisling, a Nazi sympathiser, the Gestapo gradually increased their influence on everyday life for the Norwegian people and a Resistance group, Milorg, was established. Our two protagonists, Astrid, a teacher and Jørgen, a member of Milorg reflect very different positions in society. Astrid is independent but rather shy, Jørgen is a confident, popular young man who has already had training for espionage in Britain with the SOE. The two have recently begun a relationship, against Jørgen’s better judgement because he knows as an undercover radio operator he could easily be discovered, but soon after Jørgen disappears, Astrid raises her head above the parapet and has to go into hiding.

Not only does this book show the harsh realities of life under a Nazi regime but it also shows us how Astrid grows as a young woman, taking responsibility for the safety of a young Jewish girl, Sara, and her father, Isaak, and sharing an arduous, dangerous journey with them, across Norway. Meanwhile Jørgen has to deal with a new companion, Karl, an Olympic skier. Can he be trusted? As time goes by and problems mount, can Astrid and Jørgen ever have a future together? The story moves towards a thrilling conclusion and what a wonderful film this would make!

The Lifeline on Amazon UK

The Rising Rooks by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #BookReview

The Rising Rooks, the Rookery rebels, are mounting an attack against Garrata that they hope will destabilise her enough to weaken her grip on Damsport.

But not only does the mission fail, its failure causes a rift between the Rising Rooks and the rest of Damsport.

Rory and Longinus find themselves retreating to the Rookery without support from the rest of the city and without resources. They’ll have to use all their ingenuity and inimitable style to somehow get to Garrata.

Whether it’s cutting Rory’s hair, robbing a post office, or creating dastardly poisons, Rory and Longinus fight with everything they’ve got.

Will they succeed, or will they fail to free Damsport? If they go down, at least they’ll be going down in style…

My Review

The Rising Rooks continues to describe the precarious situation in Damsport which had started in The Veiled War. The Marchioness is still held captive by old enemy, Garrata, but Rory and her friends intend to disarm the explosives beneath the city’s foundations. Of course, nothing is ever straight forward and Raif is unimpressed when his father turns up intending to take over the battle.

Despite such dangerous events, the budding romance between the elegant Longinus and coffee-shop owner Susie makes slow progress. Even Adelma begins to allow someone new into her life. It is good to read the continued banter and disagreement between Rory and Longinus and there is a revealing development about Rory’s parentage.

This book completes the tales of the Viper and the Urchin which I have enjoyed enormously. The range of vivid characters are engaging and despite the steampunk setting they are genuine. I would love to meet Rory and the handsome, Raif. I might be nervous of Longinus but it would be great to peek into his exotic wardrobe.

I can highly recommend Book One, The Bloodless Assassin, so that you can follow this thrilling series and I am hoping that there will still be some further developments for Rory in the future.

The Rising Rooks on Amazon UK

#FlashbackFriday Books I reviewed in January over 6 years #BookReviews

It’s the first Friday of January, well actually it’s the second Friday, and I’m using the idea of Kerry @ Chat About Books to look back at the books I was reading in January in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 & 2015. Please click on the titles to read my reviews.

2020

The Occupation by Deborah Swift

2019

Gaslight by Eloise Williams

2018

Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

2017

The Little French Guest House by Helen Pollard

2016

Traces of Red by Christine Campbell

2015

Tales from Null City by Barb Taub

A Borrowed Past by Juliette Lawson #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

What would you do if you discovered your whole life was built on a lie?

Escape into William’s journey of discovery, love and loss in the first book of the Seaton Carew Sagas series. A Borrowed Past is a historical saga for anyone who’s ever felt that they don’t belong.

Growing up in a seaside village in the late Victorian era, William Harper has had a privileged childhood, with a loving mother and a successful but strict father. At 14, he is about to start work at his father’s office, but his real desire is to paint. When he discovers that his parents have been lying to him about his background he decides to run away, choosing York as his destination.

As soon as he arrives there everything goes wrong, all his money is stolen, he has to sleep on the streets and when he tries to steal a bread roll, he is caught. But he has the luck to meet Sarah and her daughter, Tinny who give him work and a place to stay. Later he is able to take up painting again and he decides to look for information on his origins. But his success in selling his paintings and his past catching up with him actually draw William into more family secrets as he also battles with affairs of the heart.

A complex story of tragedy and untrustworthy people is enhanced by the likeable character of William and the kindness of his real friends. The setting of the north eastern coastal towns adds context and maritime interest. This eventful novel is difficult to put down, ending with a perfect conclusion.

A Borrowed Past on Amazon UK

Beneath a Starless Sky by Tessa Harris #BookReview

Munich 1930: Smoke filled the air. Lilli Sternberg’s quickening heart sounded an alarm as she rounded the street corner. Lifting her gaze to the rooftops, a roaring blaze of thick flames engulfed the side of the building and joined the stars to fill the black sky. Her father’s shop was no more.

Lilli Sternberg longs to be a ballet dancer. But outside the sanctuary of the theatre, her beloved city is in chaos and Munich is no longer a place for dreams.

The Nazi party are gaining power and the threats to those who deviate from the party line are increasing. Jewish families are being targeted and their businesses raided, even her father’s shop was torched because of their faith.

When Lilli meets Captain Marco Zeiller during a chance encounter, her heart soars. He is the perfect gentleman and her love for him feels like a bright hope under a bleak sky.

But battle lines are being drawn, and Marco has been spotted by the Reich as an officer with great potential. A relationship with Lilli would compromise them both.

Will Lilli be able to escape the threats facing her family, and how much is she willing to risk for the man she loves?

My Review

AS Lilli Sternberg dreams of being a famous dancer or a Hollywood star she ignores the worries and political concerns of her earnest younger brother, Leon. Intending to train as a lawyer, he is often outspoken about the plight of Jewish families like theirs. Naively when Lilli meets the charming Marco Zeiller, she hopes her family will accept the Italian/German army officer into their family but when her hopes are dashed, she takes up an opportunity to achieve her ambition.

As the 1930s progress Lilli is amazingly successful, mixing with the rich and powerful, but at some point, she must return to see her family. There she finds an impossible situation and she is prepared to put herself in danger in order to help the opposition to Hitler. Reading the story of this brave, likeable young woman we learn about the horrors building up to the Nazi atrocities and we desperately want her to find love and happiness, however unlikely that might be.

At times I found the interaction between Lilli and real people such as Fred Astair or Wallis Simpson unbelievable, but Lilli herself is very engaging. There are gaps in her story which are explained later but this maintains the pace of the plot. An interesting novel in its reflection of contrasting cultures in Germany, England and Hollywood in a turbulent era.

Beneath a Starless Sky on Amazon UK

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