Tag Archives: adventure novels

Review: Storming, by K.M. Weiland

Storming, by K.M. WeilandStorming, by K.M. Weiland (PenForASword Publishing, 2015)

In 1920’s Nebraska, Hitch Hitchcock makes his living as a barnstorming pilot – until a woman in a fancy ball gown falls out of the night sky in front of his plane and he gets mixed up with her – and with her enemies.

Hitch doesn’t want anyone depending on him, because he’s let too many people down in the past. He’s back in his hometown for one week only, to compete for a chance to join a flying circus.

His encounter with the mysterious falling woman, Jael, also brings him face to face with family and townsfolk he’s hurt before – and with the man who made him run away. When Jael’s enemies turn their airship’s weaponry against the town, Hitch has to stay and fight when every instinct tells him to run again.

Favourite lines:

Bonney Livingstone could talk a man into picking his own pocket. [Kindle location 1083]

If Earl had thought last night’s story was crazy, this one plumb ran away with the farmer’s daughter. [Kindle location 1347]

The only good parts of this day were the worse things that could’ve happened and hadn’t. [Kindle location 2165]

A blend of historical and dieselpunk, Storming is filled with action, intrigue, flying (surprise!) and great characters. There’s plenty to satisfy the relationship-oriented reader, too: friendship, romance, and long-standing hurt.

This is the second K.M. Weiland novel I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. I love the way she creates characters I can relate to, and drops them into situations beyond their control – where somehow they have to stay and fight, and where losing isn’t an option.

K.M. Weiland knows how to raise the stakes, as well as creating characters we care about and want to see win. In addition to Storming, she has written Behold the Dawn (historical), A Man Called Outlaw (western) and Dreamlander (speculative), as well as short fiction and books on writing.

[Review copy provided by the author, but I liked it so much I ordered a copy to keep.]

Review: God’s Daughter, by Heather Day Gilbert

God's Daughter, by Heather Day GilbertGod’s Daughter, by Heather Day Gilbert (Createspace, 2013)

If all you know about Vikings are the names Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson, God’s Daughter is a great way to learn more and to perhaps break some stereotypes. For example, I didn’t know they had any exposure to Christianity. Or that Eric’s name is properly spelled Eiric.

Many of the novel’s characters are genuine historical figures, and their voyage actually happened around 1000 AD. The setting and events have been meticulously researched to allow Heather Day Gilbert to weave a story that feels true.

The main character, a Viking woman named Gudrid, travels with her sailor-trader husband and his crew in search of Leif Ericsson’s Vinland. This man, Finn, is Gudrid’s third husband, the first two having died of “the shivering sickness.” She knows he loves her, but why can’t he be more thoughtful and protective, like his business partner, Snorri?

Together, then separately, they face down mutineers among the crew, attacking natives, and other dangers. Likely none of us have experienced Gudrid and Finn’s dangers, but just as likely we’ve all had trouble with comparisons and expectations. This is a subplot to the main story of the voyage, but for me it makes a connecting point that brings the characters even more alive.

Gudrid is one of the few Christians in the story, and she lives her faith the best she can based on what she’s been taught. She longs for her own copy of the Holy Book—and to be able to read—so she could learn more. As the story progresses, she articulates her turmoil this way:

Can I ever be happy where I am, with my own husband? What is wrong with me? And why do I always search for a protector? [Kindle location 3130]

She trusts God, but she’s still working toward the understanding that in Him alone can she find the protection and the love she craves.

God’s Daughter is a satisfying historical novel with characters I cared about. Details like methods of treating illness and the differences between Europeans’ and Vikings’ approaches to toilet training (Gudrid and Finn have a young son) flow naturally to help readers imagine the story world. There are no information dumps in this novel, nor any of the other awkward moments that can come with a debut novel.

My favourite line: Gudrid describes Snorri as “rubbing his hand over his bald head in a gesture that always makes me think he misses his hair.” [Kindle location 1521]

Heather Day Gilbert has crafted an amazing tale, brimming with adventure, compassion and insight. There’s much more to God’s Daughter than I can capture in a review, so let me just say I highly recommend this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Forest Child.

You can find Heather Day Gilbert at her website, along with maps, a glossary and other bonus features related to the novel. Take a few minutes to read the opening chapters of God’s Daughter (and be prepared to want more).

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Star Wars: Scoundrels, by Timothy Zahn

cover art: Star Wars Scoundrels, by Timothy ZahnStar Wars Scoundrels, by Timothy Zahn (LucasBooks 2013)

Remember the reward Han Solo earned in the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) for his part in the Death Star’s destruction? The money that would have let him pay off Jabba the Hutt? Well, he lost it to pirates, and now he’ll take just about any crazy chance to make some cash.

So when a stranger offers a fortune to recover an even larger fortune in stolen credits, Han and Chewie are in. They’re smugglers, not thieves, but they have connections. Counting their employer, Eanjer, Solo’s team numbers 11.

The challenge: infiltrate the estate of a major crime boss, recover the credits with equal shares for each. Why is Eanjer so generous with his money? He claims it’s as much about revenge as about cash. But Lando is quick to point out Han’s history of not always trusting the right people.

The complication: Imperial Intelligence wants access to the same estate, and if they can manipulate Solo’s 11 into taking all the risks, so much the better.

Risks? It may be impossible.

Because it’s a heist novel, the first quarter is setup—interesting rather than action-heavy. Once the team begins to act, there are chases, explosions and plenty of danger in true, over-the-top caper style. And there’s a bit near the end that takes on extra significance when you remember that in the films, Han Solo was played by Harrison Ford, who also played Indiana Jones.

Scoundrels is a satisfying puzzle novel with plenty of adrenaline, and you don’t need to know more than the basics about the original Star Wars trilogy. I was expecting Han, Chewie and Lando, and was pleased to see Winter as another team member. Apparently Kell will also be familiar to those who’ve read more of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels than I have. The other characters are new for this novel, and they’re worth meeting.

It’s a plot-driven novel, but the characters are well-developed, with their own struggles, tensions and interactions. It’s interesting to see Han in a planning role here… shades of General Solo in days to come. And the setting is impressive: the heist is to go down during the planet’s annual Festival of Four Honorings, amid the crowds and lavish displays. Characters, technology and setting never upstage the plot, but support it and enhance the experience.

Timothy Zahn is an award-winning, bestselling author known for both his original science fiction and his work in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

[Review copy from my personal library. Amazon link is an affiliate link for The Word Guild.]