Winter Solstice Winter - Book I in the Viking Blood Saga

Rated 4.89/5 based on 9 reviews
Winter Solstice Winter draws you in to the land of the Vikings, a dangerous time full of mystery & mythology. Nothing is simple when you're battling an evil Empress & the three heroes of the piece Ailia, Lucia & Soren find themselves deeply entwined. But can they overcome the strife that comes between them in order to rise up & not only reclaim the Northlandic Throne but save all of humanity? More
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Winter Solstice Winter
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Review by: Megan Gibbs on Jan. 12, 2014 :
Winter Solstice Winter is a stroke of brilliance from writer E.J. Squires. From the start, she paints vivid pictures with her words, conveying scenes of drama, violence, romance, and the supernatural all with stunning aptitude. She fleshes out all of her characters with life, adding nuanced details that make them both memorable and relatable. Even the antagonists have reasonable motives that make us question whether or not we might one day find ourselves in a similar situation. Then she manages to surprise us again as we find out their true nature through their choices. This is a brilliant story, but it has the potential to become a mirror for our own hearts. Not to be read lightly.
(review of free book)
Review by: Kayci Webster on Dec. 10, 2013 :
“Winter Solstice Winter” by E.J. Squires is a charming tale that successfully incorporates many different genres and stories into one entertaining, touching novel. My personal favorite feature of the book is its Viking emphasis. The story’s character introductions and development are executed well for being part one of a saga, and the overall story’s beginning drew me right into the book, all the way through to the very end. I won’t tell you what you can already gain from reading the book’s description. Squires’ use of descriptive imagery in an almost fantastical world setting brings the pages of the book alive in your mind. The characters are more than those in many similarly classified books and stories. “Winter Solstice Winter” demonstrates thorough character depth, vivid imagery, and a magical story with sub-plots and interactions that all come together like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly to produce one whole end – a great read.
(review of free book)
Review by: Michelle Randall on Dec. 4, 2013 :
Take a trip with me, back to the year of 1007, to the Northern reaches of Europe. The Nordic lands, the lands of snow and Vikings. Can you imagine the snow and cliffs, the cold, grey stone that builds the castles and keeps, the long houses with grey smoke coming out all the time to keep the people warm. Yes, this is where our story begins.

Winter Solstice Winter begins in the village, with just a normal village family and normal village life, except their daughter is having mare’s at night. Dreams that seem so real, almost as if it were memories of another life. We watch as Aillia and her family deal with those has other happenings occur in the area.

At the castle, the Queen although advanced in age and with a 17 year old daughter, is once again pregnant, hopefully with a son for the King, but all is not going well, and she passes away during childbirth along with the babe. Her daughter Lucia, is lost, having no idea how to manage life without her mother, but unbeknownst to her, life is about to change in more ways than she can ever imagine.

As the story progresses and we follow these two women, both born on the Winter Solstice Eve, we learn the history of the area and the legends that are guiding the events and shaping what is occurring. Much to the author’s credit, the back history is told in conversations between character’s, so it fits into the storyline perfectly and makes sense. It’s not just some aside that takes you back and fills you in on the history. It belongs where it is, and since it unfolds in conversations, you get small bits and pieces at a time, so it is almost like unwrapping a puzzle.

The characters; Aillia, Lucia, and just to make it interesting a love interest for both girls, Soren; are well thought out and easy to get to know. I related to them and understood them. Of course at times I thought Lucia was a spoiled, rich-kid brat, but then again that really is what she is. The weaving of the characters, past and present into the story just makes it feel more like a tale you have heard over and over, not a book you are reading for the first time.

Although the book ends, leaving you on a bit of a cliff wanting to know more, and having to wait for the next book to come out; it does end at a very logical place. It is a natural break in the storyline that fits well with transitioning to another book. I applaud the author for that as well, because not many authors can do that, some leave you on a huge cliff and this was more a natural cliff. Yes I am waiting for the next book, but I feel good about where the characters are at while I wait.

If you are at all interested in historical fiction, viking lore, Nordic lore and the such this is a great book for you. Even if you aren’t that impressed with that, I think you would still enjoy this book just on the richness of the story itself. The writing and weaving of the story is genuine and truly the work of a great author.
(review of free book)
Review by: Nichole Streeter on Dec. 3, 2013 :
A wonderful period romantic thriller that grabs your attention in the first few pages, and never lets up on its grip.

As a young child I was always fascinated by tales of of ancient civilizations, and the world of the vikings was a world that never lost its thrill for me.

The author does a great job of weaving the tapestry of this fictional world for her readers with the choicest of words. At the beginning of each chapter I felt myself carried away into a far off world different from our own, but no less engaging than this time and place. I thought the author had an excellent balance in description and action, and I never felt myself getting tied down by the lengthy descriptions you sometimes find in other books of this genre.

I may have been an anomally, but I did not like Lucia from the start. She was bratty, judgemental, spoiled, and arrogant from being raised as a princess.
She also seemed very harsh to me during the funeral of her mother to everyone who was only trying to help her get through the event. I have to admit the later twist her character [I wont include as its a major spoiler] came as a huge surprise to me.

Ailia is a wonderful character. She might be a little naive, and a little fiesty, and she may need to grow up a bit, but she is a noble young woman with a lot of integrity. I thought her connection to Soren was well written, and a very important part of the story that was being told here.

The mare dreams about Eiess have me wanting to see more of this treacherous woman. Although I am not sure exactly what this woman is supposed to be, she seems like a personification of night and of evil itself.

I cannot wait until the sequels are written and available to read. This book is well worth the time and the money, as this author is talented, and a force to be reckoned with in period romantic fantasy.
(review of free book)
Review by: Peter Nicholas Farrell on Nov. 21, 2013 :
Excellent book, stands up to comparison with Bernard Cornwell and his Warlord series. Good characters, good plot, will be very interested in how it all ends.
(review of free book)
Review by: Amber Pennington on Nov. 19, 2013 : (no rating)
Let me start off this review by stating that, although I am an avid reader, I am new to this particular genre. (Vikings, to me so far in my life, have been nothing but a story in a history book and the mascot of the school where I teach.) Therefore, I cannot compare this book to others in it’s category. However, the book stands on it’s own as a great read. The story begins by introducing two seemingly unconnected girls - one the future queen and the other a pauper. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes apparent that their lives are very intricately interwoven. At first, the book moved a bit slowly for me. I was having a hard time following the two very different and separate experiences of Ailia and Lucia. Once their paths crossed, though, I found myself flying through the pages. The descriptions of the setting and the rituals of the time were described in fascinating detail. I did find it a little odd how quickly Ailia fell for Soren. I mean, I understand that they were connected as “eternal partners,” but at the time, neither of them knew that and I found Ailia’s thoughts towards him to be slightly annoying in their intensity when they had barely met. Towards the end of the book, I began to resent the fact that I had felt such pity for Lucia when her parents died and her world as she knew it began to unravel. I can’t wait to find out if she has a change of heart in the second book!

I appreciated, in a world full of books that are both graphic and gory, that this book, (which did contain a love story and violence), was neither (even though the human sacrifices near the beginning certainly had me shuddering). I was educated on the brutality of the Vikings as well as Norse culture, which I am now interested in learning more about. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely be getting the next one!
(review of free book)
Review by: Silja Paulus on Nov. 18, 2013 : (no rating)
Winter Solstice Winter by E. J. Squires may seem a lengthy book at first, but when you get into reading it the Viking world absorbs you so deeply into itself that you soon forget the time and reality while you set out on adventures with the fascinating characters. It is evident that the author feels at home with the Viking traditions and has done some research in order to convey a story that you may even start believing after a while and be quite surprised if you go outside and do not see any Vikings wandering around.

The setting is the exciting Northlandic Kingdom that is ruled by an evil empress after the good queen dies. Three young people, Ailia, Lucia, and Soren start their quest against the cruelty and crudeness encountering many paranormal creatures, such as shape-shifters.

During all these adventures there is of course place for love and romance. As secrets unroll, Soren is drifting between two fantastic women, soon finding out which one was destined for him. Love is often accompanied with jealousy and this evil force may be even the most evil of them all because it blinds people and can lead to extreme betrayals. However, in this book it also keeps the excitement alive at all times.
(review of free book)
Review by: Lucy B. on Nov. 11, 2013 :
While I am part of the older generation that isn’t usually into mystical fantasy books, my grandchildren are thoroughly enthralled with books like this. I am always happy to give them book gifts, but I especially love finding things I know they will enjoy. This book is going to make at least a couple of my granddaughters very happy with their old grandma! I always read books before I give them to my loved ones in order to make sure they are suitable, and I have read more than a few that were either trashy or very unappealing. Not so with this book. Actually, the author has managed to write a novel that has broad appeal in all age ranges without having to resort to using bad behavior or actions in order to appeal to younger audiences. This 70+ granny enjoyed the plot unfolding as much as I believe my 23- and 25-year old granddaughters will, and I can’t wait until they read it so we can discuss the creativity and exciting story it tells. I was even more grateful for the writing style of the author as she uses language and storytelling masterfully in a way that awakens the “reader” inside each person in a culture that seems to prefer television and movies over reading a book these days. If you like fantasies, myths, creativity, and a book that remains enthralling from beginning to end, this book is a great purchase!
(review of free book)
Review by: Grace Porch on Nov. 11, 2013 :
As a life-long book-lover, I have read many books with involved plots that keep you guessing throughout the story and therefore demand your attention again, and again. That is exactly what I found in Winter Solstice Winter. I also have a vivid imagination so often found myself “guessing” what surprising thing might be happening next, but with this book and the life of the vibrant girl at the center of the story, most of my guesses as to what was coming next were wrong – and I loved that! Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I would turn the page and discover more mysteries with more unusual twists to the story developing. Of course any storyline that keeps such a high level of interest from beginning to end has a complicated plot that you have to pay attention to in order to keep up with the twists and turns. Since I’ve been reading this while sick at home with the flu, that details have been a little more challenging to keep up with but that is by no means a negative unless you are looking for a book that has little to no meaning or creativity. Instead, I found myself going back to read a chapter again to see if I missed something and to help my temporarily dysfunctional brain remember the story. Seems like there is always something “new” to discover even when re-reading a chapter, and I kept getting immediately swept back into the story and eagerly reading on to see what was next.
(review of free book)
Review by: Abigail Buras on Nov. 10, 2013 :
I was looking for something different to read since I am a bit bored with my usual genre of books, and a friend recommended this book to me as something new and unique. Since I tend to prefer historical non-fiction, I started reading with rather low expectations not really thinking it would be all that interesting to me. Boy, was I ever wrong…I was hooked before I finished reading the first chapter! In some ways the author is able to make fantasy fiction seem like realistic history in an exciting land. Although the fictional format is a bit out of my comfort zone since I don’t usually read novels or fiction, somehow this author made the unfamiliar terms not really matter to me (or easy to understand) as I started to follow along. I was trying to pace myself in finishing the rest of the book because I really hated to see it come to an end, but I just had to finish it and see how it was going to conclude! I don’t know if these types of stories are typical for this type of fiction or not, but I will definitely be watching for a sequel or other books by the same author!
(review of free book)
Review by: Julie Wallace on Nov. 8, 2013 :
A dangerous Vikings saga mixed with fantasy folklore; so many profound characters you're quickly invested in the story. Lucia, a princess is raised with all the noble privileges until the Queen dies. Ailia, who is poor and humble can't escape the mares of the night haunting her. The hero, Soren has lived 75 years staying the same age awaiting for his true loves return. With plenty of action and heartache it keeps you reading and wanting to know what will happen next. At the end, Eiess’s massive army is released and the trouble for all those fighting evil is far from over. This was a great story about how true love can even conquer death and when the lovers are finally reunited we witness a kiss so fulfilling you will remember it long after.
(review of free book)

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