Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello again!

It’s crazy to think I am almost finished with this series. It has been a great sequel to “The Raven and The Dove” book I read earlier this year, but now my mind is like, what are we going to do after this one ends? The plan is to start on the other Viking series by Melanie Karsak but I am also thinking about focusing on other genres, so we’ll have to see what happens after July, because when I finished this book, I turned my attention to the newest book in Melanie’s “Celtic Rebels” series about Queen Boudica.


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As the blood moon rises, the shadow of Ragnarök falls on Uppsala.

With the dark days in Dalr behind them, Hervor and Hofund journey to Grund. Hervor’s focus turns to tracking down the sea kings and taking vengeance, but she soon finds that life in Grund is convoluted. Family grudges, secret alliances, and shady friendships abound in the capital. Everyone has their own agenda, and for some, Hervor is in the way. Hervor will find that surviving Grund is far more complicated than the bloody fields. But a blood moon is rising. Soon, Odin’s shield-maiden must clear the path to her promised future…no matter who must meet Tyrfing to ensure that fate.

taken from Goodreads.

I had mentioned that once everything ended in “Under the Thunder Moon” you couldn’t see what was going to unfold for our beloved characters. It was going to be interesting as far as how Melanie was going to do about Hervor now being a jarl on Bolmsö and princess of Grund after marrying Prince Hofund. She was becoming her own person, especially now that Eydis was to be with Leif in Dalr. You didn’t exactly how everything would turn out, but I was definitely intrigued about it.

There is a lot of traveling involved as we start from Bolmsö to Dalr, Silfreheim to finally Prince Hofund’s home Grund. As most people would feel in this situation, Hervor and her gang of warriors are uneasy, especially after she was crowned Jarl Hervor of Bolmsö. This world is completely opposite to life on both Dalr and Bolmsö, as Grund is much larger and has a court full of cunning and resentful people close to the royal family. We also have the issue of the sea kings creating havoc everywhere they go, and it was exciting to see all of these various Jarls, Kings, Princes, and several shield-maidens of Scandinavia come together to kick some serious ass towards the end but beware when you arrive to this scene because a beloved character dies, and it hurt me pretty bad–so much that it took me five days to finish this post!

“No one backs a wolf into a corner and remains unscathed.”

While I was reading, I tried to highlight as much as possible, and I do this for two reasons: I get my quotes of this review, but I also enjoy researching various things and then sharing the results with you guys. I did this with the second book of the series, as it mentioned the Trojan horse scheme. For this book though, there was a section where Prince Hofund is showing Hervor, Yrsa and Blomma the marketplace and while Hofund is pulled away, Hervor buys material to make into suitable dresses for court life, and she or Yrsa asks how the seamstress made such a vibrant colors and she explains there is a shell by the sea that helps color the fabric naturally, and what was weird about this, was I remembered hearing something about that exact shell a week or so beforehand!

I enjoy watching History Tea Time with Lindsay Holiday on YouTube and I was listening to her video about FAQs and Odd Facts and there is a part in the video where she is explaining how the darker purple became “Royal” purple and I just thought this was so interesting and incredibly weird that both of things would happen at the same time! Anyways, click here if you’d like to learn more about the process into making a richer color of purple.

Have you read the fourth book in “The Road to Valhalla” by Melanie Karsak yet? For those who have, what were some of your thoughts?

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Book Review: “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer

Hello!

I wasn’t able to reach five books in May unfortunately, honestly, there were a lot of factors that allowed this to happen, and my overall mindset was like, all I can do is move on and see what I could accomplish this month.

Before we go into this, I just want to point out that I’m an ally for the LGBT+ communities! Being gay and/or trans throughout current and past monarchs have been a touchy subject, but for this, ou have to imagine that these people were heavily influenced by the Catholic church. They did not understand a whole lot–but they were definitely not stupid either! They were constantly guided by their priests in everything, including who slept in their beds, so please keep this in mind while reading my review below.

WARNING: I rambled on with this one and there are a few spoilers below, so if you’d like to read this book in the future or want to conduct your own research about Isabella of France without a bias opinion, then I suggest you should skip this post!


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She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

When Princess Isabella is offered as bride to King Edward of England, for her it’s love at first sight. But her dashing husband has a secret, one that threatens to tear their marriage—and England—apart. As Isabella navigates the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, her cleverness and grace allow her to subvert Edward’s ill-advised plans and gain influence. But soon the young queen is faced with an impossible choice, taking a breathtaking gamble that will forever change the course of history.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, Isabella is the story of a queen who took control of her destiny—and the throne.

taken from Amazon.

When I started reading, I thought I was getting an actual biography or a fictional tale of Isabella, but not of Isabella of France. I thought it was about Isabella I of Castile. When I realized my mistake, I wasn’t so upset about it because Isabella has been an interesting Queen to learn about in the last few years. She’s been called a “She-Wolf” since the fall of her husband, King Edward II and relationship with, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. So, I was curious to learn a more contemporary approach about the former Queen of England.

“You will love this man. Do you understand? You will love him, serve him, and obey him in all things. This is your duty to me and to France. Am I clear?”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately with my historical books, I’ve really stepped up my game on collecting notes and random pieces of information throughout my process of reading each story. For Isabella, I took even more notes because there was a lot of stuff mentioned with not a lot of dates to go with certain important events and it was hard to keep everything straight and at times, I really thought about stopping and put it in DNF list.

This is my dilemma with historical fiction (especially if it’s in or around about British history!), some authors are considerate and include an estimate of years these things take place, or they give readers a part one, two, three, where the transition is easier to understand, but with this book I was having to keep track with every year mentioned because sometimes we are thrusted into more than one year at a time so I had to write things down or else my brain wasn’t going to catch up to the things taking place.

I had a lot of thoughts concerning quite a few of contradicting moments that were somewhat odd, for example, you have Edward II engaged in not one, but two same sex relationships with his favorites Piers Galveston and Hugh le Despenser the Younger. Now there is quite a gap until you get into the Tudor dynasty and the crazy stories of King Henry VIII’s quest to have more male heirs, but this is a little bit different. Edward seems to have fallen in love with Piers and Hugh (although the book explains why the Younger Hugh could have been just a puppet of Edward’s former lover Piers!) rather than take another woman as a mistress. History and what is in this book seem to mesh as the barons were aggravated towards their king by giving his lovers more lands, castles, and even more power of the realm than his wife, Queen Isabella.

And then you have the issues with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. He did not rise up against Edward in the beginning but while Roger did desert Edward II while at war against Robert the Bruce, he was considered a traitor for this, afterwards he is arrested and convicted as treason. Now, we have to get into the second part of the drama. Did he and Isabella have a sexual relationship at all? History says yes, and this books also agrees, but there doesn’t seem any proof of when everything started or ended either way compared to the King.

So, when Colin introduces this section, he also makes a point to throw in a scandal that appeared in her father’s court fairly early into the marriage, concerning her sisters-in-law Queen Marguerite and Queen Blanche (both originally from Burgundy.) having affairs with brothers Gautier and Philip d’Aunay of France in 1314. I have to wonder, since it is speculated that Isabella to be the one who spoke out about it, can we really assume she would do the same thing? She talks of the aftermath and where Marguerite and Blanche ended up shunned in convents and forced to take up the habit for the rest of their lives. If she was as desperate to be wanted by love and sex, as it is mentioned, stirring the pot like this would be very damning but again, look at what her husband, the king, was doing out in the open for the whole world (including the Pope!) to see and yet, she’s the one everyone wants to drag through the mud!

It must be done for England’s sake, not just for her own.

This is one thing that you as a reader understand at the start of the entire book. She is a woman, living in a very powerful man’s world. She is considered to be nothing but a consort to her king and reproduce children that will belong to both monarchs. The English and French courts. She is to obey everything her king asks and does of the kingdom.

Unfortunately, marriages weren’t made in love, there could be a time where the couple find love in each other overtime, this has happened quite a bit with royal marriages, but what I’m really trying to get it with this is that everything had a reason, you married a higher individual to gain allegiance and power over estates and money. This happened to everyone, men and women, young or old.

When she and Edward were having children, they would never know what true love is, because they never saw it amongst their parents. Their youngest daughter Princess Joan and David of Scotland were arranged only so that both kingdoms could have peace. We can say David probably took a few mistresses and had bastard children, as this was accepted among the men of the times, but the only righteous thing Joan was able to do was show up as a united front and turn a blind eye on it all or wait for an annulment from the Pope and finally enter a nunnery to live out the rest of her days with a small allowance. She would end up being in similar situations as her mother and former aunts.

And finally, there’s the fact, could Isabella have orchestrated the death of her husband and former king. We go back to the notion of her feelings to Edward at the end of his reign. Did she hate him enough to order people to kill him while he was imprisoned? We will never know the whole story of this question either, but I feel like this one is worse than committing adultery, but that’s just me!

Have you read “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer yet? What were some of your thoughts about the story of this stoic Queen of England?

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Book Review: “Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies” by Hayley Nolan

Hello!

If you know me well enough, you wouldn’t be surprised by my loving support of Queen Anne Boleyn. I’ve always thought she has a bad rap before, during and after her marriage to King Henry VIII. I’ve watched a lot of movies, tv shows, and documentaries that follow the whole “six wives” drama, and I’ve wanted to read a biographical story of her life, but I didn’t want to hear to hear the same things I’ve been hearing since 2008, and I have attempted to read this book two years ago, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it, so after the book itself basically stalking me for months on end, I decided to make a goal to read and complete it before the anniversary of her death in 1536.


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A bold new analysis of one of history’s most misrepresented women.

History has lied.

Anne Boleyn has been sold to us as a dark figure, a scheming seductress who bewitched Henry VIII into divorcing his queen and his church in an unprecedented display of passion. Quite the tragic love story, right?

Wrong.

In this electrifying exposé, Hayley Nolan explores for the first time the full, uncensored evidence of Anne Boleyn’s life and relationship with Henry VIII, revealing the shocking suppression of a powerful woman.

So leave all notions of outdated and romanticized folklore at the door and forget what you think you know about one of the Tudors’ most notorious queens. She may have been silenced for centuries, but this urgent book ensures Anne Boleyn’s voice is being heard now.

#TheTruthWillOut

taken from Goodreads.

Everything you think you know about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn is turned upside down, as with every historian and film based on the second line of the Tudor dynasty can be comprised of lies, and lots of them. There were things that I didn’t concern beforehand that while I read this book immediately changed my mind and where I stand on my view of both the king and his former “love” that was Anne Boleyn.

I just want to let everything know, I took quite a few notes between mid-April to early May, just so I could remember things that I thought were really important to other people who enjoy a 16th Century soap opera!

Who was the real Anne Boleyn?

The first thing I thought was both crucial and interesting was how the author Hayley had the guts to say that Henry VIII could have suffered a mental illness all throughout his life. She believes she could have been a sociopath, and yes, she tells her readers why this seems like something he would have been going through in life, and It wouldn’t have been caused by the jousting accident he had in 1520’s, although she does point out that it could have heightened his paranoia of his court and of course, not being able to have an acceptable heir.

I thought it was somewhat funny how much I was comparing his actions like of Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe series. Jane is also a sociopath, but totally fictional, so in a way, to see how her mind works–she doesn’t believe she is in the wrong, blames over people, she doesn’t know how to show true emotions like love, and is ruled by her impulses. I thought Victoria’s books were the shit before; I definitely love them now. but it was also frightening to see the similarities between these two, and again Jane is a fictional character!

Besides the rundown of Henry’s erratic behavior, you understand that we need to see Anne as a human being, although it was 1500’s, she deserves to have her real story told and this book is full of information by tons of courtiers and religious people of the time, such as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Crammer, Archbishop of Canterbury, William Latymer, William Kingston, Chapuleys, Ambassador of Spain. You are told things that many historians and authors normally pass through because it doesn’t fit the mold that is the Tudor era.

One of the things we always learn about this part of history is that court life is not about this grand and there is always a party of some sort going on, but this isn’t exactly true. People were stuck in large palaces, and it was fairly quiet, so there was always in need of musicians and poets to keep everyone happy (or at least comfortable with their surroundings!) but it wasn’t just the king and his advisors that were working hard, the Queen also had her own job as she helped the king discover another religion which was evangelism and helped break away from Rome. She was helping students continue their schooling and protected them from harm for practicing another faith. She always worked based on what she hoped would happen for the nation and educate her little daughter Elizabeth as Protestant than Catholicism.

When non-history-fanatics think of Anne Boleyn, do they recall her fighting for religious reform and freedom? No, they think six wives, six fingers and beheaded.

There is something I wasn’t a huge fan of, I didn’t care on how cocky Hayley was, getting her point across with each chapter. I understand as someone who loves and supports Anne very much, you want everyone to know the facts, but I thought the author was sort of cocky with her words. However, there were interesting tidbits that were mixed with sarcasm here and you felt like she was sitting right next to me having a very intense debate about who was really responsible for bringing Anne (and the other poor victims) of the murdering plot down for good, and when it came to sections like this, I was fine with that familiar banter but the rest, not so much.

Anyways, if you are looking for a different perspective on this time period and looking at the ‘romance’ or ‘love story’ that was King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I definitely recommend this book, but if you are set with what media chooses to discuss, then you might want to ease yourself into the real truth of Anne Boleyn.

Have you read Hayley Nolan’s “Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies” yet? If you have checked it out, what were some of your thoughts about what she shared with us?

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Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is time to discuss my thoughts on the second book of “The Road to Valhalla” series by Melanie Karsak. If you have yet to check out how this whole journey started, click here, and you might want to skip this post, so you don’t see any spoilers.


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When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

taken from Goodreads.

Once I finished the first book, it didn’t necessarily take me long to get into the sequel. The one thing I was a bit worried about was the sheer number of pages it had compared to the other but then I got over it and was able to enjoy the continuation of Hervor’s story.

Some people have never experienced feeling unconditional love from their families, even in the same case as Hervor, as her mother does in fact adore her truly, but she has never been of sense and mind up until the end of the ‘Howling Moon’ and so she has relied on other people for care and protection but now she knows the truth of her parenteral side and she intends to make it known within herself but to others as well. You could look at this in the same way of Jon Snow finding out about his heritage on season six and seven of “Game of Thrones”.

Although the plot is based around Hervor proving herself worthy of others around her, you still have the comical side with characters like Eydis and newcomer Utr. They were a nice separation of the serious events happening all over.

“The gods have surely brought you here, Hervor.”

There was one part of the story, and everyone was getting ready for an upcoming battle, and there was a tiny scene that puzzled me because I wondered if it was plausible for this character–who is fictional I know–to actually know and understand the measures it took on the battle itself. Eydis had explained that she had received a vision of a certain Trojan horse that was moved into the other side’s camp, however it was not hollow on the inside, and everyone was massacred once the ruse broke.

The story of the horse was featured in Homer’s Odyssey and although it is still unclear whether or not the horse even existed, they time the war between Greeks and Troy to be around 1194 to 1184 BC. If you are even more curious to learn about the myth, you can click here. After finishing my research, I went to look into the sagas of Hervor and I found that her story is placed sometime in the 13th Century BC, which is fairly close to the story of the horse, so with that, it seemed like a clever way to connect both sides of history into this series.

Despite all of this, I realized as I was searching for everything that I was just like Hervor in this book. It can be difficult to decipher between myth and truth. There were a lot of speculations who Hervor’s father was in the beginning and it has been interesting for me to wonder about the these two settlements; the Vikings were brutal warriors and ruled the waters with axes, shields, and sheer strength in their bodies plus knowing they will be drinking in the halls with Odin in Valhalla as they dead on the battlefield wasn’t a bad passing, whereas the Greeks lived in massive cities of concrete buildings and sophisticated armor with swords and horse drawn chariots. I mean, certain parts of history do have a way of repeating itself.

I never meant to doubt Melanie’s information or overall work, but from the moment I read that paragraph, I found it odd but then of course I let it fester in my head as I continued reading and knew I would eventually look everything up to my curious heart’s content and that’s what happened. I feel better and pleased to learn more about how our ancient selves lived, and thought you, if you are like me and love history, would appreciate the insight too!

Have you read ‘Under the Hunter’s Moon’ by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, what were your favorite parts of it?

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Monthly Favorites | Baby Names

Hello!

This is my final post of the week and In my act to bring something different to my blog this month, I thought about putting together a collection of my favorite baby names since the start of 2022.

If you have been on here a while, you might know I have a HUGE obsession with names; I’ve done a lot of things in the past, but my favorite thing is discussing what could be the next royal baby’s names. I’ve been wrong on Prince Louis of Cambridge, his cousin Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, and Prince Gabriel of Sweden, but I somewhat right for both Princess Eugenie’s son August Brooksbank and Prince Gabriel’s little brother Prince Julian of Sweden!

I love doing those types of posts, but I mainly create them to have fun, so with that, I thought I could come up with something that you as a reader might enjoy, but I would love to look back on to see what has changed in the future.

In 2019, I made up a Pinterest board that would help me keep track of all the names I came across each month, and I attempt to list my ultimate favorites on my name accounts on Facebook and Instagram at the end of the year. I have surprised myself quite a bit, but that’s kind of the point though. For this post, I will be including ALL of the names I’ve been into from January to March, as I say this, I could forget a few just before I publish the post in general. but everybody should be ready and updated for you today.


January

Girls: Anne, Agnes, Arden, Amaryllis, Audra, Betty, Caroline, Cecilia, Chantal, Frances, Freya, Hannelore, Hedy, Henrietta, Hermione, Honor, Iris, Juniper, Lavinia, Leta, Lynlie, Maud, Monaco, Rue, Skylynn, Sophie, Taryn, Victoria, Wilhelmina, Winifred, Wren, Yuna, Zita

Boys: Adolphus, Athelstan, Barclays, Bridgemont, Dempsey, Ford, Isaiah, Joachim, Jon, Kade, Khair, Kohl, Lancaster, Ludo, Odin, Santos, Sherwood, Somerset, Ralph, Winston

Unisex: Asa, Denali, Shiloh, Joss, Lennox

February

Girls: Abigail, Adelaide, Amy, Andie, Ashlyn, Atlas, Arizona, Brielle, Brookline, Brynn, Bubbles, Carlyn, Colbie, Claudia, Daphne, Deirdre, Eleonore, Ethel, Fiona, Freya, Gertrude, Halla, Hannelore, Honor, Imogen, Isla, Ira, Ivy, Jane, Jessamine, Jo, Julissa, Kendall, Kiernan, Kira, Kyla, Laney, Leni, Letha, Liselle, Lovelyn, Mako, Mary, Mayim, Moira, Nercissa, Ocea, Oceanne, Orna, Ottilie, Remy, Riverlyn, Roseline, Runa, Salome, Sierra, Sophia, Soraya, Story, Suki, Verena, Yuna,

Boys: Aiden, Alfred, Alonso, Asher, Braylin, Brexson, Byron, Cameron, Caspian, Gregory, Hayden, Hunter, Falcon, Jaxon, Ledger, Leonidas, Mark, Maverick, Mosaic, Nevada, Neville, Nikos, Orlando, Ptolemy, Ryan, Spade, Spencer, Taurien

Unisex: Albany, Ashton, Eiffel, Emerson, Linwood, Noel, Sayre, Vesper

March

Girls: Adelaide, Alessia, Aoife, Astra, Avril, Beatrice, Catherine, Catriona, Cecilia, Clover, Davina, Dorothy, Edda, Edie, Eliza, Eloise, Ethel, Eydis, Freyja, Gwyneth, Hervor, Ida, Imogen, Ingrid, Kassandra, Katya, Ksenia, Libby, Lilian, Lilias, Lille, Loralei, Lotte, Lydia, Madeleine, Maeve, Magdalene, Mailin, Matilda, Millicent, Mimi, Moira, Noelle, Odessa, Oona, Parisa, Philippa, Posie, Primrose, Savannah, Soleil, Sophia, Sybil, Sybilla, Thea, Violet, Wylla, Yrsa

Boys: Archibald, Aldrich, Alastair, Atlas, Bruno, Calder, Cord, Elias, Ewen, Ezra, Fox, Finn, Gilbert, Hudson, James Jameson, Jasper, Leif, Levi, Loki, Mikey, Nolan, Pluto, Reginald, Rhys, Ryker, Riley, Rory, Silas, Sullivan, Thaddeus, Tobias, Willoughby

Unisex: Daisuke, Namir, Raleigh, Ronan


As you might’ve noticed as you read each name, a lot were inspired by my recent reads. I’ve always loved the various styles authors will name their own characters. A lot are inspired the different eras in history, such as Vikings and their Norse mythology. I’ve finished two books that discuss many parts of their religion, so you have popular names like Odin, Freya/Freyja, Loki but then you have the main characters and even though you are writing about a fictional person, you still want them to have a name that readers can recognize as part of that group, and you get a mismatch of names you might know about and the rest are basically made up, like Halla, Taurein, Rollo, Revna, Runa, Hervor, Eydis, Asta, Calder, and Leif.

There is another group you should have noticed, and they are my Irish/Gaelic/Scottish style of names. I usually keep a nice array of names in the back of my mind of these types, but since March is about spring and of course, St. Patrick’s Day, my usual bag is suddenly larger as we continue on to the next month.

I love the traditional Gaelic names that can be difficult to pronounce for most people. I’ve been interested in everything Irish since 2014, so I’m happy to say I can say several names with ease now. I do have some trouble with others, but it is a slow process and I work on it every day Some of my favorite names of that language are Aoife, (Eva) Ewen, Imogen, Maeve, (Mae-vv) Moira, Oona, (On-na) Ronan, Willoughby (Will-o-be).

I hope you have enjoyed this post. I would like to do this again, keeping with the three months, so you can see how everything changes with the others. I also keep record of all of the name combinations I make from various name games on social media, so if you would like to see what I create with each month, let me know and I can update this post with the names of January through March.

Are you obsessed with names too? If you are, what styles are you most drawn to on a daily basis? Do you keep a list of favorites in a notebook or in your phone throughout the year(s)?

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