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

Hello!

And we’re back for another book in Melanie Karsak’s “The Road to Valhalla” series. I really don’t know what I’m going to do once I read all of these books; she is currently working on a spinoff series with the character introduced at the end of the previous story. If you would like to check out my thoughts on the other two, click either ‘Under the Howling Moon‘ and/or ‘Under the Hunter’s Moon’ and then you can always come back to this one afterwards!


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Under the thunder moon, the war-horn will sound, and Odin’s Valkyrie will rise.

Reunited with Hofund, and with Bolmsö safe from its enemies, Hervor takes her place as jarl. But the All-Father has bigger plans for his favorite shield-maiden. When Hervor learns that Jarl Bjartmar has vowed vengeance on Leif, she knows she must stand by her cousin. To free Dalr, they must enlist the help of old allies, former enemies, and a warrior-priest called the Reindeer King. Together, they will fight to free Dalr.

taken from Goodreads.

A lot happens in this book, I mean, it is packed with everything all fans of Vikings love the most: war. Honestly, I thought there was a lot of fighting in the second book, but the journey and reasons are completely different as we have Hervor, Ysra and her cousin Lief going back to Dalr to basically liberate the people there in the village, including Hervor’s mother Svafa and Leif’s younger brothers Hakon and Helger from their tyrant of a grandfather.

In almost every chapter, you feel just as uncertain about the events that could happen to these characters, but then you remember about Hervor’s strength to get through probably the best times of her life being so close to newly grandfather Arngrim–who would have enjoyed Hervor’s company if she and her mother weren’t taken away from Bolmsö–plus his second in command Regal and shield-maiden Hella. When we get towards the end, we get a sense of coming full circle for almost everyone. The one person who I believe will be troublesome is Asta, especially when Eydis and the babies arrive home – this was one part of the whole thing that has me kind of shattered, because I absolutely adore Eydis and Hervor’s antics, but she needs to take her rightful place with the people that love her just as much.

“May the All-Father watch over us. May Frigga shake the spear of war. May Thor beat his anvil. And most of all, may Utr watch our arses.”

Now that things have calmed down for the time-being, I don’t know what to expect in “Under the Blood Moon.” I find this really interesting because we can assume several things, but it sort of feels like we’re starting a brand-new story and Melanie could take the story in another way entirely, and she definitely did that with “Highland Queen” too. I just hope I end up loving what happens, because I was less than thrilled with that ending… Anyways, I’m ready to see what happens, and by the way, there are five books in this series so there’s no way to really figure out how it all ends for these characters and I’m so happy about it!

Have you read “Shield-Maiden: Under the Thunder Moon” by Melanie Karsak yet? What were your favorite quotes and/or scenes mentioned in the story?

snowflake

Blogmas | How Do I Read? w/ TILISMA

Hello!

I had meant for this post to go out a lot sooner than this, but I never felt it was right to publish until Christmas was around the corner, so, this is a two-in-one kind of blog post as I answer a question you’ve probably had on your mind since the start of the year, how do I read? The other is going to be about a brilliant company that makes these cute and smart gift ideas for readers and students!


Back in August, I published a new installment of “Photo Diary” based around on how life was going and of course, I included lots of pictures of our nine cats. I mentioned that I was loving to read outside with them, but most importantly it gave you an insight of how I actually read where the book is propped on top of something, for me to use comfortably. The interesting part is, this is just one way, I actually have a total of four different positions to read in my spare time. Besides the use of the bench I take outside, I find myself using any flat surface to help me do things mainly because its easier to control when everything is at an even ground.

I’ve been known to surprise many people when they come around while I am enjoying a book, because of the distance between the pages and my eyes, it has never been an issue for me because honestly I’ve learned to make it work; like with everything else, I adapt to my surroundings! However, the thing that is harder to master is keeping the pages open easily. It wasn’t until July that I might’ve found a solution to this insecurity.

I follow and love a great deal of BookTubers (people on YouTube who mostly discuss bookish things.) and I was on Chelsea Palmer’s channel, watching yet another haul but she started off the video with introducing her audience to these neat products, by the name of TILISMA and the only description worth explaining on how they look is imagine Batman’s bat knifes he throws at crooks on the run and the sharp edges would pin the person up against the wall. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, this is what they generally look like.

Chelsea was gifted with all of their products, and in the video she showed everyone how to use them. The objective was simple: the holders would be placed in one hand and one hand only. They were designed this way, so that the reader inserts their thumb inside a hole that is measured to the average size and while your thumb is there, you could hold down the pages with as much pressure as you want to keep them separate while the rest of your hand on the other side basically holds the book to your desired advantage point.

I thought these were super cool! I do struggle with holding a book open on my own, and apparently it doesn’t matter what kind of idea I attempt to help conquer this, I haven’t been able to find the perfect way to enjoy a book without worrying I am going to lose my spot or worse tear a page because I can’t move fast enough! The thing that stood out in my mind was that I didn’t just think an average person could benefit from this kind of product, but I thought people with disabilities could enjoy them as well!

I ended up spending a greater part of my summer trying to get in touch with the company to explain how much this would help others with physical disabilities, who have limited movement in their hands (or in my case, feet), but we continue to depend on somebody else or find heavy but small objects to keep the pages open. So, after explaining my thoughts about their revolutionary products (or “hooks” as I like to call them) to the TILISMA team, I was asked to have a member of my family measure out the size of my toe to see if they could figure something out for me.

Unfortunately, it took forever to them to come in, thanks to the drama about the mailing system! It wasn’t until early September that I received three medium sized packages; I had array of holders in their individual packages at my disposal and they were even cuter up close and personal as they did in Chelsea’s video three months earlier!


So, I was gifted with the standard Hazelnut holder that has little curves that make a slight “S” shape and it is gorgeous! Every item is unique in their own ways, but mine has both a darker brown color but it also has this thick stripe of beige like when you cut into a piece of wood and you see the white flesh of the inside, the difference here is that the product is completely smooth. You can’t tell that it was homemade or real for that matter either!

Recently, my cousin gave me all seven books of the Harry Potter series and at the time I wrote this post, I was using this hook to help me keep the pages open. The one thing I had an issue was not necessarily the hook because I had grown to enjoy the width of the actual hook-like wings on the sides, for they made the opening more stable for me. I didn’t feel like I was giving it too much pressure, but since the books had belonged to someone else, the spine’s collapsing on itself and you really have to be careful with how you handle each one, so I’m glad I had something like this to keep reading easy on me. 

The next one is again a standard holder, but could be work easier with heavy, thick books as the design itself is without dips unlike the one above. For me, I think of it like an eye, the circular shape of a cat’s eye is actually the perfect way to describe it because where the hole is would be where the iris sits. I like the fact that it is this deep and rich brown, almost like a brownie hue, and it is pretty sturdy as well. I don’t feel like it could snap whenever I apply a strong act of pressure in the spine of the book.

One of their cuter items is this heard shaped holder. This was my mom’s favorite because it was a nice surprise to the whole thing! By the way, my mom was the only one I had shown what their products looked like, in order to gain advice on my idea several months ago, but I left this one out of the talk, because I wasn’t sure if I would receive one or not.

It is basically an outline of a heart in the wood with a hole in the middle to insert your finger through to keep your place. As much as I loved the design of this, I cannot use it myself because for me it’s too bulky, which I found to be odd, but so far I haven’t found a book where I can sit it comfortably so that part sucks; for now though, it is part of my decoration on my bookshelf.

Do you remember when I said in the beginning about how I had to have someone measure my toe? Well, there was a smaller version of the first standard hook stuffed inside a little box – but the big difference to the others is that it fits over my toe!!

I must have a really small toe considering how big the hole they carved out takes up a lot space of the design. I am still shocked on two things: the first is being the material being strong enough to withstand the large gap in the middle, and next, is it was as soft as the others and slides off so nicely! I love it so much that I tend to forget to put it away after I’ve stopped reading, and I literally just wear it around my family. Don’t worry, I try to hide it from my nephew because we don’t want him damaging it nor getting his fingers stuck either!


I wanted to say something special for the team of TILISMA before I go. Thank you so much for creating these little things. They are clever and so easy to use! I know you probably never thought someone such as myself would message you out of the blue like I did, but thank you for not only being patient but also working with me to (hopefully) reach a even bigger audience for you in the future!

If you would like to purchase any of the products featured above, click here to be redirected to their Amazon page. The reason why I did not link each one with the holder is because you might need a different size so I figured it would be much easier for you, to search through the various hooks and find the size you need on your own.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I think if you are buying these for someone else, they will feel very appreciated that you thought of them. Here are some of my other photos I (and my dad too!) took of them so you can have a better idea of what they look like in real life.

If you decide to try out any of their products, please let me know because I would love to hear your thoughts about them as well. And if you have used any of the products, what were some of your first impression of them? Do you believe others that stuffer with limitations in their hands/fingers, could use them with ease? Why or why not?

snowflake