Blogmas | Top 7 Books of 2022!

Hello!

In the beginning of 2022, I created my yearly challenge on Goodreads, where I set the goal to read 40-45 books. The reason why I added on another five onto the list was because I wasn’t just doing one challenge, I decided to mix it up with keeping track of the books that had a movie and/or show out in the world. As of 12/18, I’m still trying to complete the 20 books I allowed for myself for this, and honestly, I really enjoyed having both of them going on at the same time. I’m very proud of myself on these successes, but I haven’t exactly made my decision to continue it once the new year comes, but I’ll be letting you know my plans soon!

When I was getting ready to write this post, I was going to discuss my top 12 books, but I wasn’t sure on the time allotted for this week, so I just broke down and made it the top 7 like I did for the last two years.


1. The Best of Us by Kennedy Fox

This is the second year in a row where the authors of Kennedy Fox have claimed first place.

I truly loved this story of these characters, and as I mentioned in the review, I am not much into male characters, especially in the romance genre. I’m quite picky but I think the fact he seemed more relatable than Kendall. The story itself takes place after COVID-19 hits, which I think is what drew me into Ryan more because my mom is a registered nurse and worked her butt off in those early intense days. My heart went out for him and his selflessness and struggles during that time.

Besides all of this, it is also set around Christmastime, so it is literally perfect for this time of year. I wish anyone who is still looking for a steamy holiday themed book, this is what you should be getting into next.

Sidenote: I recently found the first and third books in the series for free on Amazon, so when I get in a mood for a little Kennedy Fox, I’ve got these babies to keep me company!

2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This year I wanted to explore children’s books because I still feel the sting of my own struggles with books as a child and it cost me a lot of great stories in the end, so I felt like I needed to explore my horizons and then I found this little gem.

I felt really conflicted to make this #1 because I fell in love with this story of a young girl, who becomes a refugee with her mother after violence in Syria begins. It wasn’t just Jude and her new world that got me, but I also fell in love with the writing style too. It was in verse, and I had never read poetry before, and I liked how the author was able to bring them together like this. It was a magical experience!

3. The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler

When I began reading this one, I didn’t really know what I was doing because at the start of the year, I wasn’t into books about the Vikings. I’d tried in the past, but nothing could grab me as inviting until I found K.M.’s debut scrolling through Kindle Unlimited back in January.

The Raven and The Dove is the story about a group of Vikings raiding on small villages in what is now Normandy, France. A shieldmaiden by the name of Halla is a part of the crew and the best way to describe her is restless. She is a warrior, but she doesn’t just want to be that, and while she and a small party go to scope out a village that could be a great way to trade goods, she finds herself put into an odd situation.

She actually volunteers to stay and wed a Christian, Taurien. He is a very conflicting character as he was raised to hate these Northmen, but he also wants to protect his home and its people from any other raids, so he does what any desperate man would do, he decides to wed Halla. Halla oversees her fellow Vikings and attempt to keep the will of the Gods of her people, but that becomes very difficult with their Christian neighbors.

I am all about seeing how the other one lives type of person, and this reflects in the books I read of course, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two characters fight their feelings of right and wrong; their faiths and trust for one another are tested many times, but it was still enjoyable as a reader because we still have issues seeing past the other person’s origins and religions. I definitely recommend anyone who loves to be a little nosy at times.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

While I was wanting to explore more classics, I knew Little Women would pop up some time, the book is very popular on Jeopardy, and I think that’s why I wanted to just devout myself to it and the best way I did that was through audiobook on YouTube. I had actually found a channel on there that had multiple people acting out the various characters and I loved this type of reading; it reminded me of how they use to tell stories on the radio before television was invented.

This book was lovely and honestly perfect in the springtime. This truly made me happy and excited to see what would happen to these characters–until that chapter about Beth though, boy, did I cry like crazy! After I had completed it, and that was another sad night, because I had grown to dig into it after my mom put me to bed, I tried to read “Little Men” but unfortunately, it didn’t have the same magic as the first but I am willing to give it another try in 2023 because I loved the character Jo so much, I want to see what happens in the later years.

5. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

After I finished with “Other Words for Home” I dove into other children’s books, but my focus was generally on classics. I had read Little Women, the Harry Potter series, and a few by Roald Dahl, so my plan was stay in that lane for a while longer and I ended up reading three and half books of the “Little House On The Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite among them was the one about her future husband, Alonzo Wilder.

I found this story unique compared to the ones written about Laura and her life. “Farmer Boy” was set in Alonzo’s point of view and even though it was fictionalized, I was still amazed by how this little boy lived in these times; readers get a chance to look into the differences between boys and girls on the prairie. My favorite scene was Christmas, they would spend it with one another in absolute silence and eat apples and popcorn with warm apple cider. I’m not much on any kind of cider but I found this interesting and peaceful.

6. Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Apparently, it’s not a book list without a book by Kennedy Fox or Melanie Karsak. This year alone, I read 8 books by Melanie. but only three of them were written by Kennedy Fox.

Anyways, as a couple of months since I had finished The Raven and The Dove, I was itching for another book that discussed the Viking world, but I was still a bit hesitant because I didn’t think I would find anything that could hit that bar and then I went through Melanie’s work and found out she had two series about shield-maidens, so I thought about it a bit, but ultimately went for it.

The story of the shield-maiden Hervor was everything I needed at that time. I love a good badass heroine and Melanie makes a lot of strong but relatable female characters. I was very upset once I was done with the final book, and then I did something totally stupid, I decided to dive headfirst into the sequel “The Shadows of Valhalla” which focuses on Princess Blomma’s children Prince Loptr and Princess Hervor aka Ervie. I was bawling my eyes from the events that happened in “Under the Dark Moon” and then I went into “Gambit of Blood” where they were talking about characters previously featured in the other books and I began crying again. I was truly a mess, and my mom laughed at me! I’m currently waiting on the four and final book in the series as I just finished the most recent installment and I’m already semi depressed about leaving these people for good.

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

I am very happy to say I have finally read all of the Harry Potter books. I did believe I would actually do this because before I went on this journey, I was just a fan of the films, and I was too afraid I wouldn’t enjoy watching them if I read the series. I was forced to read “The Sorcerer’s Stone” back in 2006, and my teacher had us watch the movie a few days after so everything was still fresh in our minds to do comparisons between these formats, so you can understand why I was hesitant going into it in the beginning.

When this book came out, there were a lot of mixed comments about it, the most significant was it isn’t written in the same way J.K. wrote the original seven books. This is a screenplay of the play that appeared in 2016 by John Tiffany It still has the spirit of Rowling with familiar characters jumping in here and there. I found this way of writing better oddly enough. It is different, but after coming out of reading “If We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio, I was able to picture the entire thing in the same way I did when they were doing Shakespeare’s work. I didn’t like this book unfortunately, but I thought it was a lot of help while I was into this one instead.

When I finished “Deathly Hallows” back in July, I felt the epilogue wasn’t that satisfying for me. I wanted to know how Harry and the gang were doing in their lives after the Battle at Hogwarts, and so when I went into this story about Harry’s middle son Albus Serveus Potter and how he deals with being a son of this hero of the Wizarding World, Harry is an adult and father now, so as much as he doesn’t feel like it, his children are faced with making their own legacies or in Albus’s case, attempting to fix a wrong and that in itself was absolutely amazing! It was heartbreaking, between the scene Albus meeting Professor Snape and the final scene at Godric’s Hollow will break you whole, that is, if you weren’t in the first place!


If I hadn’t waited majority of the month to write this post, I would have made it longer. My original plan was to do Top 12, but I didn’t want to rush getting everything done in a short number of days, so I went with seven books total, and I’m still shocked I was able to shrink it down enough for today.

I am excited on what kind of books I discover in the new year. I do hope to get started on my Goodreads Challenge on the first of January and after that, I will type up my goals for 2023 because I know everyone is wondering on how many books I want to read, if I am truly doing two challenges again, and honestly, I enjoy writing those posts for you too, so be on the lookout for that, okay?

How many books did you read this year? Did you hit your intended goal or not? What are your Top 3 books for 2022 as well?

snowflake

Blogmas | December Playlist

Hello!

Can you believe Christmas is on Sunday?! I can’t honestly, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who are feeling the exact same way.

I usually post my monthly playlists at the end, but since I will be taking my mini hiatus directly after Christmas, it just makes sense to release it as part of my Blogmas content. I’ll actually give you the list now and share some of the stuff going on in the past few weeks below.

Here are my Top 20 favorite songs for December 2022! If you want to check out the full playlist, click here.

Skinny Little Missy by Nickelback
Diseased by Icon For Hire
Bye Bye by Gryffin featuring Ivy Adara
Met Him Last Night by Demi Lovato featuring Ariana Grande
Have Mercy by Chloe
It’s Been Awhile by VCTRYS
The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody) by Bebe Rexha featuring Lil Wayne
What A Man Gotta Do by Jonas Brothers
Running For Your Life by UNSECRET featuring Butterfly Boucher
Ghost Town by Layto featuring Neoni
DICE by NMIXX
Revolution by Bishop Briggs
Reinvented by Ad Infinitum
Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
Dangerous by Aviva
The Assault by ADIEAUX x Justin Starling
Wild by Effsio Cross
Bones by wens
May It Be by Anuna featuring Sara Weeda
O Holy Night by Lindsey Stirling
Medley by Michael W. Smith
Nordlys by Myrkur
Silent Souls by Moya Brennan featuring Cormac De Barra
Carols of the Bells by Jennifer Thomas
Turn Off All The Christmas Songs by Sam Tinnesz


As I mentioned in last Friday’s post, I was really sick throughout the early part of the month, but I will say, I have had a lot of fun hanging out with my family lately. Our dog Rumer has really enjoyed playing again. She didn’t like it not being able to come around me in those few weeks. However, when I did come out, we’d play ball so much that she would literally jump up on the couch and fall asleep. One day she’ll do this when mom and I are watching Jeopardy in the living room. She tends to be active while we’re watching it, and you’d think her craziness would slow me down at all, but I have found I do better when I’m multitasking and playing with her.

Rumer does not know a lot of commands, we had plans to teach her a lot of different things when she was a puppy, but that takes a lot of time that none of us had a lot of patience for it, and now she’s full of energy and whines quite a bit. She does not do well away from my parents, mostly my dad, and she’s fiercely protective over us on top of that. Anyways, I’ve been trying to teach her some simple things, one is sitting (or lie down) before I roll her green ball to her. I don’t know what made me do this, but I point my big toe at her while leaving my right foot shielding the ball at the same time. She is starting to realize when I point downward, it means she needs to sit. She’s been doing great for this but recently, she’s been learning to go all the way down now. It was just bowing, and they’ve turned into fully calm, cooled and on the ground and everytime she succeeds in this task, I reward her with the ball.

For those of you who are asking about our Christmas tree though, she does pretty good with it considering she doesn’t usually care for the plants in the house. My dad was way too excited to bring our big plant we call “Sally” into the master bedroom for the month, because she can’t really mess with her and Sally has really blossomed in there as well.

If anybody has advice on how to help her anxiety being away from us and/or with the cats, we’ll gladly take it now!

Let’s talk about actual Christmas things now.

I wasn’t going to put up my tree this year. We recently switched my bed, have a new bedside light and other furniture around in the room and it’s been sort of a struggle figuring out where everything can go now, so I just figured I wasn’t going to have any space for it. And then we got the advent calendar which consists of mini ornaments, and it would make better sense to use my tree compared to the family tree and being around Rumer who eats anything and everything she’s not supposed to, so we managed to arrange it next to the TV and I have two very beloved musical Santa Clauses and we put them at the sides of my tree, and it really looks so good together.

These were the day one and two of our advent calendar ornaments. My nephew absolutely loves to do it as I mentioned in my post last Wednesday. I feel bad it’ll end on Christmas Eve though because it is literally the first thing he goes for when he comes over. Maybe I can find an activity for us to do at the start of 2023. If anybody has any ideas about this too, let me know in the comments.

One of Nolan’s favorite things to do lately is coloring, he really cherishes coloring with me and using my markers even though he has his own. We did a series of holiday characters, and he claimed all of them but one, the Dasher reindeer as it was for Mimi or my mom; unfortunately for Pawpaw Nolan decided his reindeer is for someone else, which really made him sad about it. At the same time we did this, Nolan introduced me to a movie on Disney+ and it’s called Prep and Landing, it is about the elves helping Santa navigate throughout Christmas night and it is so cute and hilarious! I’ve actually watched the other two and I figured out why the voice of Wayne sounded so familiar is because it’s the same actor who did Flik in A Bug’s Life: Dave Foley! Anyways, if you haven’t seen any of the movies yet, you should as they are perfect for toddlers and kids at heart obviously!

Here are the end results of our pages.

We have already finalized our plans for Christmas morning, and I get to play Santa this year! I’m not going to lie; this is good karma for me in a way. Nolan will be spending the night, so we have cookies and carrots for Rudolph and the gang, as per to Nolan’s instructions. We don’t want to offend any of the other reindeer of course! I am hoping when Nolan is officially asleep, we can put a couple of presents underneath my tree as he’s been such a good boy making my tree all pretty that I feel he needs to see some holiday magic for all of his good work this past month.

Okay, I think that is it for me today. I hope you have enjoyed all of the Christmas-y stuff going on and maybe found some good tunes to round out the rest of 2022.

snowflake

Blogmas | Annual Holiday DIY Project

Hello!

I love being able to do something creative around the holidays.

It’s become a bit of a tradition to do ornaments and now that I have been exploring the dot painting world, it has really opened a bunch of ideas in my mind and it’s fun to share them with my loved ones and of course blog about them. My only regret is that not every person will get one in the mail.

Sidenote: For the past month, I’ve had three bouts of stomach flu or whatever – I no longer believe it was stomach flu, but I’m also terrified to go down that road to find out what is exactly going on with my gut. Anyways, since I was down and out for several weeks, I was even more scared to do anything constructive because it would always come back to bite in the ass–literally! I know, TMI but you gotta laugh, right?


What you will need for this project:

  • Unfinished wooden ornaments – depending on which product you choose, sometimes you will be given string, multicolored beads, paint markers
  • Acrylic paint – I used two different brands of paint: Bunny Barn and DecoArt
  • 3 Paintbrushes – a large, medium and smaller brush
  • Palette container
  • Damp and dry wash cloth
  • Cup of water
  • Dotting tools

Last Christmas, I went back to the brand I used in my 2021 ornaments because they had two different collections, and I swore I had saved the others in one of the folders, but I guess I didn’t, which really bugged me in late October, so when I went looking for these characters days later, I had hoped I didn’t purchase the same designs! The ones I did find though, they had trees, bells, and snowflakes, but I really liked the others in the batch that I choose to overlook them and do my best to make every single ornament unique and I hope you (and their owners!) enjoy what I was able to do this time around.

The first day I only went in with eight characters and their base coats – for at least three of the ornaments were only painted in one color: the stars, snowflakes and hearts. Technically, the silver bells are only color, but they have a layer of glitter on top of them. I’d just like to point out the glitter wasn’t my idea; this was an addition made by my mother! For a woman who has panicked everytime I have paint out, she went all in with the glitter, I was actually very proud of her! Honestly, I didn’t know what I exactly wanted to do for these three and I went back and forth more on the hearts, but I do think keeping them as they are, is just as festive!

Once I had finished painting those guys, I moved onto the next few as i tried to do four at a time, but that really depended on the colors I still had available on my palette, so I did the baubles, snowmen, and angels, as they didn’t require much in the first layer. The snowmen were fairly simple as I just went to paint most of it in white and added the black on the arms, face and top hat. I had the thought of putting a neon orange nose of them but I figured all hell would break loose if I did so they went without their standard carrot nose. I just realized I didn’t even give them a scarf either. Oops!

The baubles were another easy-going ornament for me as I just used a color called “pure blue” and it is beautiful! I was tempted to use it everywhere but that was also part of the problem with it, since the shade was so vibrant, it was somewhat difficult for my mom to remove on the brushes, skin, …floor. It’s the same blue that reminds me of that scene in Harriet the Spy where her classmates “accidentally” pour a jug of blue paint on her. The last scene of her frantically scrubbing it off, is exactly how my mom had to remove it as well! Back to the baubles though, after they had dried, I grabbed my rustic gold and painted the section where you thread the string on top of it and it actually makes it look really good! I was worried I’d regret my decision there because when it dries, it tends to soak into the surface and instead of becoming lighter as acrylic paint normally does, it can look dark, but thankfully, the blue stands out just enough to balance out that dullness it can have at the end of the day.

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This photo was taken before the wings of the angels (and the trees were decorated!) were taken.

The angel. I was somewhat thrilled to have a small stack of heavenly angels as a part of my holiday project. I was conflicted though because I wanted to keep them with a simple design, but also make them to be individuals as well; in the end I went with the latter as it just seemed better to go in this route in case, I got a little overzealous with making sure every angel was different from the other. So, they all received a sky-blue gown, white wings and light-yellow face/halo.

Next, I went to the reindeer, stocking, trees, and despite doing the Christmas trees last year, I was thoroughly excited to be a little more creative–sickness be damned at this point!

Anyways, I started with my trees, and I managed to remember the precise shade I had for my original tree project back in 2020, and it had a bluesy green color and I thought it made the trees more winter-y, which is what I really wanted to showcase a natural look with some decorations here and there. Every tree had the standard blue-green coat, brown trunk and yellow/red on top for the star. When I finished with the basic things, I moved on to create their overall look with yellow, red and blue dots everywhere; some trees had a design I enjoyed creating last Christmas and I definitely went for it on some of them, while the others have a couple or few smaller dots that make them seem cute and meek at the same time.

As for the reindeer, I knew they would appear this year, but since I thought, I was going to have that other collection, I figured I’d only have to focus my attention on the face of the reindeer themselves, whereas with the batch I ended up with, were made with the whole body intact, I was a little nervous on how to make them “believable” if that makes sense. Although I will admit, I did create a little Rudolph face on the bells last Christmas as an added bonus to the mix, and I absolutely loved that idea, but I was concerned on whether I’d feel comfortable making a harness over the chest and front legs like they were all a part and ready to carry Santa’s sleigh through the night sky. I didn’t use a pencil outline for any of my initial designs for when I started on the dot process, I just went with my gut and I’m happy to say it actually worked out in the end of the day.

To round off this cluster of ornaments, we have the innocent stocking. My mindset going into this one was to basically copy what my actual stocking looks like, it’s a ruby red with white topper or ruffle, I don’t really know what that part of the sock/stocking would be, but then again, I’ve never had to care of the correct term. Anywho, when I went into painting, I used this beautiful red shade that definitely captured the same color that of red-hot cinnamon candies, but that damn topper was difficult. My mom had thought of using the silver glitter again, and at one point I had agreed with it, but then I changed my mind when I suddenly found myself with two stockings with bright blue… Honestly, I don’t regret it. It’s really pretty! The other two were never painted actually painted; if I had the confidence to do it, they were going to have a textured fur look in that area but again, I still loved how they turned out too!

Here’s something funny for you, now that I’m officially done with these ornaments and they should be getting to their rightful places soon, I’ve already decided on what I’m doing next year. If I can find a bunch of them, my plain is to do gingerbread men and women. As much as I enjoy the variety packs, only having one character may be easier on me as I can just give my heart to my design process. What do you think about this idea?

Do you have any special Christmas crafts you do for or with your family? For those who do not have anything, but have your own ideas though, what is it? Share with me in the comments!

snowflake

Blogmas | Games for the Holidays!

Hello!

I don’t know about you, but my family has never been into games.

The one thing I wished my family did more of was play games. We had a couple of years where we did in fact play Just Dance and Taboo, but they didn’t end quite well, which is probably why we never kept at it afterwards!

Now that I have Nolan and Kimber, I would like to bring in some old school games that I certainly enjoyed as a child. Nolan is very infatuated with technology and understands what a PlayStation and XBOX are–thanks in part to his daddy! However, as I’ve found out recently, he has a knack for Hungry Hungry Hippoes, so I may be right in my thinking that introducing some of these games I will be talking about in this post, will be something he might enjoy too!

Unfortunately, Kimber isn’t old enough to actually play with us, but I’m hoping watching the two of us would give her something to look forward to in the future. So, here were some of the games that I thought could be really good contenders for the three of us and maybe possibly your family too to play during the holidays.


Connect 4

Last September, while my sister was in the hospital, Nolan and I spent a good amount of time together and on Nickleodeon, they had some advertisements for the newest creation of the Connect 4 franchise; we were intrigued, Nolan especially, but I’ve always been more into the original setup, so I wasn’t too interested in this version.

I have many, many memories of playing this game in school. While I was in elementary, I took speech and every Friday we had a popcorn party, where we sat on the floor, ate popcorn, and played a different game (thus how this post came about!) each week. Connect 4 is a very easy game to understand as you have the structure itself and two different colored coins or chips, the objective is to not only block the other player, but you also have to connect four spots in a row in order to win.

Connect 4 is a lot like Bingo and Tic-Tac-Toe as you can go in many directions: diagonally, side to side, and up and down. As long as you win “fairly” then anyone at any age can be a master at the game itself.

Jenga

When I was in elementary school, I took Speech, and I would be in there for maybe 20-25 minutes a day and I specifically remember Fridays being the best day of the entire week because it was our party day. Our teacher was so sweet, and she would make popcorn for each class, and we’d play different games, but it was a ruse because we still had to do our lessons in between turns. She was a smart and sneaky like that! Anyways, I tried to rack my brain trying to figure out which ones we played, and I really hope that I can teach my nephew someday soon.

Jenga is very unique, it is made up of rectangle sticks and requires you to really think about the overall design, whenever it is your turn, you pick a stick from the very bottom of the build or a little higher. For most people, you rarely went from the bottom as you need good bones for everything to stay up and if you take one from that section and it turns out it was helping from breaking down the whole thing, you lose. My nephew has always enjoyed stacking things up and blocks in general, so toddlers would really love playing something like this because they’re always doing things with their toys.

Screamo

For this game, I learned it at the nursing home back in October. If these ladies ranging in age early 70’s to mid-80’s can play, anybody can do it. My nephew is four and he just loves playing this game anytime he comes over. It is usually the first thing he wants to do! What he doesn’t know is that he’s learning a bit of math too!

It is fairly simple once you figure out the steps. You have a paper with the numbers 1-12, two dice, and 12 chips or coins as my nephew prefers to call them. The main goal is to roll both of your dice and say it lands on a four and seven, this equals out to be seven but you’ve already covered up your seven with a previous play, so you have three options, that is if these other numbers are not already gone, you can lay down two coins on your four and three or exchange them with a five and two or six and one, which is even better because it is better to remove the number one as you can’t get a natural one with two dice.

UNO

I like a lot of card games, but my ultimate favorite–even if I’m not the best at it!–is UNO.

I have never been able to figure out how long I’ve loved UNO, but it had to come after middle school though. It doesn’t show up in my earlier memories and this kind of makes sense because I do remember playing an awful lot from 2005-2009 with my family and friends at slumber parties (do you remember those?!) and again, it is pretty easy to follow, but there are a few symbols that can be somewhat tricky, like the reverse and skip cards. These can be really annoying if you are playing with a large group of people and nobody really knows who is next in line, so to make things easier on yourself and the newcomers, I’d pick those guys out before you start the game entirely.

There is an episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy is playing Gin Rummy with her mother Sophia, and she always loses the game and Sophia basically drives her completely insane after every round so she gives up and decides no more. By the end of the episode, you learn why Sophia chooses to play it with her daughter and they end up playing a round during the last few seconds of the show. I guess I’m the same way with UNO. I love playing it with my family the most, it’s where I have the most memories, and it doesn’t matter on the age because my nana was in her late 70’s when we taught her so it’s not all that difficult once you know what each card means while the game continues.


In a way, I am like Sophia because I like the talk and watching everyone’s facial expressions as they arrange their cards and it’s one game that being an observer can have its advantages… As much as I’d like to win a round or two, I am fine with seeing someone get excited instead. This is what I hope to teach Nolan the most; it’s okay to allow someone to win but you never, ever tell them afterwards, because then they’ll think you forfeited the game and they’ll want a rematch and that attitude doesn’t make good challenges, especially if they lose against you.

What are your favorite games to play during the holidays? Which one do you hope to teach your child or family member someday?

snowflake

Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

I want to say, I can’t believe I am talking about another series by Melanie Karsak, but it’s happening! Although, if we’re being technical, it was actually my mom’s fault we are here in the first place as she told me shortly after I finished The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler last month.

Back in December, while I was reading my way through Christmas inspired stories, I attempted to read Melanie’s prequel novella called, “Shield-Maiden: Winternight Gambit” but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I thought I would. I’ve never been able to enjoy Viking fiction and trust me when I say there are TONS out there, which is both a blessing and a curse because it is super difficult to find anything outside of the Norse mythology. The fact I found Melanie’s “Celtic Blood” series first was interesting, but honestly both mythologies are somewhat similar, and I think that’s why I’m able to mesh with it now, because I have grown to learn more about “earth based” and/or pagan lifestyle, even if the story itself is fictionized.


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Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.

In my dreams, Odin whispers to me. 
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

taken from Gooreads.


I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but once I started, I felt comfortable with my surroundings. Anytime I jump into Melanie’s work, I instantly felt happy on the inside. Everything came together and I fully allowed myself to dive deep and embrace all of these characters and the events mentioned throughout the story.

I truly love having to focus on one character’s point of view and I think this is what I drive for in all of my books honestly. It was a freak accident that I was able to enjoy K.M. Butler’s book so much, because it had two views, but in order to understand the lives of those characters, you needed separate views as a reader. However, with this story, we follow only Hervor, and to me, she was just as powerful as Halla and Taurien. If you haven’t checked out my review of that book, the link is located in the first paragraph.

“Of all the places to live. Like a dwarf in a cave. Not in a glen. Not in a tree. Oh no, up the side of the steepest mountain,”

The entire book was exciting, but there were some interesting twists throughout the pages. Despite being the granddaughter of a jarl, she wasn’t very respected among her family. This is one of the biggest wonders of the story, because her mother somehow lost part of her memories, and even though Svafa is the beloved daughter of the jarl, Hervor is not.

She has constantly in the book said that she is unloved, but I don’t believe she is, she has multiple people in her village that adore her plenty like Eydis, who may be a slave to the family; she and Hervor have a beautiful friendship and I think Hervor tends to forget about that. She also has Yrsa as well, who has been teaching her all about being a shield maiden and her hopes is with her cousin Leif, who like Eydis, has been with her for the majority of her life and wants to see her flourish as well!

Besides Hervor being a big favorite for me, Eydis reminded me of someone I know. She is one of my sister’s friends from school and I basically used her face and goofy antics to picture this character a little better. She is a devotee of Loki, who is very mischievous in both the Norse mythology and the Marvel universe, so she has her weird moments too but there is a scene towards the end that really got me good. I physically laughed because not only was it perfect, but it showed you how funny she naturally is. I had saved like six quotes throughout, and I could have used any of the ones that came out of Hervor that could reflect her story, but I couldn’t see this post without sharing what Eydis has upon coming to Yrsa and Hervor.

After I had finished, I immediately went on Amazon and grabbed both the next and third book of the series. And I hate to say that it took me to four days to write this post and but they’ve currently sitting in my Kindle; I didn’t want to get any of the information confused once I began reading the second book, so I had to wait it out, which was tortuous, but I’m done here so I’m off to find out what happens to these wonderful characters! PS: I’m currently in the middle of “Under the Hunter’s Moon” so I’ll have the second review finished at the end of April.

Have you read “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, who were your favorite characters and scenes? What other Viking books can you recommend to anyone out there?

snowflake