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

Blogmas: Wooden + Dots Ornaments

Hello!

As you may have noticed, and I still don’t know what happened because I had plans, but we didn’t put out any pumpkins this fall. My sister did, she decorated her entire front porch with various sizes of pumpkins, but we did not. I found it very surreal, because that’s my favorite thing to do in September and October is paint pumpkins. After that, I think my body was like, “okay, we need to find an alternative fast!” because this project came out of nowhere, but it ended up becoming a new favorite of mine.

In mid-October, I started looking for birthday gifts that weren’t books (I know it’s shocking!) and I found these wooden shapes and I sort of fell in love with them and then I found ones that were Christmas related and then all hell broke loose in my brain!

In the last year and a half, I’ve been watching a lot of reels and regular videos on YouTube of dot art. I still don’t remember what inspired the find in general, but I’m forever glad it came into my life. I used it in my 3 projects last Christmas. It was only a simple red dot here and there with a Q-Tip but it was still a new thing for me and I loved it. I have been working on it throughout 2021 and I finally felt comfortable enough to use the technique in my new project: the Christmas ornaments!


What you will need for this DIY:

  • Wood cut outs – it’s important for them to be “unfinished”
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tools
  • Damp washcloth
  • Paint palette or paper plate(s)

Before we get too into this part of the post, I wanted to show you how the ornaments came in the mail.

They were perfectly stuffed into this cute Santa Claus box. I was originally going to get the 160 pieces but I’m glad I switched to the 40 pieces because I would still be painting right now! Anyways, they were four traditional Christmas characters: a snowflake, bell, tree and baubles. You get 10 in each stack, so you have multiple designs you’d like to trade off, you are welcome to do it evenly. If you would like to purchase this set or the others, click here for the Amazon page. You also get clusters of string for each of the ornaments, plus a small bag of metallic beads, but I did not use them.

Raining Dots

I started with the Christmas trees, and I copied the same color scheme I did with my last project, so I mixed my green with a tiny bit of blue and I love how they all came out. After finishing all 10 trees with their base coats, I moved on to the trunk and I poured a small amount of brown into my palette, and I used one layer of paint for that part. I am a lover of DecoArt acrylic paints, (thanks to Lydia May on YouTube!) I usually don’t need more than two coats depending on the shade, and I was very happy with my color choices this time around, including the yellow!

Once everyone was in the process of drying, I switched my attention on my design ideas for a few of my baubles. I knew I wanted to create a series of animals, but I’m not really good at it so I went looking on Pinterest and found a great step-by-step guide of the Fox for my friend Brittany. She was the one who really inspired this part in the first place. I continued to search for guides of the Cow and Pig, but I wasn’t able to find anything, so they were basically all free-foot sketches. After that, I stopped for the day, and came right back to it the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to add another selection of dotting tools. I have the smaller sizes, and I’ve been using them for about a year now and they are very nice for me to grip my toes around and make my dots, but the others are various sizes and I have been wanting to get them for a while now because I wanted to try my foot at the larger dots. I am having issues how to grip them, but I expected that to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out with my designs (honestly, I had the phrase, “less is more” in my mind the whole time!) and I tried to keep it that way.

When I came back to my trees, I was ready to decorate everybody, and I used two colors: yellow and a light gray (I mixed my gray with a tiny bit of white!) and I painted the stars with those colors and would switch the yellow star with silver garland. I was smart with this; I drew out a zig-zag design on most of them and would follow the lines with my dotting tool and I really loved it! Some look like traditional Christmas trees, but there are five of them with the “walking technique” which is coating your desired tool with paint and dotting down the canvas, I love this so much I did it to my Bonsai pot in the spring! My parents saw the final tree with this design, and they love it. Honestly, everyone I’ve shared it to, has expressed the same thoughts too!

So, here are how the trees turned out.

There Goes Rudolph!

The second (or third) shape were the bells. I wasn’t impressed with the bells at all, they were very boring even without paint on them…

My thinking behind them was the golden bells you normally see on pictures, but I could not get the yellow to turn to a pretty gold and I tried like three different times and was only successful after finishing with them. I was so mad at that point, but I moved on though. Since I had 10 of these bells, I was influenced by a fragment of a carol “with silver bells ringing” I kept hearing while doing the base colors and I created the silver hue again for the rest of my bells and I thought they looked so adorable!

I left to dry overnight and I was really worried about how boring they looked, so that night I thought about adding a reindeer face on it and in my dreams they looked so cute and I was over the moon when I started sketching out how I wanted the antlers to go, but once I started doing my dots I got a little worried because the design started to look a little bit like a pair of balls and by my second bell, I became terrified at what was appearing but thankfully my mom thought they were great, especially after I put the eyes and big red nose at the end.

The reindeer/bells are definitely my favorite, even with the cock and balls antlers, they still look amazing! I did a good job on them and that’s something I rarely do when it comes to painting, is enjoy what I am creating, and lately it’s been so fulfilling to believe in my artwork for the first time.

Let It…

For the third ornament, we have snowflakes.

I think both the trees and snowflakes were the easiest to do because they required a small set of skill. You can free hand your designs to make things simple and they would still end up being very beautiful. When I began on the snowflakes though, I thought I would be able to play with my various sizes of tools, but I rarely got away from the blue tool, which is a little bit bigger than the purple tool. I basically treated the flakes like the trees when it came to their designs and used the walking technique quite a bit throughout the process.

And like the trees, I kept my color scheme pretty limited, I only used white for the base and used two different blues, but my favorite shade was the bright, neon like because it reminded me of the Frozen films. I’ll be honest, I had Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (and of course, Olaf too!) in my head all while I was working on these and I’m glad I did because it got me out of my head, and I allowed myself to make mistakes with them because I mean every snowflake is one of a kind so I just left them the way they were… well, some of them! There were 3 that definitely had to be fixed but after I was done, I basically pushed them as far away as possible, so I wasn’t able to add more dots!

The Cast of Characters

Lastly, the bauble balls were my least favorite because I knew what I wanted to do with a few of them and it scared the living daylights out of me! I got through in one piece thank God, but not without psyching myself out in the first round.

So, like I explained above while I was waiting for my trees to dry, I got started on figuring out what I wanted for three of my baubles, the rest was pretty much left until I did the base coats. I treated the baubles like the bells, as I split them up as they were painted in traditional Christmas colors: green and red. I was so worried the red would be too dark for my animal baubles, but thankfully they design held up great against the paint, and I was still able see every part.

My biggest worry now was, do I have a brush that was small enough to paint the character without creating a big mess around it, and I was thoroughly surprised as I found a tiny brush that was not only perfect for the designs, but it quickly became a favorite of mine because it allowed me to gain back some of the control as far as what I wanted to bring into each animal. I didn’t stop using my dotting tools though as I had made the eyes and noses with a small tool, and they turned out as adorable as my Rudolph/reindeers in the end.

When I was done with them, I was fairly tempted to leave the rest of the baubles plain, but I thought they looked too boring for that, and I started experimenting and I made array of different ones but I did one that spells the word “Woof” for a family friend, they have a Pittie and they recently got a Beagle puppy so as my mom told me, “it fits” for them, and then I surprised myself again but creating two baubles in a Ugly Christmas Sweater design and I’m still upset I did just do that with the rest but it was just a beautiful disaster that I need to remember for next Christmas!

Bring Me the Rainbow

My final bauble is very special because it is my nephew’s. Nolan has become obsessed with the moon and rainbows, and since I already got him a Moon phase garland for his room, I figured I needed to bring out his love for the rainbow too, so I reserved a bauble ornament for him. I don’t know why I didn’t do this with my nana’s ornament since she too is obsessed with the rainbow! Oh well, I will make a note of this for next year!

I was thrilled to do this for Nolan but I was also terrified too because I had to use the ruler to create a series of lines for each color, and honestly, this was a doozy! I was having a hard time making six, somewhat equal, lines for each dot and it was a hard task at first but once I got it all figured out, I poured out my paint on my palette and got to work on the actual dots.

This media has also become a favorite of my nephew too. He currently had two or three CDs I’ve made in the last year or so, the first one he just took home and the others I gave him because he kept holding onto them. I think in the new year, I will try to teach him how to do it so he can be excited about his own creations too! Anyways, I used my pink tool, which is the middle size and honestly, it was actually perfect for this design. I was going to use the tiny brush again to remove the empty spaces in between the dots but I stopped myself from doing it and messing the entire ornament up. Nolan was very excited to get his ornament. I don’t think he understood at first why I had given him a different design compared to his mommy’s pink reindeer, but I know he will cherish it nonetheless!

It is strange when a small thought that can appear in the middle of a sleepless night, can grow into such a huge project and yet bring so much good to a slice of the world. Homemade gifts are good for the soul. I give kudos to anyone who has a small business and fix up orders every day, because that is no small feat! As I told my nana the other day, now that I am done painting and the cards were shipped out and people are receiving their ornaments, I still feel like I need to be doing something, and I really hope it was finishing this post.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my process with this project. It was fun while it lasted, and now I can relax for the rest of this break. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time with your family, friends and/or pets. For anyone else, have a wonderful weekend!

Blogmas: Festive and Winter-y Baby Names!

Hello!

Last year I did a HUGE thing and made up over 100 name combinations for my second Instagram account. It was kind of hectic but really fun and I was pretty proud of myself afterwards. The page itself is centered around my love of names. I’ve never been interested on how the name(s) mean or sound really, I just share what I think looks cute and different and it allows me to learn more about other cultures too! I am a big learner and obsessed with various holidays and nationalities, and I’ve figured out I can multitask when it comes to creating these posts on my profile.

I had plans to do something similar during the month of October, because I also love fall and Halloween-eques type of names but I wasn’t motivated to do anything, and I was only able to release three girl pairings out of the entire thing. I was so bummed about it, but then I thought about creating a whole post about the names that I feel are perfect for Christmas.

This is one of the largest lists I’ve ever made, and I apologize for its size, but the original list was actually much bigger–I had the hardest time figuring out what to add. (This statement shouldn’t surprise you too much!) What I will do to make this somewhat easier for you is, I will talk about four names from each sex and discuss why I picked them out of the rest in their group, plus give you a fun middle name so it gives you some ideas later on.

Ambrose Gray

One thing you will notice in the list is that I chose some classic names like Ambrose, Benedict, and Emmanuel mainly because they are “warm” names to me. I feel like they are perfect names for boys (or girls) born in the colder months. They are snuggle-y and sophisticated. And despite using the middle as “Gray” I can see a lot of reds, navy blues, and beige colors that could illuminate the essence of the name. Yes, in a way your child will have a grandfather type of name but as they get older, you could adopt a nickname that could work with their full name!

Douglas Wolf

I have seen Douglas making a slow comeback and I seriously am here for it!

If you are interested in boho or nature, I think Douglas is an underdog to both of these styles. I love trees but I always forget to add them in my ultimate list. Douglas firs (or Evergreen trees) are unbelievably gorgeous! Once you see them out in their habitat, you instantly feel Christmas-y and want to do a full-on Griswold move and watch it explode in your living room with its huge limbs. Oddily enough, newborn babies can have a similar effect, but maybe not break any windows with their incredible wails though, but who knows, maybe they can…

Fairbanks Roland

Back in January, I actually began to collect names that were out of the Scandinavian range as that was one country, I talked about in the previous Christmas name posts on my Instagram. I also adore the Frozen franchise, so it wasn’t really a surprise when I just unleashed every week of different ones. However, I decided to change it up a bit and started searching for interesting names based around Alaska, which is how I found Fairbanks.

Why I thought Fairbanks could be a hit is because of two reasons: 1) it is both a city and word name, and these are really in nowadays! So, if you are tired of hearing about Aspen, Boston, and Denver, this could be your ticket! 2) as far as I can tell, Fairbanks is fairly low on the popularity charts. Technically, this combination is pretty low on their significant lists so you could be safe to having you child use an unique type of name that could rise later on.

Lysander Matthew

Personally, I have always had an uneasy relationship with Lysander. I like it, I think it’s interesting and could work around Halloween and winter, so in a way it’s like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, where it works around both of their celebrations.

I am very impressed with the amount of regal looking the boy names are in the banner. I tend to enjoy hearing bold and masculine names around this time anyways. As I said about “Ambrose” there is something about these classic names that seem to radiant a sense of warmth and wholesome in the next few months. This being said though, I tend to go on a different route with the girls. I like shorter but Christmas like type of styles, thus the many vibes of the festive season.

I paired it with a very beloved name of mine and that’s “Matthew” as I feel like it adds a subtle sweet flair to how sharp Lysander looks and sounds. I don’t usually add other names that could work as possibly sibling sets in these types of posts, but I think Leander and Lior would be cool as they each have a mysterious and regal appeal to them.


Faith Sydney

As with Lysander above, Faith is another one that hasn’t had an easy time with me. I normally to go back and forth with it, but since so many faiths are celebrated during this month, I thought it could stand to make a comeback amongst the charts again. There is another reason to list it here is because Faith is one syllable. People are really enjoying naming their children with one to three syllables and this was the reason why I included Sydney as the middle as it is kind of easygoing and plays well overall.

Honor Madeleine

Since 2008, I have been a huge fan of Honor, thanks in part to actress Jessica Alba and her husband Cash Warren’s first daughter being named Honor Marie. It was during that year that my actual love of collecting names officially started; I’d been storing a lot of them throughout my life, but this was the first time where I saw so many good names at once and my mom and I were just having a field day of sharing our thoughts on each one that was announced. This was the same year that Nicole Ritchie and her husband Joel Madden had their daughter Harlow Winter Kate, which is another beloved favorite of mine too! Honor and Harlow could be a great set as well!

Josepha Claire

This one is for those who would like to get out of using Josephine, now there’s nothing wrong with that variation, I’m actually a really big fan of that style, but I thought Josepha or maybe Josephe could be an interesting royal switch up.

Lately I’ve been doing royal family trees in my spear time, and I just finished doing Marie Antoinette’s maternal family line and Josepha is a HUGE name among her family. The majority of her mother, aunts, sisters, and nieces had it in their fairly large names, so if you are a fan of Marie Antoinette in any way, you could use Josepha as a nice way to represent her or the old Asturian-Hungarian royal family.

Neve Alexandra

One name that I just enjoyed last winter was Neve. I had heard about it prior to using it in my theme, but I never knew it meant “snow” in Italian. As much as I like the word “snow” having it as a name for a human, always makes me cringe a little, so whenever I can find names that mean it, I will definitely go with the alternative immediately. I also really enjoyed putting Alexandra with it as the middle since that’s another way I enjoy creating combinations too, starting small and continue with a longer and strong type of name can make it look almost regal.

Okay, well, that is it for this post. I really hope you enjoyed my selection of names, and the few I gave you with some ideas for middle candidates too. Now I would really like for you to comment below with your favorites from the banner or what you like to see throughout the season.

Blogmas: Gift Ideas for Readers

Hello!

For this year, I will be discussing for the reader(s) in your life, because we can be somewhat tricky to buy for on Christmas. I hope to give you some ideas below and this week on Got Meghan’s Blog is full of festive vibes, so I also hope you enjoy what I have for you because I had a lot of fun creating them!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post discussing interesting topics for my fellow disabled and chronic illness bloggers out there. I thought it would be a great idea to create one of my own and there was awesome feedback from people with and without disabilities! Anyways, I still adore the way I set up that post and wanted to do it again to hopefully give you some ideas into what a reader would REALLY love under their Christmas tree or stocking this year!


Before we get too into this, I need to make a point and say, if you decide to do any of the ideas below, you should know the person treasures the most. Despite the fact I included Harry Potter, it doesn’t mean EVERYONE enjoys that series! There are thousands of fandoms and products out there so hopefully you’ll be able to find something they love, but also be honest with yourself as well. If you can’t get something because you can’t afford it at this moment, find something else and hopefully they will understand your struggle and move on from it.

Speaking of money, I arranged everything below into their own category as far as price goes, so we have a somewhat cheaper collection of items that don’t go over $25. The middle will have a selection that could change depending on the various qualities and websites; I’d say they might start at $30 and stop around $60 and then the final box is everything I feel can go into the $100+ and those would be things that you would expect in that range too.

Easy on the Budget

Bookmarks
Stickers
Candles
Fairy lights
Coffee Mugs
Teabags/Instant Coffee Cups
Cat Inspired Gifts (or any other animal!)
Earbuds/Headphones

The Prices Can Change

Book Ends
Throw Blankets
Journals
Calendars
Bluetooth Speakers
Harry Potter Items
E-Readers (like NOOK, Kindle, and Audible)

Get Your Checkbooks Out

Book Subscription Boxes (like Book Of The Month, OwlCrate, etc.)
Limited Edition Books
Boxed Sets
Childhood Favorites
Bookshelves

Last summer, I was able to work with a company that specialty is making unique bookmarks and holders, and they are TILIMSA and I really love their products. They are reasonably priced since all of the items are handmade. I’m still so happy they were nice enough to work with someone like me who doesn’t exactly hold a book in the way everybody else does, so they customized their regular items to fit my needs, however, I’m not sure if everyone will be able to get the same treatment. If you are trying to find something for someone with a disability who loves to read, you could try to get into contact with them but again, I’m not sure if it will happen, so please keep this possibility in mind beforehand.

Are there any other ‘bookish’ products I should add to this post? Comment below with your suggestions, plus which money category I need to list it too!

Blogmas : The Christmas Song Tag

Hello!

So, I’ve had this post in my drafts for basically a year and when I saw it I thought I had won the jackpot until I opened it and there was absolutely nothing written in it besides the title… A part of me felt like a fool but then again I thought I could use it to my advantage. I looked through other blogs that include holiday tags and I ended up finding the actual link that I was going to use in the original post so I get to do what I should have done last year or whatever.

There weren’t any rules to the actual tag, other than add some friends and letting them know about it, but let’s face it, nobody does that anymore. If you do, you’re a godsend! Anyways, I’m tagging anybody but if you want to do this on your blog or Facebook (because that would be cool and different!) save the questions for safekeeping and title it so hopefully you’ll remember better than I! I am leaving the original link that will send you to Hailey in Bookland’s YouTube channel.


“You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”
Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

My first thought was Constantine from The Bratva’s Heir by Jen Henry and Sophie Lark, because I was really iffy about him in the beginning and honestly the scene in the sex club still has me bothered to say the least. However, there was Kage from Ruthless Creatures by J.T. Geissinger and between these two dudes, I was honestly more fearful of Kage. These mafia boys can be really intense and draw out all kinds of emotions and hotness… but that’s not what you’re asking though!

“All I Want for Christmas is You”
Which book to you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?

Oh god…. now this is a question because I hope there quite a bit of books under our Christmas tree but if we’re talking about my own tree, I would say, the Celtic Blood series by Melanie Karsak. This was the second series I’ve ever finished and I really hope Santa can get the four books so I can stack them up on my bookshelf next to my bed as a reminder of the accomplishment like I did with Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. I also hope I can talk my sister into bringing back my print copy of the first book too.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”
Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

Speaking of the Celtic Blood series, Cerridwen overcomes a LOT especially from the beginning of Highland Blood and really doesn’t end when the books stop–although I do want to point out that she is allowed to relish in many, many things through the entire series, but nothing really affects her badly until the start of book two and she becomes somebody different, and I’m not talking about the raven either! She grows from the young girl to a stronger person after what she’s been through in a quick ascend.

The second character has to be Dahlia in What Passes As Love by Trisha R Thomas. She is the daughter of a slave owner but lives in his house with her paternal grandmother and half sisters, they all treat her like a slave but is very loved amongst the family. However, it’s the fact that she’s forced to balance both affects of herself, things take one heck of a day out, where she meets the Ross brothers and everything takes a turn for the worst.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty/Nice list?

As I’ve said above with the first question, with all of the mafia books I’ve read in the last few months, I think it’s fair to say they might be pretty high on Santa’s naughty list but that’s just my opinion. I can’t choose just one for the top spot though!

For the nice list, we have Lady Madelaine of the Celtic Blood series as she has a very sad story in Highland Raven and she’s such a fragile character throughout but whenever she’s around Cerridwen, Tavish and the ladies of the coven, she flourishes into this friendly person and you hope something good comes her way.

“Frosty the Snowman”
Which book just melts your heart.

The first book that came to me was Kennedy Fox’s This Is War about Viola and Travis. I really fell in love with the enemies to lovers type of story. It was cute and very sexy, but I wouldn’t say it “melted” my heart.

I have to say that belongs to Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar. This may seem strange for anyone on here, because I didn’t share the actual review on my blog, but I did post it on my Facebook and Instagram. Anyways, it’s a story about a woman who’s life goes upside down when she, her husband and their children are sent to Auschwitz II in 1943. The book is heartbreaking but it does show how the Nazis treated the gypsy families in and around Germany. They were prosecuted just as much as the Jewish communities. You don’t hear much (or I didn’t at least!) about the Romani camps, and one thing I thought was even more interesting was, the youngest child Adelia is said to be around three years old and I thought this was somewhat strange as the Nazis would send the elderly and babies into the gas chambers if they thought they wouldn’t be able to do any work, so how is it she survived the selection process?

“Feliz Navidad”
Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

All of the five books I read written by Melanie Karsak takes place in and around Scotland. The Celtic Blood series is centered in Scotland hence the “highland” part of each title but as much as I adored Cerridwen in the CB series, Boudica felt so much different for me. I never knew anything about the real ladies that lead to the inspiration of these books–Cerridwen is actually Lady Gruoch of Scotland and she married to Gillacoemgain of Moray, which produced a son Lulach, and after the death of her husband, she ended up marrying Macbeth and later became his Queen.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?

I actually haven’t read any holiday themed books as of yet. I do have two on my Kindle though; they are: Finding Love At The Christmas Market by Jo Thomas and Christmas In The Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft. These are both contemporary fiction whereas the book I am currently waiting on is Riding His Sleigh by Cameron Hart and I am pretty sure this is just straight up erotica, at least I hope it is! I found it on Instagram as a preview and by the time this post goes up, I should be able to finally get my toes on it.

“Sleigh Ride”
Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)

The first character that popped out at me was Boudica’s sister Princess Brenna as it is mentioned in the book, Queen Of Oak that she loves Yule (which is the pagan equivalent to Christmas!) and I found that whole chapter very interesting. Honestly, I thought all of their big holidays like Beltane, Litha, Lughasadh, and Samhain were all fascinating! It was another element in the CB series that I thoroughly enjoyed learning about too. I love learning more about how different cultures both past and present celebrate the changing of the seasons!

“Baby it’s Cold Outside”
Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?

Honestly I think that’s a little harsh!

I only had two books (so far) that I have absolutely hated and they are: Highland Queen by Melanie Karsak and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. I know, I’m still shocked by both of these books since I adore their series, but they each had elements that never sat well with me. For example, Highland Queen never quite ended, for the last of the series, it seemed like a bad cliffhanger, but sadly there were more things like the meeting with the goddess Scotia in the beginning was never resolved and the conversation between Sidhe and Cerridwen about the reason about given the Seelie gloves was left out entirely too.

Now with Glass Sword, I think the main reason why I did not enjoy it was because the events of collecting other reds just dragged on with each page/ The middle of it was massive and so boring! It also had the opposite effect to Highland Queen as the end of it was very exciting and thrilling, but I also feared how I would think about Winter’s Cage later on too.

This is a late addition, because I literally forgot all about it! I had a chance to listen to the audible version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a couple of months ago and I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as I tried to, and it still drives me crazy! I hope this doesn’t happen to every classic I decide to read later on in the future.

Do you hear what I hear”
Which book do you think everyone should read?

I will be doing a Top 7 of the books I read this year towards the end of December, but I think this book should be on every royalist bookshelf or e-reader in the future.

For anyone who has thoughts about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s choice to step away of being senior members of the royal house and be a “normal” family, should look into Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women by Rachel Trethewey. It will give you an insight into the mind of a royal, despite the different times, as they find their spouse and what they will do for love. The former king was an enigma of sorts, and it was so interesting to see how dealt with life as a senior royal in the 20th Century.


All right, well I think that is everything! I actually had a lot of fun coming up with my answers for this tag, and I apologize if you were hoping I would talk about other books than the ones I read this year. I tend to do it this way every time and it helps me make the decision of what I truly loved the most or hated in some cases. I hope you enjoyed what I had to say in this post.