Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Gambit of Blood” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

I am still impressed with myself on what I was able to accomplish in the month of July. I started off in the best of indentations, but then I got sick, and I did not read for like five days in a row. I wasn’t very happy about it since I had successfully read every single day the previous month, so what really surprised me was getting to 30 books on my 2022 goal, and I finished not one, but TWO series!

After I completed “The Road to Valhalla” series, I knew I wanted to give the spinoff series another shot. I’ve sort of read the first five pages of the novella back in December, but I wasn’t into reading about the Vikings at that time, and so to be able to get back into the story of Ervie, was almost like full circle, well it will be once I get through the novella itself, which is next but knowing me, I’m probably already done with it by the time this post goes up. I have done reviews on novellas in the past, but I’ve decided to not do one of “Winternights Gambit”.


An orphaned descendant of Loki.
A princess without a kingdom.
A shield-maiden plagued by the shadows of Valhalla


Born to rule two jarldoms, Ervie should of had a life of ease. But fate has not been kind. Her parents’ jarldoms destroyed in the wars of a previous generation; Ervie is set adrift in the world. Taking refuge in the lands of the famed King Gizer, Ervie finds a temporary retreat from her aching sense of loss. But when Gizer’s warband is summoned to defend one of his staunchest allies, the journey promises more than just battle for Ervie.

As it turns out, the Norns have been weaving.

Once, Ervie’s parents were considered the most powerful practitioners of Norse magic in all of Scandinavia. That same magic has been sleeping under the shield-maiden’s skin. Soon, this descendant of the trickster god will find herself on a path to reclaim what was lost…and follow her destiny.

Fans of Vikings and The Last Kingdom will relish The Shadows of Valhalla series. This sweeping Viking historical fantasy retells the story of the second legendary heroine named Hervor—called Ervie by those who know her well—the inspiring shield-maiden from the Norse Hervarar Saga.

Readers of The Road to Valhalla series will love this next-generation tale in a beloved Viking world.

taken from Goodreads.

The one thing I am still kicking myself about, is that I should have waited at least a day after I finished with “Under the Dark Moon” to begin this book. I was not in control of my emotions so any mention of Hervor, Hofund, Svafa, and even Sigrun, made me cry again 12 hours later! I was an absolutely idiot but, in a way, I knew this book would have some of the beloved characters mentioned in that series. I just underestimated my thoughts at the time and after I finished one chapter, I made myself stop and take a break from it all but was right back in within a day or two later.

Ervie. Princess of Reindeer. Daughter of Blossoms.”

For this story, we follow Princess Hervor or Ervie as she prefers to be called; although I think she may accept her namesake and the legend of the shield-maiden Hervor later on, but we’ll see about that. Anyways, Ervie is very far from home, after the death of her mother Blomma, she left her twin brother Prince Loptr and grandfather King Hofund in Grund behind to escape all of her reminders. You could see her pain a mile away and it hurt you as the reader just as much Ervie in a way.

Four years later, she’s found a place among Kind Gizer and Queen Kára’s brood of boys: Dag, Bjarki, Kettel, Gauti, Thorir, Wigluf, and only daughter Eyfura in Skagen. She fights on the battlefield with the same brutality and stamina as the brothers and claims her prizes humbly. She doesn’t just have a good relationship with Gizer’s kingdom, but with her cousin Prince Angantyr, son of Prince Heidrek of Grund and Princess Helga of Jutland, who was originally called Prince Heidrek at the end of “Under the Dark Moon” The name change fits him well, but he isn’t as loved by his grandfather King Harald, but then again you can’t quite blame him for it. He was mostly cared for by Lady Svafa and this time she got to keep her memories. However, by the time we see these characters, Svafa is very blind and old, but she radiates love and joy to everyone around her.

“What lies deep in the Myrkviðr, a dark place where none of these daring warriors dare to enter?”

The first Act of this story was huge, it’s actually the bulk of the plot itself but I really think there were a lot of filler information as well. I understood the reason why Melanie included so many familiar characters, especially Prince Heidrek, as they are all needed, and they become reasons for Ervie to find herself in Myrkviðr. When she makes her way there, the forest is dense, but she finds it inviting at the same time. When we get to this section, Ervie started to remind me of Yrsa, and her bears and cave on the ledge. By the time we enter this phase, we hit 65% overall and I became fairly worried on how much information would be available for everyone. I still think there were missed opportunities on while King Ormar and Audr were training Ervie and why the King chose not to discuss the invasion of The Huns with Audr and Ervie.

The biggest surprise of the whole thing was the entrance of Prince Hlod as that was a brilliant twist to not only Ervie’s storyline but what could ensue for King Hofund, his heir Loptr, and also Prince Angantyr, as there is even more news about King Harald and his family. Once this was revealed to the reader, you are instantly wondering how it will all play out, and I will say, I understood why so much material was in the beginning, but I still say there were some that did not belong there at all or yet.

Have you read the first book of this spinoff series, “Shield-Maiden: Gambit of Blood” yet? I’d like to know your thoughts about it in the comments section below.

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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: Top 7 Books of 2021!

Hello!

This is my final post of 2021, and I thought the only way to end out the year is talking about all of the books I read this year, plus give you my all-time favorites at the bottom. This may turn out to be a chunky blog post so get ready for the rambles I’ll be doing throughout this thing.


For my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2021, I decided to read over 30 books, since that is the age I turned this fall, and I was particular surprised on my speed at which I hit the yearly goal. On October 28th, I finished my last book to hit my goal, but of course I couldn’t stop reading in general. I ended up taking reading five other books of different genres and length afterwards; that is another thing that happened, towards the beginning of summer I started reading novellas and I know they helped me get over that hump a whole lot faster, but I learned quickly to live with it because I have really enjoyed the last two months since I’m not rushing to finish out the rest of the year.

It’s actually kind of hilarious when I look back to my reading plan at the start of the year looked fairly cool, as I was going to continue various series and then I watched Chelsea Palmer’s haul within two days of scheduling that post and I found out that Scarlett St Clair’s Hades x Persephone series was on Kindle Unlimited on my original idea quickly went to hell and I did not finish the four books I initially bought for myself as a late Christmas present! If I had the control to stay off of KU, I think I would be able to get into those books, but I couldn’t get over the pull and that’s why I’m leaving them for 2022 now.

When the month of August came around, I went through a small phase of thinking I could complete four book series this year. I had already gone threw one series a couple of weeks earlier so I began to feel a little overzealous with confidence in my reading ability, and honestly, I probably could do it, but not this one. I still have the final book in “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners On Tour” by Olivia Cunning series and I hope to make time for them because I truly adore those characters and want to see how they all end within their stories.

I did add on to last year’s limit because I made my own goal bigger, and I thought it would also ease the pressure of giving every book a spot if I truly believed they deserve it. I didn’t want to do like I did in my previous post and make my two favorite books of the year share the same number when I could just add on to the list itself.


1. This Is War by Kennedy Fox

I was in thick of my romance craze when I got to this book, I didn’t even plan for it to happen but was fairly glad for the amount that came my way in the end.

For my first Kennedy Fox book ever, this was amazing! I found out something interesting about myself and what I love about explicit romances and that is, I really enjoy funny banter between the characters: the enemies to lovers’ kind of topic. It was a thing I searched for while sticking to the goal, and I’ve only found three others that could rival the antics of Travis and Viola big time. It has become a bit of a standard in my choosing future books, especially for the new year. I have yet to get the next book in its duet series but maybe I can persuade Santa Claus to grant me this one.

2. Highland Blood by Melanie Karsak

After completing Jenny Han’s “To All Of Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, I wondered what the next batch of would be, and if I had kept reading “After You” by JoJo Moyes in January, this might have an even more confident spell in my brain but instead I wanted to chase my Scottish roots a little bit more and ended up finding the “Celtic Blood” series by Melanie Karsak. These books were available on KU and made the whole process of reading go very quick. Once I got the first book, I was gone! There wasn’t a moment I’d take back because I just adored the story of Gruoch so much.

I did have somewhat of a hard time picking between Highland “Raven” and “Blood” because I loved them equally, but I had to give it to this book because of the number of emotions I went through along with Gruoch. I enjoyed almost everything about it. I became interested in Celtic mythology, witchcraft, etc. for the majority of the year. I’ve been learning a lot about their beliefs, and I think seeing Gruoch become a strong woman in this story was amazing! I loved her relationship with Gillacoemgain, and wanted to stay in that Castle of Moray with the two of them forever, but then the ending came and she and I cried together in those last couple of chapters.

3. What Passes as Love by Trisha R. Thomas

By the time I came across this one, I was coming through a small slump. I had just finished the fourth and final book in the CB series, so I felt very lot and sad, but I went looking through the books in the genre historical fiction since I had a great turnout before, and I found this gem and it made me stay off KU for at least a week or two because I didn’t need to look for books, this was what got me through to the finish line.

I am one of those people who is attracted to the cover than anything else. The day I found this book was very boring, I had been searching for something to get me out of the slump for a while and it wasn’t long before I found “What Passes as Love” on Kindle Unlimited. I remember looking at the cover and thinking, this is really pretty, and clicking to see what it was about, and after learning about it, I thought it sounded great but I was still so unsure I was ready for it so I left it and could not stop thinking about it for two whole days! They always say, if you can’t stop thinking about it, get it and that’s what I did and I did not look for another book until I finished it about a week later!

4. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St Clair

At the end of 2020, I came across the Hades x Persephone series through Chelsea Palmer’s YouTube channel. It was new and steeped in Greek mythology, and this is how I ended up getting into the Celtic Blood series as it is somewhat centered in Celtic mythology as well, but this series is a modern take on those stories of the Underworld God, Hades and The Goddess of Spring, Persephone.

Anyways, I kind of cheated when I started reading the first book, which is “A Touch of Darkness” because I began reading it a week or so before the first day of 2021. I couldn’t stop myself from diving all-in with it and I didn’t. I’m glad I read it because it gave me a chance to really enjoy the prospect of another set of goals within the new year. I want to say it me over a week to finish this book and probably two months to complete the first three books between the two characters before I started on my CB journey.

5. Rough by Renee Rose and Vanessa Vale

I had the most difficult time figuring out which of my erotica books I loved the most, I could have done a Top 5 post of just those books honestly!

You might have noticed, Vanessa Vale was another big author for me as I read four books in total but my absolute favorite out of all those was Rough, and she wrote it with Renee Rose. Before this one, I had never read anything by Renee, but I loved the book so much that I literally got her “Holiday Gift Box” that has The Director (Chicago Bratva), Alpha’s Temptation (Bad Boy Alphas) featuring Lee Savino, King of Diamonds (Vegas Underground), His Human Slave (Zandian Masters) and of course Rough (Wolf Ranch) as an early Christmas present for myself. Technically it was free, so it wasn’t like a big deal on that part.

Back to this though. I go back and forth on whether I love cowboys–and it’s only with Vanessa Vale’s books that I really question it because they are always so damn dreamy! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m still embarrassed about the fact that I confused the male character’s last name “Wolf” to be for his ding-a-ling, but it was actually because he is a wolf…

6. Queen of Oak by Melanie Karsak

If the name Melanie Karsak seems familiar to you, well oddly enough, I read five books by Melanie this year. I’ve only had four other authors in total hook me with multiple books and/or series, and they are Kennedy Fox, Vanessa Vale, Jasinda Wilder, and J.K. Rowling.

This book is about Queen Boudica and her journey, and by the time I was able to read it, I was going through withdrawl because I loved the CB series so much! It was nice to come back into that world again and even though it wasn’t Gruoch as I’ve gotten to know her, I still enjoyed Boudica as a whole, but she actually wasn’t my favorite in the book though. I really enjoyed Don and Ula the most as they reminded me of “Gramma” from Moana, she was in my head for the character Ula, they are a little weird, but you never doubted their power as a woman. As for Don, she came across to me like, the Northuldra leader Yelena from Frozen II as she was very stoic but laidback too. They were two different personalities, but I just loved them so much.

7. The Boleyns at Hever Castle by Claire Ridgewater and Owen Emmerson

Shockingly, I only read a handful of nonfictions this year. I started out my reading journey with two distinct genres: historical fiction and biographical/memoirs. As I’ve mentioned above, I had a fairly good selection of the historical fiction but only three memoirs though!

I thought the book about The Duke of Windsor was interesting, but I felt it just dragged on and on as it continued that I almost gave up on it twice! After I was done, I took a very long break and then I saw this while on Goodreads earlier in the year, as it was being released to the public and I put it on my TBR list but figured I’d never get it, so imagine my face, the day a few months later when I discovered it on Kindle Unlimited! I was so happy that I literally stopped whatever I was doing to read it. I think it took me three days to finish it. I still don’t like the beginning of the book as Claire and Owen explain Hever’s medieval blueprint and how it changed up until The Boleyn family lived there. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It was different from what I normally read, and I hope I can find more books like it in the new year.


Later today, I have a little countdown of this list going up on my blog’s Facebook page. I had specifically made this banner for that video but I forgot to put it in so I thought I would share my thoughts on my favorite recent reads on the last bit of this post.

The first book I read after completing “Queen of Oak” was Mario Escobar’s “Auschwitz Lullaby” and it was a beautiful disaster. I always have a difficult time explaining how much I love a book about stories from World War II and the aftermath of the Holocaust, so that is why I called it like that. Anyways, this tells the story of what happened in the Gypsy camp of the Auschwitz II camp from 1941-42. I explain more in my mini review on Facebook if you’d like to check that out afterwards.

Secondly, we have Melissa Gilbert’s memoir “Prairie Tale” and I just finished it a few weeks ago and I am still reeling from it. I was a casual watcher of Little House on the Prairie growing up, and even as an adult, I’ve never seen it all the way through so when we got to certain parts like talking about her close relationship with Michael Landon really took me by surprise because I would just start bawling on myself and Chapter 21 definitely kicked my ass, but really, the entire book is so much fun and even a little hilarious here and there!

And finally, my most recent read, which if you enjoy holiday centered books, you should definitely check out “A Very Bossy Christmas” by Alexis Winter. Not only did I find out how much I adore Christmas books, but apparently like everything else, I liked the steamy romance books more than anything else, as you may noticed in last Friday’s blogmas post. I am in love with this book so this might be a worthy purchase after Christmas for me.


I’m officially done with all of my blogmas posts. I hope you have enjoyed everything I’ve published this month, and I already have some ideas coming to me for 2022 blogmas.

I do have a slight plan on what I want to do for the upcoming year, but I will not talk about it until I come back for the end of January as I am going to continue my blogging schedule, I’ve done for the last two years because it works very well for me. I will say I have an idea to do something different for the new year though, so I hope you have a lovely Christmas and enjoy the rest of your weekend too.

How did you go about your reading for 2021? What were all-time favorite book(s)? And do you have an idea on what you’re doing goal wise for the new year?

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: Holiday Reads & TV

Hello!

This Christmas, I wanted to go all out on my celebrations, which really means absorbing as many books, films and TV specials as possible that relate to the holiday season. In this post, I am going to tell you about my reasons over this decision, plus give you some ideas if you’re in the mindset to basically do anything (or everything) I’m doing this December, so I really hope everyone enjoys this little thing.

Books:

Since I finished my reading challenge very early, it has allowed me to devote a chunk of my time to finding some wholesome and maybe not-so-wholesome reads about the holiday season. All but three of the books I’m reading this month are available on Kindle Unlimited, so they were free! So I have three full-length novels and the rest were novellas.

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Title: Unwrapping His Package
Author: Fiona Davenport
Genre: Erotica/romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was amazing start to the holiday season! I always have a rough time with novellas because they can lack organization, but I didn’t have any problems with this one. It was a very steamy read, but exactly what I wanted to read at that moment of time. 


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Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics/contemporary fiction
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have always wanted to read this book. I’ve seen two or three film adaptions but have never actually made to read it, and this has always surprised me because it is the ideal Christmas story, but then again, when I was in school, I only read a handful of classics!

Anywho, I found the audiobook on YouTube and I thought I could listen to it while working on my Christmas cards this past weekend. I don’t know who the narrator was, but he definitely brought the characters to life with his deep, but welcoming voice! If you have about three hours to yourself, you should listen to it as well, and if you want, click here to start reading the book.


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Title: On His Naughty List
Author: Kat Baxter
Genre: Erotica/Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Despite the fact that these two books are in the same series, I did not follow the order, because there were some that sounded cheesy, so I ignored them and found this bad boy! This one definitely had a lot of things missing from the storyline but obviously I didn’t care as much since I gave it a higher score…


The other books I have on my TBR (to be read) list are: Secret Santa by Mayra Stratham, (which is another book in the Filthy, Dirty Christmas series.) A Very Bossy Christmas by Alexis Winter, How to Ruin the Holidays by Becky Monsoon, Christmas in the Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft, and finally Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas. Technically I am (as I write this post) reading A Very Bossy Christmas and it is absolutely hilarious, which is exactly what I want right now, so I see myself enjoying this and the one by Becky Monsoon the most, but we’ll see how things turn out in the end.

TV

I am not one to have my television locked on the Hallmark channel this month–honestly, it is one station I have locked out until the second of January when they turn The Golden Girls back on!

Last year, there was a film premiering on Lifetime called, Christmas Ever After and it starred Ali Stroker. Ali is a wheelchair user like moi, but most importantly she won a Tony away for her performance in “Oklahoma” in 2019. Honestly, the overall concept of seeing someone in an overwhelming holiday romance on my television that I was thoroughly exciting! Unfortunately, I never got a chance to finish watching it, that I feel like I need to find it again and give it another chance before Christmas is over.

I already have a small selection of films in my movie folder, and I am still stunned by my reasonings for wanting to watch them. There is Christmas in Tahoe that apparently was inspired by a Train song or album, and the band itself or just the lead vocalist Pat Monahan is in the actual film too! I adore the band’s music, I’ve been a casual fan over the years, but I thought the concept of this movie was interesting, so this was the first. The second was, A Christmas Dance Reunion, and it has Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman, who played “Chad” and “Taylor” in the original High School Musical films. And finally, I am recording Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday which has real sister Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Ashley Williams. It honestly looks really fun and hilarious, so it is on my list as well!

Now I am this selection says “TV” but of course, I’m enjoying all of my other favorites like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Annabelle’s Wish and Home Alone. Speaking on that film, I am also looking forward to checking out the newest Home Alone on Disney+ too! I really enjoy the sequels of these films, so this is just natural for me! Now that I have everything done, I can do everything that I love doing in this festive season.

What are you looking forward to the most? Do you have a new favorite holiday book or movie yet?