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

Hello again!

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


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

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

taken from Goodreads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

snowflake

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

Hello!

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


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

History has lied.

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

Wrong.

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

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

#TheTruthWillOut

taken from Goodreads.

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

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

Who was the real Anne Boleyn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

snowflake

Book Review: “A Touch Of Ruin” by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello!

Well, I am back with my third review of a Scarlett St. Clair book.

If you didn’t know I have already read A Touch Of Darkness written with Persephone, as the main focus, and A Game Of Fate told in Hades’ point of view of the same plot. This one continues Persephone’s story following the events at the end of both books. Scarlett is releasing A Touch Of Malice in May 2021 and A Game Of Retribution sometime next winter. I know it seems very confusing but that’s just how I read both series and will as the rest of the books are released.

I really tired during the last week of January to change up what was next on my list but I couldn’t leave it alone and honestly, I think it was the best thing I could have done because now I can officially move on from the story of Hades and Persephone and read other genres, like nonfiction, and be fully committed to it.


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Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away.

Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I think the best way to describe this story is, it was a roller coaster of different emotions. I was proud, envious, in love, sad, and God help me, aroused throughout much of the book. Sorry to any family members out there who are reading this post and wishing I hadn’t shared that little tebibit.

“I just need a mental health day,” Persephone said.

Anyways…

There are a lot of things in this story. We talk about the ultimatum that Demitri gave her in the beginning, the ins and outs of Apollo and Sybil’s relationship, how the Goddess of Spring is dealing with her new found powers, and eventually we get on to Lexa. On top of all of this, we have the new relationship with Hades and the prospect of becoming his wife and eventually Queen of the Underworld.

As much as I saw Persephone as a strong woman in the first book, I didn’t really see her like that here. There are a few parts where she comes out like a total badass, but I find with this one, she is more whiny than anything else. Whenever she was posed with going back and forth between the Underworld and Upperworld, you as the reader could clearly see her juggle more than she could really handle and even though I admired her for wanting to being present in both worlds with her friends she never really found a way to find a steady solution until the end of it. Of course, now that I mention it on here, that was probably the point of the whole story in the first place.

Despite the fact that the story is stretched out in three parts, every single chapter had a lot of information that I am still trying to digest because I know the next book is going to be even more difficult. I am looking forward to checking it out but I am also in need to meditate with Hecate as well or hang out with Hermes, either one would be a blessing in disguise!

Have you read this series yet? What were your thoughts on this installment of the saga of Hades x Persephone? Were your emotions all over the place like mine?

Album Review: “SIGN from Above” by RAIGN

Hello!

I have heard of bloggers encouraging others to update older posts over the years, but I just chose to ignore them because I think it’s best to keep them the same to allow yourself to see where you were and as you continue to grow as both a blogger and writer. I have never said I am a perfect writer in the past, and hope people respect me on that subject.

However, I am here once again, because I found out that British alternative-pop singer RAIGN (ray-gen) has come back with an even bigger surprise for us fans, and that is, she re-released her 2018 album, “SIGN” late in October; the album has a new title as well the addition of nine other songs! It is now called, “Sign From Above” and I thought instead of re-writing the previous songs, how about I just add onto the first post. So below is everything I wrote about Raign and the album back then, while the newer material is below divided by a line to hopefully keep everything in line so nobody gets confused. I seriously hope you enjoy the album experience and what I’ve written as far as the review.


Back in January, British singer-songwriter RAIGN released her extended play “Born Again” and I put out a review of it on here about a month later. Now I’m back to talk about her debut album that came out in mid-September. It is called “Sign” and even though I kept seeing a couple of singles pop up on the new music tab on Spotify, I did not expect this at all! Despite only really listening to one single before working on this, I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was open to new sounds and some of the familiar stuff that made me fall in love with her music in the first place.

The album itself consists of 12 songs, which is standard for any musician but also with that amount, means you can hear a wider range of her style. I am hoping for an eclectic mix as I continue down the list of tracks. So, let’s start!

We begin with an introduction, “Sign” and it’s an instrumental start to the album. It has a dreamy quality to it as it’s soft but haunting too. I really like hearing the orchestra build up and sound like the second song “Out Of Time”. This song has a completely different tone, as it has a pop-rock sound which wasn’t something that I expected but I actually liked it! It’s something we haven’t heard from her yet and I thought it was perfect to break that barrier so early in the album. Next we have “Who Are You” and it has that familiar mysterious vibe playing throughout it. It’s very powerful but in a way gentle too!

We move on to “God Only Knows” and what I really like about this one was the fact that it started off in this soft way, with only her echo-y but deep voice and a light epic drumming in the background. It was so beautiful to only have those elements, before adding the orchestra back in too. The fourth track “Into Heaven Alone” has a melancholy sound but it does have a rock-y vibe on top of that cinematic beat, it’s not an overwhelming. I liked the uniqueness it gave the song! I feel the next song “Inside Of Me” has this motivational statement to make, as it gave you the strength to get through whatever is bothering you at that moment. The beat itself was strong in terms of matching the emotions and lyrics to the song, but it was also really light too. It was a nice balance.

When we first started the album, we had a nice epic intro with “Sign” but for the sixth track, it is the vocal version of the actual song. It still has this gentleness about it, but now that we are hearing the words along with the ominous ballad of violins, bells and of course Raign’s deep voice. It will take you away into a magical place whenever you listen to it, at least that’s what it did for me. I felt like I was walking in a snow-y, forest wonderland, I love it when music can do that in a matter of three minutes! Next, there’s “Calling” and this has another interesting quality. At first, I thought it was going to continue what we heard in the last song. I’m hearing more pop-y notes in the beat, it still has that cinematic sound in it, but it is very mild so you can hear them both at the same time. It is a cool song.

We are on the last four songs. “Hold On To The Sky” is kind of tame, almost dreamy in a way. One way to explain it, is if you were in a deep amount of water. Your body is weightless so dancing inside is a breeze. If this was a song, this would be it. I’m sorry for the weird metaphor, but that’s what I instantly thought of when it started playing! Next there’s “Find My Own Way” and this has a sexy beat behind it. It keeps you on your toes because it’s a somewhat simple song, but there’s that underling feeling you could be surprised soon. It was a pleasing track and probably one of my favorites out of the whole thing.

I was really curious about the eleventh song and final track because the titles seem so easy to figure out, I just hoped I wouldn’t get disappointed in the end. However, “Sunrise” starts with this very loud bass boom and then her voice gets echo-y and the beat itself builds into the monstrous beast. As it continues, Raign basically stays the same as far as tempo goes, but I’m glad she’s like that because the dynamic between these two makes it that much better. It has an edge, a jaggered edge that makes it powerful! Finally, we end with “Evergreen” and after the previous one, I was a little worried but thankfully it was at the same vibe, but I think I fell in love with the lyrics a lot faster than I did with “Sunrise”, plus it has a happier beat. It had a motivated outlook on it, but everything about it was inviting to me, and it made me like I could do anything so I was thinking of good things rather than the negative and that’s what I like the most about it.

One of my favorite things to do now whenever I watch a movie or television show, is that I keep an eye out for the music being played on a certain scene. When The Vampire Diaries started playing Raign’s music throughout the last four or five seasons, I did not expect to still crave her music but I do! I think she has a gorgeous voice and the beats she uses to showcase it, make me extremely happy! Raign was at the forefront of my taste for cinematic music, and I deeply encourage you to check out some of her songs! This album gave me feeling after feeling, and although I tend to listen to her music whenever I’m sad, I was happy listening to all the way through and for that to happen rarely works anymore.


After the last song of the original lineup, we start again with “Causing Love” and this was initially released in 2019 and I do remember listening to it, but overall it’s been a while since I’ve heard her music but I instantly remembered what I enjoyed the most, her voice. It is semi-deep and raspy, but adds an extra edge to her style of music that brings out a positive and dark side to her songs. As far as this song goes, it is absolutely beautiful! You can feel the love rushes out of your speakers, and I really enjoyed that guitar solo along with her high notes echoing in the background at the end. The next song has that darker vibe I love the most, at least the introduction has this as it builds into a bigger picture full of various pictures. This song is called, “Things Can Only Get Better” and as much as I like the cinematic take, I kind of wished it kept that base sound, it almost gave it a country vide especially in the way she is singing it, it definitely could have worked out greatly without the symphony in the background. It’s an interesting combination!

Our third track is, “Now I Can Fly” which is totally different to the others I’ve heard so far. The poppy drums in the beginning was a nice surprise, and I feel like this could be a great Monday motivational song, especially with all of the anxiety and worry that life has brought to a good chunk of people nowadays! I liked the boost of energy and message in the lyrics, it’s clear this is a happy song! Now, I don’t know how we got on the Christmas-y train, but okeydokey! This is “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and this is absolutely gorgeous! It has that nostalgic sound you would normally hear in churches and/or orchestra, I was really pulled into it at the sound of the banged bells that flicker throughout the song. Raign doesn’t have that traditional voice you would hear in carols but I thought it was cool to not only hear, but see something different come out of that type of music.

As far the next three songs, they are new versions of the songs mentioned above in my original post. The fourth is an orchestra take on “Who We Are” and of course I adore anything–well, apparently, almost anything as we’ve uncovered in the previous paragraph!–with a symphony sound to it, and I’m shocked to say I still like the other way more! Although I do like her transitions on the high pitched notes at the end of the courses, but that’s all I really like about it. “Out Of Time” was actually #2 and since I’ve only heard her cinematic finished songs, this was a lovely surprise. I loved the acoustic switch of this, as much as I love the majestic and powerful sound of a full orchestra, some days I like stripped down type of music and this was so good!

“Into Heaven Alone” is on now and we are back on the orchestral sound, but honestly it is milder than what I was expecting it to be right out of the gate. It has a nice mixture of a slower acoustic-orchestral session. I have heard other artists and bands do this before, but I’ve always felt some were too chaotic to include both styles for one song, but I did like this one. I wasn’t into it at first, but as it ended, the sound mellowed out and it was really nice.

We are at the final two songs: “Walls” was another track that was released sometime in 2019, this one I never got a chance to hearing because I didn’t “follow” her on my Spotify yet so I missed out on the actual time and date of when it came out. Anyways, it has a dance-y beat to it in the beginning and then quiets down when Raign starts to speak, but I enjoyed this one. I think this one is a favorite, but I kind of wished she was singing more because I felt as though it was more circled around the music itself, which I seemed to notice a distinct electronica vibe going on with this one. I liked it quite a bit so obviously, I didn’t mind it that much! And the last song, is another version of “Causing Love” and it includes the Millionaire London Orchestra and unlike my comments about the orchestral take on “Who We Are” this one is pretty good! I like the sadness of the violins and what I was feeling in the other one, is more inflamed and very exciting!

A part of me figured the newer songs were going to somewhat stay within the original sound but I had hoped for more diversity, because as much as I love this style and grace of music Raign does, I want to see what else she can bring to the table too. So, a part of me wonders if she is planning on releasing any more music in the near future. I mean, 2021 is right around the corner and it has me thinking of changes and more music, so maybe she has been experimenting with other genres, or want to go into acoustic even more after putting “Out Of Line” on here like this, maybe these are clues and she isn’t necessarily finished with us yet.

Of course, I could be absolutely wrong and this is only just one present to her fans. I would be okay with that, but I am always wondering about the people I listen to on the radio, Spotify and YouTube, you just never know what’s going on, until it comes out finally! So, we’ll see what happens as we cross the new year bridge next month.

Have you heard of RAIGN’s newest edition of her album yet? Do you have any favorites? If I wasn’t the one to introduce you to her music, how did you find her?

snowflake

Music Monday | Missy Elliott

Howdy!

When I was thinking about doing the series, I know I wanted to keep it diverse, not because my love of music is all of the place, but it is very important to say that there are women music producers out there. In fact, I decided to talk about two of them that I knew were important to my life and musical journey. However, if you know and love of any other women producers out there, please tell me about them in the comments. I would love to learn more about why you adore them, and of course check out their music too!

A couple of years ago, Missy Elliott was awarded by MTV’s VMAs (Video Music Awards) with the Lifetime Achievement award. Back when MTV did play hours and hours (boy, do I miss those days!) of music videos, you probably saw one or if you were really lucky two Missy Elliott videos within 20-30 minutes of each other. I’d say from 1998 to 2004 is when she was just creating all kinds of stuff. A lot of them included dancing, but she was very known for her crazy antics and style in those days. They all looked fun every single time they appeared on your television screen. I’m sad to say I haven’t seen any of her previous videos, but remembering her others, I know she would continue going down that way for as long as she is allowed.

Missy is most known for her songs and friendship with Timbaland and Aaliyah, but I think it’s important to say that she has worked with all kinds of acts throughout the years! In 2004, when the R&B artist Ciara appeared, especially after watching her first music video for “Goodies” you probably hoped that she’d work with Missy one day. Dancing played a big part in the two artists, but it also just seemed like a great combination because Ciara has that same soft voice that Aaliyah was known for–even though nobody could ever be as good as her–you still hoped that they would work together. So, by the time “1, 2, Step” came out on the radio, it was like the music gods were really hearing our prayers and then it happened again in 2004 with Missy’s track “Lose Control” with Fatman Scoop. It was an awesome sequel to the story of these two big female singers.

Since we’re on the subject of girl power, I think we should discuss the remake of Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” of the film Moulin Rouge in early 2002. Instead of having one singer do the entire song, she produced and worked with four powerhouses of the popular genres of that time. You had the R&B artist Mya to start off and then we move on to Pink, who at the time was a mixture of pop-R&B at the time. Brooklyn’s own Queen rapper Lil’ Kim lended a nice section and gave the song an added flare, and finally Christina Aguilera graced us at the end. I still think this is where she began weaning herself out of the cookie cutter bubblegum pop music. The song itself went on to win lots of awards but I think a lot of people either don’t know and/or forget that Missy Elliott was a huge part of making this happen. I mean, think of it as like the first time The Avengers assembled. Yes, I just did that and I’m not even sorry about it either!

Are you a fan of Missy Elliott? Do you have a favorite music video from over the years? Is there any other artists that you think she should consider working or maybe not collaborating with next? Please give me your thoughts about that down in the comments.

snowflake