Blogmas | Top 7 Books of 2022!

Hello!

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

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


1. The Best of Us by Kennedy Fox

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

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

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

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

2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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

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

5. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

snowflake

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.


a0ad5d4f6824dcc4af923d1d21296303

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

Hello!

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


3ec6e2523ca243c2112ad0cd52b6ad34

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

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

taken from Goodreads.

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

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

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

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

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

snowflake

Monthly Favorites | Lovely Words

Hello!

In January, I talked about the fact that I’m keeping a reading journal for 2022, so I have a better way to keep up with what I’m getting into on a daily basis. I keep a note of everything from the number of books I read each month, how many pages I finish, and the days in every month as well. These things are perfectly normal of a regular bookworm, but I took a step further with adding my favorite words, affectionately titled “Lovely Words” as it was an innocent thing to include in my journal at the time. And then, it definitely grew into something I tend to focus a lot of my time because I really enjoy finding new words and looking up what they mean, especially if they are from other languages.

In my ‘Goodreads Reading Challenge’ post, I had shared a collage banner of all of the words that captured my attention during that first month, and it was interesting to see everyone’s comments about this section, but I felt bad for only discussing those 31 words, so when I came up with this series, I thought it would a great idea to include every word from the previous three months. So, I hope you enjoy this batch just as much as I do!


I am arranging each month based on the colors they were given at the start of the year. I know I don’t mention it a lot but I technically have two journals, and for my habit tracker of how many days I actually read, is in a different color. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that color but unfortunately I don’t have an orange and can’t see the yellow very good so I have had to switch those colors around. I know it doesn’t really matter for you, but in case anyone was curious by the color changes with every month.

February:

One thing I do need to explain is, I may have finished three books in February, but I attempted to read about three others, which were The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Curse of Beauty by Lauren Lee Merriweather, and Disease and History by Frederick Cartwright. I include ALL of the words, even if I don’t complete the book itself, because honestly that would be too much work to remove them anyways.

daffiance, ensconce, malcontent, recalcitrance, thence, imbue, guardroom, simemet, disir, cuirass, jelling, lamentations, pastureland, petulant, portent, rebuttal, miscarriage, litany, lexicon, trellis, cornucopias, jessamine, compulation, verve, primrose, karanasi, epistle, spiles, consecration, abhors, paraffin, tesserae, sodden, dwarven, loquacious, precipice, hangerook, processional, and gothar.

March:

March as a whole was on another level when it came to reading in general. I managed to complete five books, but I also tried one other book and it was Waylon: Angel and Ruthless Reaper by Theodora Taylor. I did not make it very far with it and I’m pretty sure I did not include any words mentioned in this story. I collected 56 words in all with the others, so a part of me was happy as a clown at this accomplishment!

crug, lain, clowder, centurions, greaves, eldritch, aesir, dour, covart, plait, malcontents, rabble, affright, sheen, pittance, perpendicular, eaves, pommel, dephlane, stalwart, opalsent aloof, salk, seidhr, mirthful, entreat, pennents, somble, vista, thersals, herbcraft, batlements, abate, viste, nettled, sullen, magpielike, spattergroit, transpired, pactiturn, pallor, abussal, skiff, cumbersome, sneer, filligreed, font, spever, pourbiere, grouse, cloudberries, alms, subterfuge, verbena, knattleitir, cloven

PS: Can you tell I read two Viking fiction books or is it just me?

April:

This month I really wanted to finish every book I put in front of myself, but sometimes when I think I’m ready for something else, I end up changing my whole lineup, so with that being said, I attempted to read three romances These Three Words by Alexis Winter, Sexy Filthy Boss by Piper Rayne and Hitching the Cowboy by Kennedy Fox. I’d like to get back with the ones by Alexis and Kennedy because I love how these authors write their characters and couples, but we’ll have to see where in the log they will end up and I’ll definitely write a book review of the Kennedy Fox book as it goes with the bonus post I released over the weekend!

permance, trotting, impertinant, castanets, perambulater, repulsion, roil, Doha, skety, asronyeh, jebnah, ghadoh, adhen, nunu, queer, rapture, gaylingly, heliocentric, counterance, periphery, proviso, rhinophyma, sobriquet, bint, feign, a’arf, ma’amoul, tay’ebeh, khalo, accosts, bedragged, pantomime, caricature, dastardly, smarm, tutelage, chaste, Blomma, trove, frock, minuscule, jester, fawning, hap, debacle, evangelism, entrapped, entendre, omnipresent, sortileges, pedantic, cordinal, gore, woe, croup, prow, lament, sanguinary, revently, morrow, capitally, providence, menagerie, machinations, traipsing, leaflets, liaise, grobing, scantimonious, Veritaserum, simpered, leaves, berks, vying, niffler, lintel,

PS: I read about 18th Century ladies, a Syrian refugee, and Vikings jarls. I traveled a lot in April, thus the many unique words above.


I think I will do like a mid-year review of my progress sometime this summer, because I’d like to compare it with whatever happens in the next six months. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get that one out for you, but I’ll figure out some way though!

How are your reading goals for 2022 going so far? Do you keep a book journal every year to keep track of everything like I am? If you are or have in the past, tell us something about your overall design or what you thought was most important to keep notice of during a single year!

snowflake

Book Review: “Roping the Cowboy” by Kennedy Fox

Hello again!

EDIT: I didn’t really have a good time of figuring out the best way of publishing my posts – I do hope you enjoy this review just as much though. Don’t worry tomorrow, we’ll carry on as normally!

April was productive but not as much last month…

I was able to finish six books. I have never done this before; my usual quota is three to four books each month, but I was able to convert the majority of my reads into audiobooks or they were a part of my second list of books I am keeping track of this year. If you are curious about this, you can click here to be transported to that blog post.


0272efcb0501bbb4ae96c5de4ff1c699

Originally on the Read Me Romance podcast. This eBook release is a novella set in the world of the Bishop Brothers with bonus chapters & an extended epilogue!

An unforgettable one-night stand filled with heat and passion starts the unraveling of a love-hate feud between a small-town baker and an arrogant cowboy.

When Katarina shows up at the Circle B Ranch Bed & Breakfast to serve her new gluten-free, sugar-free, organic pastries, Braxton decides to make her life hell for kicking him out the next morning and then pretending he never existed.

First step, make fun of her tasteless muffins.
Second step, get revenge.

Soon the duo are at each other’s throats, getting even until things go too far and the chemistry burns too hot.

Kat claims their night together meant nothing.
He’s determined to prove her wrong.

taken from Goodreads.

If you didn’t know, I absolutely love the ladies of Kennedy Fox and I’ve actually had this book for a few months now. Anytime they have multiple books out for free, I am taking an advantage of the opportunity and I had just finished a great month of reading and wanted to basically sink my teeth into something juicy so I thought I could get a move on with the Circle B Ranch series, since I have quite a collection piling up on my Kindle, and I just thought if you needed a nice and sexy short story, you could look into these books soon!

“Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady.” I smirk. “You know I’m immune to that cowboy Casanova bullshit, right?”

This quote is exactly something I’d say prior to reading any cowboy-ish books. I thought I would only fold for Vanessa Vale’s stuff since she loves to discuss dirty cowboys, but oh no, apparently Kennedy Fox is taking me for a ride as well!

Honestly, this was a great way to start the entire series. You rarely see novellas at the top of the series–or at least I don’t!–but I think the main reason why it worked so well is because not a lot of women out there enjoy cowboys. I live in the Midwest and I can personally tell you that I’ve found country dudes somewhat fake. There’s a difference between acting the part and actually being a cowboy, like Ree Drummond has herself a true cowboy, with husband Ladd. He works on many different areas on the ranch and not a lot of guys who want to be like that can do it physically.

I will be diving into the other books of this series this summer as a little treat to myself. Here are the ones that have been sitting in the depths of my e-reader for way too long: Catching the Cowboy and Kissing the Cowboy. There are many reasons why I absolutely love Kennedy Fox books but the one thing I love the most is that all of their books (until said otherwise!) are standalones! They may belong in a series and some characters from the other stories can join in through background scenes, and this makes me feel better for not having the exact order to know everything. Jasinda Wilder writes her books in the same way, or at least the Badd Brothers series can be read out of order too, which has helped me get over my insecurities for not knowing certain players and stories.

Are you reading the ‘Circle B Ranch’ series by Kennedy Fox too? Which book or couple do you love the most? How are you about the cowboys involved too?

snowflake