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?

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Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!

Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.

After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?

I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.

The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!

New release you haven’t read, but would like to

I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!

Biggest Disappointment

This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.

There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!

I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.

Biggest Surprise

Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…

Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!

Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)

For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.

Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!

Newest fictional crush

Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!

Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.

Book that made you cry

Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!

Book that made you happy

One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.

The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.

What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?

By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.

And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.


Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.

Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.

The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!

The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!

As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.

And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.

For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.

I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!

Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?

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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

Blogmas: Festive and Winter-y Baby Names!

Hello!

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

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

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

Ambrose Gray

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

Douglas Wolf

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

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

Fairbanks Roland

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

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

Lysander Matthew

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

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

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


Faith Sydney

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

Honor Madeleine

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

Josepha Claire

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

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

Neve Alexandra

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

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

Book Review: “Salvation In The Sun” by Lauren Lee Merewether

Hello!

I have been interested in Ancient Egypt since I was very young, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve watched hundreds of documentaries over the years and even visited the King Tut exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum back in 2009! It was so amazing to see all of these treasures laid out and read about what each item meant to the boy king and the rest of Ancient Egypt too. I still wish I had a blog back then because I would have lots of material to talk about for a few months! I hope this isn’t the only exhibit I will ever visit because it was everything to me.

Now, as for this book, I wasn’t even looking for a new read; it just sort of happened by accident. I was a day away from getting another book and I decided to look up historical fiction books about different eras and places, and this one kind of popped up on the first try and I am so glad I found it because it was nice to be introduced to these figures I’ve heard about for years, and in a strange way, they became so real for me. I just can’t wait to share things with you below.


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This future she knows for certain–the great sun city will be her undoing.

Amidst a power struggle between Pharaoh and the priesthood of Amun, Queen Nefertiti helps the ill-prepared new Pharaoh, Amenhotep, enact his father’s plan to regain power for the throne. But what seemed a difficult task only becomes more grueling when Amenhotep loses himself in his radical obsessions.

Standing alone to bear the burden of a failing country and stem the tide of a growing rebellion, Nefertiti must choose between her love for Pharaoh and her duty to Egypt in this dramatic retelling of a story forgotten by time.

Salvation in the Sun is the first volume of Lauren Lee Merewether’s debut series, The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles, a resurrection of an erased time that follows the five Kings of Egypt who were lost to history for over three millennia. The story continues in book two, Secrets in the Sand.

taken from Goodreads.

I actually didn’t read the blurb so all I really knew was this was going to be the story of a pharaoh. The one hint I did get right was the word “sun” so this instantly lead me to believe we’d be discussing the origins of the Aten. Now for anyone who knows anything about Ancient Egypt, you may be familiar with the amount of different gods, goddesses, and deities and the importance of afterlife. While the book mentions a few things, it focus on the beginning of both Akhenaten and Nefertiti disbanding and creating one singular god, the sun disc, the Aten.

You start with a scene where the “current” Pharaoh and his Queen, are making the decision to basically erase everything about this time. I thought opening it up with this was very interesting! You could tell in a way that they were forced into this idea but before it happens, they discuss it out loud with the priests of Amun-Re one last time; and then we are suddenly brought to a birthing scene and we learn about a fictionized story of Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti is a very mysterious character in general. We know very little about her, but there are records that speak about how beautiful she was and how she became regent perhaps before the boy king, Tutankhamun.

“It is a wonderful thing, to be the powerful Queen of Egypt, but it is a cursed thing.

You see the makings of a Pharaoh with Amenhotep, and although the main character is Nefertiti, he is just as important because he is the one who made the decision for everything. However, there are some features to Amenhotep that we need to discuss beforehand. Amenhotep is seen as a weakling to basically everyone of the royal family. He fights for acceptance to anyone with importance and the main person is his namesake, his father: Pharaoh Amenhotep III. There were many scenes that I thought were crucial to be understood about the mind of this person, especially after changing the main religion of the whole country. Nobody wants to be a heretic but yet he was so open to the possibly he’d make his father proud of what he was able to do as Pharaoh, but it wasn’t the only element that drove Amenhotep in general. He’s always felt unwanted and the one thing that made him feel better at all was sitting in the sun. He believed that the sun was healing him of his physical aliments and nobody likes to be told something different just because the other disagrees, I mean, trust me I deal with it all the time!

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect once I started reading. but once I got started though, it became very difficult to put it aside for a long period of time, so I managed to get through pretty quickly and still ended up liking it more than I thought I would! There were parts that I found to be like in the times of King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic faith. If you have watched The Tudors on Showtime, you might remember the contrast between King Henry at the time of choosing an entirely different God and religion to worship for his people and the power struggle for his eldest daughter Princess Mary, because she was still very Catholic and since Henry believed his marriage with Catherine if Aragon was wrong and wanted a divorce from her so he could marry Anne Boleyn. She saw her father and younger siblings as heretics, as they also saw her as one in their Protestant perspective as well!

It may seem like I had a difficult time dealing with what I’ve learned and reading the first book in the series, but honestly, I opened up to it fully. I wanted to see someone else’s “suggestions” in a way. I am finally getting better at reading historical fiction stories and I’m deeply thankful for it because I literally can’t wait to see what else could happen in Nefertiti’s story, because instead of being focused on the statue of her that I’ve grown up knowing about, I am able to see her as a real human being, dealing with life, even in ancient times, they were really alive and endured a lot of things that most people can only think about, or don’t want to think about! If you can separate what history tells you and like to explore new but familiar worlds, I think you may enjoy the rest of the series. Lauren has a wide selection of Ancient Egypt books and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited too!

Have you ever read Lauren Lee Merewether’s “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles” yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about the story of Nefertiti so far?