Book Review: “The Raven and The Dove: A Novel of Viking Normandy” by K.M. Butler

Hello!

I am here with my first book review of 2022. I really thought about making you wait until Monday, but I knew I would have to fix everything in my previous post, so I just decided to give it out anyways!

This book was a surprise, even for me, because I am not into reading Viking stories. I’m not even into all of these shows on various channels. I’ve tried reading other books in the past, but I hadn’t found one that really meshed with me, that is until I came across this book at the start of January.


890 A.D. Shieldmaiden Halla hungers for death in battle and a place in Valhalla until a Frankish sword shatters her expectations of a glorious end. In the space between life and death, she instead confronts the emptiness of a wasted life.

Hiding from the Norsemen among shattered abbeys and abandoned towns in northern Frankia, Christian landowner Taurin fears the day a dragon-headed longship rediscovers them and drags his people away as slaves.

Their worlds collide when Jarl Rollo of Rouen annexes Taurin’s town and appoints Halla as ruler. United in an uneasy political marriage, Halla and Taurin must confront their conflicted feelings and their peoples’ mutual hostility. Tensions strain their fragile marriage. Christians who refuse to obey a woman stoke rebellion. Glory-seeking Norse raiders terrorize Halla’s domain. If they can’t unite, the threats surrounding them will tear apart their new family and swallow both of their peoples in war and ruin.

taken from Goodreads.

I want to read more historical fiction books for 2022 and I am really glad that I gave this book a chance because it was well written, and it is full of humor too. They each like to make fun of the other, especially when Taurin first meets Halla and her group in the beginning. Despite their large facades they like joke with one another and it is a blast! If you think it doesn’t have any stories of their notorious violence, the author does include the battle aspect of the Norsemen. It is featured throughout the entire book, and it is one of the reasons why Halla takes the opportunity to create a place with both the people of Lilliebonne and Norse farmers together as a larger trading port.

I have always wondered how Vikings died out, what was it that drove them away from their raids, mythology, and general lifestyle, and it was so neat to get a peek into how this could have happened. However, I also thought about how the English natives thought about the Norsemen, I mean, besides grief and horror from the way they have treated them in the past, between collecting the riches and massacring the nearby villages, how willing were they to accept authority from a Norse lord?

“Perhaps we are not so different after all.”

Despite being a fictional based story, this gives you a way to see on everything. The characters were very thought out, based how they saw one another through their gods and rituals. Creatures like Father Norbert are always tricky to me, because he actually has a lot of power among the aldermen and the rest of his congregation. Priests were the only ones allowed to read the bible, so villagers believed anything they said because they didn’t have any other way to guide them through daily life. However, the Norse made their mythology available for everyone. They told celebrated their gods with poems and songs. It didn’t matter on their age or sex; everyone knew the same stories. It was also because of this openness, that they allowed women become part of their armies as shieldmaidens.

Halla and Taurin are opposites on all sides, but they were curious about the other and I found this very comforting. You wouldn’t think these characters would feel anything for each other, but it was interesting to see their perspectives change about the new neighbors. Although Taurin doesn’t fully understand Halla’s world, and he was very vocal about that in certain sections–and it got very boring as we went on, but I think the turning point for them was after the blot. Halla gave a harvest ritual and Taurin’s feelings about the whole thing pretty much ruled the last half of the book, but it was interesting to see Father Norbert’s thoughts about the Norse kind of switch in a way.

I don’t know whether the author will make this into a series, a part of me hopes for the possibility, because I would like to see how these characters move on, but I also thought the way it ended was basically perfect, so we’ll have to see what happens later on in the year.

Have you read “The Raven and The Dove” by K.M. Butler yet? If you know any other Viking books like this one, please send me some suggestions in the comments section.

snowflake

The Goodreads Challenge | Hopes for 2022

Hello!

This year I am doing something completely different on my Goodreads Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, Goodreads is an app that allows you to find books. You can make up lists or shelves as they call them to categorize all of the books, like fiction and nonfiction. At the start of a new year, they give you a spot to choose a number of books you want to read in the 12 months. I’ve tried to make one in the last five years I’ve had it. Since 2019, I’ve been trying to up the number of the previous year, and even though I did get to 40 books in December, I decided to go for it in 2022.

I like the Goodreads Challenge a lot. I’m not one to make any big goals for the year anyways, so being able to set a somewhat large number of books for one year can be thrilling as a whole. I am always so pumped to start on a new one, but this time I decided to change it up a bit. I had the though back in September of splitting it up to focus on books that have been turned into movies. I love movies, and last year I learned how much I missed making time for them so I thought I could connect the two and hope I could make room for both loves. At the moment, I’ve only done one but I have been very distracted lately so I hope I can up my game a bit as the year goes on.

There is one drawback about this. I am not sharing my thoughts about these books and their film adaptions on my blog. I actually have a separate idea for that, but don’t worry I have two books that I am getting ready to publish–one might be coming out this Friday! I couldn’t just stop creating my book reviews though. I like being able to talk about thoughts on certain books and it just seemed silly to quit on all fronts, so I will continue doing those posts every month.


Now you’re probably wondering I am doing with the books on my other list. I do have something really cool to share with you today.

Around the same time, I came up with first idea, I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube about these reading journals. I was puzzled by them at first, but then I started watching like 10 a week and I knew I was hooked on the idea of creating a different space away from my blog to talk about my books. I was a bit hesitant at first, but I am always looking for something to be more creative and I thought this would be pretty cool to try out.

I ended up talking about it a lot with my mom and she agreed that it would be a good idea to try something new. Once I found out about monthly trackers, I was pretty much sealed on the deal and basically asked for a brand-new journal, calligraphy markers and pens, and more books that were being turned into movies this year on my Christmas list. I did receive the dotted notebook I asked for and it’s been a learning curve for me so far! I have the markers and pens as well, but I haven’t really used them that much. And out of all the books on my Christmas list, I got one book and it was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

In the videos I’ve seen of these reading journals, everyone comes up with a different theme and I decided on Harry Potter, and I hoped to capture a bit of the Wizarding World and place it throughout the different spreads, but I’ve had a rough time just making simple banners, so it is a bit plain in some areas, but I am getting better at it. I also have the standard bookshelves but I totally forgot to include the House colors for the various types of reading, because I want to explore them as well, so, gray is for Kindle while pink is for Audiobook and Print is in the color turquoise. I don’t include the titles on the spines because I write too large to do that and I just want to see which way wins.

One thing I have learned in the past two years is that I am obsessed with words. Every time I found one that seemed unique, or it was used in another way than we normally say it, I wanted to collect it for later, so when I got my journal, I decided I would make a section just for my words and it’s been a fun thing to keep track of, and even my parents have enjoyed them too!

Here were the words I was obsessed with in January, and I have to apologize if any of the words are misspelled as well.

Words included are: synapes. candytuff, cur, filgree, ells, hewed, crux, tedium, signews, skein, bishopric, morose, trounced, brocade, whetstones, alight, coffer, chignon, commencement, gythia, truncated, primsigned, saccade, demesne, vehemence, daub, architaves, granary, manses, crux, hinterland, and picaresque

The last spread I made in my green journal was my end-of-the-month-stats. I want to keep track of everything like how many books, days, pages, and words I would make it to every month. I have these long rectangles going vertically on two pages (I actually have three because I made the boxes too big to include November and December!) and I assign different colors for each one and it’s easily my second favorite thing in the journal.

After hearing me complain about it in the beginning, my mom found a little book called “My Reading Life” by Anne Bogel on one of the people she follows on Instagram and we looked at it because despite my best efforts, I knew I needed some help, so I got it around the second week of January, and the main thing I use in it is the monthly tracker. I really love those pages, because it is so easy, but you have to be really careful because you only get little diamond shapes in each block, and you can feel lost once you get into the thick of a month.

I only have one book written in there already, and it was Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I like to start a new year with disability themes. I just like to get them out of the way honestly! I found this book featured on Kindle Unlimited and it was a great read but I’m so thankful I’ve only watched the film once since it came out in like 2016. There were some changes made throughout, I really like Julienne Moore and Kristen Stewart for both Alice and her daughter Lydia. My second book will be 12 Years A Slave for Black History Month and I have always wanted to watch the film and luckily HBOMAX played it all month long, so I have that to look forward once I’m finished. And yes, I have decided on my March read but I’m keeping it a secret for now.

I am reading rather slowly, and I don’t know why I’m doing this because I’ve always read multiple books with opposite genres at once, but I think it has something to do with the fact I hadn’t published this post out for January and I wasn’t able to relax in between the two areas, so let’s hope I zip right through the incoming books and their respectful movies too!

How many books do you hope to read in 2022? Do you have an app to help you keep track of your books like Goodreads or are you one to use a reading (bullet) journal instead?

snowflake

2020 RECAP | Trial & Error

Hello!

2020 has been a very complexed year. For a lot of people, it’s been one of the worst ones whereas I think it’s been a very successful year. I have had bad days and unsavory moments happen within the year but overall it’s been pretty good. It isn’t what anyone expected but I think how you look at it as a whole can make or break your perspective. I will say it wasn’t perfect all throughout these 12 months, something has happened to possibly crush everything you love and worked on, but you’re still here, so that should count for something, right?

In this post, I will be discussing three different sections that I thought were important to highlight that defined 2020 for me and this blog as a whole.

Three Good Things

At the start of the year, I decided I needed to share a ritual I have been doing off and on since 2014 and that is choosing three things (or more if you had a great day!) and talking about them to my followers on my social medias. Unfortunately, it never took off on Twitter but I’m hoping I can do better in 2021 so more people who want to look past any unsettling mishaps and focus all of their attention on the good instead. I feel this was the reason why I think back on the year with a smile on my face.

I just want to point out that despite the fact I want to spread positivity to everyone, I need to say you will have bad days here and there. You’re never going to have perfect days or moments endlessly, but that’s not being realistic. I wish I had said something about this in the beginning because I think it would have helped me get over the really bad days after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. I tried to keep a brave face but honestly I wasn’t feeling as confident as I usually am, so that’s why I took that long break over the summer to think about things that were going on around me. After some time I came back, although I wasn’t 100%, I still thought I needed to do something so I asked my followers to share their good things and reading their responses did give me a boost to join them again the next evening.

Once 2021 begins, I will be posting them every other day, because it was just easier to get things done because I found out through posting them every single day, that I am vert much a perfectionist! I was wondering when it was going to rear its ugly head back to me. I’m just thankful it didn’t stay around when I was working on my Christmas Tree projects like I thought. Anyways, I am already doing this schedule and have been for a while now, but I really enjoy it again so I think I will keep it going for as long as I want to, until I feel ready to switch back to the regular format.

I wrote this post three days before it was scheduled published and I knew the background I used for the first day was yellow, but I guess it didn’t register well enough when I made last night’s list. I was only going base off of what I used the day before–which was black, because I wanted a little black and gold theme for the final few days but again, I just forgot all about this until I went to update it (and man, wasn’t that an adventure!) anyways, do you remember what your first top three good things for 2020 was? What did you list for the last day of the year too?

Trial and Error

The reason why I am calling this post “Trial & Error” is because of what I put on my “Three Good Things” on the first of January 2020. The first one says “I chopped and peeled a potato without hurting myself.” Although I wish I could forget the events before this happened, I remember saying to my mom afterwards, “oh, it’s okay. Trial and error I guess.” And yes, I can recall what I said word-for-word because this would become the year’s motto. It was also a stab at my perfectionist side always attempting to break through on a daily basis! At the time, I didn’t think it would mean much but then I would catch myself saying it to anything that I did on my own that I normally wouldn’t do, so over time it started to mean something important to me.

I did a lot of things that I figured would never happen again, like completing my Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year and bring back painting pumpkins. Everything that happened that I haven’t done for a long time kind of scared me at first because I didn’t know if I should enjoy it and fear it would disappear for an even longer time, so I had to battle it out my emotions a bit, but now that I’ve done them, I fee like I can do them again and be better at them the second time around and I am overjoyed at it in the future!

Two Week Blogging Schedule

After 11 years of trying to work out a schedule that would not only work as far as publishing new content during the week, but inspiring myself to keep writing during a full month was really my biggest issue. I could work great for three months and lose all my love for blogging for like four months at a time and I would just feel absolutely defeated, so I knew I had to do something big or else I would have to stop blogging altogether and I don’t have any other backups or outlets that can compete to blogging so I was very determined to fix this problem once and for all.

When I decided that I was going to attempt reading ’20 books for 2020′ I knew I was going to make room to read, but what I didn’t exact was how comfortable I would be taking two weeks off a new month to devote myself to reading and then if I had time during my monthly vacation to do some work for the first full week back that was awesome too!

I really didn’t think I could last no more than a month using this new method but I did it for the entire year without feeling like I was going to experience a burnout like I would normally feel after a couple months so I knew I was doing something right here! There were times I would need an extra week because I was asked to review an artist’s music and I had established that Monday were the days I would talk about music, Wednesday would be about books; especially the reviews of the newly finished novels I was able to read in the weeks before, and Friday would be for anything else I wanted to talk about, but if I didn’t have anything special going on, I would post another review on that day. Everything seemed to work out perfectly and even this week, I kept the same layout I adapted towards the beginning of 2020 and was still exercising that format to the final week and was still enjoying it, seems incredible to me.

Well, I think I have officially run out of what I wanted to say in this post. I hope you have enjoyed all three posts in their rightful days. As of now, I should be back on the 18th of January, with all new content for you to consume and if you’re lucky, you might even get a book review on the 20th too, since I am right in the middle of A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St Clair. I am whizzing on through it as we speak so I hope you had a lovely and better 2021.

Bye.

snowflake

November Playlist

Hello!

I bet you didn’t expect me to be back so soon.

Today is the last day of November, for anyone participating in both NaNoWriMo and Nonfiction November, you should be proud of what you were able to accomplish in the last 30 days! I didn’t join NaNo this year because I’m not in that headspace to write anything for that long, and I doubt I have made any changes in reading the two books I got for this month. It happens… and I’m okay with it!

We are itching closer to Christmas and finally, to the new year: 2021. It seems so crazy how fast this year has went, despite the COVID mess that has taken over 2020! I bring this up because I have always felt November is a weird time for music. We are obsessed with Halloween-y songs and then we are quick to switch to Christmas carols at midnight.

I have to say, I have been doing very well at ignoring the festive commercials on TV and online, and I will be very happy when I can finally watch Christmas movies without being judged by my parents! I have a total of eight films in our DVR at the moment, so I can get my fill and enjoy everything that comes with this time of the year! As far as music goes though, I allow myself to listen to my favorite Christmas songs early, mainly because they tend to remind me of my papaw and so, it is just better for me to cave in now instead of feeling bad about it later.

This year, I am working on my “Ultimate Christmas” playlist on Spotify and will hopefully be speaking about it soon. I will hold off on that for a week or two, until I feel it is ready.

For my November playlist though, I have collected a lot of music that is selected in my “Discover Weekly” every Monday. I am always excited to see what type of music will be unleashed from the moment I hit play, and sometimes they create their own aesthetic but sometimes they reflect whatever genre I’ve focused on that past week and it is always a fun surprise at the start of another week.

Here are my Top 25 for the month!

Talk To Me by Apocalyptica featuring Lzzy Hale
Gravity by Sara Bareilles
Share That Love by Lukas Graham featuring G-Eazy
My Spring Your Fall by Falconsheild
Scars To Your Beautiful by Oceans featuring Anna Murphy
Goddess by Xana
Royals by Lorde
Remember by Leah

You’re Not From Here by Lara Fabian
Eugene by Arlo Parks
Cielo a un Diablo by Maluma
Teeth by Dirty D’Shire
Drew Barrymore by
Bryce Vine
Que Color by Major Lazer featuring J Balvin & El Alfa
Ordinary Day by The Animal In Me
The Purge by Within Temptation
Dream On Me (Stripped) by Ella Henderson

Peer Pressure by James Bay
Lullabies by Yuna
Grip by Seeb
If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher
Betty by Chase Holfelder
Numb by Carlie Hanson
Cold by Crossfade

What I truly love about this list, is its diversity! You have hard rock, pop, and reggaetón like it is supposed to fit together. I continue to surprise myself on the amount of music I am willing to listen to everyday. The sad part about it is, there’s sadly not a lot of people like me, who are brave enough to be interested in shuffling their music out in the open and enjoy sharing in hopes we create even more fans for these artists and bands, new and old, and honestly the longer I go about this, I tend to enjoy it even more and I think that’s why I still want to do these playlists too.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know that I was able to post a new album review this month. Well, technically, it was an update to an older post I did in 2018, and I was recently told by the artist, that she really loved it, so that makes me really happy! Anyways, here it is, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Oh, and speaking of links, here is the Spotify playlist for November too! 🙂

SIGN from Above by RAIGN

What were you listening to this month? Name one track that you think I should check out below!

snowflake

Book Review: “Children Of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello!

Back in 2018, I finally got my feet on Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. As much as I would have rather have the paperback version, I’m very happy I grabbed the hardback instead. This book is massive! It has over 500 pages of fantasy written inside of it.

Truth be told, this was actually an impluse purchase, and when it comes to books, this rarely happens with books, especially when they’re this big! Before getting it, I had been seeing it pop up BookTube and everybody was talking about how good this was, so the first chance I saw it I knew I had to have it.

I do remember reading the first couple of chapters after I got home that day, but I didn’t even make a dent into it until this summer. It isn’t a part of my ’20 Books for 2020′ reading challenge but I have that a blessing in disguise. I literally thought I’d take a longer break (I didn’t read for two weeks straight!) but I didn’t. Anytime I went outside to sit out on the porch with the cats, I wanted something to read, so this was the next one in line.


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They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

taken from Goodreads.


I think the first thing I loved about it was how it started; it began with humble beginnings with Zélie’s sassy self. The reader is invited to watch her attempt to win a fighting match against a local girl in their home Ilorin. You are able to see how driven she is. She’s not exactly cocky but strives to be better than her opponent. You get a little taste of what’s to come later in the story.

Her world is circled around one event and that makes the plot interesting for the readers, because even though Zelie thinks it was only the diviners who were affected, you start to understand that isn’t right. There are two other characters who end up being as part of it too. This realization will change everything for everyone.

The objective is to find three ancient artifacts and do a ritual. This may seem easy enough to say, but thanks to the map that is tucked inside of the hardback, the journey from one place to another is really far, and I became really worried that the story itself would become boring in between point A to point B, but thankfully I was wrong! The middle was my favorite sections, because everything was written in great detail! I was able to see everything going on, what everyone was wearing, what kind of magic they can do, etc. This was what I enjoyed so much in The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare as well!

I finally understood why all of my teachers in school would fail me for not going deeper into a situation, and I hope it sticks within me for the future.

Unfortunately, I don’t read a whole lot of books that are written by a black author nor with characters of color. This year has been a changing time to support black creators in every career and situation. However, I didn’t want to be forced into reading it because of that reason. I wanted to view it as any other book on my bookshelf and that’s why I was more intimidated about its sheer size than focus my whole attention on this element.

I am super excited to maybe add the next book: Children of Vengeance and Virtue sometime later this year or early 2021. I have a large list of books that continues to get larger and larger in every series!

Have you read this book yet? If you have, what were your favorite things about it?

snowflake