Blogmas: Holiday Reads & TV

Hello!

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

Books:

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

TV

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

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

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

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

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

Blogmas : The Christmas Song Tag

Hello!

So, I’ve had this post in my drafts for basically a year and when I saw it I thought I had won the jackpot until I opened it and there was absolutely nothing written in it besides the title… A part of me felt like a fool but then again I thought I could use it to my advantage. I looked through other blogs that include holiday tags and I ended up finding the actual link that I was going to use in the original post so I get to do what I should have done last year or whatever.

There weren’t any rules to the actual tag, other than add some friends and letting them know about it, but let’s face it, nobody does that anymore. If you do, you’re a godsend! Anyways, I’m tagging anybody but if you want to do this on your blog or Facebook (because that would be cool and different!) save the questions for safekeeping and title it so hopefully you’ll remember better than I! I am leaving the original link that will send you to Hailey in Bookland’s YouTube channel.


“You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”
Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

My first thought was Constantine from The Bratva’s Heir by Jen Henry and Sophie Lark, because I was really iffy about him in the beginning and honestly the scene in the sex club still has me bothered to say the least. However, there was Kage from Ruthless Creatures by J.T. Geissinger and between these two dudes, I was honestly more fearful of Kage. These mafia boys can be really intense and draw out all kinds of emotions and hotness… but that’s not what you’re asking though!

“All I Want for Christmas is You”
Which book to you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?

Oh god…. now this is a question because I hope there quite a bit of books under our Christmas tree but if we’re talking about my own tree, I would say, the Celtic Blood series by Melanie Karsak. This was the second series I’ve ever finished and I really hope Santa can get the four books so I can stack them up on my bookshelf next to my bed as a reminder of the accomplishment like I did with Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. I also hope I can talk my sister into bringing back my print copy of the first book too.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”
Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

Speaking of the Celtic Blood series, Cerridwen overcomes a LOT especially from the beginning of Highland Blood and really doesn’t end when the books stop–although I do want to point out that she is allowed to relish in many, many things through the entire series, but nothing really affects her badly until the start of book two and she becomes somebody different, and I’m not talking about the raven either! She grows from the young girl to a stronger person after what she’s been through in a quick ascend.

The second character has to be Dahlia in What Passes As Love by Trisha R Thomas. She is the daughter of a slave owner but lives in his house with her paternal grandmother and half sisters, they all treat her like a slave but is very loved amongst the family. However, it’s the fact that she’s forced to balance both affects of herself, things take one heck of a day out, where she meets the Ross brothers and everything takes a turn for the worst.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty/Nice list?

As I’ve said above with the first question, with all of the mafia books I’ve read in the last few months, I think it’s fair to say they might be pretty high on Santa’s naughty list but that’s just my opinion. I can’t choose just one for the top spot though!

For the nice list, we have Lady Madelaine of the Celtic Blood series as she has a very sad story in Highland Raven and she’s such a fragile character throughout but whenever she’s around Cerridwen, Tavish and the ladies of the coven, she flourishes into this friendly person and you hope something good comes her way.

“Frosty the Snowman”
Which book just melts your heart.

The first book that came to me was Kennedy Fox’s This Is War about Viola and Travis. I really fell in love with the enemies to lovers type of story. It was cute and very sexy, but I wouldn’t say it “melted” my heart.

I have to say that belongs to Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar. This may seem strange for anyone on here, because I didn’t share the actual review on my blog, but I did post it on my Facebook and Instagram. Anyways, it’s a story about a woman who’s life goes upside down when she, her husband and their children are sent to Auschwitz II in 1943. The book is heartbreaking but it does show how the Nazis treated the gypsy families in and around Germany. They were prosecuted just as much as the Jewish communities. You don’t hear much (or I didn’t at least!) about the Romani camps, and one thing I thought was even more interesting was, the youngest child Adelia is said to be around three years old and I thought this was somewhat strange as the Nazis would send the elderly and babies into the gas chambers if they thought they wouldn’t be able to do any work, so how is it she survived the selection process?

“Feliz Navidad”
Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

All of the five books I read written by Melanie Karsak takes place in and around Scotland. The Celtic Blood series is centered in Scotland hence the “highland” part of each title but as much as I adored Cerridwen in the CB series, Boudica felt so much different for me. I never knew anything about the real ladies that lead to the inspiration of these books–Cerridwen is actually Lady Gruoch of Scotland and she married to Gillacoemgain of Moray, which produced a son Lulach, and after the death of her husband, she ended up marrying Macbeth and later became his Queen.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?

I actually haven’t read any holiday themed books as of yet. I do have two on my Kindle though; they are: Finding Love At The Christmas Market by Jo Thomas and Christmas In The Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft. These are both contemporary fiction whereas the book I am currently waiting on is Riding His Sleigh by Cameron Hart and I am pretty sure this is just straight up erotica, at least I hope it is! I found it on Instagram as a preview and by the time this post goes up, I should be able to finally get my toes on it.

“Sleigh Ride”
Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)

The first character that popped out at me was Boudica’s sister Princess Brenna as it is mentioned in the book, Queen Of Oak that she loves Yule (which is the pagan equivalent to Christmas!) and I found that whole chapter very interesting. Honestly, I thought all of their big holidays like Beltane, Litha, Lughasadh, and Samhain were all fascinating! It was another element in the CB series that I thoroughly enjoyed learning about too. I love learning more about how different cultures both past and present celebrate the changing of the seasons!

“Baby it’s Cold Outside”
Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?

Honestly I think that’s a little harsh!

I only had two books (so far) that I have absolutely hated and they are: Highland Queen by Melanie Karsak and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. I know, I’m still shocked by both of these books since I adore their series, but they each had elements that never sat well with me. For example, Highland Queen never quite ended, for the last of the series, it seemed like a bad cliffhanger, but sadly there were more things like the meeting with the goddess Scotia in the beginning was never resolved and the conversation between Sidhe and Cerridwen about the reason about given the Seelie gloves was left out entirely too.

Now with Glass Sword, I think the main reason why I did not enjoy it was because the events of collecting other reds just dragged on with each page/ The middle of it was massive and so boring! It also had the opposite effect to Highland Queen as the end of it was very exciting and thrilling, but I also feared how I would think about Winter’s Cage later on too.

This is a late addition, because I literally forgot all about it! I had a chance to listen to the audible version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a couple of months ago and I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as I tried to, and it still drives me crazy! I hope this doesn’t happen to every classic I decide to read later on in the future.

Do you hear what I hear”
Which book do you think everyone should read?

I will be doing a Top 7 of the books I read this year towards the end of December, but I think this book should be on every royalist bookshelf or e-reader in the future.

For anyone who has thoughts about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s choice to step away of being senior members of the royal house and be a “normal” family, should look into Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women by Rachel Trethewey. It will give you an insight into the mind of a royal, despite the different times, as they find their spouse and what they will do for love. The former king was an enigma of sorts, and it was so interesting to see how dealt with life as a senior royal in the 20th Century.


All right, well I think that is everything! I actually had a lot of fun coming up with my answers for this tag, and I apologize if you were hoping I would talk about other books than the ones I read this year. I tend to do it this way every time and it helps me make the decision of what I truly loved the most or hated in some cases. I hope you enjoyed what I had to say in this post.

Book Review: “Highland Vengeance” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is finally time to talk about the third book in the Celtic Blood series, by Melanie Karsak. If you would like to check out what I had to say about the other two books, they are Highland Raven and Highland Blood. This post will include some spoilers down below, so in case you want to read the entire set (it’s free on Kindle Unlimited right now!) you may want to ditch this review!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started on discussing what went on in Corbie’s next stage in life.


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Scotland, 1032

Everything Gruoch loves has turned to ash. With Gillacoemgain gone, Gruoch rides north with her newborn son and a broken heart. While she desperately clings to hope, Gruoch’s new alliance with Macbeth proves more challenging than she ever anticipated. Only her unexpected reunion with an important person from her past offers solace. All may yet be well, but the raven’s wary eyes cannot help but notice clouds gathering on the horizon.

taken from Goodreads.

There were a lot of things I absolutely loved about this book, but it was definitely bittersweet!

When we come to this book, you see the cycle of being a woman of medieval times and I instantly felt horrible for her. However, she isn’t a young girl anymore; she was the raven, a widow, mother of two beautiful babies and she really took control of her life. She returns to Cawdor with only Lulach and they begin on this new journey, and the first thing she does is make the decision to seek out Macbeth instead of her cousin Duncan (for obvious reasons!), and although it was strange to choose the man who may have killed her husband, there would have no way in hell of going with option #2. Unfortunately, this marriage isn’t exactly the happiest for her but I liked the fact that she basically said, forget it! I don’t want no part of this anymore and focused her attention to raising Lulach as the successor of Moray.

“This is the sad reality we must accept. I am Gruoch, Daughter of Boite and Lady of Moray. I am the mother of Lulach, son of Gillacoemgain. You must know me as such.

On top of that, we see a familiar face come back into her life. As much as I really liked Gillacoemgain and how he treated her as both a woman and wife, especially since history has a way of showing the worst in men and when it comes to the line of succession, alliances have to be made and sometimes they don’t work out as you will see in this one, but it was nice to see another person so devoted to Corbie come back into her life. This person is a supporter of Macbeth with Jarl Thorfinn of Orkney, as they will lead the northern party against the king and Duncan.

The only thing I had an issue with was what happens starting on Chapter 42, because Melanie jumps through the years and we are told that they will be a war near the end, we are only centered around the final battle. Corbie joins everyone on the field and embraces the dark goddess, her magic and the raven for this one moment, and she was such a badass! I was proud of her throughout these books, but this was everything to me! She was finally able to get their revenge and it was so glorious!

As we enter the final book, I am slightly unsure of what could happen and basically everyone else close to her. She becomes Queen, but she only has this title because of Macbeth. I think she will have to make some even harder decisions about what she wants for not only herself but children too. I already know I will be crying because I know there will be more deaths and they are going to be hard on my heart as much as Corbie, but I’m ready to finish her story before the summer is over.

Have you read this book or any of the others in the Celtic Blood series? If you have, which one is your ultimate favorite of all time? What were thoughts after finishing “Highland Vengeance” too?

Book Review: “Highland Blood” by Melanie Karsak

Hello.

This April has been absolutely crazy for me but there was one thing I did not expect to do and that was finish reading the second book in the Celtic Blood series by Melanie Karsak. This past month has not been a great month to read any of my books so the fact that I managed to complete this one was an interesting feat altogether!

If you haven’t checked out what I had to say about the first book in the series, Highland Raven, click here to be directed back to that review. If you haven’t read the whole series, and still want to without reading spoilers, you might want to ignore this post as there may be some spoilers included with this review too.


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Scotland, 1032—When a marriage contract calls Gruoch away from Ynes Verleath, she leaves with the hope she’ll be reunited with Banquo. But fate has different plans. Lies, betrayal, and violence await her. Set on a collision course with destiny, Gruoch soon finds herself thrust into the arms of another man. Her dreams shattered and rattled by unexpected brutality, it becomes more than Gruoch can handle. The raven, however, is no stranger to carnage. Fierce power grows inside Gruoch, and more than anything, it craves bloody revenge.

Fans of Outlander and The Mists of Avalon will relish this sweeping Scottish Historical Fantasy that tells the tale of Gruoch, a woman struggling to escape her fate without blood on her hands.

taken from Goodreads.


I was pleasantly surprised by my overall judgement of this story.

We continue on the journey of Lady Gruoch’s life as she comes back from the otherworld and is transported back to the harsh reality of her life. The entire story is based around a very significant part that happens while walking away from Ynes Verleath and into the coven’s grounds and it will become a big thing for Gruoch as a whole. Although the events that happened at the end of the first book hinted at what could be coming, once this situation appears at the reader’s feet, you know that everything was definitely change.

In the first book, Cerridwen had married her druid by the Gods, but she was still at the mercy at her cousin’s King Malcolm and he has finally found her a suitor to hopefully align him closer to the throne of Scotland. She is forced to marry the lord of Moray, a man by the name of Gillacoemgain. Even though Cerridwen isn’t happy about the arrangement, she has no choice in the matter and weds her new husband and swallows the lie growing inside of her. Even though Gillacoemgain has a particular reputation as a difficult and hard man, they seem to really get along and as the reader, you are hopeful that Gruoch could enjoy this man and the people of Moray.

Be a raven amongst doves.

Since nobody is suppose to know about her time in the coven and her Goddess name, she is generally called Lady Gruoch around the people both at court and out in public, but she is affectionally called Corbie for the majority of the book. You have a good amount of the characters featured in the other book come back like the ladies of the coven plus Grouch’s aunt Madelaine at the very beginning and end of the story.

I generally enjoyed seeing the raven make her presence known, especially against men who are used to telling women to do this or that. Grouch is not like this in any way shape or form, so I was very happy that even though she was a different place, her fierce personality was still awake and well throughout the narrated because this was one of my favorite things about this series. Well, in generally speaking, I enjoy reading about strong women in their various situations. Grouch is a human being and is just learning to accept her role as both a woman in the line of the Scottish throne and as a warrior for the Dark Goddess too.

Have you checked out the second book, Highland Blood by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, what were some of your thoughts about it?

Book Review: “Highland Raven” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

The only way I can explain why I read this book is because I desperately wanted to connect to my Scottish roots. I love my Irish bloodline but have always felt something different for the other one. I’ve never found the answer to it, but reading various books have helped me think positively towards Scotland. I actually had one other book I found on Kindle Unlimited and it was nonfiction but since reading the Hades and Persephone series in January, I’ve been craving more fantasy and magic books, so when I saw this series, I thought I would take a chance on it.

WARNING: There are some spoilers mentioned after the description, so if you don’t want to be ruined too much of what this book is about, don’t read anything towards the bottom!

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Destined to become Queen of Scotland.
Bound by blood to the Celtic gods.

Scotland, 1026–Gruoch, descendant of the line of MacAlpin, should have been born into a life of ease. But fate is fickle. Her father’s untimely death, rumored to have been plotted by King Malcolm, leaves her future uncertain and stained by the prophecy that she will avenge her family line.

Escaping to one of the last strongholds of the old Celtic gods, Gruoch becomes an adept in arcane craft. Her encounters with the otherworld, however, suggest that magic runs stronger in Scotland than she ever imagined. Haunted by dreams of a raven-haired man she’s never met, Gruoch soon feels her fate is not her own. She is duty-bound to wed a powerful lord, if not the Prince himself; however, she’s not sure she can stop her heart when she meets Banquo, a gallant highlander and druid.

Fans of Outlander and Mists of Avalon will relish this sweeping Scottish Historical Fantasy that tells the tale of Gruoch, a woman struggling to escape her fate without blood on her hands.

taken from Goodreads.

So, I’m not really familiar with William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. It wasn’t one that I was forced to read out loud throughout high school (thank god!) but I have seen the film called Lady Macbeth with Florence Plugh, I have seen it twice but have never finished it. Once I decided that I was going to read this series. I knew it would be like I walked into another realm, and oddly enough, this metaphor works out great with this story! Anywho, I just looked at the cover and was basically drawn to it and I just hoped it wouldn’t let me down too much.

I look at the whole thing in three acts, you get to know the origins of Gruoch and Corbie, living at her aunt and uncle’s castle and knowing her only role in life there is to be a pawn because of her bloodline, as she is the direct link to the Irish royal families, and at this time, Christianity is being introduced all across the land and reeking havoc on the Old Gods, and when it is her time, she goes to live with this coven, of eight women to learn more about the history, paganism and magic. And then you are pulled back into the Macbeth side and discuss the role of the Wyrd Sisters.

Something wicked this way comes.

I was already sold on the medieval aspect of the story and the fact that you, as a reader, are learning things such as soul magic–I found it so interesting!–that I was literally telling myself “it’s not real Meghan,” but what I was really surprised about was my interest into the Celtic paganism and rituals mentioned within the story. In a way, Samhain is like Day Of The Dead to Latin Americans, where you celebrate your ancestors, by giving them their favorite foods, clothes, etc. If you want to learn more about the Celtic religion and everyday life, click here

There were a lot of information mentioned but for once, I wasn’t confused or thought it was too much (shockingly!) but I still gave it a four out of five stars on Goodreads. I think it was because of the sections between the events that happened during Samhain and then suddenly being transferred to a whole other part. I kind of kept losing interest once we entered the third act and I never really understood that part yet. However, I just need to keep thinking that maybe we’ll learn more about all of the that in the second book, Highland Blood, because I was smart this time around and as it started getting toward the end of it, I went and downloaded the next story in the series. There is a slight chance that by the time I get this review up, I’ve finished reading that one and have an extra post on Friday, but don’t get your hopes up though because I am reading rather slower than I would like to at the moment.

Have you checkout out the The Celtic Blood series by Melanie Karsak? If you have, were you familiar with the story of ‘Macbeth’ already?