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

Hello again!

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


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

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

taken from Goodreads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

snowflake

June Playlist

Hello! 🌈

June was a long month full of interesting things, some bittersweet and others were wonderful!

During the first week, we had birthdays to celebrate, and you saw the last of the DIY projects I had done in late March; the dotted sea turtle! It was such a fun and somewhat abstract kind of experiment for me, and I do hope to share more artsy stuff soon! The other birthday was my papaw’s. As some of you know, my papaw on my mom’s side died in 2016 and it’s still as fresh as it was then to all of us, and I don’t tend to share a lot of my personal life on my social media, much less on here, but I had shared a photo I had found a few months ago and wrote something special about him for the special day.

Two weeks later, we had another birthday, which was my nephew’s and he turned FOUR years old already! It doesn’t seem like he should be that old yet, you know?! I mean, he definitely seems older because of the way he talks, figures out things, and the fact he’s so excited to go to preschool in the fall! He’s become a little human now and its crazy how time files with him. I hope his sister grows somewhat slower for us, or we need to take more photos/videos…

Besides these celebrations, I’ve had a really good early summer, despite the scorching weather; it’s been in the upper 80’s and 90’s since the second week and my mom and I keep saying, “we’re only in June! It’s going to be even worse by the time we get into July and August!” Apparently, we’re not alone in that assumption as I saw somewhere, cattle have died in Wisconsin and Kansas, which sounds more like they were neglected, because isn’t the farmers responsibility to provide shelter and water to their animals? I mean, that sounds really shady but I’m not animal farmer.

Speaking of farming, my family have really upgraded our landscaping as I’ve talked about in last month’s post, but my parents have wanted to grow our own food on our property and this year seemed like we could do it, so I have decided on doing a garden tour for July or August, depending on what I have time for next month. I am pumped to get it out to you because I know a lot of people have been curious about it and even though I don’t have any role in the creation of the garden, I thought this could be my way of contributing to the whole thing.

All right now let’s turn our focus to music as that is what this post was supposed to be about, but you know, I kind of enjoy summarizing the last 20 or so days for you, so I hope you like this new feature because it might stay as part of this post.

Here are my Top 20 songs I loved in June 2022. If you want to check out the entire Spotify playlist, click here.

Before I Ever Met You by BANKS
Dark Star by Tarja
SOLO by Jennie
Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
I Don’t Want To Be by Gavin DeGraw
God Is A Woman by Danielle Bradbury
Everybody’s Fool by Evanescence
Die4u by Rain Paris
7 Rings by Ariana Grande
Boyfriend by Dove Cameron
All In by 2WEi featuring Marvin Brooks
My Heart’s Grave by Faouzia
I Want My Tears Back by Nightwish
Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
Boston by Augustana
Let’s Go by Trick Daddy featuring Big D & Twista
Heels by Hysterica
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Angel by Sarah Brightman
Simmer by Hayley Williams

What were you loving this past month?

snowflake

DIY: The Dotted Sea Turtle

Hello!

Since we are only (as far as I know!) going once to visit with family, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. and I created some DIY birthday projects. You’ve already seen my nana’s present, so it is officially time to unleash the dotted sea turtle I did for my aunt and uncle!

This is how the sea turtle came in the packaging; I mentioned in my last post that I was thoroughly surprised that both canvases came together as I don’t believe they were made by the same brand or company. On the left of the photo, there is a peek of this wooden square that they were laying on while in the thin box. We thought it was a strange addition, but we believe it was brought in to make sure the cutouts weren’t damaged in the mail. I will probably use it as a safeguard for my future projects.


What you will need:

  • Canvas – You can search for various types of turtles, but my aunt specifically adores sea turtles, and this was the only one I enjoyed on my hunt.
  • Acrylic paint – I used DecoArt bottles of gold, navy blue, green, and purple.
  • Dotting tools – You can use various household appliances that have a flat surface, but if you’d like to get your own “professional” tools, they are available at Wal-Mart, Amazon and Etsy.
  • Pencil with a good eraser
  • Ruler
  • Damp towels or baby wipes

LINKS:

Sea Turtle Wooden Cutout Style 3 | Dotting tools | Paints: Spun Gold, Navy Blue, Leaf Green, and Regal Purple


Originally, I wanted the sea turtle to be somewhat similar to the pig canvas, so that it wouldn’t be such a difficult process to paint, but I couldn’t find any cutouts of medium sized turtles to fit my vision, so I had my mom help me find another and we agreed on this one. Honestly, the perk of this design was the ridges on the sides, they allowed me to have a better understanding of how big the shell itself would be to the turtle’s face and fins.

I wanted for the turtle to be lifelike but with a mystic flair to him. I actually had two ways I saw this guy in my mind; the first was the turtle mentioned on the film Finding Nemo. I wanted to create him with bits of yellow and brown to make him look the part, but I also wanted to add some shimmer like in “The Rainbow Fish” books without taking it too far. My mother won’t allow me to have any glitter inside the house–much less my room–because of the weird impulse to create a mess! It’s a fair trade as long as I can continue to do more projects in my room! Anyways, I decided to add both green and purple to draw out a bit of color to him to make him unique to other turtles out there.

To start, I needed to map out the shell, and I used both a regular pencil and a standard sized ruler to make sure everything was even on all sides, and I made the lines across the edges of where the shell would cover on each fin and made an even longer line so I could have enough space on his head. Once I was sure of each section, I moved on to figure out how I wanted to design the shell. I was really torn with how I wanted this dude to look, so I needed to see if I wanted to include separate areas like normal turtles have on their shells. They tend to have individual spots all around the outer edges and have a larger section in the middle and this can be on the top and bottom of their shell. So, I made three tiny circles with the ruler going horizontally and by the end, I even had my dad impressed with my little hack!

After I got everything planned out, I began to add the first stage of the dots.

I decided to go with the “bottom” layer first with my medium sized tool in the color blue and instead of using my light-yellow shade like I was going to use; I went with my new gold paint. Something you should consider while purchasing some acrylic paints, they tend to dry lighter than their original hue, so, even though the gold looks nice and shiny when it’s wet, the sheen kind of faded as it dried on the surface, so you might want to consider looking into a metallic gold just in case you end up hating the final result. Personally, I loved the color and I thought it worked really well with the surface of the wood. I only went around the outer part once – I debated whether or not I wanted to continue to the circle I created in the middle of the shell, and I ended up using a smaller dotting tool to cover the middle of the shell in gold.

After I finished the gold part of the shell, I decided to move on with the navy blue. A part of me wanted to add a small group of dots along the face and fins but I didn’t know how it would turn out with the dullness of the gold, I did put some gold in certain areas but for the most part kept it only for the shell itself. Anyways, when I started adding more colors, my initial thought process went right out of the window, and I began to experiment with the larger tools, they are thicker in width, I have some difficulty gripping them, so I tend to back away from them, but for this I wanted to have some fun and gave the turtle fairly obnoxious spots all over his back and even went so far as added them to the rest of him….

When you’re doing these types of projects, accept your impulses because they’re going to win at some point.

If I had any space left over, I just covered it with the green so that it looked like he had algae on him as real sea turtles can have a mixture of algae and barnacles all over their bodies! I didn’t intend for the purple to reflect the barnacles; it was actually a personally choice. My aunt and uncle love the color purple and it stands as an important hue for them so that’s actually my reason for using it but hey, if they want to include that little bit of knowledge to their guests, they can!

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When I was finally done with it, I began to think of names for him. It was to come up with nana’s pig because I couldn’t get it out of my mind–my mom was pretty sold on “Hattie” it was the middle name that we couldn’t agree on! However, I decided to play a little game on my aunt and uncle, since they sort of knew about nana’s gift, I sent a message to them on Facebook, basically explaining I was working on another story, and I needed a name for my main character. This actually worked out better for me because they did not realize what they were doing until we brought it out for them.

I was inspired by a lot of pop culture like Pokémon and The Big Bang Theory with Squirtle and Sheldon, but I also remembered about the Galapagos tortoises, which made me think of Alex Trebeck and his love of the Galapagos Islands, so I made sure to pick out some names that were given to some different types of turtles that are (and were) located on the vast islands, like Rothschild, Duncan, and Fernand. They ultimately went with Nitro, as it is the name of one of their cars!

Well, that’s it!

I know this post wasn’t a proper “How-To” but it wasn’t that kind of project. If it had came in the same design like the pig, it would have been, because there were a lot of lines involved with it. For this, I was able to do whatever I wanted to do with it, and I think that’s the reason why I wasn’t so hard on myself for creating those huge dots on the shell, I was able to free-foot it, get it? If you ever get a canvas like this, I think you should look at it as your sign to be even more creative with everything.

What did you think of my DIY project of “Nitro”? What other designs and/or shapes do you think I should consider doing next?

snowflake

Book Review: “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer

Hello!

I wasn’t able to reach five books in May unfortunately, honestly, there were a lot of factors that allowed this to happen, and my overall mindset was like, all I can do is move on and see what I could accomplish this month.

Before we go into this, I just want to point out that I’m an ally for the LGBT+ communities! Being gay and/or trans throughout current and past monarchs have been a touchy subject, but for this, ou have to imagine that these people were heavily influenced by the Catholic church. They did not understand a whole lot–but they were definitely not stupid either! They were constantly guided by their priests in everything, including who slept in their beds, so please keep this in mind while reading my review below.

WARNING: I rambled on with this one and there are a few spoilers below, so if you’d like to read this book in the future or want to conduct your own research about Isabella of France without a bias opinion, then I suggest you should skip this post!


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She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

When Princess Isabella is offered as bride to King Edward of England, for her it’s love at first sight. But her dashing husband has a secret, one that threatens to tear their marriage—and England—apart. As Isabella navigates the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, her cleverness and grace allow her to subvert Edward’s ill-advised plans and gain influence. But soon the young queen is faced with an impossible choice, taking a breathtaking gamble that will forever change the course of history.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, Isabella is the story of a queen who took control of her destiny—and the throne.

taken from Amazon.

When I started reading, I thought I was getting an actual biography or a fictional tale of Isabella, but not of Isabella of France. I thought it was about Isabella I of Castile. When I realized my mistake, I wasn’t so upset about it because Isabella has been an interesting Queen to learn about in the last few years. She’s been called a “She-Wolf” since the fall of her husband, King Edward II and relationship with, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. So, I was curious to learn a more contemporary approach about the former Queen of England.

“You will love this man. Do you understand? You will love him, serve him, and obey him in all things. This is your duty to me and to France. Am I clear?”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately with my historical books, I’ve really stepped up my game on collecting notes and random pieces of information throughout my process of reading each story. For Isabella, I took even more notes because there was a lot of stuff mentioned with not a lot of dates to go with certain important events and it was hard to keep everything straight and at times, I really thought about stopping and put it in DNF list.

This is my dilemma with historical fiction (especially if it’s in or around about British history!), some authors are considerate and include an estimate of years these things take place, or they give readers a part one, two, three, where the transition is easier to understand, but with this book I was having to keep track with every year mentioned because sometimes we are thrusted into more than one year at a time so I had to write things down or else my brain wasn’t going to catch up to the things taking place.

I had a lot of thoughts concerning quite a few of contradicting moments that were somewhat odd, for example, you have Edward II engaged in not one, but two same sex relationships with his favorites Piers Galveston and Hugh le Despenser the Younger. Now there is quite a gap until you get into the Tudor dynasty and the crazy stories of King Henry VIII’s quest to have more male heirs, but this is a little bit different. Edward seems to have fallen in love with Piers and Hugh (although the book explains why the Younger Hugh could have been just a puppet of Edward’s former lover Piers!) rather than take another woman as a mistress. History and what is in this book seem to mesh as the barons were aggravated towards their king by giving his lovers more lands, castles, and even more power of the realm than his wife, Queen Isabella.

And then you have the issues with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. He did not rise up against Edward in the beginning but while Roger did desert Edward II while at war against Robert the Bruce, he was considered a traitor for this, afterwards he is arrested and convicted as treason. Now, we have to get into the second part of the drama. Did he and Isabella have a sexual relationship at all? History says yes, and this books also agrees, but there doesn’t seem any proof of when everything started or ended either way compared to the King.

So, when Colin introduces this section, he also makes a point to throw in a scandal that appeared in her father’s court fairly early into the marriage, concerning her sisters-in-law Queen Marguerite and Queen Blanche (both originally from Burgundy.) having affairs with brothers Gautier and Philip d’Aunay of France in 1314. I have to wonder, since it is speculated that Isabella to be the one who spoke out about it, can we really assume she would do the same thing? She talks of the aftermath and where Marguerite and Blanche ended up shunned in convents and forced to take up the habit for the rest of their lives. If she was as desperate to be wanted by love and sex, as it is mentioned, stirring the pot like this would be very damning but again, look at what her husband, the king, was doing out in the open for the whole world (including the Pope!) to see and yet, she’s the one everyone wants to drag through the mud!

It must be done for England’s sake, not just for her own.

This is one thing that you as a reader understand at the start of the entire book. She is a woman, living in a very powerful man’s world. She is considered to be nothing but a consort to her king and reproduce children that will belong to both monarchs. The English and French courts. She is to obey everything her king asks and does of the kingdom.

Unfortunately, marriages weren’t made in love, there could be a time where the couple find love in each other overtime, this has happened quite a bit with royal marriages, but what I’m really trying to get it with this is that everything had a reason, you married a higher individual to gain allegiance and power over estates and money. This happened to everyone, men and women, young or old.

When she and Edward were having children, they would never know what true love is, because they never saw it amongst their parents. Their youngest daughter Princess Joan and David of Scotland were arranged only so that both kingdoms could have peace. We can say David probably took a few mistresses and had bastard children, as this was accepted among the men of the times, but the only righteous thing Joan was able to do was show up as a united front and turn a blind eye on it all or wait for an annulment from the Pope and finally enter a nunnery to live out the rest of her days with a small allowance. She would end up being in similar situations as her mother and former aunts.

And finally, there’s the fact, could Isabella have orchestrated the death of her husband and former king. We go back to the notion of her feelings to Edward at the end of his reign. Did she hate him enough to order people to kill him while he was imprisoned? We will never know the whole story of this question either, but I feel like this one is worse than committing adultery, but that’s just me!

Have you read “Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer yet? What were some of your thoughts about the story of this stoic Queen of England?

snowflake

May Playlist

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well out there.

May was actually a pretty good month; my parents have started growing the garden in the back yard. They have selected a number of flowers and vegetables–we’ve actually been eating our way through the early blooms of lettuce since the middle of April! They started out fixing the landscape around the front end of Rumer’s gate and now that they have “finished” that area, they’ve turned their attention to the back. If you would like a garden tour or something like that soon, let me know!

A few days later, we were able to have my nephew over for a sleepover! It had been a long time since we’d done this, but it was actually really good! He slept in my room on the floor, well, technically he was on his rug I got him before he was ever born, and he seemed excited about being on it and we watched a couple of movies. We started off with Sonic the Hedgehog because that was his newest obsession (now he’s into Pokémon and we are having fun poking–no pun intended I swear!–fun at his mommy because she once had an even bigger thing for Ash and Pikachu!) and after that was over, I put on Zootopia and it didn’t take him long into hearing Shakira singing “Try Everything” that I found him asleep with his hand in the snack bowl!

The other weird thing that happened was that I decided to start watching Star Wars. I’m still not exactly sure what I was thinking but I will say, it’s been fun! I published a post about the prequels: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith on the 20th, so if you’re curious about what I initially thought about the characters and story, you can check that out here. I have finished all 9 films and currently making my way through The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and eventually Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am still going to do another post about the original trilogy sometime next month.

Unfortunately, I developed a small cold around two weeks ago. I hope I really learn my lesson this time around because I felt stupid these last few days. I was so excited to go all out for May and introduce the brand-new music series too, and everything just went to shit after completing Revenge of the Sith. I always kick myself later because it usually comes about when I’m not ready, blog wise, and since my monthly playlists are one of the easiest posts to put together, I wasn’t able to come back to it until last Tuesday. Thankfully, I have become a habit of creating my banners early in the month so I can set up my color scheme before officially writing this part of the post.

Lastly, this blog turned 11 years old a couple of weeks ago. I always forget the actual day I created it, because WordPress says I signed up on the 12th whereas I published my first post on the 13th. It’s no wonder I am confused for the two weeks leading up to it, right?

I didn’t intend to make this more than music, but I thought you guys needed a little life update. So, finally, here are my Top 25 songs for May. Click here to check out the full playlist on Spotify!

First Class by Jack Harlow
Broken Pieces Shine by Evanescence
Walking With Strangers by The Birthday Massacre
Casuality by Mothica
Mad At God by Sarah Saint James
My Gun by Tove Lo
My Garden by Kat Dahlia
24 by Jem
Symphony of the Night by Leaves’ Eyes

Fuck U Love U by Alison Wonderland
Wicked Ways by Halestorm
Family by Badflower
If Tomorrow Never Comes by Bad Wolves featuring Ice Nine Kills
Foxglove by Boston Manor
Despactio by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee
Miss Me More by Kelsea Ballerini
Work Song by Hozier
The Foundations of Decay by My Chemical Romance
Cleopatra by Train featuring Sofia Reyes
How You Like That by BLACKPINK
Where Did It Go? by Asking Alexandria
American Woman by Muddy Magnolias
I Can’t Get You Off My Mind by Miss Li
Allfather by Foresaga
Eye of the Storm by Pop Evil

Now it’s time to share what you were listening to in May!

snowflake