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

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.

59342099

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. 


5326

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.


59342098

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: Gift Ideas for Readers

Hello!

For this year, I will be discussing for the reader(s) in your life, because we can be somewhat tricky to buy for on Christmas. I hope to give you some ideas below and this week on Got Meghan’s Blog is full of festive vibes, so I also hope you enjoy what I have for you because I had a lot of fun creating them!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post discussing interesting topics for my fellow disabled and chronic illness bloggers out there. I thought it would be a great idea to create one of my own and there was awesome feedback from people with and without disabilities! Anyways, I still adore the way I set up that post and wanted to do it again to hopefully give you some ideas into what a reader would REALLY love under their Christmas tree or stocking this year!


Before we get too into this, I need to make a point and say, if you decide to do any of the ideas below, you should know the person treasures the most. Despite the fact I included Harry Potter, it doesn’t mean EVERYONE enjoys that series! There are thousands of fandoms and products out there so hopefully you’ll be able to find something they love, but also be honest with yourself as well. If you can’t get something because you can’t afford it at this moment, find something else and hopefully they will understand your struggle and move on from it.

Speaking of money, I arranged everything below into their own category as far as price goes, so we have a somewhat cheaper collection of items that don’t go over $25. The middle will have a selection that could change depending on the various qualities and websites; I’d say they might start at $30 and stop around $60 and then the final box is everything I feel can go into the $100+ and those would be things that you would expect in that range too.

Easy on the Budget

Bookmarks
Stickers
Candles
Fairy lights
Coffee Mugs
Teabags/Instant Coffee Cups
Cat Inspired Gifts (or any other animal!)
Earbuds/Headphones

The Prices Can Change

Book Ends
Throw Blankets
Journals
Calendars
Bluetooth Speakers
Harry Potter Items
E-Readers (like NOOK, Kindle, and Audible)

Get Your Checkbooks Out

Book Subscription Boxes (like Book Of The Month, OwlCrate, etc.)
Limited Edition Books
Boxed Sets
Childhood Favorites
Bookshelves

Last summer, I was able to work with a company that specialty is making unique bookmarks and holders, and they are TILIMSA and I really love their products. They are reasonably priced since all of the items are handmade. I’m still so happy they were nice enough to work with someone like me who doesn’t exactly hold a book in the way everybody else does, so they customized their regular items to fit my needs, however, I’m not sure if everyone will be able to get the same treatment. If you are trying to find something for someone with a disability who loves to read, you could try to get into contact with them but again, I’m not sure if it will happen, so please keep this possibility in mind beforehand.

Are there any other ‘bookish’ products I should add to this post? Comment below with your suggestions, plus which money category I need to list it too!

Life | Changing Of The Seasons

Hello everyone!

Today, I wanted to talk about the changing of the seasons.

At the end of summer, I tend to dwell on the past and the fear of going into a depression spell starting in August like the past several years, I didn’t. I haven’t been pulled into that black hole of sadness, and as much as I have been trying to be proud of this accomplishment, I have been suffering with a different kind of pain, around the the end of August through the middle of October, our weather has a way of going from one extreme to another with small chance of actual autumnal temperatures in between. As of now, September has been trying to cool down gently, but towards the afternoon it could still range in the high 80 degrees (26 degrees Celsius).before coming down into the 60’s once the sun goes down.

The final week of August, I started to have a little bit of pain in my back, and as much as I tried to blame it on my next period, it just gradually got worse as time moved on and before I knew it, I was spending a good chunk of my time lying in bed watching Criminal Minds fast as lightning and really opening up to naps in the afternoons. My way of escaping bouts of annoying back pain is to take a nap. I HATE taking naps–my parents know about my feelings on it, but they also know how stubborn I am about taking medicine to help relive the pain too, so we all have learned to accept our faults as they come!

I have been through this back in spring, and I vaguely remember how much pain I was in but I think this is worse because for once we got to experience a spring so the change of cold to warm weather wasn’t that bad of a shift (at least to me!) but since we are getting out of triple digit temperatures at a fast pace, has been really difficult on my body.

The thing is, it’s not just my physicality being affected by the sudden changes, my energy has been lacking too. This is what makes me mad because I want to do so much that I feel like I’m going to war on my own body. I know when it listen to my body so that’s why I’ve been in bed most days. I just feel guilty afterwards because I’m not able to read or paint any time I want to, so that’s been an issue I am still working on while you read this post. However, there have been some good things about this month that I wanted to share with you.

A few weeks ago, I went outside around five o’clock when our temperatures start to descend a little, so I can go out on the back deck and visit with out cats for a bit. If it wasn’t for the damn mosquitos I’d stay out there longer than 15-20 minutes at a time! Anyways, I was hanging with Nelson, Felix and Stormy, and we were all enjoying each other’s company but my favorite thing of the visit was when Stormy jumped up onto the rails, his little perch, and I went up to him and he lowered his face to me and let me bonk my head to his, twice! Now, for those of you who do not own cats, they do this with their fellow felines and whenever they do it with their humans, it means that they trust you. They consider you as family. I almost cried because I was smack dap in the middle of dealing with my back pain and he must’ve known inside that I needed a little bit of love back.

The next day,, I was able to go outside again and it was glorious! It was my ideal weather, but it was like eight or nine in the morning so that may have helped everything, but as my mom was pushing me out of the doorway, she asked me a question that sort of puzzled me at first. Here’s how this conversation went:

Mom: “When you were out last night, did you see anything in the yard?”

Me: “No, nothing out of the ordinary. Why?

Mom: “Look to your left.”

So, I look over and at first I couldn’t see anything, but then I moved closer to the rails and I finally saw it. We had a late blooming sunflower growing in our backyard! I was really glad that both of my parents were awake because I just shouting “THERE’S A SUNFLOWER!!” And then I tried to rack my brain on how I managed to miss it last night but obviously it wasn’t open enough for me to notice it on my own, but then I remembered the last time we went up north to visit with family and they had a sunflower that hadn’t opened yet but by the time we went home, it had blossomed and my aunt took a picture of it for us.

If it was out that evening, I think I was too interested in the cats to notice anything else and honestly, this can happen, especially if I have more than one cat surrounding me wanting extra amounts of attention, which if Felix is in one of his moods, he’s usually the one trying to cause fights with others which always seem to back fire on him! And if you are wondering where Stormy was located, he was on the front rail and since the sunflower was pretty short, I wouldn’t had been able to see it unless I went to that side.

The other mystery is, where the heck did it come from? I haven’t had sunflowers since last fall, and dad tried to tell me that’s where he threw them out because the cats wouldn’t go around there (another reason why I didn’t notice it!) to be fed so it is the perfect little area to grow. Unfortunately, it never grew to be like gigantically huge like most but it looked so adorable to be blossoming in the driest spot of the whole yard! And of course, I had my mom take a couple of pictures of it because I don’t know if it’ll ever happen again. Although, my mom did get me a vase full a few days beforehand and they were thrown out around that patch so maybe we will get another one as the fall season continues or into fall 2022!

Okay, well I think that’s all I want to talk about at the moment. I hope you enjoyed this post, even if the beginning wasn’t too positive, but that’s life.

Top 5 Favorite Reads On My Bookshelf

Hello!

We have a single, skinny bookshelf in my nephew’s playroom. I’ve always wanted to do a tour of it but I haven’t found a way to do it as a blog post and make it so that it’s fun and unique. The majority of the books are mine, while my poor nephew has like three! It’s a little sad but I don’t have any more room in my own bedroom to have proper shelves for them. I have a smaller one next to my bed but I don’t have any more room for anything really. Anyways, for today, I wanted to talk about my favorite books featured on the shelf and at first, as I was coming up with this post, it seemed like an easy conquest, when in reality it was the opposite but still I got it all done for you!

I’ve added a link to the reviews I’ve done in the past on the pictures listed below, so, if you want to check them out, all you have to do is click the photo. Be aware though, they could contain spoilers so please keep that in mind beforehand! It was extremely hard to list all of these books because I really love them all the same, or so I thought…I still hope you enjoy all of the books and maybe you will find your next favorite too..


5. “Origins” Stefan’s Diaries Vol. 1 by L.J. Smith, Julie Plec & Kevin Williamson

I do remember buying this book because from the moment I saw Julie promoting it on Twitter, and I was curious to see a written form of Stefan Salvatore’s origins, If you want a more detail look into the life of both Stefan and Damon on the day Katherine arrives to their home in Mystic Falls, VA, and turn them into murderous vampires, this was make you smile in a very odd way!

If you are like me and desperately miss the entire show (and The Originals too!) then reading the entire collection could be something you should consider someday. I have only read to the second book, but there are five more books afterwards “Bloodlust” and I think Julie wrote a series about Klaus too, correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, but they all seem great stories for the fall?

4. Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I did buy it mainly on how it looked without a dusk jacket. I saw it on all of my favorite BookTube channels, There are not very many books that can match or even look close enough to their majestic jackets, but when I started reading it, and I was thoroughly into the story of these characters. I saw everything as I was reading and I still have Zélie’s dark skin and white hair in my brain. The most interesting part is, I cannot tell you how much this book pops into my head nowadays! This entire summer had me thinking about Zélie and Princess Amari, and what could happen for everybody involved in the next phase, so that means I should make a point to get the second book in the series soon or else it’ll just keep coming up to me at all hours..

3. The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This is still one of my favorite reads after nine years of reading it.

This book tells you of a story of a young woman who can do anything she wants in the world but she doesn’t see her natural beauty. She has anorexia and is bulimic, and it is a very sad story underneath this interesting person. I’m still kind of bothered on why I wanted to read it in the first place, but I think it is purely to remind me that not everybody is happy with their bodies, and everyone has different struggles with seeing beauty within themselves.

2. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I know this one still freaks a lot of people out, but it actually started out innocently enough as I wanted to know what all the fuss was about with the film. I knew there was an able-bodied actor for the role of Will Traynor and thankfully a year or two before, I made a vow to read the book first and if at one time the main character was “normal” and became disabled after having cancer or was involved in an accident, it was easier to tell myself, this can happen (and I know a lot of people who have experienced it firsthand!) and once I finished I could find the right words to tell everyone in both the book and disabled communities my views on it.

What I didn’t expect was being absolutely taken by the story of Louisa or Lou as she likes to be called instead. How she was in this book was so amazing and very educational too. For someone who had no experience taking care of a person with a very serve physical disability, she had a lot of spunk in her. This was one of my favorite qualities in her, she could hit back on Will’s depressing wit. Despite the fact that she wanted to help his family change his mind about committing medical suicide, and you realize that Will holds all of the cards for her. The story isn’t necessarily about him, it is on her, at least that was the way I saw it at the end.

1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

All of the books listed in this post are truly amazing, but nothing compares to Victoria Aveyard’s “Red Queen” for me. I absolutely adore the story of Mare Barrow, the poor red who had the same abilities as the elite silvers.

It’s interesting, I remember before picking this up at Walmart back in 2016, and thinking it was about a vampire queen. It wasn’t until I read the blurb on the back that I realized I was a bit wrong there and I think I almost put it back on the ledge but something about it intrigued me and I finished with it a week after I bought it! I was thoroughly impressed and a bit surprised by everything mentioned in the book. One of my favorite scenes was when Mare tries to escape out of the castle and as she heads for the window, she has guards coming at her and she makes a run for it and manages to lean back and skid underneath the men and for some odd reason this scene is so vivid in my mind and pretty much sealed the deal on my doubts and expectations.

After five years, I can officially say I am almost done (depending on when this post goes live) with the second book in the series, Glass Sword and the review will publish Friday morning, and I am hoping to start on the third book by the end of the month if everything works out the way I am hoping it would. I would love to complete this series before the end of the year as well, but I’ll be proud of myself on that accomplishment whether that part happens or not though.


Now I have one more thing to say before I let you go!

I do love the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” series by Jenny Han, but I do not keep those books on this shelf. They are located in my bedroom; I am hoping to store all of my beloved books, whether they are part of a series or standalones it doesn’t matter, so I can be reminded everyday of my accomplishments. Of course, this also means my dad will have to build me actual shelves on my wall someday because I have quite a few that I’m done with and want store them all together and I’m really running out of space on the floor so we need to go up for this project.. Also, do you have any advice on how I can get rid of the price stickers? They are seriously annoying and would love to have them removed from the beautiful covers. I am open to hear everyone’s suggestions at this point!

What are your top five or ten favorite books on your shelves? What makes them different than the others?