Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Wise Woman's Journal

The Wise Woman's Journal 
  • Print Length: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Build Your Own Reality (August 31, 2014)   
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00N7EM7HU

This little book was very interesting. I picked it up for a quick look at it being that it is available in kindle unlimited for free. I was more curious than anything. I read a lot of pagan books. This one pleasantly surprised me.

In the beginning it has an explanation of different pagan practices, and how rituals are performed. There are basic correspondences that you use for making incense, oils and candle magick. It tells you how to dedicate yourself to a deity and ask them to help you, how to set up an altar to spend time with them, recipes for basic incense & oils that can be used in all rituals. How to bless any space and make it ready for spiritual use. Then after all that, you get a month's worth of journaling prompts and meditation. If you are looking to incorporate your pagan beliefs into each and everyday, this will be helpful for you. If you are just starting out, this will save you a lot of research. Thumbs up.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


by Samantha Holt
  • Print Length: 87 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited    
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

For years the Vikings had raided their lands and killed her people. Now the enemy lay in her bed…

Rescuing a Viking pirate from the ocean after his ship wrecked on the shores of Pictland was bound to bring Ilisa trouble. After all, she knew well of the savagery of the Vikings—she had experienced it first-hand. But her heart would not allow her to abandon someone in need. Unfortunately, nursing him back to health rouses a part of her she didn’t know existed and soon she’s the one in need.

Alrek’s well aware of his own need when he awakens in this beautiful Pict’s home. With his plans to venture to new lands on hold, he resolves to thank Ilisa for her help in any way he can—but not in the way he longs to the most. He must prove not all Vikings are the same. But his own savage past threatens to destroy any progress he makes and her people soon make it clear he will never be accepted.

Can they bridge the gap between two cultures or will their differences—and the dangers they bring—forever keep them apart?

Content warning: Contains some adult scenes.

A novella length story: approximately 30000 words.

Alrek - He caught my attention in the beginning of the book, but quickly lost his hold on me. His character was two dimensional, and didn't really grab at my heart. I could see the potential there, but the author needs to improve on character development. Maybe, show more, and tell less? Let the character prove his worth through actions instead of dialogue. It is a short book, but seems to be that he had very little on his mind, only the desire for sex.

He went to rescue his damsel in distress without the ax, sword and dagger that typical Vikings would not have left a doorway without carrying, especially if they felt in danger. 

Ilisa - In the beginning I thought she would have a spirited personality, but she too was a bit flat. Typical character, nothing substantial about her. 

Plot - The plot had many holes in it. It felt forced almost, instead of unfolding naturally. I could easily predict what would happen next, and it felt like the author was following a typical outline to write this novel. I would like to have seen more action in it, and had the characters lives a little more tangled in other things, instead of just each other. This would make them more believable and real. 

There were times that the characters spoke in the correct era that the book was intended, but other times they spoke with modern word usage. Very little romance, and not memorable. I probably won't read another book by this author. The effort was there, but it fell short to impress me. Full of cliches.

The ending - okay. He kissed her nose. LOL 

Historical - no.
Romantic - no.
Erotica - possibly. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Valiant Heart

The Valiant Heart
by Kathleen Kirkwood  
  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Publisher: ByDand Publishing (May 12, 2013)   
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CRQ99I4

A beautiful heiress and pawn of the king . . .

Dispossessed of her lands by the marauding Norsemen, Brienne Beaumanior is brought from cloister by royal decree and offered as a bride to her enemy.

A golden warrior of the North . . .

Sent to escort his father’s promised bride to the Barony of Valsemé, Rurik Atlison finds himself entranced by the dark-haired beauty and his passions set aflame.

Love unexpected, bringing peril to all . . .

Tormented by their desires, Rurik and Brienne resist giving into their yearnings and endangering their people.

But destiny will not be denied. Their love will burn brightly through all the ages to come as Norse and Frank meld into a new people — the Normans.

Lyting - What a cutie. His character is very likable and honorable. I adored him from the get go.

Aleth - Everyone needs a best friend like her. So sweet, and clever.

Rurik - My heart ached for him the whole time. A memorable Viking. Valiant. Passionate.

Brienne - Poor thing went through hell, but stupidly she brought on a lot of it herself. 


Waite's mother heavy with child, from beginning to end of book?The time that span was enough to grow several women's bellies, a war and a lot of other things. The prediction of twins during the Viking age? Handheld mirrors to gaze at yourself while you comb your hair? These weren't even around during the time of Henry VIII! 

84% into the book, I am furiously angry, and almost unable to keep reading!! How much more can this strained relationship take? Having Brienne continue to doubt her husband because he is of Norse decent was so annoying! Just the same as the "necessity" to convert Pagans into Christians. I understand it is historically based, but this book goes into some really strange supernatural ritual experiences that are inaccurate to real life, and it truly blurs the lines of history. 

Katla was a deranged woman, and brought much conflict to the book, but come on. Some things are so far fetched that reality isn't even an option here. 

Having Brienne come face to face with things she "thinks" her husband is doing behind her back, then turning and running away makes the vein in the middle of my forehead want to explode! This book actually caused me stress! What kind of woman catches her husband in something, then turns and runs? Any normal, hot blooded woman would get pissed off enough to confront the guy. Seriously. 

So then, I skim through a bunch of unnecessary details, scanning the dialogue, only to find Brienne again goes through several other obstacles keeping her from Rurik. And the cliff jump, WTF? It left my blood boiling.

Way too much in this one book. The author completely strips away Rurik's heart, throws it on the ground, and stomps on it. What's the deal? How much pain and sorrow can be inflicted on a man before he dies from a broken heart? 

Even for Brienne, it's like she lived a whole lifetime in a year and a half. I think I even sprouted three grey hairs a midst her struggles! My emotions are like a roller coaster, but more annoyed than anything. I feel if the book ended half way through, it would have been spectacular. I truly believe that the author didn't want to let her own characters go, so she wrote and wrote until she couldn't anymore. 

For me, too long. I only read to the end because I HAD to know what happened. Then there was an epilogue. OMG! 

I enjoyed the book all the way to the middle, then after that I felt the author should have had one more struggle and a happy ending. For me, there is way too much conflict on these pages. Perhaps the author could eliminate some of her ideas next time instead of cramming them all in one book? When you find yourself skimming for dialogue, you've grown bored. 

The author can write very well, so I hope she reads this and takes my review with a grain of salt, and takes my advice with her future books because I truly think she has it in her to knock the socks of her readers. Just because you have a lot of cool stuff to put into the book doesn't mean that it all belongs there. Even with the happy ending, it didn't heal my heart from all the turmoil that it went through reading the book. I felt let down, and I am now unable to sleep.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Bride Gift

The Bride Gift
by Sarah Hegger
  • File Size: 3289 KB    
  • Print Length: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing (May 12, 2014)  
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

1153, in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.

Determined to control her own destiny, wilful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior Guy of Helston is everything Helena swore she would never marry; a man who lives by the sword.

This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.

Against a backdrop of vengeance, war, and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything. 

Helena's character wasn't my favorite heroine. Although the author is an outstanding writer, Helena was a childish nag. Her actions proved very annoying for her age and the times that the story took place in. Everything that she did was out of her own selfishness, and she cared not for anyone else's feelings until after her tantrums took place. She was a spoiled little rich girl. When she throws Guy's belongings amok, it made me want to climb inside the book and shake her to her senses. It was only toward the end of the book that I gained any respect for her at all, and even then it wasn't as much as I would have liked to have had.

Guy on the other hand, his character was superb. He was good looking, charming and witty and he wielded a sword as if born with it in his hand. What more can a reader ask for? He was honorable and always did what was best for everyone around him regardless of the circumstances. The author gave him but one flaw, that he wasn't articulate in his speaking. But if you ask me, that made him all the more appealing. A real hearth throb of a guy. He had mystery.

Rosalind was a clever character who took up a few pages of the book. I enjoyed her part, and thought that she was just what Helena needed to bring her back down to earth. If it hadn't been for Rosalind, Helena would have been so far fetched that I may have had to stop reading in the middle of the book. I also liked the way Rosalind brought conflict and emotion between Helena and Guy. A little jealousy never hurt anyone. 

Bridget, oh what can I say about her? Loved her. She was reliable and steadfast. She was the fly on the wall, and the one to put all the puzzle pieces together aiding Guy when he needed it most. She was nobody's fool.

The plots were well thought out and beautifully written. There weren't any wholes that I could see, and the twists and turns were not always predictable. 

The one thing that frustrated me a little was that the hours in the day seemed to fly by, and at times I couldn't pinpoint whether it was time to wake up or go to sleep for the characters. It didn't flow as nicely as it could have. 

The ending was satisfying, but rushed. The author writes a year span of events into the last chapter as to not leave anything out. I haven't read a book with this approach before. It was certainly different. Not bad, just different. 

All in all, a great, easy read. The author, in my opinion, is talented. I would read another of her books anytime. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Vikings Forbidden Love-Slave

The Vikings Forbidden Love-Slave 
by Michelle Willingham
Print Length: 50 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases (July 15, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.  
Language: English

I wasn't ready to sleep last night, and wanted something to read that was short and sweet, so I picked up this 50 page kindle book. It was worth the small price, and I actually enjoyed it. 

"You're terrified I'll force myself upon you. And worse, that you'll enjoy it."

Aisling Ó Brannon should hate the Vikings who raided her village…especially after she's captured as a gift for King Magnus by warrior Tharand Hardrata. But while her head says one thing, her body says quite another. Her attraction to the fierce and forbidding warrior cannot be ignored…even though she's intended for another man's bed.

As they near Magnus's domain, Tharand's restraint is tested beyond endurance. He can't stop himself from arousing her, bringing her to the peak of pleasure while trying to honor his promise. Soon he must choose: please his king…or keep his captive love-slave for himself.

Aisling's character was a knife wielding woman warrior! I am always thrilled to find characters like her because they have spunk and a zest for life. She is certainly more likable than a woman who easily submits to the demands of a man. Her submission was on her terms, not anyone else's. For that, she quickly gained my respect and admiration.  

Tharand's character was a man of few words. He was honorable, yet rough around the edges, and different than one might imagine a viking. He is the marrying kind. Although I wouldn't call him totally timid when it comes to women, he was quite cautious. He had massive skills when it come to pleasing a woman, but he didn't seem to have much luck catching their eye. Most feared him, and would run from him when he came into the room. I am happy Aisling didn't. :) He seemed deserving of a happy ending.

The plot was perfect for this short story. It propelled forward nicely, and kept me guessing what would happen next. 

There are some scenes that I thought weren't so plausible though, but again, it is a short story and meant to deliver a quick romantic jounce. The ending was satisfying, and left me wanting to know more.

I read the book in under two hours. If you like quick stories, with little fluff & history, this is a good weekend read. Michelle is a talented author.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Viking for the Viscountess

A Viking for the Viscountess 
by Michelle Willingham
Series: A Most Peculiar Season
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Michelle Willingham (November 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990634515

First I would like to say great job on the cover, it is beautiful. :)

Juliana Arthur, the Viscountess Hawthorne, has been thrown out of her husband’s estate and her marriage declared invalid. With a small son to care for, she desperately needs a strong hero to rescue them from poverty and suffering.

A Viking wasn’t quite what she had in mind.

Arik Thorgrim is caught between worlds. After dying from a battle wound, he expects to find the glory of Valhalla where he can dwell among the gods. Instead, he’s brought forward a thousand years in time, to a beautiful woman who tempts him beyond reason.

Juliana doesn't know what to do with this sinfully handsome Viking warrior who brings weapons into a ballroom and refuses to be tamed. But beneath his barbaric ways is a man of honor, a man who vows to face down her enemies and fight for her son’s future. But as Arik wages a battle against her heart, Juliana is afraid of loving a man whose time has already run out…

Juliana Arthur was a lovely character. She was emotionally strong, loyal and loving. I liked her well. 

Arik Thorgrim was very much the image that one gets in their mind when they think of a Viking. I enjoyed his character just as much, and really liked that he settled in easily as a father figure for Juliana's son. It brought a warmth in my heart. I also liked that the author shows us his curiosity in this strange new world, and has him interacting with his surroundings. It adds a bit of innocence to him which makes him that much more appealing.

As far as the plot goes, it is pretty good. It is enough to keep the reader interested, although I felt that some scenes really dragged on, and some of their thoughts were repeated over and over again. 

Also I would like to note that some of the sex scenes could have been better with less telling and more showing. I think the author was trying to build up anticipation, but it didn't deliver. 

The beginning of the book quickly pulled me, and this is a very important thing for me when I am picking out a book to read. If my attention is not gripped straight away, I do not buy the book. 

Toward the middle of the book I was certainly waiting for something to come along and pick up the pace, and was really relieved when it did! Some of the scenarios were predictable, but not all of them, which I give a thumbs up to. I also raise a wine glass to the fact that Arik stayed loyal to his Gods without a need to convert to Christianity. 

I thought it was a clever twist toward the end of the book, and was quite happy with it. 

I will look for other writings by this author, however, will not be purchasing any of the ones that she published with Harlequin just for the simple fact that I can't get past her using single apostrophes when using dialogue between characters. It seems unnatural, and I can't understand why entire books are written that way. It is a shame really, because the story-lines sound interesting. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Temperate Warrior (The Warrior Sagas Book 1)

The Temperate Warrior (The Warrior Sagas Book 1) 
by Renee Vincent
Series: The Warrior Sagas
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press (January 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622371208

The Warrior Sagas, Book One He was her champion. She was his weakness. Together, they loved with wild abandon. Gustaf Ræliksen lives by the blade of his sword. After avenging his father’s murder and reuniting with his family, he wants nothing more than to settle down and have sons of his own. Only one woman will do—a fiery redhead he saved from the spoils of war. No longer forced to warm the beds of the men who’ve taken everything from her, Æsa has nothing to offer the noble warrior but her heart. When someone with a deep score to settle seeks revenge upon her, Gustaf’s world is torn asunder. He has but one vow—saving the woman he loves from the ignorant fool who dared to best the temperate warrior.

Gustaf is the brother of  Dægan in book 1 of Renee's Emerald Isle Trilogy. Being that I fell hopelessly in love with Dægan in that series, I had to read this book so that I could also get to know his brother Gustaf. I was glad that I did. They have quite different personalities, yet they are both strong, witty vikings who have a lusty hold on the readers imagination. 

Gustaf isn't as tactical in battle scenes as Dægan, but he made up for it in other areas, especially in the bed. He wasn't so poetic with his words, and more rough around the edges than Dægan, but he loved Æsa deeply and this brought realism to his character. 

Æsa wasn't always as fierce and fiery as I would have liked her to be, but given her background in the story, I can see how she would become submissive without much thought. I liked that she was alluring and seductive, and didn't have much trouble expressing her sexuality with Gustaf. I think that this dynamic between the two of them made for a wonderful story, and did pull at my heart strings a couple of times. Her character improves a great deal toward the middle of the book, as her insecurities started to fall to the wayside. It was less annoying to have her more secure with herself. At first it seemed like she would submit to a kitten if it meowed at her. 

I truly enjoyed Halldora, an older woman in the book who makes her entry in the middle of the story. She was a healer, a seer and a witch. Being that she could read the peoples' thoughts around her, it made for a few laughs. 

Gustaf's men were not as memorable as they could have been, but Oyven was quite enjoyable. I think that the author introduces enough characters in these books that if she chose to, would not run out of books to write for many months to come. She could easily create books with these others as heroes and heroines. I was delighted when Dægan's friends: Tait and Nevan came back into the story. I would even encourage the author to write a series based on each of them, as they were quite favorable. :)

The plots were adequate enough, even though predictable. They did keep me interested and moving forward through the pages. 


I think that it would have been an inspirational ending to have had Æsa give birth on the shoreline where Dægan had taken his last breaths, and Gustaf to have named his son after his brother that he so admired. In fact, as she was in labor on the ship, I totally thought that was going to happen, and it propelled me forward in anticipation. I even got tears in my eyes at the idea of it. Having Tait and Nevan at her side reliving the death of their dear friend; Dægan , yet rejoicing in the moment of his nephew's birth. It would have grabbed my heart and squeezed it with a precious warmth offering the possibility that his name would also be followed by his spirit in a reincarnated state. 

Since that didn't happen, I felt a little bit let down by the true ending. It was a happy ending, but not as emotional as I longed for. And again, being that I am a Pagan, having a viking warrior convert to a Christian in the end made me feel uneasy. Even more so that he was basically forced to convert as to get what he needed and wanted.  

Renee is a talented writer, and even when prowling other viking books to read, none grab my attention as much as hers. I think I would always pick her writing over another's just because she created Dægan. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Texas Blaze (The Wrong Bed Book 49)

Texas Blaze (The Wrong Bed Book 49)  
by Debbi Rawlins
Print Length 224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze (Dec. 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0373365527

Kate Manning's "blast from the past" has blown back to her quiet west Texas town. Mitch Colter was once the sum of all Kate's fantasies. But he was a few years older and her brothers' best friend, and her fantasies stayed exactly that. Now however, Kate's got seduction in mind and a point to prove: she won't miss out on Mitch a second time.

Mitch can't believe the woman his "little Katie" has become. She's beautiful, has a body that gives him all kinds of naughty ideas and, best of all, she's lost none of her fiery spirit and take-no-prisoners sense of humor. So, when Kate comes a-calling--he can't resist--and won't! But will their luck be better the second time around?

The author does a pretty good job with the book, however I felt that it could have been better. For being a book in the 'Blaze' series, I had hoped for a lot more steamy tension. This book had promise, but it just didn't deliver for me. 

Kate's character was a described as being a fiery spirited woman, but I found her to be a little to immature and mostly unsure of herself. The author had her in scenes that just didn't go along with her personality type. I understand that Kate was trying to come out of her shell a little, but I was hoping for a bit more from her as promised in the book description. Not her trying on a few sexy dresses and bending over at a pool table as the peak of her flirtatious behavior. Also the things that she seemed to get upset about were so insignificant that they felt labored and outlandish. Her upsets were suppose to bring tension between the two characters, but failed terribly. 

I have little problem with Mitch, I liked him. He was well practiced in the art of charm. 

As far as plot goes, it sort of dragged on and on. I would have liked the author to use several different twists and turns. Basically the whole book was about catching cattle rustlers. I admit, I sure would like to be trapped in a room doing surveillance with Mitch myself, but the sexual tension between the two wasn't heavy enough. I became bored half way through the book. 

The ending was just 'okay.' Nothing spectacular. It was a happy ending, and left me feeling semi satisfied, but no wrenching in my heart like a good romance novel should.

The author does use proper grammar and she doesn't over use words like some do. If I were to give constructive criticism, I would tell her to work on her plots more and not to rush sex scenes. In romance, the most important part is to grow sexual tension between the characters, but to do this, realistic conflict is needed. Having Mitch worried about what her brothers would say is reasonable to use as conflict, but it seems to be the only conflict used. We get it, Kate's not a little girl anymore.

The switch between character views is subtle and smooth, and I liked how capital letters in the first few words helped the reader to distinguish this change. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Fall of Rain: Book Three of the Emerald Isle Trilogy

The Fall of Rain: The Emerald Isle Trilogy   
by Renee Vincent
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press (November 23, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937389553

Another one of Renee's books that held my attention, and kept me turning pages until the very end. I finished it in two days.

It starts out with a man named Leif Dæganssen, an archeologist from Norway, who is determined to trace back his Scandinavian roots as far as the Dark Ages and find proof of their existence on the Emerald Isle. After several years of living off the west coast of Ireland, he finally uncovers an ancient artifact—an intricately decorated chest with pagan carvings—buried beneath the very porch of his coastal cottage. Knowing it only confirms the presence of a glorified Norse-influenced settlement on Inis Mór, he’s determined to establish a link between himself and those who once inhabited the rugged isle.

Then there is  Lorraine O’Connor who has had dreams of a Norse warrior kissing her. And even though she’s never fully understood the reason for her vivid subconscious imagination, she welcomes the meaningless and wanton pleasure of being in a Viking’s protective embrace—until the day she meets that brazen Northman on an impulsive vacation trip to Ireland. Though blindsided by the relevance of her dreams and the strange familiarity of the man within them, Lorraine can’t help but feel a deep-seated intimacy toward Leif. And the more she gets to know him, the more she’s convinced they’ve shared a life together in a time long forgotten. Are the clues to their ancestral past hidden within the contents of the chest or buried deep within their hearts?

This book is the third book in the series, but being that I fell in love with Dægan Ræliksen from the first book: Ræliksen, I decided to skip book two and go straight to this one because I didn't have the heart to see Mara share the remainder of her life with another man. The second book wasn't needed to fully enjoy this one, so if you too, wish to skip it, you won't be lost in the story-line. 

Even though Leif is the reincarnate of Dægan, and Lorraine the reincarnate of Mara, they both seem to have quite different personalities than that of their past. They are thoroughly modern and shaped by the societies that they live in presently, and of course, that is to be expected. I did however hope to see more of that masculine, primitive instinct in Leif that Dægan had, and I missed it so much. 

It took me some patience to like Lorraine's character because of some of her actions in the book. One in particular being that she seems to have a melt down when Leif's present feelings for her aren't enough, and she feels she HAS to make him remember her from a past life together. 

For me, her reactions just weren't believable. I can understand her frustration with it, but not a complete melt down. If it had been me, I could see myself shrugging it off instead of spilling out an outlandish story and then being in shock when he looks at me like I'm a nutcase and kicks me to the curb. LOL. 

Leif's character is caring and treats her with adoration. Again, if it were me, I would accept what I had and cross my fingers that the rest would fall into place at a later date. Even if it never did, she still had one hell of a man to love her. 

Her willingness in the bedroom threw me off a little bit too, as I would have liked to have seen a little more of the innocence that Mara had in the first book. For me, when I pick up a Viking romance novel, I want to see the man taking charge and captivating the heart and soul of the object of his affections, not her trying to desperately win him over.

There were parts of the book that seems really predictable to me, and that took away from it's awe factor. 

In the first book, I couldn't predict any of it. I think that is why I held it so dear to my heart. It was poetic and intriguing. Dægan was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was as if he hung the moon.

Being a writer myself, I can understand why each scene was placed in the book when it was, and I can appreciate the efforts made by Renee to give Dægan and Mara their happily ever after. I was also quite happy when 'Patrick' got his as well. But in all honesty, I think I would have given Mara her happily ever after in book one because it was an emotionally captivating book to begin with and it deserved to go out with a bang instead of a whole heap of sadness. It was strong enough to stand on it's own.

I hope these words don't discourage the author because she has great talent. I just want to be honest so that her future books will shine.

This book was interesting, and a page turner, but a little too fluffy for me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ræliksen: Book One of the Emerald Isle Trilogy

Ræliksen: Book One of the Emerald Isle Trilogy 
by Renee Vincent
Paperback: 374 pages
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press (July 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935817019

This book gripped me from the very first page, and I can not say that about very many others.

It starts at the Shannon river in Ireland where a handsome viking is secretly watching the object of his affection. He has his whole life planned before him and she is to be his wife, yet he has yet to introduce himself. How primitive, but intriguing. His name is Dægan Ræliksen and he will from this day forth be carried in my heart and I know already how hard it will be for me to find another character who will match him in his wits and charm. This was my first viking romance novel, and I am quite happy to have shared the experience with him. :)

The twists and turns in the plot kept me propelling forward and each quite unpredictable. It only took me two days to read. I kept watching the page numbers fly by thinking that I didn't want it to end but it would to my disappointment. The action scenes were far better than anything on television, and what I enjoyed most about this book wasn't just the steamy love scenes, but that of all of the characters who played a role. It is the first time that an author has not only made the hero and heroine likable, but every character that took part on the pages were funny and well rounded. I caught myself laughing various times and crying at others. Each character moved me in their own way and I find them unforgettable. 

Mara, the object of affection was brave and noble. She was everything a heroine should be in a book, and even though the books life span was only that of two week, I could tell that she truly loved Dægan with all of her heart, and that their love would span through many lifetimes thereafter. 

Dægan's friends all devoted their lives to him and hung on his every word. They were more like his brothers than just his comrades. Nevan was also an endearing character that genuinely captured a piece of my heart. He is kind, intelligent, and his loyalties to Dægan make him very likable. Nevan is a king and it shows in his actions and words, yet his generosity firmly roots him to the ground like any common man. I think I liked that best about him. He gave fatherly advice to Dægan and allowed him his temper tantrums without judgment. They each had understanding of one another even with very little conversation between them. One Christian, the other Pagan. Two men from two different faiths, yet together as one unmissable force.

One particularly memorable conversation from the book between two characters describes Dægan perfectly letting you know the hold that Dægan has with everyone he comes into contact with: 

"I swear Dægan could convince a bird its wings are more suitable for swimming in the sea if he so wanted." 

That was Dægan's friend Tait describing him to Nevan, and as I wiped away tears, that very sentence made me laugh again. This book was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me, and that is the exact ingredient, in my opinion, that makes for a wonderful romance novel. 

The ending of the book is not so satisfying because the author is paving the way for the second book in the series. I would have much preferred Dægan & Mara's story to continue on, but sadly it doesn't. I sobbed like a baby. 

Reading the reviews on amazon for the second book in the series, I was much disappointed with so many spoilers, that I do not think I can bring myself to read the second book now. Not only that but I have a very hard time with the idea of Mara with another man. I prefer keeping a memory of just her with Dægan. But that is just me.

I will however read the third book in the series because it gives the promise of a reunion between the two souls & that for me is grand. 

The only thing that I didn't like about this book is that Christianity seemed to play a bigger role than I would have liked to have seen. I am a Pagan and it was hard to see that Christianity was cast in a much brighter vision than that of my ancestors. However, giving the fact that Dægan found eternal peace in the end, I can find it less offensive. I understand that it adds to the books historical integrity, and religion played a much bigger role then than it does now. At a time when death was inevitable and war so monumental, it was the person's soul that was mostly feared for. One never knew when they would draw their last breath and it was important that they lived their lives according to the laws of whichever God they served and that their faith remained unwavering.

Beautiful story, and well written. I would highly recommend at least this first book. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

VIII by H.M Castor

VIII by H.M Castor
  • Hardback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - first print edition   
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 144247419X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442474192

The book starts out with Henry VIII as a young boy being whisked away to the Tower of London while his father is defending his throne against an impersonator of one of the young princes that were lost in the Tower years before. It's a little awkward at first because the author writes the book in first person, and I am not used to reading large stories this way. It took a bit of getting used to. Also the book is aimed toward a younger audience, so the chapters can be extremely short. With a book this large, short chapters make for a very long read.

  • Out of all the characters that Henry encounters throughout the book, it is his relationship with his father that truly stands out to me. At first, the relationship is almost non-existent, until his brother Arthur dies. Then he is brought to his father so that he can properly be groomed to rule as King someday. Henry envisions himself as King even before then, and feels that he is being given signs that he will be a King and God will pave a way for him.  He has many different encounters with unnatural things, and some of them are quite scary even for the reader. 

  • As Henry prepares himself to sit on the throne in the event of his father's death someday, he gets ideas of how great it will be to be King of England as well as France. He anticipates being a conqueror and the people of England loving him for it. During his few conversations with his father, he is scolded for being so naive and lectured on what it is like to be a King, and the many responsibilities that he will have in doing so. I think that toward the end of his life he realizes just how much he learned from his father, even if the book doesn't say so. I thoroughly enjoyed the part that Henry VII played in this book, and think that he wasn't just seen as a money grubber, but as a detail oriented, organized, self disciplined man who had a softer side for his family, especially his wife. I like that he said what was on his mind. It was very easy for me, the reader to cling to each word he said with much respect. 

  • The book takes Henry from childhood until death. Although quite interesting in the beginning, it dragged on for a spell while he was with Katherine of Aragon. This is as it should be though, because in real life, he was married to her longest. But once he becomes involved with Anne Boleyn, and the others, the book becomes much more interesting and reads much quicker. 

  • The author has a nifty way with words, and the details that are in this story are woven together brilliantly like a beautiful tapestry. Some of the scenes are quite powerful and leave you thinking about them long after you close the book. 

  • One such scene, is a favorite of mine. I will add it here for an example. Henry is being teased by Anne when he leaves the court room during his trial to divorce Katherine of Aragon. He is angry and feels like Katherine is too loved by the people and that she makes a fool of him.  He feels that his people should love him above all others, and doesn't understand why they do not. Anne is standing in the shadows of his private room, and tells him it is because he is not 'believable' when he speaks. She gets onto the subject of him not having a male heir, and brings up that things would all be well had his son lived, that died 17 years prior. This hits a tender spot in Henry and he becomes quite agitated with her chiding.  He goes on to say this:

  • "You know, sometime I really must ask your brother about your favourite childhood hobby. I believe he will tell me it was tearing the wings off birds. Or drowning puppies."

  • This is a fine example of the author's magnificent way with words. They are packed full of a punch, and play out like a movie in the readers mind.

  • Another such example prior to this scene that I almost forgot is also quite good. Henry is questioning his then wife, Katherine of Aragon about her loyalty to him or her family. She reminds him that her loyalty has always been with him, but then he scolds her and tells her that if this was so, she would have given him a son by now. The scene plays out like this:

  • Silence. We hold one anothers gaze. I say, quietly and distinctly, "This is what you are for. Do you think I married you for love? I married you to give me an alliance with Spain, And sons." I look down at her belly. "Will this one live, do you think? For a change?" 

  • My God, her control is magnificent. Not a single muscle in her face twitches. But her eyes... She looks as if she is drowning.

  • After reading this scene, I could see it in my mind as if it were happening in front of me. A very powerful look into what it must have been like to know Katherine in person. It is just as I imagine her to be. My admiration for her still stands. She was tough as nails.

  • If you have an interest into the life of Henry VIII, then this book will definitely interest you. Just be prepared to read many short chapters, and each starting at different points in Henry's life. If you are an Anne Boleyn fan, her role in this book is quite short. For me though, that is quite refreshing. It didn't hash out the whole execution scene again, as seen in so many other books. The books stays focused on it's true subject; Henry VIII.

  • The ending comes quickly, but is very interesting. I enjoyed it very much. It left me satisfied. When I closed the book, I was smiling. I highly recommend it, with a four star rating. It's different, and unique. I hope to read more from this author in the future.

  • The above scenes are from pages: 298 and 236.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


by Katherine Longshore  
432 pages
ISBN-10: 0142426199
ISBN-13: 978-0142426197

My first impression of this book was that I would finally get to see a different take on who Catherine Howard was. I understand that it is fiction, but she just happens to be the only one of Henry VIII's wives that I have not been able to relate to. In fact, I blame Hollywood for this modern day "hang up," that I feel toward her.

This book gently lured me in, and I found it difficult to put down. I read the whole of it in just three days. I didn't realize until half way through it that the book was written for a young adult audience. This only came to my realization when I kept waiting for alluring romance, and intense courtly love. I had to laugh at myself, waiting for something that never came. ;)

But even without detailed, adult liaisons, the characters were interesting enough to keep me moving forward. Especially the main character Katherine Tylney. In the story she was Catherine Howard's most loyal friend, and she went from being a naive young girl to a woman with a backbone. I was actually quite proud of her nearing the end of the story. I won't go into any detail because I wouldn't want to give it away. But I liked the way she stopped biting her tongue, and eventually just said what was on her mind whether anyone liked it or not. Some scenes with her were intense, and brought out some of my emotions.

As for Catherine Howard, in the beginning I sort of liked her. I thought she was fun and brave. Toward the end, I just thought she was a nutcase. Unfortunately the book didn't change my opinion of her like I thought it might. She still comes across as being self serving and very childish to me, for the time in which she lived.

The plot was engaging, but it unfolded a bit slowly for my taste. I think that there could have been a few more obstacles in the beginning and middle of the book. I think a few things were rushed, particularly relationships between some of the characters, but then again, it is a young adult book.

The plot picked up and came together nicely in the end, and I felt somewhat satisfied with it. I do however wish that the ending had been delayed a little and more of a happily ever after added in. But maybe that is just my taste.

One of the things that stands out for me is Henry VIII himself. I really love the way his character was portrayed. He was loving and kind in this book, and not the tyrant that he is usually made out to be.That makes me quite happy. I actually found myself feeling sorry for him in this book, and not the executed queen.

Elizabeth The Virgin Queen & The Men Who Loved Her

Elizabeth The Virgin Queen And The Men Who Loved Her
by Robert Parry
134 pages
ISBN: 1499355599
published June 2, 2014

When I first got this book in the mail, I thought that the cover was beautiful. It is has a velvet finish and the colors in Elizabeth's clothing are vibrant and lively. They say, “never judge a book by it's cover,” but this particular cover makes me want to open the book almost immediately. I would have to say that the inside definitely matches the outside. The book is thin, but packs a powerful punch. If one wants to know anything about Elizabeth, but doesn't want to spend hours and hours reading, this is the place to start. It is unique and sumptuous.

Elizabeth was a complex person, and not very easy to please, which you think might detour others from wanting to be around her, but this is just not so. Besides the benefit of being close to her, there was something more endearing about her that made men want to compete for her affections. These men in her life played a vital role in English history. Their influence, although quite passive, contributed to keeping peace to the realm just by being at her side. It wasn't just Robert Dudley who loved her, but others who each had their own personality to attract her attentions.

The book starts with the most obvious of men; her father, and then ends with one of the least liked by me; Robert Devereux. After a short biography of each man, there is a fictionalized scene between Elizabeth and himself. The author, in my opinion, is quite brilliant with the way he made the words flow so naturally on the pages. Each scene pulled me in and made me feel as if I were in the same room with Elizabeth, so long ago. He has a knack for being able to make Elizabeth come alive on the pages. His words are what I would imagine in my mind, her exact same words, and her actions the same actions. Forget television, read this book! It is very entertaining, and fast paced. It only took three days to read the book, an hour per sitting.

I like how the author wrote the book as if I were on a weekend tour with him, learning about Elizabeth and her dynamic personality, that was clearly shaped by the men in her life. He even rated each of the men according to his perception of them. They would rate between one Tudor rose to five Tudor roses, five being the highest of admiration. Cute.

By the conclusion of the book, the reader will be well educated on how life at court with Elizabeth would have been. It touches upon all the major points in her life, and clears up any confusion that one might have encountered during a fictional portrayal of Elizabeth. This little book is probably one of my favorites so far, and I have read many Tudor related books. Not only do I like it because it is short, and very detailed, but because the author is meticulous in his research. There were a couple of things that I learned too. There is nothing about this book that I do not like.

I highly recommend any of Robert's books. They are all wonderful.

2014 'ELIZABETH - The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her.'
2013 'WILDISH - A Story Concerning Different Kinds of Love'
2011 'THE ARROW CHEST - A Victorian Mystery'
2009 'VIRGIN AND THE CRAB - Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the Early Life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor'

Currently, he is working on a project entitled 'The Hours Before' - a Gothic Mystery set in the Belle Epoque, expected to be released in 2015.