Genre: Fantasy

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 21, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #2
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 21, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 460
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

Hervor has been treated poorly by her grandfather the jarl her entire life. Now she has finally learned the truth of her parentage and sets off to seek Tyrfing, a dwarven blade that will prove her lineage. Masquerading as Hervarth, a young male, she and Yrsa, her mother-not-mother, travel to the island of Bolmso, where Hervor meets her family and tries to earn her place with them. There she learns what it means to be a family, and how healthy a clan can be under the right kind of leadership.

The first 1/4 or so of this book was pretty slow for me. I had a hard time staying focused on the story. Around the 30% mark things picked up, but there was still a lot of unnecessary filler in the novel. I really enjoyed the people of Bolmso, the wolves, the magic of the Isle and the way the Gods talk to Hervor. As a whole, I enjoyed the story and I really like Hervor. I did have a hard time with how she was determined to find the sword no matter what. Even when warned against it, she was set on her course and that was that. Still, I like her. I was glad to see her change and grow under her grandfather. I was also happy to see Leif and Hofund return.

I am enjoying Hervor’s journey, and I can’t wait to see where things go next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


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Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 14, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #1
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.
In my dreams, Odin whispers to me.
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

I fell in love with Lagertha, a character in the History Channel’s show Vikings. The description of this book made it sound like the MC was a young Lagertha, which really appealed to me. I found that to be pretty accurate.

Hervor is an outcast, unwanted and unloved by almost all. In her dreams Odin tells her she is destined for great things, but she can’t believe it. Not when things are so bleak while she’s awake. When the King and his son come to their village, Hervor wants more than anything to accept the destiny she’s always dreamed of, but her grandfather the jarl has other plans for her.

I’ve read a few of Karsak’s steampunk novellas and enjoyed them, but not as much as this full-length novel. The writing is engaging and I really came to love Hervor, her companion Eydis, and others from her clan. Hervor is a fierce warrior, loyal and protective. Karsak really brought her to life. I also enjoyed the world-building and mythology. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall it was a lovely read. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


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Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell

Posted April 7, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow RowellReviewer: Holly
The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Series: Faraway #1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Narrated
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale
Length: 46 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 'New York Times' bestselling author of 'Eleanor & Park' and the 'Simon Snow' series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s a fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be?

'THE PRINCE AND THE TROLL' is part of Faraway, a collection of retold fairy tales that take happily-ever-after in daring new directions. Whether read or listened to in one sitting, prepare to be charmed, moved, enlightened and frightened all over again.

This was a well-written short story that really seemed to serve no purpose. I enjoyed how the friendship between Adam and the Bridge Troll developed, and there was a lot of witty dialogue, but the story lacked any kind of cohesion or conclusion. The Road (aka Climate Change and Development) were bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it so let’s just wait until the rains come and wash it all away? Meh.

For a quick listen, I didn’t hate it, but I did finish it kind of scratching my head about the point of it all.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Faraway

three-stars


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Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted March 1, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Rowena
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #2
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen , The Bridge Kingdom
Publisher: Context Literary Agency
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.

The Traitor Queen is the second book in the Bridge Kingdom series by Danielle L. Jensen and it was another emotionally charged, action-packed story that I was invested in from beginning to end. My heart hurt at every turn for Lara in this book. From her broken romance with her husband to the trust she broke with the people of Ithicana, lots of stuff was going on and Lara was determined to do what she can for the people whose trust she broke and fix whatever she could fix.

This book starts off and Lara’s husband Aren has been captured by her father and she becomes even more enraged than she was before. She starts plotting to figure out how to get Aren free and how to make her father pay for everything that he’s put her and her sisters through, not to mention the people of their home country. She’s got a lot of atoning to do and she’s got to work quickly because who knows what her Dad’s got up his evil sleeves. So she’s got her work cut out for her and her first order of business was gathering her forces on both Aren’s side and her own side.

This book was jam-packed with action from beginning to end. On top of the action, there’s a lot of soul-searching from the guilt that Lara feels on her part in where Aren’s country is right now. After the ending of The Bridge Kingdom, I was really curious to see where Lara and Aren would end up. Seeing Lara strive to make things right, seeing her take what she felt she deserved, and then to see her crew come to her defense made me cry a lot. I felt her pain, her guilt, her love for everyone around her and I thought Danielle L. Jensen handled the telling of her and Aren’s story so well.

This wasn’t an easy story to read at all but I loved it. There were times that I got mad even though I knew that everyone was feeling exactly how they should have felt considering what they knew to be true. There were times when I got so frustrated with Aren because his emotions were all over the place and even though I knew he had a right to feel what he was feeling, I was still mad as hell at him. LOL. I finished this book and immediately had to discuss it with Ames and Holly because I was so filled up with every emotion. This was a damn great story and I am so looking forward to wherever Jensen takes us next. I’m so curious about so many things in this world so I can’t wait for more. Do I recommend it? Hella.

Final Rating

4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

four-half-stars


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Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted January 21, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Ames and Rowena
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen , The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Context Literary Agency
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

This book came highly recommended by Holly so Ames and I chose to read it together this month and to say that it was a really great recommendation is putting it mildly. This book packed a really great punch and kicked off this series beautifully.

So this story is about Princess Lara of Miridrina who travels to the kingdom of Ithicana to fulfill her country’s part of the peace treaty with the late King of Ithicana. She is to marry King Aren of Ithicana but she is also putting into action, a plan that her father, the King of Miridrina, has been plotting for the last fifteen years. A plan that depends on Lara to make happen.

When Lara gets to Ithicana, she is not a fan of the King, his sister, or the people and she is deadset on the plan she was sent in for but the longer she’s there, the more she realizes that there are holes in what she grew up learning about Ithicana, it’s King and the people. The closer she gets to her husband, the more torn she is.

Lara’s journey is not an easy one because falling in love with her husband and her new home was not in the plan at all.

Rowena: Alright Ames, we’re kicking off 2021 on a great note, wouldn’t you agree? What did you think of this one?

Ames: I definitely agree- yay for us picking up our buddy reviews again! And second, thank you to Holly for recommending this series. I was in a bit of a slump so although this took me a minute to get into, once I was I couldn’t put it down. I was completely caught up in Lara’s story and you know what? I don’t even like spies or spy tropes. LOL But I liked Lara and I thought the author did an excellent job showing the struggle Lara was faced with. And the world-building was so easy to get into. It wasn’t heavy or difficult to follow at all.

What did you think?

Rowena: I think the same. It took me a little bit before I was fully invested in Lara’s journey but once the story took off, I was all in. I had a little bit of anxiety going on because like you, I’m not the biggest fan of spies or the spy trope but I thought Danielle L. Jensen handled everything well. Her writing style was really easy to follow and I finished this book, then immediately had to start the next book because I was that invested in what was going on.

I will say something that Holly brought up after I finished reading this one. I would have been royally pissed off if I had read this book back before book 2 was released. I don’t think I would have been able to stand not being able to continue the story after I was done with this one. This one ended on a sort of cliffhanger, do you think?

Ames: This is the exact reason why I let series build up before reading all the books close together. LOL, I could not have imagined waiting any time at all to see what happened with Lara! I jumped immediately into the next book. haha

I don’t want to be too spoilery but this book – there was one scene in particular where I was like “Nooooooooo!!!” and sure enough, it bit Lara in the ass. I was annoyed with Lara’s reticence in telling Aren how she felt. I understand that she was basically brainwashed by her father and his men regarding the Ithicanians but yeah, I was annoyed with Lara and how long she took to make up her mind. However, I understand WHY. I just didn’t like it. LOL.

Rowena: Haha, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I was screaming the same. That totally bit Lara in the ass and all I have to say for that is if she had opened her mouth, and trusted her husband (who had proven himself time and time again to her) with the truth, her ass would have been fine. But noooooo….haha.

I thought it took her far too long to come clean about everything and when she finally does, I was heavy sighing all over the place because girl…it was too little too late.

This book was super engaging and I couldn’t read it fast enough. From almost the beginning to the end, I could not get enough. I was wrapped up in everything that was going on and when the ending was coming and things were really coming together, I dreaded getting to the end. I didn’t want it to end. I was so invested in the romance between Aren and Lara, Lara getting to know the people of Ithicana and seeing her come to care for everyone. I think the weakest part of the story was that ending, which I thought was abrupt but I’m glad that I had the next book ready to go because I jumped right into the next book when I finished this one.

I’m so glad that we decided to give Danielle L. Jensen a try, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next book in this series. I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5, what about you?

Ames: I’m glad this book defeated my reading slump. It was super engaging and really, I can’t stress this enough, for a fantasy book the world-building was incredibly easy to get into. That’s huge for me because these days I lose interest so easily. I am giving The Bridge Kingdom 4.25 out of 5. And for potential readers out there, make sure you buy book 1 and book 2 so you don’t have to wait! LOL!

Final Rating

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom


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