Blog Tour, Q&A, & ARC Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart By Amanda Hocking

Blog Tour, Q&A, & ARC Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart By Amanda Hocking

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Title: Between The Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie Book 1)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Available: Amazon/B&N/Books-a-Million/IndieBound/Powells

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC Copy via NetGalley and St. Martins Griffin. This does not effect my review in any way.*

Book Blurb

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk-to the world and her heart.



The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.

In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.

My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.

The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.

“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.

The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.

My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.

The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.

My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-­made from an army supply store, to match her own.

The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.

The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.

It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.

“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.

The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.

Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-­aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.

He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.

I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.

I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.

“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.

“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”

“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”

“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.

His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.

My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.

Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.

And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.

“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.


About the Author

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.




Author Q&A

Q: What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart

A: I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.

Q: How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?

A: It’s combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.

Q: What came first: The world, the mythology, or the characters?

A: I usually say the characters come first, and the world builds around it. But for this one, it really was the world that drew me into it. I knew I was writing about a young woman who was a Valkyrie, but that about all when I began building up the world and the mythology.

Q: What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?

A: I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.

Q: Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterwards?

A: It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

A: Oona or Bowie. Oona because she’s so practical, supportive, and determined, and Bowie because he’s adorable.

Q: What songs would you include if you were to make a soundtrack for the book?

A: This is my favorite question! I love creating soundtracks that I listen to while writing a book, and here are some of my favorite tracks from my Between the Blade and the Heart playlist: Annie Lennox – “I Put a Spell on You,” Daniel Johns – “Preach,” Halsey – “Trouble (stripped),” Meg Myers – “Sorry (EthniKids Remix),” and MYYRA – “Human Nature.”


My Review

First of all I want to thank St. Martins and Amanda Hocking for the pleasure of reading and given the opportunity to participate in this blog tour. It’s been a wild ride so far and I can not get enough of the Valkyrie or their world. Norse Mythology has always had a special place in my heart and I have enjoyed Amanda’s Trylle Trilogy along with her other books she’s lovingly written for readers around the world.

In the world in Between the Blade and the Heart, immortals and mortals live together. The Valkyrie are ordered to keep balance amongst the citizens by taking a grim reaper approach if you will in dispatching immortals that seem harmful to the community. Malin, a Valkyrie in training, was brought up by a distant mother who always taught her to stay away from emotions in this world made up of rules. She is taught to withhold these principles and keep to the high priority a Valkyrie faces while upholding her duties. That is until Malin is faced with a devastating blow when someone close to her breaks the rules and saves an Immortal “Marked” for death by the Valkyrie. Malin slowly begins to realize nothing is what it seems in her life. She is joined by her ex-girlfriend and a mysterious boy named Asher on her quest to right the balance her mother threw off at the expense of love and emotion.

I enjoyed this book immensely! Out of all the characters, I wished Quinn, Malin’s ex-girlfriend, was my best friend! She is supportive, brave…uh, could not get enough of her! I enjoyed the LGTBQ element to the story. There is conflict between Quinn and Malin due to the emotional bond between the two and I wish they would work it out. On the other hand, I like Malin and Asher’s attraction as well. It’s difficult to pick between the two!

The book is fast-paced and will keep you on your toes. Most chapters end on a cliffhanger note that pulls you in tighter as the story progresses. Does it have it’s flaws? Yes. Does it overwhelm the plot? No. I like this world and ready for the next chapter!


Rating 7

Happy Reading!


Book Blitz, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Jewel of the Gods By Mary Bernsen

Book Blitz, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Jewel of the Gods By Mary Bernsen


Title: Jewel of the Gods (Beyond the Gods #2)
Mary Bernsen
Published by: CTP Pulse
Publication date: December 19th, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance


Sold at the age of seventeen to the king of the realm, Ursula has spent the last four years serving as his submissive concubine. She has grown to love him with a fierce loyalty, but when he orders her to kill a spirited young girl, she simply cannot obey.Her master does not take defiance lightly, so Ursula must find the girl she spared and return her to the king—or lose her own head. Her search leads to the girl’s former employer, a handsome man who introduces Ursula to a world of experiences and freedoms she has never known. Though thrilling and intoxicating, she knows this new lifestyle is only temporary.She must finish her quest and return to her master…before this new, softer kind of love has her questioning everything.

Jewel of the Gods is the second novel in the fiery and passionate Beyond the Gods series by Mary Bernsen.


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Sequel To



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Hercules clenched his jaw and balled up his fists. “Do you even hear yourself?” He raised his voice into a mocking tone. “’Poseidon doesn’t allow this. Poseidon prefersthat.’ Dear Zeus, Ursula. Have you ever taken a moment to think about what you need? How much longer do you think you will be able to survive under such stifling conditions?”

Suddenly, I was overcome with a sense of shame at myself. I had never taken a step back and thought about what it must seem like to others. There was no way to defend it, either. It was as it seemed. I was my master’s pet. He cared for me, ensured I had my necessities. All he required in return was obedience.

Still, I couldn’t deny Chiron’s earlier claim, either. I had become a stranger to myself in the time I had served Poseidon. There was a time not so long ago when I had harbored fight in my heart. I had to release that independence to save my life, and one way or another Poseidon’s shelter had consumed me until I loved him for it. I hated Hercules for making me question what I had grown so comfortable with. I didn’t want any further complications at the moment.

“It does not matter.” I lifted a chin. “I’m a servant. I have no say in it.”

“You do as long as you are here.” He nodded toward the food in the center of the table. “Eat, or I will starve as well.”


Author Bio

Mary Bernsen is a southwest Florida native currently living in North Port with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child that she affectionately calls husband. She is the Amazon Best Selling Author of Healing The Bayou, The Ganga Shift, and Beyond the Gods series.

She also writes young adult romances under her pseudonym, M.E. Rhines.


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Blog Blitz & Giveaway: It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe By L.P. Dover

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe By L.P. Dover

Title: It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe
Author: L.P. Dover
Publication date: December 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Finding your soul mate is a dream Adeline Hamilton thought was just that … a dream. After several failed relationships, she realizes she’s not capable of falling in love. The only passion she’s ever had is teaching U.S. History at the local high school.

A week before Christmas, Adeline is all set for her best friend’s wedding, even though she dreads having to go to it alone. But when she’s given a Christmas wish that could change her future forever, she’s whisked away to the past, to a completely different place and time. It’s also when she meets him, William Blair, the man who steals her heart.

As their relationship grows, Adeline realizes that true love does exist. What she doesn’t know is that her wish can’t last forever, that soon she’ll have to leave the past behind. Will Adeline and William find their way back to each other? Or will their love have to stay where it all began . . . in 1865? With mistletoe and Christmas magic, anything’s possible.

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Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, the Society X series, the Circle of Justice series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

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Silver Dagger Tours Blog Tour/Guest Post: Hypathia of Alexandria By Laurel A. Rockefeller

Silver Dagger Tours Blog Tour/Guest Post: Hypathia of Alexandria By Laurel A. Rockefeller

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Hypatia of Alexandria

The Legendary Women of World History #8

by Laurel A. Rockefeller

Genre: YA Historical Fiction


Teacher. Philosopher. Astronomer.

Born in 355 CE in the aftermath of Constantine’s reign, Hypatia of Alexandria lived in a collapsing Rome Empire, a world where obedience to religious authorities trumped science, where reason and logic threatened the new world order. It was a world on the edge of the Dark Ages. As libraries burned, she dared defend the light of knowledge.


Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide.

With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series. 


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Describe your writing style

Lyrical is probably the best word for it. I came into writing through my music. I was making up songs long before I could read. My songs helped me express myself and survive a very difficult and often very violent childhood. I was in my teens the first time my poems were published, including a sonnet, “Why Bilbo?” for the American Tolkien Society in the winter of 1991/2. So, it makes sense that my writing has a musical quality to it and translates so easily to audio books. Indeed, poetry and music is a common feature in most of my books, both fiction and non-fiction. “Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd” opens with an original poem called “Gwenllian’s Tears” and “Mary Queen of the Scots” opens with the original poem, “Of Scotland Forgotten.” There is plenty of period music in the narrative biographies and original music in the “Peers of Beinan” science fiction novels. You can hear me sing many of these songs on my youtube videos.

What makes a good story?

To me a good story has to pull at your heart strings. There are many very competent writers out there who know their stuff, but fail to really get you invested emotionally. If you aren’t empathizing with the characters or historical persons, then the author is not doing her or his job. With a good story you really truly care about these people and what is happening to them. You hurt with them at the difficult moments and you rejoice with them when they succeed at something. For non-fiction science, the aim has to be making whatever it is really compelling and interesting without sacrificing accuracy or reading comprehension. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an expert at this which is why he is one of my favourite authors.

What are you passionate about these days?

Immigration to England! As a very hands-on historian I feel I do my best work when I have walked the places I’m writing about and done many of the activities in my historical narratives. There is no substitute for direct, personal experience when you are writing. And while yes, it is possible to travel to the UK and the EU from the USA, such trips are too long and expensive to take on the sort of regular basis I need in order to do the best possible work I can. So I am engaging in this extremely long, difficult process called legal immigration.

Making my life more difficult in pursuit of this effort is the current anti-immigrant climate in both the USA and abroad. Ten years ago all you really needed to prove was that you were earning enough money to be self-supporting for the first three to ten years in your new home country. Today those skilled worker visas are extremely hard to come by, particularly for writers and other creative professionals. Everyone is presumed to be a potential terrorist or an economic threat to native-borns so the number of visas available has dramatically shrank and the standards for what skills you need have skyrocketed. It’s no longer good enough to be even in the top 25% of your profession to be considered skilled.

The good news for me is that with your help, I can and will reach England from which I will be better empowered to tell these stories of inspiring historical women. All it takes from you is a review or two on Amazon and sharing what you love about my work with others! So please, help me make my dream come true. Help me earn that visa!

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I have two beautiful cockatiels who are my pride, joy, and usually a form of amusement for me. Absolutely love my birds. I play a couple Facebook games on a daily basis. And of course, I’m a big movie fan, especially of classic films. Favourite television series include Doctor Who, Star Trek the Next Generation, Star Trek Voyager, the West Wing, Victoria, Sherlock, and Downton Abbey. For social activities, I enjoy fine food and drink (I’m quite the foodie at times), history tourism, and playing several outdoor games. I don’t generally exercise if I’m alone, but in the company of a small group I rather enjoy golfing (either the driving range or miniature golf), badminton, archery, frisbee/catch games, and sometimes a bit of football (soccer). Walking around zoos and botanic gardens is also fun too, especially if the trip involves seeing birds. Roses are my favourite flowers, especial white and fire-and-ice varieties.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

I don’t think anyone in this business really wants per se to be a writer. I think it is like acting and you are a writer from birth and then, through the trials and tribulations of life, finally learn to embrace your talent. As with acting, the road can be very long and convoluted and take decades before you take the plunge and decide to really go for it as a trade as opposed to a hobby you do for fun. Some published authors never take it out of hobby mode. I personally resisted making writing my profession. None of my family, living or dead, support(ed) the idea and I was pushed hard to pursue a “real” job. That’s a key reason I majored in Psychology while in University – my writing major was for me and my psych major was for my mother. History came about through my elective course options. By the time I was registering for classes for senior year my minor advisor in the history department told me I only needed three specific required courses to turn my minor into a major –so I did. History is really the hobby I made into a profession via becoming a non-fiction history author.

As for the right or wrongness of the decision, well it took me over 25 years to finally stop resisting my talent and go for it. In that time, I tried to make a living doing anything except write; the list is very long of the odd, usually poorly paid jobs I took. Now I have taken the big plunge and made writing my sole source of income, yes, I am happy with the decision. I’m finally doing what I was always meant to do.

A day in the life of the author?

I don’t think there is a typical day for me. I get up, check my email and social media, and go from there. I am very active on twitter and there are certain people I like to keep up with every day if I can. I love a good twitter conversation about history, birds, and so forth.

My work usually involves interacting with my translators on a regular basis and in truth I enjoy talking to them about both work and personal stuff. I may have writing or research to do that day or book promotion. It really all depends. When I’m doing initial research for a book I usually start with youtube in search of documentaries relating to the new project. Look through my bibliographies and you usually will find at least one video listed as proof of that.

One thing I always do every day unless I’m traveling is take a nap after my mid-day meal – usually with my cockatiels nearby. The mid-day nap time is often my main time to get in quality interactions with each bird because they are often most friendly with me then. What could be better than your cockatiel walking right up to you for a head rub or a kiss? Heaven!

Do you have advice you would give new authors or aspiring writers?

Learn everything you can. Nothing is irrelevant. When I was seventeen I never thought I would use my high school chemistry. Flash forward to 2011 when I started writing “The Great Succession Crisis” and was laying down the scientific foundations for my world-building and I was neck deep in three different versions of the periodic table of elements, tables I couldn’t have understood without that foundation from high school.

Another piece of advice: there is no substitution for either practice or hands-on experience. Writing is not something you can really learn in the classroom. You can and should master grammar and vocabulary, the technical parts of the languages you are writing in and that can be taught to you. But the creative part of writing, the instincts for plot, pacing, character, and so forth comes from experience and from reading a lot. Details matter a great deal in making your work believable which is why you must travel and experience life directly. The more you get out into the world and experience the breadth of what life has to offer the better your writing will be.

For example, in “Mary Queen of the Scots” there is an especially detailed dancing scene, a scene that reflects my many years dancing at Society for Creative Anachronism events. The scene works because I’m not imagining how people danced at Mary’s court; I know how they danced after years of dancing those dances myself. Likewise, in “Hypatia of Alexandria” there is an early scene with Hypatia trying to learn to spin with a drop spindle. Drop spinning is one of those medieval crafts I practice and do badly. So the scene is coming from real life. Drop spinning takes years of constant practice to master. Being mathematically inclined and with her talents being much more for philosophy and astronomy, I have zero doubt that Hypatia struggled with the “traditional” crafts women are expected to master just as much as I have all my life.

Those scenes work because I have broad experiences. Therefore allow me to encourage you to put down the tech and reach for all the different sorts of experiences you can.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading “Forgotten History: Unbelievable Moments from the Past” by Jem Duducu. Like me, Duducu brings history out of academia and into the hands of “the common man” though he goes about it quite differently and focuses much more on the military side of history than I do.

How long have you been writing?

I don’t believe you choose to be a writer. I believe writing chooses you. This is my entire life for my entire life. I began as a song-writer using my music to help me cope with a violent home life. Today we call that music therapy and recognize the healing power of music, but back in my childhood people simply thought I was a freak for constantly making up songs and singing to myself, despite my lovely voice.

As for making a living writing, that really started in the wake of the Great Recession and the loss of my salaried job as a commercial photographer and graphic artist. I resisted pursuing a writing career for decades; the familial antagonism towards the profession was simply that strong. I started numerous small businesses which each failed and threw me into debt. I really come into this career really kicking and screaming.

In August 2012 I published the first version of “The Great Succession Crisis” (it is now in its third edition). Five years out it is still not yet a commercial success, but that is fine because I am happy with the quality of my writing and I recognize that science fiction is a very crowded genre. People will discover GSC in time along with its prequels and sequels in the Peers of Beinan Series. As a literary social science fiction I am well-prepared for that.

Until then, I am very happy to continue to write the Legendary Women of World History series. There are currently eight titles in English. In 2018 I begin work on “Cleopatra VII” and on “Hildegarde von Bingen.” The series itself will probably finish after about 40-50 total titles meaning you can expect more great narrative biographies for years to come!

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

Whenever I start a new biography I usually begin my research by going as far back in time for that culture or nationality as possible and then working forwards in time. For example, on “Mary Queen of the Scots” I began by watching documentaries on ancient Scotland and the first known settlements in the highlands. With “Empress Matilda of England” I began with pre-Roman Germany and discovered that for all the differences between the Germanic and “Celtic” languages, northern Europeans were far more similar to each other than they were different. From there, the research propelled me into the Roman era, the formation of the “Empire of the Romans” (the term “Holy Roman Empire” dates to the Renaissance), and finally into the Salian dynasty and to Kaiser Heinrich and Matilda herself.

As a rule, I start with documentaries and then work my way into books, journal articles, and online published content. I’m very top-down, working from largest and broadest details to more specific. All this time I log my sources used and construct the timelines you see in every LWWH book since the second one (Boudicca does not have a timeline because we do not have precise dates for events in her life). In that sense I am outlining because with history I must present events in the sequence they happened.

I’m not outlining the story per se in the traditional sense, but I am logging what happened and when which in turn functions like an outline. The story telling itself (which events to include and how) does not get outlined. The bulk of what you see in the Timeline appendix in each book does not make it into the narrative. That adds to its usefulness.

With the main parts of the Timeline worked out, I usually begin with writing the opening prologue or poem that breaks the ice, that first 1-3 pages that most potential readers first see on retailer websites. Once perfected, a simultaneous process of writing, research, and editorial begins in earnest as I shape my list of historical events into a compelling narrative biography. Once I am satisfied with the core narrative, I finish by organizing, formatting, and polishing the appendices before uploading each book for publication.

Can you tell us a little bit about the historical persons in “Hypatia of Alexandria?”

Hypatia of Alexandria was born in 355 CE, just twenty years after the death of Constantine. The sixty years of her life saw some of the most sweeping changes of the late Roman Empire. It was a time of transition from the classical world to the medieval world. Hypatia lived right in the heart of it, in the intellectual capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. She was, for all practical purposes, the very last of the classical philosophers.

Two of Hypatia’s most famous students were Orestes and Synesius of Cyrene. Very little is known about Orestes. In the film “Agora” he is treated as a love interest for Hypatia, but in fact we have no evidence of that either way. The only mention to Orestes in historical sources tell us he was ’Praefectus augustalis’ which was the title given to the Roman governor of Egypt. Sources then go on to very briefly tell us of Orestes’ conflict with Patriarch Cyril in the events immediately leading up to Hypatia’s murder. After her death, Orestes disappears from the historical record entirely.

Synesius of Cyrene studied with Hypatia from 390 CE to 395 CE at which point he returned to Cyrene in modern day Libya to become its bishop in 409 CE. By this point, Synesius was married and had two sons which he refused to put away upon his elevation to bishop as was normal custom. Much of what we know about Hypatia comes from the surviving letters he wrote to her from Cyrene. He loved Hypatia deeply and to some degree continued her scientific work after he left, inventing numerous scientific instruments—some of them more successful than others. Synesius of Cyrene died heartbroken in 413 CE following the death of his wife and children. Contrary to the film “Agora” he never lived to see the brutal murder of his beloved “Philosopher” let alone contributed (as the film shows) to her death on the 15th of March, 315 CE.

Tell us about Hypatia – what makes her tick?

Hypatia of Alexandria was a woman both ahead of her time and yet very much a part of it. She was in many ways a classical philosopher in a classic sense with much in common in terms of upbringing and outlook as other greats from the classical period. She received both a Roman and Greek education, the Roman being very practical and emphasizing education to foster good citizenship and the Greek emphasizing arts, sciences, physical education, and music. The Greeks considered education a form of worship to the Gods which is one reason why Christianity so often took on anti-intellectual qualities. When Paul writes in Colossians, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ,” part of what he opposes is this Greek belief that learning itself is a form of worship. To Paul, philosophy was a form of idolatry, a belief that really empowers Patriarch Theophilus and his successor, Cyril, to go in and attack the intellectual communities and institutions that made Alexandria the educational center of the Roman world.

Hypatia’s world is literally falling apart around her. Everything she has ever known and ever believed in is under attack. But rather than turning a blind eye as those she knows and loves are taken off and killed, she puts her own life at risk helping and defending them, including many Jewish friends who were by this time facing extermination at the hands of the church leaders.

Hypatia taught anyone and everyone who came to her without concern for money, nationality, or religion. She put everything on the line to help and teach others. Truly a great role model for us in these turbulent times.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Tough one because as a rule I love the research aspects of writing each of my books. But if I needed to specify one thing unique to Hypatia that is not present in the other books so far it is the astronomy which was really my first love growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before the car accident that took my eyesight, I seriously considered a career in science. Getting back to my astronomical roots was a lot of fun and I have some very cool astronomy-related resources in this book’s bibliography along with an appendix providing the latitude and longitude coordinates for several Roman Empire cities. This appendix will help you look up star charts for each location so you can see first-hand how the night sky differs depending on where in the world you are. I also really enjoyed writing the big astronomy scene in chapter two where Theon is introducing Hypatia to what becomes her life-long passion with the stars. We forget that each of these constellations have stories behind them. It was a lot of fun researching and telling the stories of Ursa Major (the Big Bear) and Ursa Minor (the Little Bear) and exploring several of the Greek astronomical discoveries in the process.

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Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway: Hinder By Kristin Ping (Guardian of the Monsters #1)

Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway: Hinder By Kristin Ping (Guardian of the Monsters #1)




Title: Hinder
Author: Kristin Ping
Series: (Guardian of Monsters #1)
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

Available: Goodreads / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo



Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.

Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.



Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Author’s Bio

Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house.

She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender’s novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.

When she isn’t writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house. You can find more about Kristin at

My Review

Pretty good beginning to this brand new series. Beware of the beginning, however, there is quite a bit of information thrown at you. I had to take notes in order to understand the lore of witches, benders, and wielders. Other than that, everything in the novel begins to progress smoothly.

We follow the perspective of two main characters. The first is Ethan, an Earth Bender, is searching for his bender. In order for a Bender to keep his powers, he must find his Wielder/Witch. The second is undiscovered other half, Alex. Alex and Ethan both are constantly being hunted by Necrocretors due to the fact they both hold control over one of the rare elements. They have till they are 25 to try to outmaneuver the enemy and remain alive. But this is only one part of the danger at play. Wielders and Benders are forbidden to have relationships. Throw in some normal teenage drama and you have an interesting novel.

I must give props to Kristin Ping for incorporating a family dynamic to this series. It was about time a YA novel brought family in who actually took part of the story. And no, they are not in the backseat whatsoever.

Another downside is Ethan connecting women to animals. It made me uncomfortable at times. My only request is for him to mature and not have this unfortunate trait in the sequel.

Rating 6



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Library Sale Mini-Book Haul

Library Sale Mini-Book Haul

The moment I hear there is a small library sale, I practically run to the site. I was a little late but I was able to snag these reads!

If you’ve read these, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 😊

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Silver Dagger Tours Book Series Review: The Hunted Series By Ivy Smoak

Silver Dagger Tours Book Series Review: The Hunted Series By Ivy Smoak


Tempted (The Hunted Series #1)

Temptation (The Hunted, #1)
Available: Amazon/iBooks/B&N/Kobo

hs- about the book

When Penny Taylor runs into a handsome stranger in a coffee shop, she believes her luck has finally changed. After having her confidence unwound by her ex, she falls hard for a true gentleman. But once she realizes that her crush is her communications professor, her world is turned upside down.

Haunted by dreams of the alluring Professor Hunter, Penny can’t seem to dismiss her fantasies and the temptation to have him grows deeper. Will the excitement, danger, and mystery surrounding Professor Hunter bring her to her knees?

hs- my review.png

Oh Glory, move over Christian Grey, class is now in session! Nineteen year old Penny Taylor, recently turned sophomore in college, off with a…sort of a splash. After meeting a handsome stranger during a spilled coffee incident, she later finds out he is her Com 212 teacher and he is not there merely for teaching. She begins to have dreams about him and have him rescue her whenever she falls into mishaps. Who is Professor Hunter? Why is she so attracted to her?

This book made me begging for more Penny and Professor Hunter and their world! The ending left me immediately pulling up the sequel!

Rating: 5 out of 10 Book Charms


Addiction (The Hunted Series #2)
Addiction (The Hunted, #2)

hs- about the book.png

Temptation has quickly turned into addiction. Penny Taylor fell hard for the sexy, mysterious, exciting, and dangerous Professor Hunter. But scandalous affairs are meant to go down in flames. Now that he’s not speaking to her, she feels numb. And what hurts the most is that he appears to be completely fine. As she struggles to accept that their relationship is really over, her best friend’s crude advice is in the back of her mind- the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.

Will she be able to move on, or is her addiction to her alluring professor only just beginning?

hs- my review

Scandals, Secrets, and Betrayal –

Penny tries to recover over the breakup with Professor Hunter. Her roommate Melissa suggest the best way to get back at him is to move on with someone else. That someone is Tyler, Penny’s friend who is in love with her and despised by Professor Hunter. Will Penny move on with her or will Professor Hunter come back for the girl he is ADDICTED to?

We find out more about Professor Hunter’s background in this sequel along with more goodies only Author Ivy Smoak can provide.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Book Charms


Eruption (The Hunted Series #3)
Eruption (The Hunted, #3)

hs- about the book

Two and a half years later, Penny and James are living happily in New York City. Their love is stronger than ever. Penny is graduating from NYCU, James is growing his new business, and the two are getting married at the end of the month.

But graduation, starting an internship, and planning a wedding is a lot for Penny to tackle. Especially when mysteries from James’ past are clawing at the surface and his scheming ex and unsupportive parents threaten to destroy the happy couple.

Will their own insecurities make them question everything and sway them from the altar?

hs- my review

Isabella, Isabella, I could not stand Isabella, Professor Hunters Ex! Right when you think James (Professor Hunter) and Penny can have a smooth transition to marriage, in swoops James’ ex-wife to attempt to ruin it all. Lies, Blackmail, and Sadness plague the couple as the past seems to not want to disappear as much as Penny and James would like it too.

I was positively frustrated after this book was over. I could not believe how things went and begged the powers that be that it would get better in the next book. James….he transferred over to my “Dead List.”

Rating: 7 out of 10 Book Charms


Devotion (The Hunted Series #4)
Devotion (The Hunted, #4)

hs- about the book

Tick tock. One day before the wedding of her dreams, Penny is in a city that is no longer her home. Alone. Heartbroken. Lost. Could the past few years really mean so little to a man that became her world? To a man she’d do anything to protect? There is no future without him. There is no her without him.

With only 24 hours until the wedding, is there enough time to repair the damage? Tick tock.

And even if Penny and James do come back to each other, Isabella is still out there plotting. The world is still against them. Darkness still lurks in the shadows of James’ past. A student and her professor were never meant to be forever. They thought it was an everlasting love, but it was doomed from the very start. Tick tock.

hs- my review

When it Rain, it pours…that’s the perfect way to describe this next book. James kicked Penny out, deciding he’d rather believe his ex-wife than Penny. Now, Penny does not know what to do. Her ex-fiance believes his attraction is due to his addiction complex and she wants to run away with her old friend Tyler. Penny is willing to fight for what she wants, James.

I wanted to smack James constantly. His stubbornness to accept love was infuriating because clearly what he calls “addiction” is devotion between them But will he finally accept it?

Rating: 8 out of 10 Book Charms


Foundation (The Hunted Series #5)
Foundation (The Hunted Series Book 5)
Available: Amazon/iBooks/B&N/Kobo

hs- about the book

Penny and James defied the odds. A professor and his student were never supposed to become husband and wife, let alone a father and a mother. The couple created a foundation in NYC that is held together with love, family, and friends. A foundation that they believed was impenetrable.

But what happens when the life they know is threatened? If a struggle that should bring them closer together begins to tear them apart? All it takes is – One. Single. Slip. Foundations crumble. Will Penny and James continue to defy the odds?

hs- my review

The final installation of The Hunted Series….I can’t believe it’s all come to this. These books are like candy for me. They aren’t good for me, I know it, but I can’t get enough of them! I had a few teary moments because this book touches a special place in my heart.

My beloved book candy is officially over until next year and I wish I could have more, but wickedly pleasant things must come to an end….for now….

Rating: 7 out of 10 Book Charms 

hs- about the author




Ivy Smoak is an Amazon bestselling New Adult Romance author. When she’s not writing, you can find her binge watching too many TV shows, taking long walks, playing outside, and generally refusing to act like an adult. She lives with her fiancé in Delaware.

hs- giveaway

Enter for a chance to win an ebook bundle of the spinoff books in the series – City of Sin, Third Chances, & Missing Pieces!

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