Between the Blade and the Heart

Between the Blade and the Heart

by Amanda Hocking
3.7 9

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Between the Blade and the Heart 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
TheCaramelFiles 4 days ago
Well, as you can see above, I've met my first [and hopefully last] DNF of the year in Amanda Hocking's Between the Blade and the Heart. I was so hopeful that I'd enjoy this book; I put a lot of pressure on myself to like it, especially since I was [shockingly] invited to participate in my first ever blog tour. I was intrigued by the book's premise - the tale of a Valkyrie, one who serves the Norse god Odin by "returning" immortal beings to their netherworld upon orders from the higher ups. Sadly, I could tell pretty quickly that this story was not going to necessarily be my cup of tea. Now, I know this is a YA book and all, but the writing seems a bit, well, juvenile. Can you feel me cringe as I type? I have a chill in my spine - I feel SO bad! However, since I was invited to read the book and to give an honest review, I will do just that. While I think it's great that Malin - our protagonist Valkyrie - is bisexual, I just was not interested at all in her romantic life, whether it involved a male or a female. Sometimes I just don't understand why romance seems to play such a huge part in books that I want to simply be action-packed. While romantic endeavors can be fun and cute, I'm just not a romance enthusiast. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I very rarely - if ever - read book synopses prior to reading; I generally prefer to read the summaries after I read the books, just to see how much of the plots are truly given away in them. After making the decision to draw the blinds over Between the Blade and the Heart, I skimmed the synopsis. Had I read the summary before attempting to read the book, I could've predicted everything that happens in the tale and avoided reading a single word. As an aside - it KILLS me when a synopsis basically tells the entire story - give me a brief overview that doesn't give away the plot completely or give me nothing! People seem concerned about reading spoilers in reviews, but books are often more spoiled for me if I dare to read the insides of the jackets or the back covers. Anyhow, Hocking doesn't fill her story - which really does have an idea behind it with vast potential - with details of futuristic scenery or anything else of interest to me. Hocking does, however, go into great detail regarding the looks of characters and nuances that just don't seem to matter. Just as I don't like synopses, I don't like a bunch of minute detail - I don't need EVERYTHING to be so heavily described. However, I did want description about the mythology by which the book is inspired - I like to learn while reading even fiction. But I didn't get far enough into the story to honestly state whether or not Hocking's endless descriptions shift to focusing on plot points that mattered to me. All in all, Hocking has a great imagination - I'm just not so sure I get along with the execution of such a promising premise. Mythology of all kinds is SO vastly interesting - I just would have liked to have read more about the old Norse belief system as opposed to the few things that stuck out to me - the romance and the endless descriptions.
Celestial_Blackrose 7 days ago
❝ For several millennia, this balance helped create an uneasy peace, one that the Valkyries would do anything to protect. But one misstep, even the smallest lapse in duty, could send it all into a tailspin…❞ Many thanks to the author and publisher for giving me this ARC! Wow, this book was crazy good. I have to say that the writing was pretty addictive. I wanted to keep reading and finding out what was coming next even though it had little bumps here and there. What really pulled me in from the beginning was the lore and worldbuilding aspect of the book. I loved the mythology of these Vanir Gods ruling over everything and the balance that was struck between the Valkyries and Immortals. It almost made the story have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer type feeling where girls were called up to protect humanity and maintain a balance. I’d also say it’s a little like The Mortal Instruments as well, only with mortals/humans knowing about these other supernatural beings. This is definitely a good one if you’re looking for girl power! I also liked many of the characters we came across, so I think I’ll go into that a bit–starting with our main character. Malin was kind of a new Valkyrie, only just starting to do jobs on her own. I think she took it very seriously and was really passionate about her job as a Valkyrie. Her relationship with her mother, Marlow, was complicated in the sense that it wasn’t a typical mother-daughter connection. Marlow was very distant as a mother and not very affectionate although she did try her best to mentor Malin in how to be a good Valkyrie. At the same time, however, Marlow passed down some really twisted and unfair beliefs about being a Valkyrie to her daughter that made it difficult for her to have personal connections with others (like Valkyries can’t love, they can’t feel, they have to be strong all the time). I found it kind of frustrating that Malin accepted it all and didn’t try very hard to break free of that mold until later on. ❝ “You have me. You’ll always have me.” “Nobody really has anybody,” I told her. “We all must die, and we all die alone.” ❞ Another pair of characters that clashed were Asher and Quinn. They were definitely meant to be opposites and their different ways of expressing affection and support. Asher tended to be more emotionally supportive and comforting. He was kind and protective in a way where he let Malin know he was worried, but he also understood she was capable of taking care of herself. He knew when to give her space. Quinn, on the other hand, was very passionate and ready to jump into things quickly. She tended to smother Malin a bit and push her too much. That being said, I enjoyed the love triangle because it made Malin think about life in a different way from that which she’d been taught to believe. Asher, in particular, challenged many of her beliefs. I also liked the plot for the most part, although I did think it was exaggerated a bit at times. I wasn’t quite sure why Marlow decided to do what she did that put the whole balance of the world at stake. It seemed a little crazy to think that her one mistake was going to mess everything up. I guess her motivation for her decision seemed a little weak. I also had the same problem with Bram. Even with those issues I still had a lot of fun reading this book. It had me hooked from beginning to end, and I really liked that surprise character appearance at the end. I can’t wait to see where the series goes! ❤
Book_Crazy02 13 days ago
Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking is a whole new adventure and journey nothing like any of her other reads. This novel follows the story of Malin, a young Valkyrie, who is definitely finding some trouble. Or maybe trouble finds her? Malin is approached by Asher who is trying to find the one who murdered his mother. The two unlikely allies with a couple other friends seek out to stop some catastrophic events from happening. Malin is an interesting character because she is very by the book. She follows the rules and does exactly what is expected of her. Her mother instilled very rigid beliefs of what it means to be a Valkyrie is and these beliefs are the foundation of who Malin is. A Valkyrie doesn't cry, doesn't fall in love, and always does her job. Yet these standards are a little interrupted throughout this novel because of the actions of Malin's mom and also some interactions with some interesting characters. Malin is definitely a character people can connect to because she does have trouble expressing herself and struggles to keep all of her feelings constantly wrapped up. And this inner struggle has led to the degradation of some personal relationships. Personally I was a huge fan of Malin because she always followed her heart or what she believed in. She definitely made some mistakes and had some struggles, but these instances just build her into a more dimensional character that people will connect to. Something that I really appreciated about this novel is the fact that the prologue explains this new world perfectly so that none of the plot is given away and yet the reader has a good idea of what this new world entails. There is a pretty strict hierarchy and the Valkyries are like the enforcers who follow orders and "return" immortals who have been chosen by a lead council. All Valkyries are female and have natural defenses against a lot of different immortals - for some reason boy children of Valkyries just don't have the same immunities. It's pretty much unheard of for a Valkyrie to fail on "returning" an immortal as it is a job taken very seriously in order to keep the balance. This book has adventure, romance, betrayal, heartache, and basically everything else you could expect from a novel. I'm very excited for this series and can see that a lot more adventure awaits! For fans of Amanda Hocking and fantasy in general, this is definitely the book to pick up and read.
Arys 18 days ago
Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking is a dynamic Sci-Fi/Fantasy YA with a blend of seemingly normal and paranormal/unique settings. Malin, a Valkyrie in training, is part of a special sisterhood of beings, Valkyries, whose responsibility it is to slay/return immortal beings to the next plane of existence when it is their time. She is almost finished with her course work and has gained experience in the field with her mother. When she finds out that her mom has broken the rules and let an immortal live, thus possibly upsetting the balance of the world, she is thrust into a world of danger and investigation alongside Asher, the son of a Valkyrie, as well as her ex-girlfriend, also Valkyrie, Quinn. There was a lot to digest in the world that Ms. Hocking created, but it is provided in a way to not feel overwhelming yet still give the necessary info to navigate the story as a reader. The mythology used, Norse and others, is both somewhat familiar, but also more complex than a casual reader would come across. I very much appreciated the work that was done to utilize these mythos as well as build a dynamic and complex world for Malin and the other characters to navigate. Malin is essentially a college student and has a lot to learn about how the world really works and so she develops as a character both as she learns more as well as interacts with people who were outside of her and her mother's family. She displays what I felt were characteristics you would expect of a young Valkyrie, strong, brash, but also emotional and still learning. The more I read the more I liked about both her and the world. I recommend Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking as a book that has more than meets the eye, with discussion of predestination vs free choice as well as a cast of characters that provide a breadth of interactions and experiences for Malin and readers to explore. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
MomWithaReadingProblem 18 days ago
Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking is the first in her Valkyrie duology. This book was all action with a little romance which made it a fast read despite its size. My favorite part of the book though was the blending of urban contemporary with Norse mythology. It’s not a common thing in YA fantasy and I loved seeing it here. Amanda Hocking did a fantastic job of taking the mythology and interweaving it with today’s world. Following Malin, a young Valkyrie in training, Between the Blade and the Heart brings into question the choice of free will and the guiding hand of fate. Malin was an interesting character to say the least. At 19 she is attending college as she completes her Valkyrie training. She feels she was destined to be a Valkyrie, nothing else feels right in her life except the returning of immortals when deemed by the gods. Returning is a nice word for killing….just fyi She strives for the approval of her mother who has never been a kind woman. But when Malin discovers that her infallible mother made a choice to spare an immortal destined to die, everything Malin thought she knew comes into question. Her life is thrown off balance by this one choice and now she must correct it if she is going to save the world. But as much as I liked Malin, I loved Asher. Asher is the son of a Valkyrie who was killed by the immortal Malin’s mother neglected to return. Asher is out for revenge and that starts with finding out why Malin’s mother spared this immortal. Despite this need for revenge, he is kind, level headed, and shows Malin that not all Valkyries are as cruel as her mother can be. The main plot follows Malin and her new found friend as they track down this immortal. But the deeper they go, the more they realize there is more at stake than correcting a wrong. The entire world hangs in the balance. The action is interspersed with the answers Malin seeks and I found myself engrossed. My only complaint about the story was the romance. Malin is bisexual and her ex is also a Valkyrie. Now according to the book they’ve been apart for six months when Asher enters the scene. Malin spends her time kissing both in the book and I didn’t care for that. It was a love triangle that only Malin knew she was in….does that make sense? I felt it brought unnecessary drama to the an already action-packed, dramatic plot. Overall Between the Blade and the Heart was just okay for me. As much as I loved the interweaving of contemporary and mythology, it couldn’t carry the book. The world-building while fantastic was hard to follow. To be honest the book would benefit from having a glossary in the back because there are so many names for demons, cities, ruling parties, etc. that I found myself flipping back trying to figure out who was who. And as I already mentioned the annoying triangle I won’t go into that again. Despite the negative though I plan to read the next book because I am invested in the characters and need to know what will happen next….especially after that bombshell ending. If you enjoy urban mythology, a little romance and a lot of action, you should check out this book.
Aditi-ATWAMB 18 days ago
I HAVE THOUGHTS. SO SO MANY THOUGHTS. I hadn’t heard about Between the Blade and the Heart until a lovely publicist from St. Martin’s Press pitched me the book as a part of a Blog Tour invite and the minute I read the word Valkyrie, I WAS SOLD. If you haven’t seen me tweeting UNENDINGLY about just how brilliant Thor: Ragnarok was, YOU DON’T KNOW ME. I have seen that movie THREE TIMES in theatres, and I would’ve been there a fourth time if they hadn’t taken it off screens. If you have seen the movie, you’ll know that one of the main characters is a part of an ELITE FEMALE WARRIOR ARMY, the Valkyrie. And so, I went into Between the Blade and the Heart with HIGH expectations. As I actually read the book, I found that each thing I loved also had an aspect that I didn’t like, which feels as confusing as it sounds, but let’s break it down: 1. THE MYTHOLOGY: As soon as I heard that this book was about a Valkyrie, I assumed that it would be filled with Norse mythology. And yet, there were so many OTHER cultures coming into play, including Indian, Sumerian and Indonesian. While I LOVED the diversity, I feel like if the book acknowledged all the different cultures, I would’ve enjoyed it more, instead of feeling like I was reading about X culture and an intruder Y showing up. 2. THE CREATURES: This book was FILLED with paranormal/ supernatural and mythical creatures ranging from fallen angels to vampires. While these are some of the well-known creatures, there were SO MANY MINOR MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES THAT I’D NEVER HEARD OF, and it resulted in me DESPERATELY wishing for a glossary and reaching for the dictionary. I loved the fact that they were there, but it resulted in me being one CONFUSED reader. 3. THE WORLD BUILDING: In relation to what I just wrote above, what I was expecting was Norse Mythology (most of my knowledge comes from the Thor movies) but I was drop-kicked into a world where paranormal and mythical creatures lived side by side, there was advanced technology, schools for children of mythical creatures and I just NEEDED a foreword or some kind of introduction before I was thrown into the deep end. Of course, it all made sense as I read on but STILL. 4. THE LOVE INTERESTS: I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THAT MALIN, OUR VALKYRIE MC WAS BISEXUAL and I loved that there were male and female love interests. It made this book so much more interesting because YAY for diversity. HOWEVER, I am NOT A BIG FAN of love triangles (well, more of a love square/ flowchart) with one minor and two major love interests. It made me groan, because didn’t we all get over love triangles/ squares/ flowcharts after Twilight? 5. THE ENDING: I LOVED THE ENDING SCENE OF THIS BOOK. I made me flail in excitement and scream out loud and just that ONE scene has me so excited about what is to come next! Will I be picking up the next book? YES. That ending was fodder for my fangirl heart. Between the Blade and the Heart was a diverse book filled with mythology and I’d definitely recommend digging in, even if it has its flaws! 3 stars.
Faerie-bookworm 18 days ago
Title: Between the Blade and the Heart Author: Amanda Hocking Genre: New Adult Fantasy, Mythological Format: Ebook - ARC Pages: 325 Rating: 5 Heat: 2 Thoughts: Wow… Other than being the mother of all cliffhangers, that was so awesome! The world, the characters, the whole story was just… wow! It starts out with just getting to know some of the characters with a few morsels of mystery to keep you hooked. Then bam! The secret is out along with the possible consequences. As thing start getting a little clearer something comes along and muddies the water, leaving more questions than answers. And the whole predestined vs free-will thing will really make you think. I can’t wait to read the next book!!! Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work and chose to write a review.
taramichelle 18 days ago
When I read that Between the Blade and the Heart was being described as “Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner,” I was instantly intrigued. However, I think that readers who expect that combination may be disappointed here. I thought that Between the Blade and the Heart was more of the young adult version of “Maltese Falcon meets American Gods.” The noir atmosphere meshed perfectly with the Norse mythology aspects to create a unique world that enriched this delightful story. Malin is a Valkyrie. As such, she is responsible for returning immortals to the afterlife by hunting them down and slaying them. When she’s approached by Asher, a gorgeous boy with a dark past, everything Malin thought she knew about the world is thrown into question. Her mother, the perfect Valkyrie, committed an unthinkable act when she allowed an immortal to escape years ago. Now, Malin must seek to right her mother’s wrongs and restore the balance of the world. The world-building was so intriguing. From the beginning, I loved the steam-punk futuristic setting combined with the mythological characters. However, I think the story would have been improved with a bit more world-building. I sometimes felt a little lost as to how everything fit together, particularly how deities from other mythologies or religions fit in with the Norse lore that served as the basis for the world. Luckily, Hocking’s characters and plot were engaging enough that I didn’t mind being left with unanswered questions about the world. The characters were easily the best part of this book for me. Malin was a strong protagonist. I loved her character growth throughout the story. In particular, I liked that she questioned the world she was raised to believe in, despite the personal costs to herself. The other characters were well-developed and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing more of them in the sequel. There was a bit of a love triangle but I didn’t mind too much since Malin didn’t really waffle between the love interests. Between the Blade and the Heart was a fast-paced, enjoyable story that I ended up reading in one sitting. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be optioned as a film because I think the story would translate beautifully to the screen. In the meantime, I would recommend this one to fans of YA fantasy or mystery fans who also enjoy urban fantasy. *I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Monnie777 18 days ago
Valkyrie are not what we normally see in these books and I’m happy the author did something different. It was nice to see the heroine a kick butt chick! The book has adventure, heart, love and fighting. I was a little put off with the whole Quinn, Asher, Malin triangle. It was annoying at times and I didn’t feel it needed to be like that in the book. I am interested to see where the book goes next. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
onemused 18 days ago
"Between the Blade and the Heart" is a YA fantasy about Malin, a Valkyrie in training. Here, Valkyries kill (they call it "return" as they go to an afterlife of sorts) immortals at a time destined by the gods but are themselves mortals (albeit with immense strength and some immunity to the powers of the immortals). Valkyries run in families and the ability is passed from mother to daughter. Malin is in training with her mother, Marlow, who is pretty cold and distant (asking her daughter to call her by her first name and telling her Valkyries couldn't love/have feelings). Despite this, Malin still cares for her mother. Malin lives with Oona, a witch in training, and by far my favorite character. The real story begins when Asher shows up and threatens Malin for the death of his Valkyrie mother. After the initial threat, Asher reveals that his mother was killed by an immortal that Malin's mother had been supposed to kill the year before. Indeed, as Malin investigates, she learns that her mother spared his life because he seemed to make the world a better place (took care of his wife and kids and helped out at an orphanage). However, this goes against the master equation which Valkyries are not supposed to question, and his living after this time has lead to first Asher's mother's death and soon other Valkyrie's deaths and even bigger problems to come. Malin and Asher set out on a quest to return this immortal before its too late and the balance of the world gets too out of hand. They are accompanied by Oona and Quinn, Malin's Valkyrie ex-girlfriend. A lot of the story is spent on a love triangle for Malin with Quinn and Asher, and I found it was unnecessary with all the action/adventure going on. There are a lot of supernatural creatures revealed in the story, and I actually wish more time had been spent on these creatures as they were fascinating but I felt only surface level explanations were given. There were a lot of new names and creatures that made the story hard to follow at times, as they are quite complex. The overall storyline of the immortal who should have died and the search for him was interesting but it was overshadowed by a lot of the smaller plots. I actually would have enjoyed a book exploring what it was like to become a Valkyrie, with more information about the school and creatures, etc. The school Malin goes to was really interesting but only showed up in bits and pieces at the beginning and then slowly fades out (although it was supposed to be important to getting her license/final job as a Valkyrie). I ended up having some mixed feelings about the book for these reasons. That being said, I think it's an interesting start to a new series and a fascinating new world with a lot of potential. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks 18 days ago
Between the Blade and the Heart is the first in a new duology from one of my favorite YA authors, Amanda Hocking! This story is classic Hocking with a more complex plot and a fantasy world as big as the one found in the Trylle Trilogy. Malin, Valkyrie-in-training, gets the biggest upset of her life. Her mother and mentor, Marlow, didn't kill the immortal she was assigned. Her actions have caused the slow unwinding of the world as they know it and it's up to Malin and her friends to fix her mother's mistake. As they wade through vicious supernaturals to find their target, signs of someone powerful pulling the strings become apparent. Between the Blade and the Heart is an intense read that will suck you in with its fierce monsters and even fiercer heroes. Fighting for justice never seemed like so much fun until Malin teams up with her roommate, Oona, a friend from the past, Quinn, and the guy who might be her future, Asher. This story is suited for an audience a bit older than usual, but it's not too graphic. Just be prepared to find that this duology is darker and steamier than anything that's come before. *ARC provided in consideration for review*