Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magpie's Song by Allison Pang

Series: The IronHeart Chronicles #1
Publisher: Author published
Published: Aug. 8, 18
Source: From author (won book)

In the slums of BrightStone, Moon Children are worth less than the scrap they must collect to survive. It doesn’t matter that these abandoned half-breeds are part-Meridian with their ancestors hailing from the technologically advanced city that floats above the once-thriving, now plague-ridden BrightStone. Instead they are rejected by both their ancestral societies and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization, joining clans simply to survive. Not to mention their role as Tithe, leading the city’s infected citizens deep into the Pits where their disease can be controlled.

Nineteen-year-old Raggy Maggy is no different, despite the mysterious heart-shaped panel that covers her chest. Or at least she wasn’t… Not until her chance discovery of a Meridian-built clockwork dragon—and its murdered owner. When the Inquestors policing the city find Maggy at the scene of the crime, she quickly turns into their prime suspect. Now she’s all anyone can talk about. Even her clan leader turns his back on her, leading her to rely on an exiled doctor and a clanless Moon Child named Ghost to keep her hidden. In return, all she has to do is help them find a cure for the plague they believe was not exactly accidental. Yet doing so might mean risking more than just her life. It also might be the only key to uncovering the truth about the parents—and the past—she knows nothing about.

My thoughts:

This is an author who also wrote the Abby Sinclair series (oh if you haven't read it... go do it now! Seriously, we will wait...) so I was very happy when I won my copy. This is quite different than her other series. This one is is YA (older) and a bit steampunk-ish (not too heavy on it) with a mystery to by solved. It also is dark with a dystopian feel. It isn't dystopian since it happens in a much different world than ours, but you know something happened to separate the rich from the rest of the rabble. It also created a plague which cannot be cured and children who are immune to the plague and are marked by their snow white hair. Rejected and feared, the children barely survive in thieving clans and used as caretakers to those infected and doomed to die in the tunnels.

Okay, I don't want to give away any more as it also has a mystery feel to the story and it is always good to slowly have things revealed. The worldbuilding is easy to slip into and you want to know everything and you become more invested as the story reveals bits of this world. The world isn't bright and shiny, but as I have already stated, it is dark, it is dirty, and dangerous. I also wouldn't worry with the YA title as it has murder, betrayal and even casual sex (nothing graphic, but just states it as fact). It also has some incredible gadgets that I hope the author explores more in future books.

My biggest complaint? It isn't long enough. You know where the book was going and it took it's time to get there (which isn't a bad thing here) and when it gets there it ends. It isn't a cliffie but you need the next book to find out what how and more about this world.

I give this book 4 stars. I think anyone wanting a fantasy world which isn't heavy handed but engaging should try this book. Also, don't forget to try her other series. You won't regret either series.


Monday, April 8, 2019

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: Tales of Renthia #1
368 p.
Published: March 19, 19
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review

... dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia. 
Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.
To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her. 
They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.
My thoughts:

This is a book set in the world of Sarah Beth Durst's trilogy, The Queens of Renthia (goodreads link). I really loved that series and I do suggest that you read it before reading this one. The main reason is that the trilogy establishes the world in an engaging way. This book is a standalone from that world and it follows the sea and the "monsters" that dwell there. This series is also considered fantasy, but it is an accessible one and you shouldn't be afraid to jump in.

You get to know the main character Mayara and her beloved Kelo. Secondary characters are also well rounded out and a favorite sassy character from the previous books also makes an appearance. You have a few twists and even political intrigue which were all solved and some not in the way you would suspect. I also love that you even get a glimpse at some of the more evolved spirit's mind. That actually made me want more of that perspective. Even so, I would say that the glimpse actually works best within the story as a whole.

There is adventure, romance, heartbreak and betrayal within this story. Secrets and intrigue also adorn the pages. The whole series is a well rounded out world that I'm not sure I would want to live, but I do enjoy visiting. I also hope that we get to visit every corner of this world.

If you have not read this author's writing, I highly recommend that you at least try one of her books. She has several out there that are standalones. If you are hungry for a short series, do try the first book in the Queens of Renthia, The Queen of Blood.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sweet Baby Boy

I know this is a holiday pic, but it really does capture my boy. He was a sweetheart and always wanted to be kissed or just give kisses. And yea... he loved the ladies. 

I have been absent but if you haven't guessed why, I did lose my boy not too long after announcing he had kidney failure. We found out why. He had osteosarcoma. He must have been hiding more pain than I realized and it took him quickly. He died in my arms with the help of his thoughtful vet (he helped me at home so I didn't have to transport him to have it done). I still have tears in my eyes writing this and I miss him terribly. Monster pup also looked a bit lost without him.

While this went on I had two more losses in my family. So, obviously I needed a break. 

I will have a few reviews to post and I also wanted to upkeep the craft posts. 

I did have some good things happen as well. Monster pup has a new sister. Found her through a rescue group. It happened a bit sooner than I expected, but I really needed something positive. She did help with the grief.
She was pregnant and in a high kill shelter. She was picked up by the rescue and she traveled to my state. She lost half her babies and I think (by the vet reports I got) was probably neglected. She was pretty shut down when I got her but with monster pup's help she has blossomed and has assumed he role as princess of the house. I guess I'll dub her princess legs. LOL She is a dog my boy would have approved and my mom is convinced he sent her our way. 


Monday, October 1, 2018

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Series: Crown of Shards #1
480 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: Oct. 2, 2018
Source: From author for review
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance. 
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten. 
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre. 
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move. 
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
My thoughts:

This book came to me after a long reading slump so I admit I was a bit worried that I would have trouble really getting into the book. Honestly I had nothing to worry about... in fact I had a hard time putting this book down. It is also a great book to get into fantasy. A lot of the YA fantasy lately has really made the fantasy genre accessible to those that worried that it was just too heavy handed for them. However, this didn't solve the problem if you just didn't like YA. This book is the best of both worlds. It is accessible as the YA fantasy but the main characters are adult.

I also loved the characters in how they grew throughout the book. Evie, our protagonist, is young but she is an adult and one that is open to change and hardship. She might complain at first but she quickly learns that survival is only part of her journey. She also learns that the inane skills she learned as being the court stand-in surprisingly work to her advantage and make herself valuable. I really love how those things worked into her survival and it also felt very natural.

I think my only complaint is that I would like to have really gotten to know a bit more about this world. While there is enough to tell this tale it also seems like so many of the realms called out to me and I just wanted to know more. However, this might be a good thing as most people tend to shy away from fantasy that is mostly worldbuilding and little storytelling. This feels more like a UF story where we get more of the worldbuilding as the story progresses. In fact a lot of it feels a bit more UF than high fantasy but since I love UF it really works for me.

I don't want to say too much as I fear I would spoil the book but I do give it 5 stars. I will say again that this is the fantasy I had been waiting to read; the accessibility of YA fantasy but has adult characters. I think this is a great book for those that want to try the fantasy genre.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Crafty Catch Up

I made a few things lately and I thought I'd share.

First I made a Grace Travel Satchel* by RLR Creations (affiliate for pattern at Craftsy) for my mom:

The blue on the inside is ripstop and should be easy to clean. The loops on the inside is FOE (elastic) to hold her bottles and should be tall enough for full sized shampoo and lotion bottles. Zip in the front and both sides (hard to see) complete the satchel. It served her well.

I also made her a crossbody purse as she needed something light and easy to carry. I made a Triple Zip by Sew da Kine. She picked out all the bling and so I call it the golden dragon.

I added a credit card slip pocket but everything else was as the pattern was written. The zippers are "metallic" nylon which really makes it more fun. There are gold spots on the teal on the inside. Yep, this one is golden!

The last craft I am sharing is a tag collar I made for the big boy.

He goes through collars and isn't gentle with them (I have no idea how he goes through them!). I usually get him a leather collar (he likes leather... seriously) and I don't sew leather. I spied a tag collar on Etsy and thought I can do that! So I made him one. I have a d-ring on one side and a small lobster clip on the other. It can slip over his head but I thought I'd just give it that extra assurance I can get it off of him if needed. It is only a 1/2" wide and is secured with chicago screws. He seems to love it and it isn't heavy at all. I don't use his collar when I need to leash him so it works well. Monster pup has taken it off of him a couple of times but he just tells me and I go get it and slip it back on. I think I did good. LOL

So what crafty things have you done lately?

*affiliate links have been noted