Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On My Wishlist: Snared by Jennifer Estep

Oooh it's been a  Elemental Assassin summer... and that is so good!

However, winter is coming and this is what we will have this winter:

by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #16
400 p.
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: 1/31/17
If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.
Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web… 
Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl. 
My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive. 
A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.
I know this is quite early but Jennifer Estep shared the cover and I couldn't resist!

What is on your cold weather wishlist?

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
484 p.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: 5/29/16
Source: Library
Some kisses come at a price. 
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him. 
At least, that’s what he thinks. 
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
My thoughts:

Oh left with a killer ending that left me reeling for the next one. FINALLY the person who had it checked out released the book and it was in my hot little hands (well, virtually since it was an ebook). Can I say I love being able to put books on hold with the option to immediately check it out for you? Okay, enough of my drama (heh) and onto Kestrel and Arin's drama... trying to do it without spoilers (well, there may be slight spoilers but I will do my best). Oh you who have not read these are making it hard for me.

Well we were left with Kestrel in a precarious position that only got worse. Even with everything she was going though I had to admire her strength. You also couldn't blame her giving in but never totally giving up. Arin, on the other hand, annoyed me to no end. He was fine until he met up with Kestrel and then it was all about him. It got to the point I wanted to tell him to get over himself and he would have bothered me more if it wasn't for the character of Roshar. Roshar became Arin's balance and best friend... even later to Kestrel. At least it was Arin and not Kestrel in that role. It is that is usually the role of the female to be that annoying. I really admired how Kestrel moved through her trauma and moved toward healing. Arin did finally come around and he became the man I could root for again. I never totally lost my ability to root for him since he did care for his country and the people in it so deeply.

I give this ending book 4 stars. I got all my questions answered and it was a solid ending to the adventure. I would love to read a book about Roshar and could totally see him in a book of his own. I recommend it to those that enjoy fantasy YA.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Winter's Heir by Amber Argyle

Series: Fairy Queens #4
174 p.
Publisher: Indie
Published: 7/20/16
Source: From author for review
Goodreads page for this series order: Fairy Queens Series
A price must be paid.

Elice has left behind the ice and isolation of winter. Before her is the warmth and wonder of summer with all its color and life. Adar, the young man she saved from the sea, is by her side, and his touch sends tendrils of heat where before there was only cold.

But all is not as it seems. There are secrets hidden in the heart of summer. Secrets that could burn Elice to the ground and take the whole world with her. The decades-long war between the fairies of winter and summer has thrown off the balance of nature, leaving the world in its death throes.

Adar believes Elice can stop the destruction—if only she will listen to him. But like the fairies’ bargains, that trust comes with a cost. And the price Elice will pay will tear asunder the boundaries between dreams and family, loyalty and betrayal.
My thoughts:
The cover might look familiar to some. This was first posted for #3, Daughter of Winter (review linked), but had changed right before it was published and I hadn't realized it. So, this is the correct cover for this book and I still like it. :)

Since the book was split into two, we arrive in this book where the last left off. We still find ourselves trying to survive with our companions and some revelations come to light about Elice and Adar. Not going to tell you what they were, but at least one of them took my surprise. I was thinking that the ending was following another path and I have to admit I wasn't too happy. However, a turn was taken and I became more interested in what happened and the ending was quite satisfying.

I give this story 4 stars. I really liked the ending and I'm curious as to what comes next. The epilogue leaves the door cracked open for more stories in this world. While most of her books are connected, you can read this series without reading her other books. I do suggest that you read The Fairy Queens in order since they build on one another. I recommend it to those that enjoy YA fantasy.
Banner from author Amber Argyle

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Craft Corner: Caroline Clutch and Mini Heart Pouch

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I decided to break up a few of these posts from my audiobooks. These are the latest crafts I've done while listening to said audiobooks. :)

This one I made for a graduation pressie. She is girly but down to earth and so I thought mixing florals with jean material would be perfect. The clutch pattern is the Coraline Clutch by Swoon Patterns (affiliate link) which I had made before (LINK to the post if you have not seen it or want to know what else I did with the pattern). The embroidery is from Kreations by Kara. This pattern is considered intermediate difficulty and I would say because of how the zip is sewn on, that would be accurate for the clutch aspect of the pattern (there are 2 sizes). It isn't hard really and there are a couple of youtube videos that explain it quite well visually if you want to tackle it. I would say that being comfortable with zips and some glue basting is a must here (perfect for zippers!). I didn't use any interfacing on the outside of the bag since I went with denim and it would be thick enough for top stitching. It was a bit hard to top stitch this one but my machine did a good job (good machine!). 

I also added a credit card/cash pocket and a zipper pocket for good measure. Those things were not in the pattern but are easily added. I also changed the size of the wristlet loop to suit my clip and I also sewed the d ring loop differently than instructed (was needed since I was using denim. I just made a loop and turned it inside out and put the seam on the inside. I also sewed the wristlet loop a bit different than the pattern and I may do a tute on that later. 

I topped this one off with a butterfly zipper pull made with 2 sizes of butterflies and a small glass flower. I used the beads with what I already had in my stash. I use a tiny split ring to attach it to the zipper.

I made this mini heart pouch to go with the above clutch and just attached it with the wristlet snap hook where it attaches to the clutch. That way it is removable if she wishes. I got the pattern from a tutorial at Dog Under My Desk (so it's FREE) and it was quite easy to do. I had a bunch of very small zips so I was able to do this one with a shorter zip than suggested. 

The hardest thing here was paying attention to the cutting so you can be sure that your front and insides next to the zipper are correct (I had to recut the inside part here again) so make sure you are flipping (mirroring) the pattern pieces for the inside fabric. This was not properly explained in the tutorial since she used a solid that could be used on either side. You don't have to worry about the backside of the pouch since it is a full heart and is symmetrical. You also have to pay attention to the grain of the fabric (usually the up/down portion of the fabric piece) because you don't really want stretch (this part is explained better in the tute). I used thermolam (fleece) interfacing instead of batting. It is just less loftier but works the same.

It is pretty easy but make sure you pay attention to the seam allowances as well since you will be hiding the raw edges in the top stitching. Just go slow over the curves and you will be fine. I would probably rate this one for a confident beginner to intermediate because of the shape. She has a round tutorial on her blog if you want to make something a bit more simple. Don't let me scare you off of this one. It really is easy if you go slow and it's a great scrap buster as well.

So have you been crafty? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Secret Language of Stones by M. J. Rose

Series: The Daughter's of La Lune #2
320 p.
Publisher: Atria Books
Published: 7/19/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone. 
So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans. 
But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.
My thoughts:

This is the follow up to The Witch of Painted Sorrows (my review linked) which I overall enjoyed but had a few problems within the characters. I have to admit I don't fully remember what they were exactly but I had no such problems with this book. I do remember enough of the last book to see where this one had been and where it was going and I was not lost. I enjoyed all the characters, even those less than kind but actually harmful.

This is a story of one of the daughters from the last book. She has the gift of lithomancy and can hear and feel the energy of stones, especially gemstones. She becomes a jeweler who also helps those who have lost loved ones to the war. She is able to create a talisman for the individual and hear the departed's last message to the one who is left behind. This message has allowed countless people to move on as well as the spirit. In this book, the spirit is trapped by the grief of their loved ones. Opaline also does not fully accept her gift nor her place as a La Lune daughter and this gets in the way of how she has chosen to live her life. She lives it though giving to others but has a hard time replenishing herself.

I think that is the most interesting aspect to the book. The romance that is woven through the book is light (and has a wicked twist) and is really there to move Opaline's transformation along. There is a running mystery with the bolsheviks and the Romanov family which lends a rich history to the telling. There are a couple of twists (one is the romance I just mentioned) but both are easily figured out. This does not take away from the story and it makes sense that Opaline doesn't see it when the reader sees what lurks behind. We are the observers and not the players so our vision isn't as hindered as it would be if we were Opaline.

I give this book 4 stars. It was gripping and even though twists were easily discovered it did not take away from the overall storyline. I recommend it to those that like psychic, historical romance books. :)