Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle

Series: Forbidden Forest #1
448 p.
Publisher: Starling Publishing
Published: 4/9/18
Source: From author for review
Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2JUhKsX

Any girl who goes into the Forbidden Forest never comes out again. Except the one who did.

Larkin should have been watching her little sister, should have paid more attention to the trees looming over her family’s fields. Now Sela is gone. Knowing full well the danger of the forest and its beast, Larkin goes after her anyway. With her sister clutched in her arms, she manages to escape, but not before discovering the truth lurking beneath the wicked boughs.

She may have evaded the beast once, but with the full force of his magic now fixated on her, she isn’t sure how much longer she can resist.
My thoughts:

 To sum up this book I will say that this is a YA fantasy book and it also has a girl power edge to it. Add in some magic and a mysterious curse and you have one fun tale.

I do have to say one thing about this book. I also think it is why some people shy away from YA in general. I admit to becoming frustrated with characters in this book. However, unlike other YA, I did not become frustrated with the main character. She was naive, but that is to be expected. I was frustrated with everyone around her trying to force ignorance upon everyone else. Frustrated with how they refused to listen even when it might contain valuable information or in how they excused what they did and pretended it wasn't a choice (Larkin called many people out on this behavior so she was no shrinking violet). Often this behavior is relegated to the main heroine but not here. She was smart and thoughtful. Larkin also knew she had to live in this world (and in a way another... but I won't explain that one for fear of spoilage) and she knew she would have to make some hard decisions. However, she was not fooled into believing a gilded cage was anything but a cage. For that reason alone I loved this character.

By the end of the book I was fully invested but I didn't totally love the romance in this one. I didn't hate it either, but it is the kind that I am certain will grow on me as the books grow. It at times got in the way of her journey, but not so much it bothered me. The reason I think I will become invested in the romance is because her chosen started to grow in ways that seemed uncomfortable for him because he knew he needed to consider more than his own feelings. This is why I know I will eventually enjoy the romance as the relationship continues in the story.

My biggest problem came at the end. It ended! It didn't quite feel like a cliffie, but then it wasn't finished at all. I knew that would probably be the case but I still wanted to continue my journey and there was no more journey as yet. I eagerly anticipate the next book in this series.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars and if you are looking for a adventurous YA book with a good heroine, try this one. I really enjoyed it and I think you'll find something fun here as well.

🍃

Bloggy note: Thanks for coming back! I'll have a short post explaining later but thanks for sticking by me! 💖 Oh and as of this writing, the book, Stolen Enchantress is on sale for $0.99 at your favorite ebook retailer (Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2JUhKsX).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Arts and Crafts Post: Dog Sweaters

Well, this story starts with 2 short haired dogs. One I've been making coats for a while now. I swear manufactures do not believe that big dogs get cold. Dobermans are especially prone to being cold as their short coat is also not very thick. So, between my mom and I we came up with a coat pattern loosely based on a coat I did find that actually fits a Great Dane (he's big but not quite that big, but his chest is HUGE!). I made him one that he wears all the time and I needed to make more. I THOUGHT that the little monster pup was set as I FINALLY could buy one since her chest wasn't too wide and she was small (well, for me she seems small). So she got this sweater which I did NOT make but came from PetsMart:
Sweater from PetsMart (bought)
Isn't she adorable? Yea, looks can be deceiving. Actually she had this through at least 3 wearings which shocked me. After that 3rd wearing... it was put through a shredder.... or it looked like it was shredded. Yea, never trust a bored pup. LOL

So... I had a sewing machine... and I found a fleece blanket for $1 at Wal-Mart. It was small and a bit on the thin side for a blanket but perfect for what I had in mind. I found a free pattern and I had some black fleece on hand which was left over from a long ago project (which I recall I also got for a great deal). The pattern is from Mimi and Tara and is a mash up of the raglan dog sweater and the add-on hood (just click on the links to go to her posts on the patterns and yes, they are free). 


The problem with the patterns is that there really isn't any instructions and I don't sew clothes. Luckily youtube came to the rescue and I figured out how to sew the raglan and the hood was easily figured out with the blog post Mimi and Tara had on her blog. I did add a cuff to the sleeves and because it was so long on her (it fit perfect otherwise) I added a small amount of elastic on the front of the sweater (stomach area) which also helped keep debris out of the inside of the hoodie. 

And yes, there is already a hole after the 2nd wearing on the sleeve. There is now a patch there. LOL

The second one was much easier. It was like coats I used to make my dad's dog and only snaps on one side. This one is VERY easy to make and you could probably find something close to it on the web.

Second coat!
It was also made from a remanent fleece I found. I also don't put it on her that much as I do the other as she has more of a tendency to try to chomp on the back end of it more than the hoodie. Darn pup! 

The big boy's coats
Of course I couldn't leave the big boy out and besides I needed to make him other coats so I can wash the one he loves. The blue one is a thick fleece and it wraps around his chest and is snapped on both sides. I added elastic to the chest piece (like I did on monster pup's coat) to keep it more fitted and debris out. I did the same with the rust coat. I didn't have much of this fabric so I used the fabric I had used on monster pup's hoodie for the collar. I made my $1 stretch! Monster pup is in the photo trying to undress the boy. She figured out the coat comes off from the snaps and now tries to unsnap him as much as possible. As you can see by how he ignores her, he is now used to it. LOL

I'll probably end up having to make more next year, but hopefully the monster pup won't shred them as quickly. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Animal Treat Cookbook: Biscuits Pour Animaux by Cassandra Bouclé

Genre: Pet Cookbook
Language: French
81 p.
Publisher: Alter Real Editions
Published: Feb. 2, 18
Source: From Publisher for review
Stores (French resources): Amazon Fr, Publisher Website

Des recettes 100% bio, faciles et économiques, pour chats, chiens et rongeurs. 
Vous trouverez dans cet ouvrage des recettes de biscuits faciles et rapides à faire. Le livre se veut pratique : à chaque page, sa recette, avec la liste des ingrédients et des conseils pratiques. Les recettes peuvent être modifiées selon les goûts de votre animal, ou selon de sa santé. S'il doit éviter les biscuits sucrés ou salés, vous pouvez changer les ingrédients. 
Ce livre de recettes est pensé pour les animaux, mais aussi pour leurs maîtres, qui doivent prendre plaisir à cuisiner, que ce soit pour leur chien, leur chat, leur lapin ou leurs autres rongeurs.
Bon appétit !
English Translation:
100% organic, easy and economical recipes for cats, dogs and rodents.

In this book you will find easy and quick cookie recipes. The book is practical: on each page, the recipe, the list of ingredients and practical advice. The recipes can be modified according to the tastes of your pet, or according to his health. If it should avoid sweet or savory cookies, you can change the ingredients.

This recipe book is designed for animals, but also for their masters, who enjoy cooking, whether for their dog, cat, rabbit or other rodents.

Enjoy your meal!
My thoughts:

I got a note from Melliane from Between Dreams and Reality Blog about a interesting treat cookbook. The only thing... it was in French. Since it was a cookbook I figured I could translate it well enough (with a bit of bad Google translate... LOL) to make some treats. It worked out well.

The book also consulted with a veterinarian to make sure the treats were nutritious and well suited for the various animals in the book. There is a section for dogs, cats, and rodents. It wouldn't be hard to convert some of these treats for horses if you know your horse. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and my dogs found delicious. My only problem was translating the recipe amounts since America usually uses cups instead of grams and ml. However, with a few grams to cups translations on the web according to product and I was able to get it done.
Dog treats and monster pup waiting for it to fall...

I did use gluten free all purpose flour for the treats but I'm not sure it is as necessary to do so elsewhere. I have talked to many people who have gluten problems in the US but not in Europe. So these treats became gluten free. I also substituted the rice milk for plain water since so little was used. The treats were made in ball form (as the meat scrap ones suggested) for ease in making it. These small substitutions worked!
The big pup letting me know the cat isn't getting this...




I made the Dumplings with Meat Scraps, Cheese Bites, and Biscuits with Apple. My dogs LOVED the meat scrap ones as well as the cheese bites. The split was with the apple ones. My pup loved them and my big boy was a bit lukewarm about it. He is a bit on the picky side (not too bad) and he still ate a few which is a big deal to me.

I also thought I'd make the Diced Tuna treats for cats and perhaps see if my neighbor would give some to her cat. It never made it over there. My dogs loved that one so much as well. There was nothing in it that a dog couldn't have in those treats so they gobbled those treats up. In fact, my malamute that I had would have LOVED them as those breed of dogs tend to love fish. In fact, I often treated her with fish. The tuna I used was the healthiest I could find and the fish could easily be substituted with salmon (which I may try later as I feel better about salmon).

To sum it all up, I really liked this cookbook. The recipes are easy enough to make and also make substitutions when needed. You could also use these recipes to make your own tailored to your pets tastes. I give this one 5 stars (and I'm very picky about what my animals eat). I think my pups also give it 4 paws (they don't have 5 paws.. obviously! LOL) which is their highest rating. For the US peeps, this one is well worth translating with a little help from the web. The book is also filled with very cute animal pics waiting for their treats.
🐾🐾

Bloggy Note:
Today is also Rare Disease Day. I had planned to do something better than a note today, but my plans have been laughed at a lot lately. So, please take the time and go HERE to the official website to learn why it is important to fund these diseases and disorders. One treatment or cure can lead to other more common diseases and disorders to be cured as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Really Late Craft Post: What I Made Over the Holidays


With all the craziness that happened over the holiday season, I did get a few things done. Nothing like I planned, but well... I guess you do get laughed at if you plan. 

One I did get done was for my sweet 90 yr old friend. 
These are done in the hoop on the embroidery machine. This one is from Lovely Leaf Applique (Etsy store) and the small tag was from Buggalena Embroidery. I made the large pouch with a D ring attached to the ribbon on the side and made the wristlet strap on my regular sewing machine. The smaller pouch just has a swivel hook on the end of the ribbon. All this was done with scrap fabric!

The next one I got done was a towel for a cousin who just got married.
 The embroidery file was from Hoop Mama Designs (and was free during the season but is no more but available for purchase at her website). The towel was a microfiber towel. Blue and Yellow (or gold in this case) taken from the colors of her wedding.

A couple of other projects rounds it out...

Eye mask:
This was actually a play mask from Ohana Applique Designs but changed it quite a bit for my eye mask. I flipped the eyes to look closed (a little bit more wrangling than that, but you get the idea) and then made the front from felt and quilting fabric and the back was made with satin. It is then filled with smooth tiny beads for a cooling and relaxing feel. 

Trinket tray
I don't know the designer for the tray (I got it free) but the letter design at the bottom of the tray is from Designs by JuJu. It can be unsnapped flat or partially snapped for a partial tray or fully snapped for a full, but small tray.

Lastly...
I made myself some pattern weights. The top two were from Buggalena Designs. It was made differently than I did as it required you to use non-fray fabric, but I thought that if I flipped it a bit while making it I could make it out of quilting cotton and have no raw edges. The one that says Pins is also a pin cushion. All have metal washers (get at a farm store) to create the weight. The 3 underneath are smaller and I used other designs I had on hand. The back is foldover elastic (which is part of the original design) to keep things in place and to give something to hold onto. FYI, I used unicorns, peacock feathers and star wars characters since you probably can't see them clearly. The horn on the unicorn is iridescent scale vinyl and the ears are glitter vinyl. 

So have you been crafty lately?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Entertainment Post: Netflix Series


It has been a while since I did one of these. With everything happening I did slack off from watching and binging but I'm slowing getting back to it. I did watch some of these before the holiday season so yea, some of this is probably old for some of you and you may have already seen many of these. Some of these series are actually quite short.

The Magicians S2
I wasn't sure about this one as I found the first season uneven, but I really enjoyed S2 and think the storyline came together better as well as the character development. I'm currently watching on SYFY channel for S3 as it comes out. So, if you didn't like S1, try S2 (but do watch in order).

Of course I saw Stranger Things S2
I also had my mom totally addicted to it and she couldn't wait for this season to come out (*little evil laugh*). Still love Wynona's character as supportive and "don't mess with my kid" mom. You also need to see this one for Steve! What a change! I didn't quite like the side-plot for Seven but I understand that was a failed attempt at a offshoot series. It didn't quite work and the season wasn't quite as tight as the first one. Still enjoyable. I also liked the ending but for a series that is continuing, it felt odd to me. As if the ending was with S2. Still, I did like how it came together. If you haven't seen it yet, don't skip S1.

The Defenders
Yea, I do like the Marvel Universe on Netflix and while this isn't my fave, I was happy to see Jessica Jones and Luke Cage together.. sorta. The weakest link is still the Iron Fist, but hopefully they will start to flesh out his character a bit more. Even though this has gotten lukewarm reviews it is still fun to watch.

Alias Grace
This one really peaked my interest. It did take me a couple of episodes to get into it and then I was hooked. However, the ending was so frustrating. For those of you who don't mind open endings where you don't get definitive answers, this is for you. For me, it was quite frustrating. I do get the creative angle to that ending, but GAH! LOL No, I'm not telling what it is in case you want to see it for yourself. Seriously, it was creative but frustrating.

Lastly, Anne with an E
I admit I had a bit of trouble with this one at the very beginning, but it didn't last long. It was my fault and I kept my ideal Anne with the Megan Fellows version. Even with my trepidation, the series really caught my attention in the end and I eagerly await the second season.

Okay, now that I've listed a few, do you have any to recommend? Also, I'm not remiss in seeing what day I posted this one on... 
...let the jokes commence! 💘

🎥

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Genre: Political Science
320 p.
Publisher: Crown
Published: 1/16/18
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
Affiliate Link: http://amzn.to/2E5jvmT


A bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world--and a road map for rescuing our own
Donald Trump's presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we'd be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang--in a revolution or military coup--but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. 
Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die--and how ours can be saved.
My thoughts:

No matter what you think about US politics right now, I do think there is a resurgence in learning about the political process and what these people in office can and can't do or even what they should or shouldn't do (if not in legal terms). This book does a good job at explaining a bit of that from lessons in the past in terms of what is happening today. Unfortunately I've seen some people dismiss this book without even a cursory read because it does criticize Donald Trump and his rise to becoming the current US president. While it does criticize the man and what he has done, it also brings a historical viewpoint in politics I have not read in quite a while. The book isn't just about Donald Trump even though he is the reason the book was written.

I think the most one word review I've seen about this book is depressing. While that aspect is present in the book, it is also hopeful. We get lessons from democracies that have perished but also those that were threatened and survived and became stronger. The US has had several threatening instances to our democracy and some were successful and corrected in later years which made it stronger and some gone uncorrected or partially corrected which has diminished our democracy. The book also shows what specific ideas were put in place by the founding fathers to prevent demagogues, those who use popular prejudices and false claims, from taking charge. Some ideas were explained in a historical context (ideas that eluded me like the electoral college) as to why they were put in place and also why those ideas failed in recent times. It also delivers a road map in how authoritarian figures come to power by examples of the past and how closely that map is followed in the present. It isn't a one sided book but well rounded as it shows how no one side (liberal or conservative) is immune to the danger of an authoritarian figure. Also, be assured, it shows how the authoritarian figures were subverted either before or after that person came to power.

So while I do see that aspects of this book are depressing I also see hope within the pages. I think it also helps to see that the tiny actions of "no" within the party in power might make a difference if it starts to grow. This book really helped me see that as a bit more positive than I had before (not much but I'll take what I can get). There is so much more I want to say as this book has really made me think. If you want to know a bit more about how democracies win or fail this is the book for you. It is, I think, better than the more tabloid book out there (no names and admittedly I haven't read it because there is nothing to back his claims) as it is a well written and a well documented thesis on how democracies die and also live.

📖

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Series: The Hazel Wood #1
368 p.
Published: 1/30/18
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
Amazon Affiliate Link: http://amzn.to/2EDxRaB

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.” 
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
My thoughts:

I didn't know what to expect with this book but dark fairy tale is something I do gravitate toward. I was not disappointed and really found the tale to be inventive and unusual. I did see some things that felt like retellings, but it really felt like something new.

I admit it took me a while to get used to Alice and really like her. Part of the problem is that it took a long while to get to Alice's true origin story. Even though that was frustrating in part, you also knew that when you got the story it would have to be close to the end and that it would bring all the elements together. I also was a bit frustrated with not knowing all the fairy tales we encountered. Like the stories were dangled just out of reach and I wish it came with a companion book of the fairy tales. Tales I know would be hard to read as the ones we got to know were dark as if the Grimm brothers took an even darker turn with their tales.

What kept me going was the mystery I was determined to solve and that I really started to like Alice. I really wanted a win for her and I wasn't sure this story would end on a positive note. I won't tell you if it does end well, but I will say that the story felt complete (despite it being the first in the series) and not everything ended in how most stories end. I'm extremely curious to where the author will take the next book.

I give this story 4 stars. Despite the problems I had in the plot, it was very readable and I also found it very unique. I also think that some of the problems with the plot were intentional. It mirrors Alice who is messy and dark and who we learn about as she learns about herself. There is great character growth in this book.

🔮

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Eterna Solution by Leanna Renee Hieber

Series: Eterna Files #3
384 p.
Published: 11/14/17
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher for review
Amazon Affiliate Link: http://amzn.to/2AVJtUr
The exciting conclusion to a sumptuous gaslamp fantasy series 
Leanna Renee Hieber brings Victorian London and New York to life and fills both cities with ghosts and monsters. Two groups of paranormally talented investigators discover that the Eterna compound—thought to be the key to immortality—is, instead, a powerful protective charm. That protection is sorely needed, for both England and the U.S. are under attack by dark forces.

Having vanquished the demonic pretender to the British throne, the now-united forces of the Eterna Commission and the Omega Department reach America ready to take on a new menace. But like the United States itself, this evil is rapidly spreading from sea to shining sea. Will the new magic our heroes have discovered be strong enough to defeat it? 
With its blend of Victorian details, complex plots, and compelling characters, Hieber's fascinating historical fantasy continues to earn critical acclaim and has a dedicated readership.
My thoughts:

It had been a while since I read the last book, but it didn't take me long to remember what had gone on and I wasn't lost. I also have to say that this book really has me enjoying this series more. I have liked it but not quite loved the books before but I really enjoyed this volume.

I liked how all the characters had come together in this one and I do think it shined because of all the various characters. I had not really felt that the romance of Clara and Bishop made much sense to me before (I liked her previous romance too much and it interfered, I admit) but I think I finally feel as if they belong together. I also enjoyed the other couples as well, but this was my main focus. 

The villain is formidable as the last one and it also all connects together. There are some horrors to be aware of for the squeamish but the book is more of an alternate historical fantasy and not horror so it shouldn't be too hard to handle. 

I give this book 4 stars. It is my favorite in the trilogy and the one that was the easiest to really get lost in. It is a good book for those looking for strong and intelligent women who solve paranormal crime.
🔥

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just a Note

Ah trying to catch up to everything going on and a bit of a catch up with me... 

For those wondering, my mom had a few more tests and her prognosis is better than we thought so that is a relief but she isn't out of the woods yet. Still glad it isn't what we were being told.

My big pup gave me a bit of a scare when he didn't feel well after a trip out of town. I think it came down to not feeling optimal and then he stressed himself and stressed his muscles while traveling. My monster pup showed her true colors and I found out she is a caretaker. She snuggled with him and checked on him constantly. He isn't a snuggler but he totally takes it from her (collective "Awwwww!").

 Unfortunately not everything had a good side. We lost a young family member recently. I hadn't seen him in a while, but you only had to meet him once to know that he was a beautiful soul. He was also just a child. He will be missed by so many of us. 
💔

While I don't often post many things personal, I thought those that had reached out to me about my mom might want to know how she is doing and I just had to share about monster pup. The last one was just on my mind a lot.

All I have left to say is that I hope everyone is doing well and hug someone you love.
Back to your regularly scheduled blog very soon.

❤️