Monday, May 30, 2016

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Six of Crows #1
465 p.
Published: 9/29/15
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Library
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone... 
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
My thoughts:

I've only read the first book in the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo and I was thinking for some reason it was a different fantasy. It is a first book, but set in the Grisha world of the first series. Not necessary to know this, but I do think it helps with the worldbuilding. I now want to go back and read or listen to the other two in the first trilogy.

The book seemed to be slow moving at first. I did like the characters and the romance was slow building. It took me most of the book to really get into it and by the end I was captivated. It also works the multi-POV well and you really fall into the characters even more this way. The action was heart stopping and the ending action was so twisted it was good. Yes, I'm an ending girl and this book gave me a great ending... except. *sigh* Well, it wasn't exactly a cliffie ending but you have one last thing that happens before the end that does leave you hanging. You can safely say that I need that next book

I give this book 4 stars. While the beginning was a bit slow for me, I really enjoyed the characters and the fantasy world. I recommend it to those that enjoy fantasy.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Audiobook Review with Crafts: Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Covenant #5
Narrator: Justine Eyre
10 hrs. 9 min.
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 5/21/14
Source: Library/Hoopla
It's a beautiful day for a war. As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all. And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time. Alex faces a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear...or the end of herself.
My thoughts:
Finally! The last book. Good and bad thing to have in a series you enjoy. :) Ending books aren't usually my favorite so I didn't go into this one expecting fireworks, but I did find myself enjoying the last book in this series.

I do NOW get why everyone is all about Seth. He did grow on me in the last 2 books but he really made me like him in this one. So, I will definitely have to go onto his offshoot books next. And while I did love the romance (Aiden!!!) and the action, it did feel predicatable. Even the twist at the end wasn't a surprise. Still, I didn't mind it and while this one didn't quite wow me, I did enjoy my time here and I did like the ending. It felt solid and I'm happy with that.

The narration was the same for me. Had a bit of a problem with the inner dialog's monotone, but still kept this one at 1.25 speed which corrected this for me. Otherwise I loved her voices for all the characters.

I give this book 4 stars and I highly recommend this series for those that enjoy YA PNR with a good dose of Greek mythology.

The Crafts!

Made this one for mother's day! She picked out all the fabric and the pattern. The pattern is Maisie from Swoon Patterns (affiliate link). The main panel fabric is an antique silk obi (go to ebay for those, you can find them at such great prices), the faux leather is microsuede and the inner fabric is a faux duponi silk (polyester). All three fabrics were very hard to deal with as they all shifted, were light and wanted to slide all over the place. To this, I say... interfacing is a must. :) This one was challenging (especially the piping which I made) but satisfying when done. Yes, I can pick out all the things I don't like, but my mom liked it and that is all that mattered. The card was made by a cutting machine. I have an old one the company doesn't want to acknowledge they even made. LOL Eh... it still works and this was made by the freebie they had for mom's day.
front, back inside, zipper pull and card

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On My Wishlist: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
by Rosamund Hodge
448 p.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: 9/27/16
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. 
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die. 
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara. 
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting...
Oh looks creepy and interesting... plus I enjoy retellings.

What are you wishing for this week? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Battlestorm by Susan Krinard

Series: Midgard #3
480 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 3/29/16
Source: From publisher for review
The third installment in New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard’s first urban fantasy series... 
Centuries ago, the Norse gods and goddesses fought their Last Battle with the trickster god Loki and his frost giants. All were believed lost, except for a few survivors…including the Valkyrie Mist, forgotten daughter of the goddess Freya. 
But the battle isn’t over, and Mist—living a mortal life in San Francisco—is at the center of a new war, with the fate of earth hanging in the balance. As old enemies and allies reappear around the city, Mist must determine who to trust, all while learning to control her own growing power. 
It will take all of Mist’s courage, determination, and newfound magical abilities to stop Loki before history repeats itself.
My thoughts:

I've enjoyed the other two installments and I knew this one would have tons of actions in it. This is the last book in the trilogy and so a lot of things needed to be wrapped up. Oh but what to say so I don't spoil it for anyone else who has not read the first two...

I will say this... There is a huge twist I didn't see coming. I knew there was going to be one because of the raven in the previous book but that one played out sort of what I thought. The relationships in Mists life (all of them... friend, foe and lover) all have their own conclusions. I have to say this... I hated Loki until the end. I still didn't trust him, but he wasn't hated like before. It was a journey to get to that point. There is lots of action and predicaments I wasn't sure how Mist would solve and get her friends out alive. Not everyone makes it, but it is solved with an HEA in the end.

So much happened and so what I've said just doesn't seem like much. I just don't want to spoil anything for people just starting the trilogy. The ending is open enough for more adventure so I could see this one going into a series if the author and publisher decide to go for it. I would love this and while I don't see immediate global destruction ahead (I mean just because I don't see it, doesn't mean it won't happen) I see so many problems happening that Mist would have to fix.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a solid, twisty, and action packed ending to a great fantasy read. I highly recommend it to those that enjoy UF and fantasy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

Series: Memoir of Lady Trent #4
352 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 4/5/16
Source: From publisher for review
The thrilling new book in the acclaimed fantasy series from Marie Brennan, as the glamorous Lady Trent takes her adventurous explorations to the deserts of Akhia. 
Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent's expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries. 
As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.
My thoughts:

I have loved these alternate historical books about dragons from the first book. While these books are in audio format, this is one series I would suggest you do NOT go audio. Well, you can, but do make sure you have the illustrations to look at. It is the illustrations that have brought every book to life for me. This one was no exception.

I got involved with this one a bit quicker than the rest. Often it takes me a minute to really get into a memoir format. In the books she is recounting her life as a dragon naturalist (if you aren't familiar with the books) but this one is quite personal as well. I think it became more personal much quicker than the others so it was also easier for me to slip into the world.

We actually get a touch of romance in this one and I was thrilled. I have wanted this pairing for a while now but I don't want to reveal too much. If you have read the other books I am suspecting you have guessed at the couple I speak, if not, read them... you'll see. ;)

I give this book 4 stars. Check out the illustrator Todd Lockwood (you can see the reviews and artwork of his in earlier posts HERE) which I have no doubt will draw people in to this alternate universe where we share our world with dragons.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On My Wishlist: Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran

Mata Hari's Last Dance
by Michelle Moran
288 p.
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: 7/19/16
From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy. 
Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers. 
As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer. 
From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.
Oh this is curious. I loved Rebel Queen so I think I want this one too. Shocker... I know. ;)

What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Fireman by Joe Hill

768 p.
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: 5/17/16
Source: From Edelweiss and publisher for review
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child. 
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged. 
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman's secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.
My thoughts:
I've been wanting to read a book by Joe Hill and when this one came up for review, I thought it was the perfect chance. However, I do think I'll be breaking from most reviews you read of this book. While I did enjoy this book, I did not love it as much as the other reviewers.

I did like the way the author brought us to a dystopian society. Well, like is an odd word for that, but it did entertain and he made it make sense in a fictional way. We follow Harper, a nurse, who is great with kids and has a lot of compassion. Unfortunately she also is a doormat and an emotionally abused wife. What I loved was her transformation into someone who was strong, still compassionate, forgiving and nobody's doormat. I actually think that was my favorite part of the book. I also really enjoyed several of the secondary characters especially a little deaf boy who is smart and adorable at the same time he is onery. There is also a lady Harper befriends who is also compassionate and loves books and gets others to read to take their mind off of things. There is also no safety net for anyone in this story so you have no idea who will survive and what that means for everyone.

The book was long and while that was good in some ways it also seemed to stretch out the drama to its limits. I would have liked it a bit more compact, but I can also see why others enjoyed the length. The story doesn't let you go and that will either make you want to speed things up or enjoy the ride as written. I did not like 2 scenes in the book, but telling you those scenes would spoil things. There is also no solid HEA in the end, but it feels like a solid conclusion... that does leave the book open for a sequel as one major problem wasn't solved. However, it did not feel like a cliffie.

I give this book 3 stars. While it was interesting and I wanted to reach the conclusion of what happens to our heroes and heroines, I just found it to have way more drama than I like. It is a horror book, but nothing that most people cannot handle. I feel is actually more dystopian in nature. I recommend it to those that enjoy Joe Hill's work, dystopian adult genre and horror.

Friday, May 13, 2016

F*ck That by Jason Headley

Genre: Humor
Published: 4/12/16
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Source: free from Blogging for Books for review
Let this book help you find peace with the challenges that surround you.

Because they are f*cking everywhere. 
We all have an inner voice. Sometimes it's just not quite as serene as we'd like.

Based on the viral video that had everyone from yogis to workaholics raving, F*ck That is the completely truthful and oddly tranquil guide to achieving your inner peace.
My thoughts:

As soon as I saw the title of this book I knew I needed to have it! Sometimes humor is the best way to alleviate stress and this is the perfect little book as long as you don't mind cussing. I know a few people who hate cussing so this one isn't for them. Please note that before gifting this book.

The book consists of a passage of a sentence or paragraph based on the video that became viral. It is a great gift to give and I have a feeling a few people will get this from me this year. LOL

Yea, I give this one 4 1/2 stars for putting a smile on my face.

The video:
(remember there is cussing in this so delicate ears should not press play)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On My Wishlist: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews and Reneé Raudman

Going slightly retro with this one...

Magic Rises
Series: Kate Daniels #6
by Ilona Andrews
Unabridged Audio
Narrator: Reneé Raudman
15 hrs. 6 min
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.  
Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta. 
Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…
I've been catching up on these on audio and LOVING them! THEN my darn library doesn't have the rest... so I'm just putting this one out there libraries... HINT! ;)

So what is on your list this week... slightly retro or not...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Craft Book Review: Stress-Free Vegetable Gardening by Caleb Warnock

Genre: Gardening
176 p.
Published: 2/9/16
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Source: From publisher for review
No more excuses! Well-known author Caleb Warnock provides insightful instruction on how to make gardening fun, easy, and stress-free.

You will learn such things as how to silence popular gardening myths, avoid those obnoxious weeds, remove pests safely and without nasty chemicals, grow vegetables year-round, and so much more!

Also included is a cheat sheet on how to grow, care for, and harvest anything from the commonly known cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes, to the lesser-known sunchoke, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.

Learn how easy it is to create an abundant crop with almost no effort. With this book in hand, you can enjoy delicious harvests that come back year after year!

Caleb was raised in the kitchens and gardens of the last generation to provide family meals without relying on the grocery store.
 My thoughts:

Again, since I'm not the official gardener in the family, I will have a dual review of the book of sorts with my mom.

What drew me to this book was the part about avoiding obnoxious weeds and removing pests without chemicals. I'm not so sure I want to grow year-round but it might be something to consider if I ever win the lotto and get that track of land I've been eyeing. :) I like that the plant information was broken down for me in an easy way. When to plant, when to harvest, where and how and also how to preserve the fruits (and veggies... heh) of your labor.

My mom had a different take on the book and it was more concise. She thought the book was more for those that had a large track of land with no neighbors who spray a lot for everything. She also thought there needed to be more consideration to the soil you have or replacing the topsoil could get quite pricey. That also included the tidbit about watering overnight. If you have a clay type soil, it does not penetrate easily and you'd be watering the neighborhood. Not good in drought areas. she did love the little tidbits she says she will incorporate in her planting. Mostly those that I have already listed.

We give this book 3 stars. While it has valuable plant information, if you don't have the space and soil perfect for the kind of conditions the books seems to want, you may not find it as helpful as you would like. It is valuable for the plant information, however.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Craft Book Review: Gardening Like a Ninja by Angela England

Genre: Gardening
192 p.
Published: 2/1/16
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Source: Publisher for review
Create a landscape that's both beautiful andedible! This book has everything you need to make your yard and your meals amazing! With a few simple adjustments, you can enhance your walkways, flower beds, front yards, and backyards with easy-to-care-for edible plants that will impress your neighbors and add to your dinner plate.

Become a gardening ninja by choosing the right vegetation for your zone to maximize success; using the seasons to create beauty year-round in your garden; cultivating areas that seem unusable; harvesting fruits, veggies, and nuts from everywhere in your landscape.

Your yard will look better than ever in no time with these sneaky edibles!
My thoughts:

Since I'm not really the gardener in the family, I asked my mom (who loves to garden) what she thought so this will be a dual review of sorts.

Now this is my kind of gardening blurb.... easy and edible. I admit I'm not the gardener in the family, but I would love to incorporate them more within easy reach of me as well as easy to take care of. I think I can handle that. :)

My favorite part of the book was all the information given on each plant and tree. It gives botanical information, general knowledge, growing guide, and potential pests and diseases. This is information I would have had to look up otherwise and it is good to have it in one book.

My mom also loved the part of including the plants in with the flowers and using squash as a climbing vine in arbors. She was also amazed at the plants she already has that can be eaten when harvested at the right time. I wonder what new concoctions she will come up with. I hate to cook, but she is a wiz at it.

We give this book 4 1/2 stars. It is a great book for those that love to garden, those that want to garden and those that want to put in edibles with the flowers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

On My Wishlist: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
parts I & II
by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
320 p.
Published: 7/31/16
Publisher: Scholastic
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016 
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. 
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.
This is one of those... DUH! Of course I want the book NOW ones... :D

So what is on your wishlist this week? 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Audiobook Review with Crafts: Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Covenant #4
Narrator: Justine Eyre
11 hrs. 19 min.
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Source: Library/Hoopla
Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods-and Alex herself-to bring her back.The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex's power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex's connection to Seth isn't the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole "an Apollyon can't be killed" theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries. Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer or she might become the God Killer herself.
My thoughts:

I'm so happy I'm catching up with this series. It has me captivated and worried about the arc with the God Killer and(?) Seth. Having the novella Elixir helped and also had some important information before going into this book. And while that part of the arc is complete, we still have to find a way to stop what is happening and also find out what the cost will be for all our favorite characters, especially Aiden and Alex.

As stated above we undertake another harrowing journey that is an important part of the overall arc. I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read the other books in the series, but I will say this... the romance is so good. I love Aiden and I especially love the way he supports her even if she is more powerful then he could ever become. His love is true and it shines through everything he does and says. Yea, can I oversell this guy? No, not at all. :)

I enjoyed Justine's narration with her various voice portrayals as I did in the previous audios. I still have a bit of a problem with her inner voice of Alex as it still seems so tired. I also listened with this one at 1.25 and that seemed to take care of that problem I had but not interfere with the voicing of the characters. It was a good compromise.

I give this audio 4 1/2 stars. Another great addition to the series and I immediately got the next one so I can listen to it immediately. I am anxious for the final showdown, but I also can't wait to find out what happens. I highly recommend this series to those that enjoy YA PNR.

The Crafts!
I made a couple of things while listening to this audio. One is a scarf/shrug. You can use it as a scarf but if it gets chilly and you have a short or no sleeve shirt, it converts to sleeves. I used a tutorial by Bez White (free at her blog). I changed it a bit by using one length (instead of 2) and I changed the embellishing on the edges since this was for my mom and the embellishment I did was more her style. This was also the second one I did. The first one broke a needle (yes, knit breaking a needle... lol) and other things which makes it a project that will NOT see the light of day. :) I'm still learning on how to sew knits.

The second project was a yoga bag. I bought a good yoga mat to use but I have to wait for it to outgas and I cannot go near it until it does. UGH. Manufactures... please cure products before you send them out. Anyhoo... This bag is a pattern from Swoon (affiliate link). The bag is called Sophia. Ever since I saw these frogs I've wanted to do a yoga bag out of it. I thought it was too funny and cute to pass up. The mat is my old one but works. :)