Friday, July 29, 2016

Audiobook Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon #3
Narrators: Caitlin Davies, MacLeod Andrews, Chris Patton, and Tristan Morris
10 hrs. 59 min
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 4/26/16
Source: Audiobook Jukebox, and publisher for review
When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She's lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side. As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike, placing them all in imminent danger as Talon's new order rises.
My thoughts:

I enjoyed the last book in this series on audiobook, so when this one came up for review I jumped at the chance. I enjoyed how all the narrators in this series work. Each narrator takes a chapter and a character. When it is that character's POV, the corresponding narrator takes over that chapter. It really helps for those that normally have problems with multi-POV but I've not had a problem with that aspect of the series even when I read it.

Each narrator is excellent for their characters. While it might throw you a bit when voicing the other characters, it isn't enough to draw you out of the story and they are actually pretty consistent in inflection of the voiced characters. Mostly it was the male narrators voicing the female character and vice versa where you really noticed the difference. This is often the case in any audiobook you will encounter, however and was a minor niggle overall.

The story really seems to pick up speed from the last book and I though it wrapped up some of the events that was building from the last book. I wasn't sure how the triangle would play out, but it wasn't bad and while things wasn't quite worked out, it didn't bother me as well. Revelations made that triangle more twisty which actually made it more interesting. So those that don't like triangles be wary but don't shy from the series either.

As far as the rest of the book... oh twists galore... and one very wicked twist in the end. However, having read this author's other works, I trust that things will work out in a interesting manner and one that I will accept. Right now I'm still reeling with the last twist in this book. Sorry, all I will say.

I give this audio 4 stars. I really like the way the multi-POV is done on this audio and I so need that next book now. Need to know what happens next. NEEDS I tell ya. LOL

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

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. :)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran

288 p.
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: 7/19/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
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.
My thoughts:

History has remembered Mata Hari as a double agent who was irresistible, known for her beauty and grace. However, evidence or lack of it has come to light about how she might have been framed by both Germany and France and this is the version of history given in this book.

It is a short book and in some ways I think it moves things along and in other ways I think it didn't allow me to really connect with Mata Hari as a person. I saw how vulnerable she was in her early years, but most of that was a flashback and I did not grow up with her. You saw her naïveté which is what lead to her execution. The theory ends up being quite plausible and is also the more popular theory to date. You felt sorry for her and I felt more for her daughter who only gets an epilogue in the end. I'm curious to know if perhaps it was told through her daughter's eyes how different the story would have been told?

I give this book 3 stars. It is a very interesting take on a very enigmatic personality that has drawn curiosity since she first became famous. I like this version, but I did wish for more connection to the character. She is still sympathetic and interesting. I recommend the book to those curious about her and the theory on how she was framed. It also makes you curious about her and I did google her while reading it. :D

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On My Soapbox... of Kindness and Love!

With everything going on there is too much to say and not enough. So much death and violence this year. Too much. In trying to keep the post as simple as possible I want to share several quotes with you. I believe that love is stronger than hate and that you cannot fight hate with hate or fear. I see that too often. So, I'm not just speaking to the violence in the world, but also to the everyday hate people seem way too comfortable with lately.

I do think that the only way to combat hate is to counter it with kindness, love or at least rational thinking. I'm not trying to say that the anger isn't appropriate at times, but people rarely see what is true and often succumb to fear if anger is not abated. We also don't listen in that state. It's also hard to say what you want when you are upset so often I use quotes when I have too much and not enough appropriate words to give the right feeling. Usually someone has said it so much better. This is my way of holding onto kindness. Kindness changes things and I'm spreading that shit everywhere. :)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”― Martin Luther King Jr.A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel 
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ― Anaïs Nin
“Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart.” ― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist 
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world.” ― Joseph CampbellThe Hero with a Thousand Faces 
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.  
“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry 'Monster!' and looked behind him.” ― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke and Bone
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia 
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” ― Dalai Lama XIV 
 "Fear and hatred will cease to exist when love is in abundance." ― Ken E. Nwadike, Jr (Free Hugs Project)
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi 
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”― Anaïs Nin 
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
Let it Be ~ (The Beatles) Across the Universe

Let go of hate, don't hold onto it.

Put A Little Love in Your Heart ~Annie Lennox and Al Green
In all this hate, sadness, and horror, remember there is always hope.
“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” ― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl  
Need a internet hug? Some inspiration? Free Hugs Project is trying to do that. How about people who photoshopped a favorite toy elephant that a little boy lost. He was told that he was on an adventure around the world. A family friend hoped that people would help show the boy his toy was really okay. Go HERE for the story and some of the photos. Hopefully these will help you see that kindness is spreading. It exists.
From Bored Panda You really need to see those photos! :)
Please feel free to add any appropriate inspiration in the comments.

I'll end this as I did the last time:
"Kindness is free, sprinkle that shit everywhere" -TShirt 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Blog Tour Review with Giveaway: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #14.5
100 p.
Publisher: Pocket Star
Published: 7/18/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Purchase at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo
The New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series continues with a new e-novella--from the point of view of Finnegan Lane, the foster brother of Gin Blanco, and a fan favorite of readers of the series. 
The fallout from his disastrous “family reunion” in Bitter Bitehas left Finn feeling hurt, angry, and depressed. He can barely stand to look at himself in the mirror, much less eat any of the delicious barbecue from Gin’s famed Pork Pit restaurant. 
But when the funeral for a slain security guard at his bank turns into a showdown with some nasty underworld giants, Finn knows that he must act in order to protect an innocent family. 
Finnegan Lane might be the most unwanted man in Ashland these days, but he’s determined to try to make amends for his past mistakes...
My thoughts:

Oh if you have been reading these books and are a fan of Finn, you really need to get this novella! The last book was Finn's book as well, but still told in Gin's perspective. This is about the aftermath of what happened in Finn's POV. In this book Finn holds his own and you can see he is capable and deadly in his own right... if you didn't know that before. You also feel for him deeply in this story.

You may not have to read all of them to get to this novella, but I do suggest picking up a few of them first to get the feel for Finn and at least Bitter Bite before diving into this book. The last book is a necessity to know what is going on in this book and all of it is worth it. This is a series I have loved from the beginning and has a great secondary character list. So glad we are getting the perspective of those characters we love. Yes, there are several in this series.

I give this novella 4 1/2 stars. It is the perfect compliment to the series and the last book specifically. If you are a fan of Finn do not hesitate to pick this book up. You will love it.

Author bio:
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Unwanted, e-novella #14.5 in the series, will be released on July 18. Unraveled, book #15, will be released on Aug. 30.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Jennifer has a giveaway for 5 copies of BITTER BITE (5 winners!) and a $25 Amazon gift card! Open to US residents only. One winner per household. Contest ends July 25th at midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour stops:
7/11 - Books and Things (review + giveaway)
7/12 - DianaMCKiaradB (review + Q&A)
7/14 - Rantings of a Reading Addict (review + giveaway)
7/17 - The Book Crumb Trail (review + giveaway), Diane’s Book Blog (Q&A)
7/18 - A Book Fanatic Obsession (review + Q&A), Bambi Unbridled (review + giveaway)
7/19 - Bookish Things & More (review + giveaway), Slippery Words (review + giveaway)
7/20 - Mary Hughes (Q&A + giveaway), The Book Nympho (review + giveaway)
7/21 - Goldilox and the Three Weres (review + giveaway), The Reading Addict (Q&A + giveaway)
7/22 - Books That Hook (review + giveaway)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

Series: Charley Davidson #9
Narrator: Lorelei King
10 hrs. 11 min.
Published: 1/5/16
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Library
In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around. 
But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her-even from her new and trusted friends-the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.
My thoughts:

I almost couldn't wait for this book on audio. The ending for the last book left me reeling and I needed to know what was going on. Finally found time and the audio at the library (couldn't get it streaming, but had it on CD! WHEE!). And as with the other books in the series I found myself enjoying all the characters and the smaller mysteries Charley always seems to find even in this state (don't want to give too much away if you haven't read the others). Laughter as always (bathroom scene with horse... all I'm sayin') and quite a few "aw" moments with Reyes. *sigh* The end is quick and quite dark and no evil cliffies in this one. Of course the arc mystery only deepens and we must have the next book to find out what comes next (I've recently been accosted by great reviews of the next book which only makes me drool for it more. Hey! Library! Get on the job and get me the next audio pronto!).

As I said, this gave you the answers you were seeking from the last awful cliffie (I hate all cliffies, no exceptions) but doesn't answer all questions in the story arc. I give this book 4 1/2 stars and need the next audio NOW. :D I highly recommend this seres for those that love a good UF/PNR, humor and mystery. Also, I highly recommend them on audio and I love Lorelei King's narration and that has made me want to do the whole series on audio.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Craft Corner: Tulip Case

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

This is a pouch I made for my dad for his sunnies. The pattern is called The Tulip Zipper Case by CloBird Designs. The pattern is FREE and can be obtained at Craftsy (HERE). It is considered a novice level project and I would agree. You might make a few things with zippers first if you are intimidated with them, but really, it was quite easy. The hardest part was placing the blue zip head onto the orange zipper base (you don't have to mix and match but that is part of the fun in this project). Once that was on, it was smooth sailing. The directions are easy to follow and it is a good scrap buster. The pattern calls for foam interfacing but I did this one with thermolam (fleece) interfacing instead and it worked out fine. My dad loves pockets so this one was perfect for him and not only did he have the main zip pocket but the pockets on the front and back as well (blue part). All I have left to say is GO BRONCOS! :D

So any crafty things you've done lately? *crafty eyes* 

Monday, July 4, 2016

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Series: Monsters of Verity #1
464 p.
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: 7/5/16
Source: From Edelweiss and publisher for review
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books. 
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
My thoughts:

This has an interesting world where humans create the monsters by their heinous acts and then are preyed on by their creations. While we know this, we do not really see the connection to their actions until we were told. I would have liked to have felt that aspect of this world more, but it still was interesting.

August Flynn is also a monster, but of a special sort. He seems to have more free will than the others and can affect his behavior by his choices more than the rest. He befriends Kate Harker who is the daughter of his rival and who is also a heartless human. Like every good YA romance, there is a spark but neither knows what it will do to the other. They both start to care for others outside of themselves and both transform. There is an HEA of sorts at the end, but not the one you usually expect. Also there are a few twists that I did not expect as we follow our two main characters. It is an interesting mystery and the door is wide open for the next book but this one does NOT end with a cliffie. YaY!

I give this book 4 stars. It was an unexpected surprise and these monsters come out of the nightmares of our own making. I highly recommend it to those that enjoy YA fantasy with a dark edge to it.

Friday, July 1, 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
496 p.
Published: 6/28/16
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher and NetGalley for review

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets. 
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion. 
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
My thoughts:

This was an interesting fantasy book. Not one with vampires (and suggested by having a female dracul) but one with political intrigue and war. I know that not everyone likes the more political kind of fantasies, but this one was different. It really was more of a character book. It was about a what if kind of question. What if the Vlad Dracul we know in history was really a woman?

The story is a bit slow and winding but we are captivated by it's characters. The most captivating is Lada who has to fight against everything around her just to find some modicum of freedom which is not afforded to females in either culture she encounters. She finds a way to carve out something for herself but she does not stop there and her continued growth throughout the book is what makes this interesting. She is not the only one to bloom slowly into adulthood. Radu, her brother, also goes through tremendous change. While Lada is the fist of the two, Radu is the diplomat. Each has their strengths and each try to find themselves through that strength. Mehmed is really what draws them continually together and apart at the same time. He is their glue and their hammer. It really does become a toxic triangle and it works.

While this is a story of personalities it is also about being seen. We all want to be seen in some capacity and while not everyone is aware of this fact, all major characters in the story are painfully aware. They also find that being seen is not always to their advantage, but it doesn't make them want it less. It seems it is at the heart of their growing pains.

I give this book 4 stars. I enjoyed how the characters grew and learned who they were and what they wanted. I really loved the ending which really pulled at the heartstrings and skillfully sets us up for the next book without a cliffie. It is satisfying and keeps us wanting more. I highly recommend this book not to just YA readers but to adults as well. It is dark, gripping, but filled with hope that some will get what they seek, but also promises of darkness to come.