Monday, January 30, 2017

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

288 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 1/17/17
Source: From publisher for review
A great new stand-alone science fiction novel from the author of the Kitty Norville series. 
Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly's plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth—the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Ever. 
Homesick and cut off from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints of life on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right—there's more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.
My thoughts:

I do enjoy Carrie Vaughn's work so I was happy when I got this one in the mail. I also enjoy sci-fi so it was a safe bet that this one would be perfect for me. I was not wrong.

Those that do not read much or any sci-fi at all could try this one. It has just enough gadgets to make it interesting but it doesn't overwhelm. Plus, it was an interesting contrast for those that grew up in lower gravities and those that had earth's gravity. It would have been interesting to also contrast with someone who lived on Venus since that gravity is nearly equal to earth's gravity. Just a thought that proves I'm a nerd. πŸ˜‰ Still, those that do not usually care for this genre could find themselves liking it because of the main character Polly who is smart and brave. Also, the mystery as to what is going on will have you wanting to know more as each problem presents itself.

While I did figure out who was behind what was going on with the siblings, Polly and Charles, I did not figure out why it happened. While there was an explanation given, it didn't feel set in stone but it did feel like it was satisfying. I also enjoyed the dynamic of the various relationships that were formed within this group. My favorite was between Polly and Charles who seem at once distant from each other and close at the same time. Charles mostly lived in his head but it was Polly's knowledge of him from birth which gave him his humanity and spirit.

I give this book 4 stars. It was a fun trip trying to figure out what was going on and enjoying all the worldbuilding within the storyline. I also feel that while the characters are in their teens, this could easily be read by those who are MG and of course, adults as well. I recommend it to those that enjoy sci-fi or want to try it out.

I just wanted to highlight an account that would go with the book... 

Follow them in support of science and against the gag order

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Cape is in the Wash: Strategies for Hope

I'm determined to keep this one positive! LOVED the woman's march on Sat. and I want to keep that good feeling going! We are just at the beginning of this fight! #Resist! 

There is also a website from the women's march which helps to determine what is next. Just go HERE

There was a march about the #NoDAPL
You can also find several free graphics HERE for this movement and others (like the pipeline) as well (one of the posters below which you have probably seen).

There also looks like a march by scientists will be scheduled!! πŸ˜€
I am hoping this has been more informative and hopefully more uplifting than in the past. There are a couple of articles that has helped me to figure things out and I hope it does the same for you. In other words, food for thought in how to look at what has happened.

First I want to share an article I read which I found fascinating. He is the first to really explain to me how both conservatives and progressives of today approach things. I've been saying for a long time that we need to learn from the conservative movement and approach what we all feel as important in the way that they approach it. Now I didn't know what the magic formula was, but George Lakoff explained it well in his article: Don't Think of a Rampaging Elephant (πŸ‘ˆ link to the Salon article and for some reason it keeps disappearing on me and I'm not sure if it only happens when I edit. If I can't fix it, then just google search it by the title). His stance is that conservatives study marketing but progressives rely on a series of facts that the person is supposed reason it out and come to the correct conclusion. That just doesn't work in politics and I think he is right. It is just a fascinating read and I do think a lot of what happened makes sense. I think he is on the right track. 

I also think this article (short one) on How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps is also valuable in learning how to promote the message across a wider range of people and defeat populism. Yea, this one article that I'll be reading again and thinking about. This one really got to me.

Also, know we have been here before:

There is also a brilliant how to when getting yourself psyched up to call your representative. This is primarily focused on those with social anxiety but it works for anyone even a bit nervous about calling or if, like me, you have brain fog a lot. 
Just go HERE for the information and also realize that if the issue is something well organized, they often give you the script to use. You could just tweak it a bit (which is what I often do) so it fits me better. The article is probably the best I've seen in terms of what to do and how.

Remember that some of the best things have come out of the worst circumstances. But it won't happen without a fight!

You are not alone.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone-just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous. 
In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago. To protect the innocent-and to punish those who stand in her way. 
With the NYPD out of its depth, Selene vows to hunt the killer on her own. But when classics professor Theo Schultz decodes the ancient myth behind the crime, the solitary Huntress finds herself working with a man who's her opposite in every way. Together, they face a long-forgotten cult that lies behind a string of murders, and they'll need help from the one source Selene distrusts most of all: the city's other Immortals.
My thoughts:

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one but they already had me at Greek gods. :) In this one the gods have been diminished by the lack of believers and worshipers. They are born out of human's imagination and mythos but are now becoming human, losing their immortality. Some are panicked at not just dying but at losing their godhood and powers. Some are still powerful depending on how the worship has changed. I really thought this world was interesting.

It isn't just the worldbuilding that was good here. There was also a serial killer that Selene (Artemis) has heard the call to avenge. She has made that her life's work until she fades, she still protects the innocent. She is also haunted by a wrong that she committed under the falsehood of her brother and twin, Paul (Apollo). This action not only blinds her to certain aspects of the killer but also plays a huge role in her wanting love but not believing in it. AND with all this the ritual sacrifices within the serial killings are also making her stronger and closer to what she had as a god. This is all confusing but all eventually leads to who could be the serial killer. Oh, and let me mention this... it works.

I'd have to say my biggest criticism would be that there were parts that lagged. All of it was interesting but some might not enjoy the slower bits and some might like how it keeps you in the world. I think it all depends on the reader. Despite this, there were a couple of big twists that kept me guessing and I didn't guess who it was until the end. She did a good job on the mystery aspect of this book.

I give this book 4 stars. I really recommend it to those who enjoy mythology retellings and a good mystery/thriller.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

336 p.
Publisher: Del Ray
Published: 1/10/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. 
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. 
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. 
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
My thoughts:
I knew I wanted to read this as soon as I understood it was a retelling of mythology, especially one that I'm not familiar. And while I've seen people equate Frost with Jack Frost in nature (and I totally see why), he felt more like a Russian version of Hades and his twin brother reminded me of Ares and Phobos combined. We also get some house spirits that reminded me of the mythology of Brownies but friendlier. Yes, you can safely say I enjoyed this book.

You follow Vasya who comes from an unusual lineage and has a wild and forthright attitude and is a strong woman. Of course during this time period, that causes problems, but he family still supports her being who she really is inside (with the exception of the step-monster... uh... mother). She has magic in her blood which also causes problems when an enigmatic priest comes to spread the word of God. This does deal with religion, but really isn't religious. The world this story inhabits is when pagan mythos clashed with Christian mythos. It reminds me of many of the stories you get when the fae diminish because of the one God religion. All is very familiar so it helps with those of us who don't know much about Russian mythology.

In the end Vasya makes difficult choices and also isn't the one to make the big sacrifice. I liked that she didn't fight as a man and didn't know how but had her own strengths she wielded with courage and wisdom. To me, this made her strong as she did not emulate man but was her own woman. There is also very little romance to the story and this book may become part of a series. I hope so because there is hint of something at the end and I need to know more. It isn't a cliffie, but I need that story I am hoping to get.

I give this book 4 stars. It is highly recommended to those that love mythology stories and a strong woman character who defies what she "should" become and has the courage to find herself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Craft Corner

Thought I'd show one last (I think) holiday pressies I did as well as a couple of other things.

I stitched this out on towels for my aunt:
Not the best pic but I kind of got it done at the last minute. It was the first time I did towels. :)

I also did some napkins for my neighbor, but that one was REALLY last minute so I didn't get a picture of it. I was behind but got it done! πŸ˜…

I also did a wreath for my mom. 

I also made a couple of scarves for my dogs.

The last thing I'll share is something I made for another bee I know. This one is for the soon coming baby bee. I made sure the patch on the big bee's tummy was something the mom loves and the little one is a rattle. I also made the bib in the hoop and the burp cloths were sewn on the machine with an appliqué on the embroidery machine. I bought the onesie but embroidered the bee. 🐝

So done anything crafty? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Because of the political climate in the US right now and also because it is a day we need to recognize now more than ever, I thought I'd dedicate today's post to MLK day. 

I think an important piece of history we often have heard about but most have not read in it's entirety is the Letter from a Birmingham Jail (link in title). He did struggle with what was happening around him. He was frustrated with everyone telling him to "wait" for others to either catch up or let others finally do what was right. For this he states: 
This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never."
He reiterated: 
We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
 This brings me to this point we often hear:

I think we may be at this point again so it is important to speak up. 

Why are we at this point again? Well, it isn't just the recent elections. I feel this has been coming for some time now and we have all ignored the signs because we didn't believe that we would truly have to go through this again in this country. That we would be led so far back. 

An example of this is Rep. Bob Thorpe (R) AZ has recently introduced a house bill to ban almost any gathering or courses in colleges that even discusses social injustice especially those of racial equality (link to NY Daily News Article). So yes, it is happening now. I also have no doubt it will not be the last of them nor will it be contained to just racial injustice.

So, I think to honor this man truly we need to stand up once again and forever for those principals he fought so hard to get into our consciousness.

And it is good to know that John Lewis, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. is still working hard for all of us. This is what he said against the nomination for Sen. Sessions.
I'll leave you with a bit of song and one last thought.

We all have it within ourselves to chose the latter course no matter how small of an act.

Friday, January 13, 2017

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

432 p.
Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: 1/10/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
My thoughts:

A retelling of Phantom of the Opera? A.G. Howard? Um... yes to all please. :) I enjoyed her other retelling of Wonderland so I was pretty sure I would enjoy my time here. I was not wrong.

I really liked how the story of the phantom unfolded and gave me a few twists and turns I did not expect. I did like Rune and Thorn and the idea of twin flames, but the romance felt weak until the end. I think all the secrecy just interfered with me getting to know them as a couple especially when they really spent so little time actually together. What stole the show was a cat and a swan. Both a familiar of sorts to the ones they have chosen to help. Both have a mind of their own and feel they know what is best for their people. If nothing else read it for those characters. I just wish they had more time in the book.

I do think that the paranormal twist in this book may not appeal to some. I didn't mind it and even appreciated it when I read the author's notes. It doesn't quite flow with the characters naturally as you first read it, but upon reflection you can see why the author took that direction.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. If you like retellings, if you like twists (I really did not see one of them coming) then you need to pick up this book. It was a fun time and I really enjoyed her author notes at the end which tells how she got the idea and some of the history involved. I also understand that the book has some of Christine's (the Phantom's bride) journal entries in it. I wish the ARC had it so I guess there is a book I need to buy. Twist my arm. LOL

Oh and that cover! πŸ’“

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winners, Cape and Things...

The winners of the annual Puppy Birthday Prize pack


Grand prize:
Melissa from Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf! (confirmed)

Second prize:
Terri from Alexia's Books and Such! (confirmed)

No, you didn't have to have a book blog to enter, but if you haven't do check those great blogs out!!

πŸ‘‰Also, if you entered but did not get 1st or 2nd, do check your e-mail... just sayin'... πŸ˜‰ (not everyone has gotten back to me yet...)🎁

Sorry it took me so long to get to the announcement, but I had limited access to my computer for a time and I didn't feel well over the holidays so I just decided to take the time off. However, now I'm playing catch up. 😷


Well, I have a few things for this category... one positive and one not. I guess I'll go not first.

The Not

Simon & Schuster under the imprint of Threshold books has given $250k to Milo Yiannopoulos who is known for his racist and misogynistic viewpoints. In fact, that is what made him "famous". Won't give him anymore time here, but you can look him up if you are not familiar. The companies response was heartbreaking since they did the whole not condoning and multiple view argument and I also responded that statement.

What does this mean? Well, so far this year I have not reviewed a S&S book. This may become an issue soon for me and I'll have to weigh supporting the author vs the publisher since I know a lot of authors have no choice and it isn't easy to move. I can guarantee that I will keep it to the bear minimum if at all and perhaps this may be the key to getting out of book blogging (blog may turn into something else). I'm still considering.

The Positive

For those that don't think that calling (best) or mailing your statements to your representatives doesn't work consider what recently happened:

I know a lot of news outlets gave Trump the nod nod on this one, but if you really look, it was the astonishment of the number of calls they got that really took them by surprise. No one reverses a decision like that so soon after a tweet so there is no way I'm giving Drumpf the credit. He just knew what was coming and like he has been doing, taking credit for other people's work. πŸ™„ You can check out other sources for the same comments if you don't like HuffPo. I just happened to see it there first. Yes, calling does work.

One not within this one though... The House GOP snuck by a way to hide he cost of the ACA removal. Yes, the removal (especially without a plan to replace... costs more) will cost taxpayers money. I'm upset that they are doing so much to hide and be less transparent as possible. We need that transparency and I wonder what else they have planned when they are trying to be opaque as possible. However this hasn't gone totally unnoticed and Bill de Blasio and a few other politicians are outing the numbers anyway. Good time to call your democratic politicians. Light a fire under them. 😏

Btw, if you are upset at Paul Ryan trying to defund Planned Parenthood then there is an easy way to do that. Just to go Call Speaker Ryan and they even give you a script (you do get signed up for text alerts, but can opt out). Teen Vogue did a good article on how Ryan is locked in his office refusing to collect petitions and why this subject is important and why their reasons don't make sense. The article is HERE.

If you haven't seen this, I do think you'll enjoy...
Yep, Mark Hamill took Trump's New Years odd tweet into something magic... I don't get half the stuff he writes on twitter but it makes more sense in this context, sad as that is...

Yes, you may get sick of me doing these, but I want to do something so this is it. 

Now go have some fun... 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano

360 p.
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Published: 1/3/17
Source: NetGalley and Entangled for review
(from the publisher links above)
Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.
And she can fight.
Tell no one. 
She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…
The only rule is: There are no rules.
My thoughts:

If you don't know already, I don't often read YA contemporary, but I've read his author before and I enjoy her work plus this sounded intriguing. I was not wrong. In fact, I was captivated from the beginning and I could not wait to see how this played out. I also think that this book will go down as one of my favorite contemporary thriller YA books.

The story plays out and you are just as confused as Rachel waking up and trying to piece together why a year has totally gone missing. She was only gone for 2 weeks and a lot had changed within that year. New friends, a new look and a mysterious ability. Bits of information make it's way to Rachel and it is perfectly paced to relay a sense of foreboding and danger. I'm not sure I want to give away more than that. Don't want to spoil anything.

I will say that while I enjoyed the ending, it was probably the weakest part of the story. The reason is that it felt like it was very quickly wrapped up but then again, I'm not sure how it would be made better. Considering how strong the rest of the book felt to me, this was not a big problem. The ending also made me love the secondary characters more so you see how it really wasn't too weak it probably just felt that way in comparison to the rest of the book.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this book and if you enjoy thrillers of all kinds, I do highly recommend this book.