Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On My Wishlist: Second books in a fantasy series...

Haven't done one of these in a while...

Ever the Brave
by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #2
Published: December 5,17
Publisher: HMH Publishers for Young Readers
After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she'd like to, and now he's insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost. 
The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.
Well, gotta know what happens next. I liked the first one despite a few niggles but I do want to continue this series. Plus I like the cover. 

Now I Rise 
by Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror's Saga #2
Publisher: Delecorte Press
Published: June 27,17 
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her. 
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him? 
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Loved the first book and just realized I hadn't listed it as a wishlist book. Corrected that. :D

So, what is on your wishlist lately?


Monday, April 24, 2017

Snared by Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #16
400 p.
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: 4/25/17
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
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.
My thoughts:

Another great addition to this series. It, once again, brings us an harrowing mission for Gin and also gets us a step closer to the overall arc in the series. I was interested in the overall arc in this section of the series, but this one really solidified my interest. I have a few questions I HAVE to know but I will try to be as patient as the Spider and wait to find out if a few of my theories are correct. Oh so many good clues and just enough of a tease to set you on edge in wanting the next in the series right now. Only problem I have with the series is that I'm up to date with the novels and that means I have to wait for the next one. You who have not read these yet will enjoy devouring them at  your leisure with out much wait. Sometimes that is an enviable position.

I did figure out the small twist in this one easily but there was no disappointment in the reveal. It still held so much tension (in a good way) that it didn't matter. You are still fully engaged in the story and the outcome. I think we may have also added to Gin's collection of people who make up her overall family. I love that she collects people like this and how they all fit together.

I don't want to say too much as I don't want to spoil this book nor do I want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't caught up to this book in the series yet. Although you could read a bit out of order, I really don't suggest it. There have been a few story arcs and you don't want to confuse those. You also should read these in order to get the feel of all the secondary characters as well as how Gin has evolved throughout the series. This is a series that should not be missed. I give this book 4 1/2 stars.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Netflix: They have movies!

Yep, still Netflix-ing and yep, it is still cutting into my book time. I have been starting to get back into my reading. Perhaps my brain is coming back? Why did it leave? Questions for the universe, I guess. 

I'm still continuing Supernatural but in the middle of S4 so I won't say more now. I did put Once Upon a Time to the side right now. I'll try it again later.

I did see a couple of movies I wanted to mention.

I'm probably the last to have seen Finding Dory but I finally did and I loved it. I don't know why it took me so long especially since I've been a fan of Pixar since their shorts. If you haven't seen it, you need to see this one. It made me laugh a lot and it is so cute. It doesn't suffer from sophomore syndrome at all.

The other movie I want to mention is Begin Again. This one is so good with a lot of character growth, romantic tension without romance (yes, you read that right). I loved Kiera Knight's character and how she made her music and how she viewed it. She was naive with a brain and willing to learn. She figured out who she was and became true to that knowledge. Adam Levine's character was a jerk, but the problem he creates is the perfect reason for her to find herself in both music and in life. Cute film.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Series: The Others #2
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
14 hrs. 13 min.
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 3/4/14
Source: Library
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard - Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader - wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet - and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.
My thoughts:

In some ways I had a hard time getting through this story. It wasn't the story's fault at all, but I kept hearing "Humans First" group causing the feel of racism and prejudice and I couldn't help see the parallels in today's world problems. However, it is also quite different and that is what pulled me through the story and had me fading from the problems of the world a bit.

There was also a horrifying aspect of the Cassandra Sangue in how they were treated and how they were used. This brought a source of tension and realization of what Meg survived and what she was able to accomplish. It also makes Meg and her kind a sort of bridge between the humans and the Others but also outside of it all. I really like how Meg manages to hold that delicate line which would only be possible with an accepting group. This also means that Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard unique because of their acceptance. We see in this book how that isn't so easily accomplished, but it is possible.

Alexandria Harris is the narrator for the series and I really enjoyed her version of all the characters in the book. She really helps put you into the world and I also loved her wolfish and crow vocalizations. She makes this series fun. I do hope you at least try one book on audio in this series.

I give this book 4 stars. It is another good book in Meg's journey and it also does a good job at foreshadowing not only a possible romance but also what Meg may be up against in the future. I highly recommend this series and I do suggest to read them in order.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Arts and Crafts Pinspiration: Electronic Charging Station

I actually became inspired by a pin in Pinterest on making an electronics charging station. Here is the pin and my result...

This was the pin by Design Sponge I was inspired by:

There were a few things I changed and this was my result:

Sorry for the lighting, but it was the best I had at the last moment and where I have it, it is too dark for pics. I still need to set up a spot to take better pics, until then, please bear with me. 

The case is something my mom got me a million years ago from Hobby Lobby when they were on sale (I have no idea if they still have these) to store things in but I thought it would be perfect for this project. 

I used grommets for the opening in the back like the pin suggested. It was a good sized opening and I'll be able to not only fit the large plug from the surge protector power strip, but I'll also be able to thread wires back out for those things that I wouldn't put in the box.
Back of box
The headphones were attached to a shower hook that I had which fits semi-securely on the top (not for a lot of movement, but stationary it will be fine). The box can be closed (without hook) just like it came.

Front of box
The part where I deviated the most was the place where I will lay my ereader on. In the pin they had you use white peg board and it already had a place to lay this top piece. I just glued (Gorilla wood glue and a couple of small clamps) a couple of 1 1/2" boards cut to the side areas for my shelf just under the metal pieces they had to give the case stability. I then used foamcore cut to the size of the shelf (cutting a section out for the hinge so it didn't interfere with that area), minus the 1 1/2" board in the back for a bit of extra stability, added one layer of batting on top of that and then hot glued the fabric on top of it and then added a piece at the bottom to make it look nicer even though you won't see it. The fabric I used is a very thin microsuede I got from the remnant section at Joann's (hint: the remnants are usually 50% off and if you find the fabric in in a section that is on sale, you get that % off as well). Also, because I used foam core and the box isn't completely square in the front, I have a small space which I can thread my wires through to the items that need to be charged. I did add a small tab so I can easily lift it to sort things out in the storage area.

inside which shows the glued shelf and where the cords are going. Ignore the extra wood piece..
Hope you liked my wordy explanation! 😊

So this is my pinspiration! Have you done any projects from Pinterest?


Monday, April 10, 2017

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #5
342 p.
Publisher: Ace Books
Published: 3/30/10
Source: TBR pile
Mercy is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical fae, the less you know, the better. But you can't always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful fae she previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down. 
It seems the book contains secrets - and the fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side - leaving Mercy to cover for him lest his own father declare Samuel's life forfeit. 
All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she may not have many more...
My thoughts:

First, let me say something about that cover. I do like pretty much all Dan Dos Santos covers, but I hear that not everyone does and the biggest complaint is about her tats. Let me give you a hint about those tats.... they tell the story in the book. If you go back and examine them with the story in the book, you will see that they have imagery about the tale. This one, I admit, is harder to decipher, but the others seem to be more telling. When I figured that part out, I tend to pay more attention to her tats on these covers. I'm sad to see that there are alternative covers for these books.

 It had been a while since I read the last book and I've been wanting to catch up with this series. I finally took this book off my shelf and dove in. I was glad I did. Mercy still attracts danger without trying but she always seems to be up to whatever life throws at her, even if it is overwhelming. She doesn't hesitate to come to the aid of anyone she deems friend or family and the romance between her and Adam continues. We also get more about Samuel and what is going on with him. His problems become critical and Snowball (*grin*) takes charge. I found that with everything happening to Mercy, that part filled with me the most apprehension.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a great continuation of this series but I wouldn't start with this book if you are just getting into the series. This one I would suggest reading in order because you get a feel of who everyone is and what importance they have in Mercy's life. This is important because the characters take precedence over all the paranormal happenings and it is their relationship to each other that pulls you through the story. I recommend the series to anyone who enjoys UF.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

Series: Graveyard Queen #6
416 p.
Publisher: Mira
Published: 3/28/17
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Shush…lest she awaken…

My name is Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who lives with the dead. An anonymous donor has hired me to restore Woodbine Cemetery, a place where the rich and powerful bury their secrets. Forty years ago, a child disappeared without a trace and now her ghost has awakened, demanding that I find out the truth about her death. Only I know that she was murdered. Only I can bring her killer to justice. But the clues that I follow—a haunting melody and an unnamed baby's grave—lead me to a series of disturbing suspects.

For generations, The Devlins have been members of Charleston's elite. John Devlin once turned his back on the traditions and expectations that came with his birthright, but now he has seemingly accepted his rightful place. His family's secrets make him a questionable ally. When my investigation brings me to the gates of his family's palatial home, I have to wonder if he is about to become my mortal enemy.
My thoughts:

The last book! I'm happy and sad about that. I've loved this series so much (if you haven't read it before, you SO need to read it) so I'm sad to see it go. I'm happy because I know I'm going to get most of my questions answered. I also know I'm going to get an adventure getting there.

I was not wrong! I really loved this book and this is a series I know I will read again one day. The atmosphere was like the others and it kept me engaged and unwilling to put the book down. I got most of my answers especially the big one about John. I'm not going to tell you if it was good or bad, but it was an answer! Unfortunately, I did end up having a couple of questions that I had specific to this book I wanted answered and one small disappointment in the end. I cannot say what those were without spoiling the book, but they were minor in the whole of the story and really just made me wishing it was a longer book. To be honest, I'd probably wish that anyway. I will say that the last line was perfect.

I give this book 4 stars. I know that some people avoided this series because it is scary. I'm a total wimp when it comes to horror and I will admit this one is scary in parts (do not read at night especially when a neighborhood cat makes noise outside your window when you are reading about scary noises in the book... *cough* just sayin'... not that I jumped or anything... LOL) but it is the characters and the mystery that will hold your hand through those parts and compel you to continue with the story. So, try it! If you have, then I have no doubt you are right with me and are so sad to see this one go and anxious to see what else this author comes up with for us in the future.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst

352 p.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: 4/4/17
Source: From author for review

The traditional Emperor’s Journey is meant to be uneventful. But as the princesses Seika and Ji-Lin—twin sisters—travel to pay respects to their kingdom’s dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear and tremors shake the earth. The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing. With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?

My thoughts:

I don't read too many MG books, but when approached by the author to read this one I had no problems wanting to read it. First, the cover is stunning and second, I usually enjoy Sarah Beth Durst's work. This is a fun book, but also one that if you are an adult reading it, should keep the age of the characters in mind.

The story is about twin girls born hours apart. One is the heir and the other is to be her protector. Both seem suited to their roles and are loyal to their subjects but miss each other terribly. The girls are called upon to do a traditional journey which will ensure the kingdom to be safe for another generation. At 12, neither feels ready but is willing to do what is needed to be done for the sake of their people. Their father is aloof to the girls and his concern seems limited to the kingdom and the girls struggle to understand. They still want to be honorable and make their father proud so they partake on the journey which brings insight, maturity, and hard choices. It is a true hero's journey which they are all aware. If this isn't enough to make you curious, you have a winged lion, Alejan, who steals the show often. He is their perfect companion and comic relief.

My only niggles about the book really don't bother me in context. At times I found the girls, especially Ji-Lin, to be rash and whiney but put in the age context and given the task they were to preform with very little fore-knowledge, it makes sense. When they meet a boy on the journey and he became the whiney one (again context but the girls also thought he was annoying) both girls seem to grow up and learned to think before acting, or put others before themselves. The ending brings all the pieces of their journey together and it comes to a good conclusion. I really like how things were solved.

I give this book 4 stars. I think adults need to remember who this is written for and I think that they will enjoy the journey and how the girls become more mature. I think kids will be enthralled with the journey, the mythological creatures, and the dragons (okay, I liked those parts too!). I recommend it to those that want to start kids on bigger books and anyone who likes an adventure.