Monday, October 1, 2018

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Series: Crown of Shards #1
480 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: Oct. 2, 2018
Source: From author for review
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance. 
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten. 
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre. 
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move. 
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
My thoughts:

This book came to me after a long reading slump so I admit I was a bit worried that I would have trouble really getting into the book. Honestly I had nothing to worry about... in fact I had a hard time putting this book down. It is also a great book to get into fantasy. A lot of the YA fantasy lately has really made the fantasy genre accessible to those that worried that it was just too heavy handed for them. However, this didn't solve the problem if you just didn't like YA. This book is the best of both worlds. It is accessible as the YA fantasy but the main characters are adult.

I also loved the characters in how they grew throughout the book. Evie, our protagonist, is young but she is an adult and one that is open to change and hardship. She might complain at first but she quickly learns that survival is only part of her journey. She also learns that the inane skills she learned as being the court stand-in surprisingly work to her advantage and make herself valuable. I really love how those things worked into her survival and it also felt very natural.

I think my only complaint is that I would like to have really gotten to know a bit more about this world. While there is enough to tell this tale it also seems like so many of the realms called out to me and I just wanted to know more. However, this might be a good thing as most people tend to shy away from fantasy that is mostly worldbuilding and little storytelling. This feels more like a UF story where we get more of the worldbuilding as the story progresses. In fact a lot of it feels a bit more UF than high fantasy but since I love UF it really works for me.

I don't want to say too much as I fear I would spoil the book but I do give it 5 stars. I will say again that this is the fantasy I had been waiting to read; the accessibility of YA fantasy but has adult characters. I think this is a great book for those that want to try the fantasy genre.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Crafty Catch Up

I made a few things lately and I thought I'd share.

First I made a Grace Travel Satchel* by RLR Creations (affiliate for pattern at Craftsy) for my mom:

The blue on the inside is ripstop and should be easy to clean. The loops on the inside is FOE (elastic) to hold her bottles and should be tall enough for full sized shampoo and lotion bottles. Zip in the front and both sides (hard to see) complete the satchel. It served her well.

I also made her a crossbody purse as she needed something light and easy to carry. I made a Triple Zip by Sew da Kine. She picked out all the bling and so I call it the golden dragon.

I added a credit card slip pocket but everything else was as the pattern was written. The zippers are "metallic" nylon which really makes it more fun. There are gold spots on the teal on the inside. Yep, this one is golden!

The last craft I am sharing is a tag collar I made for the big boy.

He goes through collars and isn't gentle with them (I have no idea how he goes through them!). I usually get him a leather collar (he likes leather... seriously) and I don't sew leather. I spied a tag collar on Etsy and thought I can do that! So I made him one. I have a d-ring on one side and a small lobster clip on the other. It can slip over his head but I thought I'd just give it that extra assurance I can get it off of him if needed. It is only a 1/2" wide and is secured with chicago screws. He seems to love it and it isn't heavy at all. I don't use his collar when I need to leash him so it works well. Monster pup has taken it off of him a couple of times but he just tells me and I go get it and slip it back on. I think I did good. LOL

So what crafty things have you done lately?

*affiliate links have been noted

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Silent Bloggy

It's me!

Sorry I've been silent and I miss visiting everyone's blog. A lot has happened. I admit I do have time for the blog but as a lot of you know that it can be stressful keeping it updated so I let it slide. My mom had a procedure and there was a complication but that was fixed (vague I know, but my mom is private). She has another problem but hopefully that one will be an easy fix as well. Please send lots of vibes, prayers or just positive thoughts please!


I had yet to get monster pup spayed because of everything going on but it finally got done. She did well. Didn't have to use the cone of shame... until... it was almost healed! She suddenly decided it was a good thing to lick and it looked angry. She earned that cone of shame!
A very bad girl!
My big boy also had a problem. He has acute kidney failure. I started giving him Only Natural Kidney Support (not an affiliate link, just wanted to share the info). It seems to be working well and his numbers (except the creatine) seem to have gone back to normal. Not a cure by any means but it seems to have kept him stable and feeling good. I'm ecstatic about that!

A few other smaller things happened but it all just added up to me being absent from the blog for a bit. I'm going to try to get at least a couple of posts up. It might be a bit stressful but it feels good to talk to all of you!

I think I need a vacay! Anyone want to go? 

Hope everything has gone well for everyone! I should be visiting shortly!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Awaken the Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Series: Immortal Guardians #8
260 p.
Publisher: Author/Indie
Published: July 10, 2018
Source: From author for review

He awakens encapsulated in dirt with no knowledge of how he came to be there. Riddled with injuries, he can remember neither his past nor who he is. Nor can he remember what he is. But surely no mortal man could survive being buried deep beneath the earth. All he knows with certainty is that the soothing voice and presence of the woman moving around above enables him to endure the agony of his wounds. And he will do whatever it takes to be with her.

When Susan first sees the old two-story house for sale, such warmth and longing fill her that—against all reason—she makes an offer. It will take years of hard work and money she frankly doesn’t have to fix up the place. So she can’t explain why she bought it. She also can’t explain what compels her to spend hours one night, digging in the basement until she unearths a man. A man who still lives and breathes despite having been buried alive. A man whose intense brown eyes glow amber with pain, declaring him far more than ordinary. Susan knows she should keep her distance. He has no memory and possesses gifts that would make most fear him. But as the two work together to unravel the mystery of his past, she finds herself drawn in by his teasing nature and tender touch. So much so that she loses her heart to him even as they find themselves hunted by unknown enemies who are ruthless in their quest to capture them.
My thoughts:

This is a fun PNR/UF that I have enjoyed since the first book. If you haven't read them, you are missing out on some laughs, adventure and romance. I do suggest starting with the first book in the series to really get to know all the characters and it also helps to make sense of the overall series arc.

In this book we go a bit back in time to an incident that hurt the guardians. This is Stanislav's story and what happened to him during the incident and 2 years later. Stan is a man of honor and it shows throughout his story even when he manipulates to survive. He finds his equal and while she doesn't have his strength, she is no wilting flower. I liked how these two worked together and it was easy to believe the romance. I loved also how both waited until he was healed to further their relationship. My only complaint would be that I would have liked a reunion scene with Jax (you'll see who that is. when you read it... LOL) but I still really loved the epilogue which made it a perfect end to the story. Still, I wouldn't have minded a few hundred more pages... but then I always want more of a story I'm enjoying.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. It had been too long since I was back in this world and every time I visit I enjoy myself. If you are looking for a humorous romance with some kick ass adventure, I do suggest this whole series.

There is a few more days to enter for the prize pack! Just go HERE for the post and how to enter.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Dianne Duvall's Immortal Guardian Series

Favorite Quotes from the Immortal Guardians Series 

Hello! Thanks so much for joining me. I’m happy to be here today, celebrating the release of AWAKEN THE DARKNESS. If you like powerful preternatural heroes, strong heroines, action scenes that will keep you flipping pages well past your bedtime, and romance that is alternately steamy and sweet and laced with humor, then I think you’ll enjoy this book. 

To whet your appetite for Aidan and Dana’s story and to give you a glimpse of what you’ll find in my Immortal Guardians series if you’re new to it (don’t worry—each book can be read as a stand-alone, you’ll just know more about the secondary characters if you read them in order), I thought I would list my Top 10 Favorite Quotes from the Immortal Guardians Series: 

“You stabbed me in the ass?” 

“What did you think I would do? Ask her if I could braid her hair after we gave each other facials and painted our toenails?” 

“Is this going to get weird? Like kinky weird?” 

“I did NOT need to see that. I mean I REALLY did not need to see that. Jenny, honey, grab one of my daggers and poke out both my eyes.” 

“I’m not antisocial. I just want to be left alone.” 

“All right. All right. Settle down. We’re all glad Sarah stabbed Bastien in the ass.” 

Ooh. That’s so cool. Even in your thoughts, your voice deepens and gets all growly when you’re turned on. Before he could respond, she made a sound of impatience. Damn it. Now I’m turned on. 

“I’ll blush as soon as the desire to decapitate you has passed.” 

“Well . . . if you didn’t want me to tranq anyone, you shouldn’t have given me the damned gun.” 

“Great. There goes our security deposit.” 

I have many other favorites, of course, but these are at the top of the list. :-) 
For fans of the series: Do you have a favorite Immortal Guardians quote that isn’t mentioned here? 

For readers who are new to the series: Which of these did you like the best?

Awaken the Darkness 
(Immortal Guardians #8)
by Dianne Duvall 
Kindle Edition, 414 pages
Publication: July 10th 2018 by Dianne Duvall

Return to the "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly) world of New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall's Immortal Guardians.  

He awakens encapsulated in dirt with no knowledge of how he came to be there. Riddled with injuries, he can remember neither his past nor who he is. Nor can he remember what he is. But surely no mortal man could survive being buried deep beneath the earth. All he knows with certainty is that the soothing voice and presence of the woman moving around above enables him to endure the agony of his wounds. And he will do whatever it takes to be with her.

When Susan first sees the old two-story house for sale, such warmth and longing fill her that—against all reason—she makes an offer. It will take years of hard work and money she frankly doesn’t have to fix up the place. So she can’t explain why she bought it. She also can’t explain what compels her to spend hours one night, digging in the basement until she unearths a man. A man who still lives and breathes despite having been buried alive. A man whose intense brown eyes glow amber with pain, declaring him far more than ordinary. Susan knows she should keep her distance. He has no memory and possesses gifts that would make most fear him. But as the two work together to unravel the mystery of his past, she finds herself drawn in by his teasing nature and tender touch. So much so that she loses her heart to him even as they find themselves hunted by unknown enemies who are ruthless in their quest to capture them.

 Don't miss a heart-pounding moment of Dianne Duvall's "utterly addictive" Immortal Guardians series!

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians series and The Gifted Ones series. Reviewers have called Dianne's books "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "extraordinary" (Long and Short Reviews), and"wonderfully imaginative" (The Romance Reviews). Her books have twice been nominated for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews,and/or Night Owl Reviews.  

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she creates in her books. 

For the latest news on upcoming releases, contests, and more, please visit You can also find Dianne online . . .

(1) $50 Amazon Gift Card
(1) $25 Amazon Gift Card 
(1) Immortal Guardians Prize pack

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Venom in the Veins by Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #17
267 p.
Publisher: Author/Indie
Published: 6/12/18
Source: from author for review

Affiliate Link:
Blood might be thicker than water, but venom is stronger than just about anything… 
It was supposed to be a nice, quiet, simple dinner with friends—but nothing is ever nice, quiet, or simple when you’re Gin Blanco, the Spider, notorious assassin and current queen of the Ashland underworld. 
This time around, someone seems to be targeting Stuart Mosley, the president of First Trust bank. Lots of people have grudges against Mosley, but the more I investigate, the more Mosley’s problems seem to be connected to some of my own, especially when it comes to the Circle, the evil, shadowy group that is secretly responsible for much of the crime and corruption in Ashland. 
But when another blast from my dark and deadly past as the Spider comes to light, I wonder if I’ll be able to survive this dangerous new enemy, who has a burning thirst for revenge that will only be satisfied with one thing: my death. 
Note: The title of this book has been changed from Cold Sting to Venom in the Veins.
My thoughts:

Another episode in Gin's life and I still enjoy these books. There is a familiar ring to most of these stories and for me, it is like coming back to old friends and going on a new adventure where Gin kicks some arse. While we don't quite move too much on the latest overall arc in this novel we do get a bit further glimpse into what is going on and it also made me even more curious about Hugh Tucker and how he fits into Gin's past, present and possible future (although how far into that future is yet to be seen). It seems like we keep getting hints on if he is a bad guy or a good guy and the jury is still out. It is frustrating in a good way as he rides the line between good and evil perfectly. I don't think I'd like it if all my answers came at once.

As with the other books the secondary characters are as interesting as Gin and we get to have more interaction with Mosley, Finn's boss, and we get to see how he has become more part of Gin's growing family. Without giving too much away, we see how Gin ends up not just protecting Mosley but how his past has been intertwined with her own.

I give this book 4 stars. It is another good addition to the series which I adore and I anxiously await the next book. I know I'm a bit light on details, but this is a series I think you need to experience yourself and I don't want to spoil any of it. Also, don't let 17 books scare you. A good book goes fast and you won't have to wait for the next one to come out. In some ways that makes me envious as I am now wanting the next book and I have to wait.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: The Queens of Renthia #3 (end of a trilogy)
432 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 5/15/18
Source: From author for review

Affiliate Link:
The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy. 
Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life. 
And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits. 
Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.
But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos.
My thoughts:

This is the last book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy. Like the other two, I really enjoyed my journey to it's conclusion. Often the last book in a series is usually not my favorite but with short series (trilogy, duology) that isn't a problem. It wasn't a problem here and while I was still sad to see it end, I did feel satisfied. Also, it is good to note that while I do see these as YA, there are adult characters that take center stage in the last two books in particular so adults who aren't as fond of YA should enjoy these as well.

This is also a story to read in order as the events build on the other as well as character growth. For me, it is the characters in the books that make me enjoy this trilogy so much. You get a varied bunch but it isn't overwhelming and there is no question who is who and everyone is easily followed.

I don't want to give too much away but I do have to say that I did enjoy the adventure and as soon as one problem is solved another crops up but in a way I didn't expect. I usually like this author's "bad guy(s)" as they aren't usually one dimensional but have their own motivations that aren't all inherently evil or egotistical. Don't get me wrong... they ARE evil and/or egotistical, but it is an aspect of their character and not the whole shebang.

In the end I liked how things were solved and I didn't guess how it would exactly end. My only complaint is that I would love to know the origin story of Bayn, the wolf, which would probably be the origin of Renthia. *hint* *crosses fingers* 😉 I give this story 4 stars and while this is the end of this adventure, I do understand that more may be on the horizon set in this world (Bayn origin story... just sayin'...). I highly recommend these books to those that enjoy magic, a slice of romance (it is not romance heavy at all but it is present) and a harrowing adventure.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: MG Fantasy
 337 p.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: April, 3, 18
Source: From author for review
Amazon Affiliate Link:

Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family.

Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them? 
Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.
My thoughts:
The author surprised me with this book in the mail and while I don't read much MG, I'm always up for a good story. I also love the author's work so adding this to my review pile was a no brainer. I was also not disappointed.

The story is of stone which comes to life if a skilled stonemason carves and then gives story to the various forms of rock. Mayka has been made by one of the most skilled stonemasons and she and her family of creatures all have the choice to expand upon their own stories. It's very much like how children are given a bit of their story from the parents but then go on their own to create their own tale. Yes, I loved how she weaved this concept in the tale.

In the beginning of the book, we find Mayka and her family in the mountains since their father preferred solitude surrounded by his stone creatures who had died several unnamed years ago. Mayka finds that turtle, who was carved first by their father, stopped moving as his story started eroding away. Other of her friends all have various problems and they all realize that they need a stonemason or they will either have an unrepairable break or they will stop moving like turtle. Mayka decides to become more than the story her father gave her and sets out on the quest to find a skilled stonemason. She had not see anything other than her cottage and mountain so he bravery in going to the unknown was not overlooked by any of the creatures.

I loved all the little philosophical tidbits (nothing that a child wouldn't get) woven throughout the tale. To become more Mayka had to leave her "safe" surroundings and venture out into the unknown to find herself. She learned that sometimes bravery is deciding that fear will not rule her story and to trust her instincts and kindness of others. She also learned that standing up for what she believed also expanded who she was and how it affected not just her, but others around her. She did not seek to be something she was not (like in Pinocchio) but to expand and find out what she really could do in the world. She found more than expected and she did find her stonemason.

I give this story 4 1/2 stars. It is a great MG book and also could be read by younger children. If you have a child who loves chapter stories read to them, I also say this could really be a book for the shelf. It is filled with adventure and it has a great HEA. It is a simplistic HEA but fitting.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Anthology: Mad Hatters and March Hares

336 p.
Edited by Ellen Datlow
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: From publisher for review
Affiliate link:

From master anthologist Ellen Datlow comes an all-original of weird tales inspired by the strangeness of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass" and "What Alice Found There". 
Between the hallucinogenic, weird, imaginative wordplay and the brilliant mathematical puzzles and social satire, Alice has been read, enjoyed, and savored by every generation since its publication. Datlow asked eighteen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland. 
Featuring stories and poems from Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, Delia Sherman, Genevieve Valentine, Priya Sharma, Stephen Graham Jones, Richard Bowes, Jeffrey Ford, Angela Slatter, Andy Duncan, C.S.E. Cooney, Matthew Kressel, Kris Dikeman, Jane Yolen, Kaaron Warren, Ysbeau Wilce, and Katherine Vaz.
My thoughts:

As with most anthologies this was a mixed bag of captivating stories and some that I skimmed. I do think you will recognize some of the authors like Seanan McGuire (and that story was so good!) and find some new ones to check out. There is also some poetry for those that enjoy it (not too much for those that don't). Some of these stories really transported me into the world and I will warn you that much of it is dark and some ventured into horror. I'm not surprised as the original work really had a darkness to it and some of the authors expounded on it. I really enjoyed how some of these stories were turned on it's ear and you found yourself with logical explanations to the illogical. Most though fully immersed itself into wonderland or just outside of it and all of it will make you mad as a hatter in the end of it. Really that is a good thing... LOL

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. This is a book I do think I'll reread and I do know that there were a couple of stories I wish were expounded into full series. I don't want to say which of those I enjoyed the most as I do think you need to explore this book as I did... knowing it would be fantastical and dark but not knowing which direction it would take.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Arts and Crafts Post: Dog Sweaters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Animal Treat Cookbook: Biscuits Pour Animaux by Cassandra Bouclé

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your meal!
My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Really Late Craft Post: What I Made Over the Holidays

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

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

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

A couple of other projects rounds it out...

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

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

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

So have you been crafty lately?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Entertainment Post: Netflix Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

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

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

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

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

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