Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: The Queens of Renthia #2
368 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 7/4/17
Source: From author for review
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns. 
(minor spoilers for first book in blurb) Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people. 
Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves. 
But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.
My thoughts (spoiler free):

You hear so much about sophomore slump in series but this one has none of that. I really liked the first book, but I have to say I enjoyed this one a bit more. This may also be enjoyed more by adults than the first one as one of the heroines in the tale is a mother, Naelin, who is quite mature to start, but still grows and has even more maturity in the end.

This book is split between several POVs (more than the first book) but you are never lost and it flows well. The multiple POVs enhance the story and bring you more fully into what is going on. We do get less of Daleina, our heroine of the last story, and her role and character feel like it is more relegated to a secondary character which might be my only complaint about the book. I really wanted to be with her as she also grew into more maturity. However, this is really a minor niggle and I still enjoyed the character who has fully embraced her new role in the story.

There were red herrings I fell for, some twists I figured out early and one huge twist I didn't see coming. This was an interesting adventure and a harder puzzle to see come together. It did fall into place well in the end and the book feels complete. You are left with open roads to more books in the series but no real cliffie... until... the epilogue. It wasn't the kind of cliffhanger I hate but it is one that does the job nicely in making me want the next book NOW.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really think this one was even better than the first book, but do not skip that first book. The first book solidifies the world and the problems within it. It is also a good book and should not be missed on that merit. I highly recommend this series to those that enjoy fantasy. It can also be easily enjoyed by those that don't foray too deep in fantasy since it isn't heavy handed but an enjoyable adventure.

If you missed it, the review of first book, The Queen of Blood.
πŸ‘‘

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: The Queens of Renthia
368 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 9/20/16
Source: From author for review
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure 
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow... 
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land... before it’s bathed in blood.
My thoughts:

I really enjoy Sarah Beth Durst's work and was excited to get this one, especially since I had the next ready once I finished it. I was not disappointed with this addition to her work and I really enjoy this author's imagination.

This is mostly a story about Daleina who doesn't exactly want to be queen but be an important part of protecting her realm. Her magic is different than the others as well as weaker, but her determination makes up for the rest. She also seems consumed by her quest and being simultaneously pushed and supported by her sister she forges ahead. In the end she makes several life altering decisions including who she wants to be in this world, but plans never work out the way we intended. She is forced into another decision and that leads us to the end of the first book. A satisfying ending but still not a completely happy one either.

I should also mention some of the other secondary characters who really enhance the worldbuilding and play nicely off our heroine. None are perfect but their imperfections really make the character. Ven is an interesting character we know we will see again but I have to say my favorite was Bayn the wolf. I won't explain more about that character, you will just have to see for yourself.

While I would consider this one to be YA, I think adults would also enjoy this fantasy. The worldbuilding is unique and I really am curious about the spirits they rely on and fear. It is a interesting mix of emotions and precarious trust (and total lack of trust) between both. It also leads to many questions about this world that aren't answered here but the lack of those answers aren't frustrating as we are learning as the characters learn.

I give this book 4 stars and I highly recommend it everyone. I really think it will appeal to those that enjoy fantasy and a unique world. It will make you crave the next book.

🌳

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What's Going On? AKA Why I've been a bit MIA...

In some ways this is going to be a hard post to write. I was tempted to just go with some shows I've been watching but I'm going to tear the bandaid off and just get to it.

In May I lost a member of my family. My sweet girl. You've only seen her a few times on the blog and she was very loved. She was only 13.
My Sweet Girl
She was an Alaskan Malamute and I got her when my cousin passed. He had 2 and his mom couldn't take care of both where she was going to live (she lived with him previously) and his brother could only take one. She did not get along with either of my parents dogs and when my big pup worked his magic, she accepted him as her minon. She got a bit nervous as he grew but he had no problems accepting her as his queen. They got along famously. In fact if he got scared she came running to make sure he was okay. She was his rock in life. I can't share more or I'll cry again. 

She left a huge hole in the house and my big pup really got depressed. So much so I started to worry. I had always intended to get someone for him to play with since my sweet girl couldn't with her arthritis and pain especially in the last year. She didn't care for other dogs so I wouldn't stress her out with another dog. However, I knew my big pup would need a companion of the puppy persuasion sooner rather than later. As his depression got deeper (even my mother commented on it) I knew I had to look for a dog sooner than I had intended. It was too soon for me, but I just needed to get over myself. So I started looking for female who was either a doberman pinscher, a pittie (as sometimes they are hard to place), or a black dog. All rescues if you were wondering but no judgement here because I only care that you provide a good forever home for it once you get an animal.

Then I saw...
Pictures from EAPL
and
Pic from EAPL
With that face I knew I found the perfect one to drive me and the big boy crazy for the next few months. I figured a pup would be best to easier get them together or otherwise I'd have to pick something closer to home for more than one "get to know me" session. Sadly, I didn't see one that looked to be compatible nearby. 

The monster... I mean pup *cough* 😜 was from the Evergreen Animal Protection Services who gets dogs from shelters in CO and neighboring states into foster homes for adoption. She was the last of her litter to go (black dogs don't often get picked). She is a Shepard mix (momma was a Shepard mix and daddy was a high fence jumping salesman). The big boy simultaneously loves and is annoyed with her. I expected that, but he isn't depressed!

Before the pup was picked up to go to her forever home, I did whip up something for the little monster... uh... pup. The font is small and I added a paw prints design which I combined in a program for machine embroidery. I tinted some muslin fabric with a fabric paint (just slightly to give it a bit of an aged look) before I embroidered on it. I then put it on top of some nylon webbing and made the collar.
I didn't realize how accurate this would be...
And her sporting it on a rare down time...

Everything wasn't totally smooth sailing as I did have some problems allergy wise. However, I have found it can be remedied by what you feed and bathe dogs in (Side note: I have a cousin who has a an allergy to dogs but has very little problems with my dogs). She had a med quality puppy food they were feeding her which wasn't exactly bad, but obviously not compatible with me. I carefully looked around (dogfoodadvisor.com) and found one that was "clean" and simple ingredients out of all the ones this brand had. I also trust the company and had researched it previously and it didn't seemed to have changed since the last time I looked at it (Merrick if you were wondering). My allergies cleared up shortly and I think she even feels better with the change. Now she is more of a handful than ever. LOL If you are wondering my big boy is on a homemade diet due to his specific medical problems.

She is now 3 months old and is already learning sit and come with pretty good accuracy. That can be a good thing and and bad one. It tells me she is smart but hopefully I can keep up. We will see (help me? LOL). 

I'll always miss my sweet girl and nothing will keep me from missing her a lot, but the new pup (which I'm not unconvinced she didn't send to me to keep me on my toes) will help with the sadness. She is not a replacement but an addition to the family. She has already helped my boy who is having fun playing with her and watching her drive me insane. INSANE!

So I've been preoccupied at the moment, but it is nice that it isn't all bad news (I think). Now I have to go yell at a pup who just got something she shouldn't have gotten....

🐢

Monday, July 3, 2017

DNF: Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles


Genre: Nonfiction
Published: July 4, 17
Publisher: Random House
Source: From NetGalley and publisher for review

A single book might not change the world. But this utterly original meditation on art and war might transform the way you see the world--and that makes all the difference.
"How to live in the face of so much suffering? What difference can one person make in this beautiful, imperfect, and imperiled world?" 
Through a dazzling combination of memoir, history, reporting, visual culture, literature, and theology, Sarah Sentilles offers an impassioned defense of life lived by peace and principle. It is a literary collage with an urgent hope at its core: that art might offer tools for remaking the world. 
In Draw Your Weapons, Sentilles tells the true stories of Howard, a conscientious objector during World War II, and Miles, a former prison guard at Abu Ghraib, and in the process she challenges conventional thinking about how war is waged, witnessed, and resisted. The pacifist and the soldier both create art in response to war: Howard builds a violin; Miles paints portraits of detainees. With echoes of Susan Sontag and Maggie Nelson, Sentilles investigates images of violence from the era of slavery to the drone age. In doing so, she wrestles with some of our most profound questions: What does it take to inspire compassion? What impact can one person have? How should we respond to violence when it feels like it can't be stopped? 
Draw Your Weapons stirs and confronts, disturbs and illuminates. A single book might not change the world, but this lucid, radiant, and utterly original meditation on art and war might transform the way you see the world--and that makes all the difference.

My thoughts:

I'm quite upset that this is my first official DNF of the year. I thought this one would be perfect for me. Taking on a different perspective than we usually see on violence and war and what we really want to change through these perspectives including those that believe in pacifism. I love seeing things you contemplate through new eyes and taking from a few artists that lived through different eras with their own perspective on violence in the world. I really just wanted a different perspective than I would have considered before. I wanted some food for thought with people who do not glorify violence and some who see it as a springboard for creation despite the destruction. Now this sounds like I've already put this book up for failure with my expectations but I would have been satisfied with a good tale even if I had heard it all before.

Unfortunately, I could not get into how she wrote the book. Sort of like a stream of consciousness that felt a bit like a diary from many perspectives. It just flitted from one POV to another. Even if they were connected I wanted a bit more grounding before I take off into the stratosphere and I didn't get very far before I put it aside. I can sometimes make myself try to get used to the author's intended format but I think with so much going on right now I just didn't have the patience.

If you still feel like this is something you would enjoy, I say go for it. Perhaps the format that doesn't fit me will fit perfectly with you.

πŸ“•

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wishlist, Excerpt and Freebies!

I'll be doing a post on why I've been a bit MIA lately around the blogosphere (if you noticed, if not then just pretend you did... LOL). It is bad, good and I think I need a good nap. 

In the meantime...

Honor Among Thieves
by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
Published: 2/13/18
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Zara Cole has been in and out of New Detroit’s rehab facilities for treatment of her antisocial disorder. There’s no adjusting Zara’s attitude, though. A painful past has made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in the Zone instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.
Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. 
Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned to along with fellow Honor Beatriz, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time, along with a devotion she’s never experienced before. Yet nothing—not her Honors training or her street smarts—could have prepared her for the dark, dangerous truths that lurk behind the glitter of starlight. 
Honor Among Thieves is the first book in a daring new sci-fi series by bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre.

Honor Among Thieves Excerpt:

I feel the stars.

Energy pulses against my skin, murmuring secrets about this small galaxy, about orbits and alignments and asteroids streaming in space. Impulse makes me want to dive and swim those currents, but I control these urges.

I shift my attention to the flutters of life within my skin.

Marko glows orange with crimson streaks. He is warm, always the easiest to find. Just now, he stands and stares at the blue-green orb swirling below us. I cannot swim down to see what he remembers of this place. The planet’s gravitational pull would break my bones. But he shows me flashes: smiling faces, a field of flowers, an old woman with eyes like slices of sky.

“I’ll miss you,” I tell him.

He starts, surprised to hear me, as if he’s ever truly alone. “Me too. It was a good run.”

He once told me that it’s strange when we talk; he thinks I should find him as insignificant as he does the bacteria in his stomach. But I have had time to acclimate to the strangers in my system. I safeguard the small voices, as is my privilege and duty. There will be more to my life, but only when I’ve proven myself.

The stars sing again, this time in strong, seductive harmony. I resist their melody, but the call is growing stronger.

Despite my passengers, I am empty in a way I cannot name. Marko tells me it is because our voyage is over; he calls this sadness. Perhaps I have learned this feeling from him. My first Honor gave me a human name, Nadim, and I have kept it safe, along with the other words and shapes and colors that shade my new existence. Like sadness.

I do not like this low orbit, but I must wait. I have been ordered to wait.

My new Honors will come.
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Freebies
Don't forget these freebies:

Audiobook Sync still going strong. These will be available until the 28th:

June 29th through July 5th will be:

American Night: The Ballad of Juan JosΓ© by Richard Montoya
and
My Name is Not Easy by Debbie Dahl Edwardson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Audiobooks.com is giving away an audiobook every Thursday this month. Unfortunately it only lasts 24 hrs and there is only one left for the month. So don't forget to check HERE for the book on the 29th.

Also, Tor.com has an ebook of the month club. Last month was Old Man's War by John Scalzi (no longer available). This month will be announced soon.

Go to http://ebookclub.tor.com/ to sign up to know what the next book is and get your free book! 

πŸ“š

Monday, June 26, 2017

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Series: The Conqueror's Saga #2
496 p.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: June 27,17
Source: From NetGalley and Publisher for review
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.
My thoughts:

I really loved the first book in the series so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. I was not disappointed.

We are split in-between the siblings Radu and Lada in the telling of this adventure. Both still have feelings for Medmed but now have grown into adults and trying to figure out who they are while trying to achieve their goals. I have to say as much as I was captivated by Lada and her harsh and severe decisions I really enjoyed Radu's POV in this one. He questioned everything in the end and while he still chose a side expected, the experience changed him profoundly and I'm curious to know where he will go from here. I think he has the biggest epiphany coming and more choices on the horizon which I think will become increasingly difficult.

Now this does not mean that I missed the adventure Lada had nor her growth. She is slowly figuring out not just who she or who she wants to be but more importantly, what kind of leader she will eventually become. I also have a feeling this road will not be easy and I can see her last decisions will have severe consequences. What I took away from most of the story is that the siblings were stronger together than separately but they both wanted different things out of life. It was interesting to see them both come to that same conclusion.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. It is a great historical fantasy and it isn't hard to get into for those that don't often read fantasy. I also recommend you read this one in order. Very few fantasy books should or can be read out of order.
πŸ‘‘

About Kiersten:

Kiersten White is the NYT bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, the Mind Games series, Illusions of Fate, The Chaos of Stars, In the Shadows with artist Jim Di Bartolo, and the upcoming historical reimagining, And I Darken. She has one tall husband and three small children and lives near the ocean, where her life is perfectly normal. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.

Giveaway Details:
3 Winners will receive a finished copy of NOW I RISE, US Only.




Tour Schedule:
Week One:
6/19/2017- BookfeverExcerpt
6/20/2017- Lisa Loves LiteratureReview
6/21/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
6/22/2017- FiktshunReview
6/23/2017- Carina's BooksReview

Week Two:
6/26/2017- Dazzled by BooksReview
6/27/2017- Books and ThingsReview
6/28/2017- Rattle the StarsReview
6/29/2017- YABCReview
6/30/2017- Once Upon A TwilightReview

Week Three:
7/3/2017- Adventures of a Book JunkieInterview
7/4/2017- Seeing Double In NeverlandReview
7/5/2017- Fiction FareReview
7/6/2017- YA and WineReview

7/7/2017- Little Red's ReviewsReview


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

On My Wishlist, A Reminder About Freebies, and a Little Visitor


Reincarnation Blues 
by Michael Poore
384 p.
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Published: 8/22/17
A magically inspiring tale of a man who is reincarnated through many lifetimes so that he can be with his one true love: Death herself. 
What if you could live forever—but without your one true love? Reincarnation Blues is the story of a man who has been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times, in search of the secret to immortality so that he can be with his beloved, the incarnation of Death.


Yea, this sounds strange enough that I would probably enjoy it. LOL


FREEBIE
Also, don't forget this weeks audiosync free audiobooks!
Until 6/15
Go HERE to get it!

Next week (6/15-6/21):

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Narrated by Kyla Garcia
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois, Narrated by Rodney Gardiner


Personal Note:
Had a visitor that I wanted to share... meet little lizard dude! 


 I believe s/he is a many lined skink lizard. He fell into the window well (so forgive the pic, it is through a window) and the log is there so he could climb out. No go and he just couldn't find footing to get out. Poor guy. Had to fish him out so he is safe and terrorizing the bug population in the yard. He was more than a foot long from head to tail. 

Wishing Little Lizard Dude (or dudette, I didn't check) all the luck in the world. 

🦎

Monday, June 5, 2017

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan

Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent #5 (last in the series)
352 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 4/25/17
Source: From publisher for review
The conclusion to the thrilling memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent and her legacy of dragon evolutionary research and anthropological adventures. 
After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field. 
And yet--after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia--the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.
My thoughts:

Last book. I was excited to see how this one concludes since I have been enjoying this series. I have to say, this is my favorite book out of all of them. That is unusual for me as the last book often tends to be the weakest for me, but this one held my full attention.

It builds on the other books so I would suggest to read all of these in order. It shows the timeline of how she became a dragon naturalist/scientist, the barriers she eroded as a woman in the field, and the historical findings she made while being an adventurist. It is all well told together and you can see this alternate reality happening. Oh and there is a love story in the midst that also finds its way into this last story. This book becomes the most mythic out of all of the books and really comes to a complete conclusion. It is the most surprising of all of them and it feels like this is the book all the rest were building toward. I don't want to say too much or I'll spoil it, but this one captured me in scope and imagination. I wouldn't mind if there were more, especially with the artwork all the books include. I really feel that the artwork brings the stories to life.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars and highly recommend it to those that enjoy a fantastical history with dragons. Need I say more? 😊 I also recommend this series to those that would like to jump into fantasy but might have been reluctant in the past.

Bloggy Note:

For reviews of the other books in the series and a couple of author guest posts by Marie Brennan go HERE. There are also some artwork to enjoy on the author posts. 

πŸ‰

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent

Series: Menagerie #2
432 p.
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Published: 5/30/17
Source: From NetGalley and Publisher for review.
In this riveting sequel to New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent's acclaimed novel Menagerie, Delilah Marlow will discover that there is no crueler cage than the confines of the human mind… 
When their coup of Metzger's Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of "exotic wildlife." Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle's owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price.

But Vandekamp's closely guarded client list isn't the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.
My thoughts:

I loved the first book which honestly caught me by surprise. I had high hopes for this one and I was not disappointed. Those worrying about sophomore syndrome need not worry. While our intrepid cryptids find themselves in similar but in some ways more dangerous circumstances, one which none is expected to survive, we find ourselves once again captured (in a good way) by the story and how it all plays out. There is no cliffhanger but there is a huge open ending which will make you salivate for more of the tale. I, for one, cannot wait to read the next book in this series, *grabby hands*, even though it may not be written yet. Yes, you can safely say I really loved this book.

My only niggle would be with Delilah herself. While I feel that she has placed the bulk of the responsibilities on keeping the other cryptids alive, I also feel that she should share in that responsibility. They have as much or more at stake and it is also a bit of an insult to think that they are not capable of the task of at least helping her out as an equal. That is where I felt she sort of resembled her captors, but I do think she made strides in that area a tiny bit. Still, it is a minor niggle.

I do not want to tell too much or I'll spoil the book (or even the one that came before) but I will say this: I feel you need to pay attention to the prologue in the book. I have a feeling it will play an important role in the coming books and not just this story.

In conclusion, I feel that this series needs to be read in order. It makes sense and this one builds on the first book. You get fully introduced to Delilah who is our protagonist and why she is important to the menagerie. I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I highly recommend this series to those that love a good fantasy.

πŸŽͺ

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones


Series: Charley Davidson #11
Unabridged Audiobook
Narrator: Lorelei King
9 hrs. 18 min.
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 1/24/17
Source: Library
Series narrator Lorelei King returns to narrate Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, the latest installment of Darynda Jones' New York Times bestselling paranormal series.
My entire life can be summed up in one sentence: 
"Well, that didn't go as planned."--T-Shirt 
A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, errant wives, missing people, philandering business owners, and, oh yeah...demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead. 
Now, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, will Charley be able to defeat the ultimate evil and find a way to have her happily ever after after all?
My thoughts:

Ah, another good addition to the series. It brought me everything I was looking for... humor, adventure, more Reyes. Charley has been learning more about herself and I think this addition to the series is where she learns more about her gifts as well as exactly why she has them. We still have more information to procure, but this one seems to be on a faster track than the other editions in this area. We also get the usual ghosties that need help and an adventure with Ubie which really brought out the caring in his character. Reyes is still a bit too closed up but I think it may come with good reason. 

...and then just as I was enjoying myself wondering where the next shoe would drop... it dropped. It dropped hard and then just ended. I knew there was going to be a cliff hanger, but honestly this one worries me more than the other cliffies. With the others, I just wanted to know how it would happen but this one may be a bigger problem than the others. I cannot say, but I will say it was a shoe the old woman could move into and live comfortably with all her kids. Wait... why am I talking shoes? Oh yea, it's a Charley thing. 😏

Seriously though... one note to the author about that cliffie... Darynda, I need you to go to your room and think about what you have done. Also, gimme the next book. :D Oh and Lorelei don't think you are getting off easy either. You have brought such life to these characters with your narration I need you to go to your room as well and think about how much this has affected all of us readers/listeners. 

Yea, you can say I'm addicted to this series and love it so much I'm willing to send people to their room for making me worry. If you have not started this series you so need to get on that. I also have a suggestion. Try the audiobook. Even if you don't usually like audiobooks, this one really brings it to life and it may change your mind.

And since it is Wishlist Wednesday... I nominate


The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones
Published: 10/31/17
Audiobook shortly after...

I don't want to publish the blurb right now since it may contain a spoiler I didn't want to share in the review. 😊  Still... grabby hands! 😁

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On My Wishlist: Black Bird of the Gallows and The Girl in the Tower

Oh have a couple that have caught my eye lately...

Black Bird of the Gallows
by Meg Kassel
300 p.
Published: 9/5/17
Publisher: Entangled
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. 
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human. 
What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.
I love that cover! 



The Girl in the Tower
by Katherine Arden
Series: The Bear and the Nightingale #2
352 p.
Published: 1/9/18
Publisher: Del Rey

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.
I enjoyed the first book so I'm curious about this one! 

🌟

Also, don't forget Audiobook Sync's freebie this week. Last day (5/10) for Feed by M.T. Anderson and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams. Tomorrow you can get Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes and Teenage Diaries: Then and Now by Radio Diaries.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Netflix, Puppies, and Free Audiobooks... What a Combination!

I only have a couple to share.

Show:

Into the Badlands

This one is an AMC production. I did catch one ep on AMC but didn't get caught up in it. I found the first season on Netflix (second season is going on now at AMC) and quickly got into this one. This is one I highly suggest to start from the beginning. The nuances make more sense. It has those Chinese film sword fight like flair that defy gravity paired with a dystopian background. This is one I say to try it (from the beginning) you might like it. πŸ˜‰


Movie:

Leap Year

Thought this one would be cute with Amy Adams in it and it was a enemies to falling in love kind of film. It follows the formula and I did enjoy their journey where everything goes wrong. They do fall for each other but it really didn't quite flow with me. I think I needed a bit more of Matthew Goode's background or character growth. Still, it was enjoyable and I did love the epilogue at the end.



If you like that formula, I think you would enjoy the 90s film, French Kiss. It is a bit more successful in the transition of enemies to falling in love but I sill love Leap Year's epilogue better.  I mention this because it hit me as I was comforting my pups and this came on tv in the background. πŸ’‹


🎬

...and speaking of comforting pups. Again, I haven't had as much time as I like with either netflix or reading because the pups think they need more attention. One isn't still doing well with more pain and has worried me but we had snow and it really made her happy (she is a snow dog).

The other one decided to get more attention. Since his paw had healed from the last time, he decided to rip off a nail on another foot. It came off clean so I just put a cotton sock on his foot so it could still get air, keep clean and keep him from licking (in his case he is good about it as long as there is a sock on it). If this happens to you, as long as it isn't bleeding a lot you can usually soak it in warm water to clean it then put neosporin on it before putting a sock on it. You hold the sock on with a loose wrapping of vet tape or the kind of tape that sticks to itself (I found a vid since I'm not sure I was clear HERE which also gives good hints of what to look for and what to do). I thought I'd go into detail since when looking for the video I saw an article that said to put peroxide on it. Oh no! Talk about pain! Don't do it. And go to the vet if you feel the need or have questions. Best place to get your answers. The pics below is when it first happened and all I had was thin paper tape. It ended up rolling up on itself and creating pressure on his foot. I caught it quickly since I was monitoring it before I could get the proper tape.

You can see he isn't too happy with the sock on and he acts like I have abused him to no end. LOL Hopefully he will not have lost the nail permanently. I also hope he stops vying for attention in this way. So forgive me if the blog gets a bit slow.
Trying to guilt me into taking off the sock
πŸ™ˆ


One thing to note is the start of Audiobook Sync's free month. It has already started and by the end of today (May 3rd) the freebies are The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and The Dead House by Dawn Kuragich. Tomorrow starts the new week of audiobooks. Those will be Feed by MT Anderson and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The list for this year is HERE so you don't miss any.
🎧

Monday, May 1, 2017

Follow Me down by Sherri Smith

Standalone Thriller
352 p.
Publisher: Forge Books
Published: 3/28/17
Source: From publisher for review
Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect. 
All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run? 
As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.
My thoughts:

I have to admit I didn't like Mia for half of the book. I didn't connect to her and she kept making stupid mistakes. Then she had to complicate those mistakes with prescription drug abuse. I just kept wondering why she was making it harder for her brother to exonerate himself if he was innocent. If he was guilty, she seemed to be throwing away the key to any sort of fair trial. It was frustrating.

Then the middle of the book happened and I just became swept up into the thriller aspect of the book. I really became interested and invested in the outcome. I wanted to know who killed this girl and why so many things happened. Parts were still disconnected for me, but it no longer mattered... I had to know who done it.

There were several twists and turns in the book and things became clearer despite Mia's bungling. It also became more harrowing and while I did fall for the red herrings, I did suspect that the true culprit had something to do with the murder. It was an interesting ride.

I give this book 3 stars. If you stick with this one (and not everyone who reviewed it felt the same as I did about the beginning), there is a good payoff in the end. I am curious about this author now and I would read another thriller by her.

πŸ’Š

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.

πŸ•Έ

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.


πŸ“Ή

Monday, April 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop


Series: The Others #2
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
14 hrs. 13 min.
Unabridged
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?

πŸ“Œ

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.

🐾