Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Series: Immortal Guardians #7
541 p.
Published: Sept. 19. 2017
Publisher: Author Published
Source: From author for review


Dana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember. But she never saw Aidan coming. When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception... and passion. Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan's arms and in his bed. Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.
Immortal Guardian Aidan O'Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don't trouble him. The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan's brethren turning against him, so he can't help but feel alarmed. While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?
My thoughts:

Oh another addition to this wonderful series. Seriously, if you haven't started this one yet you are missing out on some great action and romance. In this book we get Aiden's story. A hunky Celt who has recently joined the ranks of Seth's Immortals. We got to know a bit of him through the other stories and found his longing for a romantic companion very swoony.

Okay, now I have a problem reviewing this book. Not because I didn't like it, but because I did and I'm TRYING not to spoil anything from this book or from previous books. So what to do...

Aidan appears vulnerable in how he is trying to meet the right woman which is adorable. We see him woo Dana and her reactions to the world she gets thrust into. Oh and I should also say that Dana is a great addition to this series as well. Not a shrinking violet but someone who takes no guff and protects those that she loves. There are also quite a few humorous moments within this greeting as well.

The action does seem less harrowing than in the other books but there was still one instance where I was thrown which also led me to believe that not everyone may be safe in the end of the series. Granted they might be as well, but it shows that the author is willing to risk some of her characters and keep us on the edge of our seat.

I don't think that spoiled it too much... you have no idea how much I wanted to say!

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. It is a great series that I suggest starting from the beginning. Not only do the characters develop throughout the series but so does the mysterious story arc connecting all the books. You could get away with reading this one without the rest, but I have no doubt that you would feel as though you missed some good story telling and you would be right. Therefore, get the whole series! I highly recommend it.


Don't forget to check out the blog tour post on the blog. There is a good excerpt there! Just click HERE or on the pic below:
Check out the excerpt and the prizes!

🎁

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Dianne Duvall, comes the next heart-pounding romance in the Immortal Guardians series - BLADE OF DARKNESS! Order your copy today!


28700596Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall
Immortal Guardians Book #7
Releasing September 19th, 2017

Return to the “utterly addictive” (RT Book Reviews) world of New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardians.

Dana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember.  But she never saw Aidan coming.  When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception… and passion.  Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan’s arms and in his bed.  Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.

Immortal Guardian Aidan O’Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don’t trouble him.  The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan’s brethren turning against him, so he can’t help but feel alarmed.  While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?



Excerpt:

“It really doesn’t freak you out, even a little bit, knowing I can see things from your past, present, and future? Knowing that the more time we spend together, the more I’ll see and the more I’ll know about you that you may not want me to know? Because I will see stuff you don’t want me to, Aidan. I always do. And it always ruins things.”

Leaning forward, Aidan crossed his arms and braced them on the table. “It doesn’t freak me out at all, Dana, because I’m in the same boat.”

She frowned. “What?”

Aidan took one of those pauses that made her think he questioned the wisdom of speaking. “I’m in the same boat,” he repeated. “I haven’t dated in a long time because I was born with gifts similar to yours that tend to make others uncomfortable.”

Disappointment filled her. Seriously? He was mocking her?

“You look a bit like you want to hit me over the head with the breadbasket,” he stated, brow creasing, “so—to keep you from thinking whatever it is that’s making your eyes flash with fury—I’ll tell you that I’m telepathic and can prove it if you’ll give me permission to read your thoughts.”

Hell yes, she was furious. This was Jason all over again. That asshole had pretended he had psychic abilities like hers in a lame attempt to get into her pants. He hadn’t realized she actually was psychic and would see through his bullshit.

Dana leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “You’re telepathic?”

“Yes.”

“Prove it.”

“I can read your thoughts?”

“You tell me,” she countered, a blatant dare. Read my thoughts, my ass, she mentally grumbled. She had thought Aidan was different, but to mock her like this by pretending he had a special gift, too? What a disappointment.

“I am different,” he insisted. “And I’m not pretending. I do have a special gift. More than one, if you’re to know the truth of it.”

She frowned. Had he just read her thoughts?


“Yes,” he said.

She narrowed her eyes. Yes, what? Yes, he had read her thoughts? Or was he just guessing the path they would naturally take?

“Yes, I read your thoughts,” he said. “And yes, I could’ve guessed the path they would take, but I didn’t.”

She stilled. Okay. That was a little spot-on.

“And to prove it,” he continued, “I’ll tell you that, although I have not been listening to your thoughts on our date, I did give them a listen both times you gave me a reading and know that you’ve had two visions about me that you failed to mention.”

Her heart began to pound. How did he know that?

“In the first one,” he said, lowering his voice, “we were naked in bed and I was touching your—”

“Holy crap,” she whispered, dropping her arms and gaping at him.

His lips twitched. “I was going to say breast, but—”

“How do you know about that?” she blurted.

“The same way I know that in the second vision, you were cupping my face in your hands—as you did earlier—and I kissed you and pulled you up against me, sliding my hand down over your lovely bottom. I read your thoughts and saw it as clearly as you did.”

Speech eluding her, Dana stared at him so long that her eyes began to burn.

“Blink,” he instructed.

She did.

“I know it’s a bit of a shock,” he murmured, eyeing her with some concern.

“A bit of a shock,” she parroted numbly.

“I know it feels… intrusive. But I didn’t read your thoughts the whole time. Most of the time I can control what I hear and don’t hear and can block others’ thoughts fairly easily.” Younger telepathic immortals weren’t so lucky. “But when the visions struck you, I saw them as clearly as you did without even trying. I think because we’re both gifted.”

She hadn’t told anyone about those visions. There was no way he could’ve known about them without reading her mind. “Holy. Crap.”

His eyebrows rose.

“Are you reading my thoughts right now?” she asked.

“Yes. They’re a little chaotic. I’m sorry I’ve shaken you up so much. I just wanted you understand why I haven’t dated in so long and hoped you’d appreciate my honesty.”

Honesty! He had read her thoughts! He had apparently been reading them all this time, saying exactly what he knew she wanted him to say and—

His brows drew together. “Now wait a minute. That’s not true. I would never use what I saw in your thoughts to manipulate you. If that had been my intent, I never would’ve told you I’m telepathic.”

“Dude,” a voice interrupted, “you told her you’re telepathic?”

Aidan swung around and shot a glare at Sheldon.

Dana guessed Sheldon was in his early twenties. Tracy looked to be thirty or thereabouts. Both eyed her and Aidan with great interest as they gathered their laptops and gear and stopped by Dana and Aidan’s table on their way to the door.

“Sheldon,” Aidan growled, definitely a warning.

“You know he’s telepathic?” Dana asked his friend.

“Yeah,” Sheldon responded simply. The woman at his side nodded. Neither seemed to view it as anything extraordinary, as if she had just asked them if they knew Aidan could play the piano.

“It doesn’t bother you?” Dana pressed.

Sheldon gave a dismissive shrug. “Nah. Aidan’s a good guy. He almost never reads my mind.”

Aidan grimaced. “Because there’s too much porn and weird shite up there.”

Tracy laughed and gave Sheldon’s shoulder a shove. “Freak.”

Sheldon grinned. “You know it.” Then he caught Dana’s eye. “I’m surprised he told you. People don’t usually react well when they find out he’s different. I’d think you’d understand that since you’re different, too.”

He knew she was a psychic? “How did you—?”

“I heard a rumor that Aidan was smitten with a psychic.” He shrugged. “When I saw you two together, I assumed you were her.”

Aidan frowned. “Where’d you hear that?”

Sheldon hesitated. “Cliff let it slip while we were playing video games. You won’t hold it against him, will you? He didn’t mean to. He was just… more distracted than usual. And Tracy is the only person I’ve told.”

Aidan shook his head. “It’s fine.”

Tracy smiled. “We’d better go before Sheldon says anything else that will embarrass you.” Taking Sheldon’s arm, she urged him toward the door. “You two have a nice evening.”

“What’d I say that embarrassed him?” Sheldon asked, puzzled.

She whispered something to him.

Sheldon snorted. “Yeah, right. Like she didn’t already know he’s smitten. It’s so obvious.”

Tracy pushed him into the hallway and closed the door after them.

In the wake of their departure, Aidan swung back around and met Dana’s gaze with obvious reluctance. “Apparently there’s something else I failed to tell you that you should probably know.”

Seriously? Something else? “What’s that?” she asked, unsure she wanted to hear it.

He sighed. “I suck at dating.”

Dana laughed. 
πŸ“–
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Giveaway!
Tour-Wide Giveaway: 
(1) $50 Amazon Gift Card
(1)$25 Amazon Gift Card
(1) Immortal Guardians Prize pack

(for some reason the Rafflecopter form is being dodgy on Blogger so I thought the most secure way is to share the link:)



(click either one)

🎁

The Immortal Guardians Series:



About the Author

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 DianneDuvall.com. You can also find Dianne online . . .

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest | Goodreads | Google Plus

Friday, September 15, 2017

Art Book Review: Dare to Sketch by Felix Scheinberger


Genre: Art
160 p.
Published: Sept. 19, 2017
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review

An inspirational, instructional, and visually stimulating guide to sketching and drawing. Dare to Sketch is filled with practical tips about which materials to use, a variety of subject matter ranging from easy to more challenging, and wisdom about overcoming creative blocks and fear of making mistakes.
A whimsical beginner's guide to sketching, covering all of the important basics: what kind of notebook to buy, what drawing materials to use, ideas for subject matter, and daily exercises. Includes inviting, inspirational, and idiosyncratic tips (don't start on the first page of your sketchbook!), Dare to Sketch is gorgeously illustrated with the author's unique and contemporary art style.
My thoughts:

 I'm always on the lookout for a sketching book to finally get me to sketch! Yea, I know... it is up to me and not a book but inspiration is always a good thing. While this one didn't quite get my butt in gear and start sketching as much as I should, it was a good primer book for those that want just some information on sketching in general.

I actually didn't agree with some of the suggestions here, I didn't quite disagree either. I do like his suggestions on materials, but I think to get someone to sketch you need to make it more accessible and more relaxed. The suggested paper and pens were ideal, but I think that a much more relaxed attitude toward it gets people to start more than anything else. Ironically it is a sentiment he seems to make when getting down to how to record what you see. His attitude there is that you don't need to produce photographic type of drawings (keep those for a camera) but to get more of the gesture and feel of the objects.

In the end I give this book 3 stars. It is good basic information for those starting to sketch and it does have some good inspirational sketches from the artist. I also like the last couple of pages that talked about master artists and what happened to their sketchbooks. I always love those kinds of tidbits.

πŸ–‹

Friday, September 1, 2017

Craft Alert: Watch All Day Craft Classes Monday at Craftsy for FREE! (Affiliate Post)


I won't be around much blogging today (due to life and the need to deal with it. I will visit your blogs soon, promise!) and I didn't want to wait to post this so I had to give you a heads up on a great deal at Craftsy! Can I say FREE? πŸ‘€

They are teaming up with Cricut to give you free access to ALL their craft classes for one day only! So mark Sept 4th on your calendar! You do have to be a member but the membership is always free. Just click HERE (it's my affiliate link) to go to the page to either sign up or check out all the goodies! You can also click on the pic below (same affiliate link) to go to the same page. Have fun!!



πŸ–Œ

Monday, August 28, 2017

Canine Nutrigenomics by W. Jean Dodds, DVM

Genre: Nonfiction Dog Health
326 p.
Publisher: Dogwise Publishing
Published: 1/13/15
Source: Library

Vibrant health begins in the cells. Learn how to transform your dog's cellular health with the power of nutrigenomics in this ground-breaking new book. Nutrigenomics (a combination of the words nutrition and genome) is the study of how the foods we and our pets eat "speak" to our cells to regulate gene expression, which in turn plays a huge role in determining whether a person or animal will live a life of vibrant health, or one plagued by illness. 
Scientists now know that while we can't change the genes we are born with, we can change how those genes behave, which is exactly what authors W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana Laverdure-Dunetz, MS show us how to do in, Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health from Dogwise Publishing.
 My thoughts:

I have been interested in dog health and especially dog nutrition for a long time now. I have had several dogs throughout the years with special needs and so I was forced into reading on nutrition. If you have had to forage into this area you know it can get confusing fast. Very fast. It is worse than human nutrition. What is bad in one book and should be avoided at all costs is celebrated in another. My biggest suggestion for those looking to improve health is to carefully read about the person giving the information and also research their background.

I've been following this vet for a while now and I have read many of her articles but none of her books. This was the first one I have read by her and I was not disappointed. In earlier articles by her I read a bit of her information on thyroid problems in dogs. I've had two dogs with that problem and one of them is my large doberman. Though her articles I have adjusted when I give the medicine to him and what foods to avoid. It seems very consistent with other nutritional veterinarians.

This book focuses on Nutrigenomics. It is has gained more popularity and was once considered pseudoscience. Not all agree that there is enough evidence to suggest that nutrition can influence how genes react which is the basis of nutrigenomics. It is in a sense using food as medicine. It has been gaining popularity and more papers and studies have been done. It is an interesting idea in both humans and animals. Plus, in my own experience I have physically seen how nutrition has changed my animals health throughout the years.

Dr. Dodds also runs a canine blood bank and has a test for food sensitivities which she promotes in the book. I would love to do it for my pups but it is very expensive (but some insurances do cover it but a veterinarian has to order it). It could end up being a money saver, however, if you have not gotten to the bottom of certain gastrointestinal disorders or even coat problems (like hot spots and excessive itching). It is at least worth a look if you have a pet that has issues that have not been helped conventionally. There is information on her site about this test and the book really tells you how the information you gain from this test applies. If you don't do the testing you can still gain some insight and knowledge on what to feed your dog.

I give this book 4 stars with my long winded review. The book can seem quite technical to some so I would try her articles first to see if it is someone that makes sense to you. I also suggest to library book this one (where I got my ebook copy) to see if it is something you want to keep or just something to get a few tidbits from to enhance your dog's food. Dr Dodds is at lest worth a look when you are trying to help your pet's health through nutrition.

Dr. Dodds Blog (you can also access their other services and information through the link as well).

πŸ•

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What a month!

Ah, I've been silent again, but for good reason. 

I had a whole post on what my dogs put me through (they are all fine now but seriously dogs...), my health, and Charlottesville. While I was writing it out I realized I really didn't want to talk about all of that. Since Charlottesville I've been angry and tired and let me just say it... racism is bad. How do some people not get that? Even though I was not surprised that violence has happened but what did surprise me is that it has become personal in a way I didn't expect. I won't reveal the specifics but I will state that I have no problems standing with my convictions but it did make me angry. I only wanted to state that since I KNOW I'm not the only one going through it and I want anyone out there to know they are not alone. So many more people are speaking out against racism. Racism has always been there, it will be there after this section in history but we can do what we can to lessen it's impact for future generations. I have no problem believing it will happen because so many people are saying no. It is good to see and hold onto that. 

Now I'm switching gears (but know you just got a virtual hug from me)...

I just became a affiliate for Craftsy. 

Paper Crafts Supplies

I have used this site for quite a while. I often buy patterns or videos from this site when they are on sale. I can now let you know so if you are interested you can get in on the sales. Yep, I'm trying to do more crafting. I'm also previewing a lot of videos for them so hopefully I'll get to share those as well for you. I've been a bit behind where I want to be due to personal issues but hopefully will get to writing those things down.

I am also getting more involved in dog nutrition and training. I have to write some reviews on this and will hopefully have them soon.

It will be a bit before I'm back into full swing, but thanks for sticking around! I hope I end up having something here you will enjoy.

Hope your day gets better (even if it is great, I want it to get even better!) since I think we all deserve it right now.

πŸ’

Monday, August 21, 2017

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Standalone
384 p.
Publisher: Del Ray Books
Published: 8/22/17
Source: Publisher and NetGalley for review
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. Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut in this darkly whimsical, hilariously profound, and wildly imaginative comedy of the secrets of life and love. Transporting us from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day, is a journey through time, space, and the human heart.
My thoughts:

The blurb made me curious and I also wanted to see how the worldbuilding would play out in this story since so many cultures have a form of reincarnation within it's mythology narrative. While it was an interesting story, it did not really follow any specific religious views which I think was a good thing. However, it also touched so lightly on various cultural views it ended up not really having one of it's own and I'm not totally sure it was purposeful in doing that. Most people will not come to this story for that specific cultural view so this will be a minor niggle to most but I personally wanted it to go a bit deeper. Personal preference only but I also was glad it didn't so it didn't become preachy or religious at all.

I wasn't quite certain what the theme of the book was as he was continually pushed for "perfection" or enlightenment (which I think was interchangeable here) but it was never truly defined and he did find perfection within imperfection (say that 3 times fast). The romance was actually quite light in this book and was really the motivation for our hero to achieve perfection. The timeline flows back and forth through time with historical characters we know and futures we have yet to experience. It was an interesting journey and his lifetimes were interesting within itself. The ending is satisfying as is the epilogue but it does pose a philosophical question which I will not reveal since it would end up being a spoiler. You'll just have to see if you feel the same. *evil laugh*

I would have also liked to have followed "death" or Suzie more and I think that would have made the romance stronger. It was not strong within the story as most would expect but I did believe it and rooted for both of them to be together.

I give this book 3 stars. I did enjoy the fantasy of many lifetimes and even though I would have liked a stronger and more depth to the worldbuilding and romance I still found our hero Milo's journey to be interesting in how he learned and grew.

🌟

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Queen of Swords by R. S. Belcher

Series: Golgotha #3
364 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 6/27/17
Source: From publisher for review
1870. Maude Stapleton, late of Golgotha, Nevada, is a respectable widow raising a daughter on her own. Few know that Maude belongs to an ancient order of assassins, the Daughters of Lilith, and is as well the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Anne Bonney, the legendary female pirate.

Leaving Golgotha in search of her daughter Constance, who has been taken from her, Maude travels to Charleston, South Carolina, only to find herself caught in the middle of a secret war between the Daughters of Lilith and their ancestral enemies, the monstrous Sons of Typhon. To save Constance, whose prophetic gifts are sought by both cults, Maude must follow in the footsteps of Anne Bonney as she embarks on a perilous voyage that will ultimately lead her to a lost city of bones in the heart of Africa—and the Father of All Monsters.
My thoughts:

I haven't read the first two in the series and judging by the book I thought it was an offshoot series. It is not, but firmly a part of a series. I was not lost as I think Anne Bonney and her descendants take center stage in this one but not center in the other books. I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would but it made me crave more of Anne Bonney's story and I think I'll get some of it when I go back to read the other books in the series. Tor, if you are listening... I'd love to read those other books... *hint* πŸ˜‰

This story flits back and forth between timelines. The time is stamped on each chapter but even if you didn't pay attention to it, you would not be lost. In this instance Anne's story is more of a supportive role to tell Maude's story but she doesn't take the back seat. In fact, I think she may have stole the show... but it fits her character well.

The weakest parts were with the Sons of Typhon and with Typhon himself. He doesn't quite make my most feared villains but perhaps that is because I haven't read the other stories. He lacked depth but I'm not real sure that bothers me. He was a good backdrop and a reason for the tale we got and I really wanted more of Anne and the sisters of Lilith and that background story.

I give this book 4 stars. While I think you could dive into this one as I did and not be lost, be prepared to want more of Anne's story. I have a feeling you'll be wanting either her own book all to herself or at least the other books in this series. I want both. I recommend it to those that enjoy fantasy and pirates you would sail with around the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Arts and Crafts (and Entertainment): Dog Harness and NetFlix

...and a bit of movies and shows as well...

I actually have a few crafts I need to post but because I'm behind and have a few things to work out before I post most of them so this will be short. I do have one I would like to share that I just completed. 

I made a pup harness!

I put an extra D ring on the front to make it a no pull harness. Will see if it works soon. It is also an no choke harness as well. She needed another one and I made this one so I could wash the one I had on her. LOL 


Here she is modeling the harness. She is growing! Her face is starting to elongate a bit and now I can see more of the shepherd that she is supposed to have in her. Still looks nothing like one though. 

I have also been catching up on a few movies from time to time. Finally saw Moana (and now it has been in the background now and again... LOL) and I also finally saw Kubo and the Two Strings.
I knew about this one a long time before it came out because Toby Froud (yes that Toby from Labyrinth) worked on the film and I saw a bit of it while in production. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. 

I also got my mom into Sense8 and about the time I knew she would be hooked they announced that it would be cancelled. I warned her but she had already been hooked enough to continue and by the time it was over she was cursing with me about Netflix stopping production. Soon after it was announced that there would be a 2 hr ending in the works and it should be available next year. *whew*

I also have been getting into Wynonna Earp. It is a campy-ish sci-fi show with demons and other odd characters. It is fun and I'm just in the first season. It comes on the Sci-Fi channel but the first season is on NetFlix.

Hope everyone is doing well! I'm going to try to catch up on my blogging and blog visiting one day soon... 

πŸ•

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.
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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

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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