Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Uprooted

 Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novi
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I know you're thinking how could I not give five amazing stars to this highly loved book. So here's the thing, this book IS gorgeous! Naomi Novik's writing is lyrical, descriptive and overall beautiful. 


So what's the tiny problem? 

The end dragged a bit for me. I felt like Uprooted had two endings and while the second ending is gorgeous the first 'ending' d was expecting if one or two key things had played out differently. That said the last chapter is one of my favourite parts of the book and it maybe couldn't have worked so well if slotted into the 'ending' I was surprised wasn't the ending. That probably makes no sense... let me explain it this way. If you're seen the movie A.I. then you probably know that there was the beautiful 'blue fairy' ending which was serene and romantic; and if you turned off the movie at that moment it would be a really good movie. But instead Spielberg (and his alien obsession) had to add on a second ending. This is how I feel about the way Uprooted played out. Like an extra 40 pages (minus the last amazing chapter!!) could have been cut and it would have been so concise and not so drawn out. 


This adult fairy tale (yes it is adult there is a sex scene and a fair bit of violence and some moments of true depression) takes elements from Rapunzel, Cinderella, and other well known fairy tales; and yet it's not like any of them. It is truly its own story. 


There are so many themes in this book including: the most unusual but perfect romance, a sisterhood friendship, loyalty to family, and so much more. Uprooted is a book I can imagine being a best friend that I to go to when I hit a reading slump or the world is sucking the life out of me. And maybe when I inevitably re-read it I'll be prepared for the ending and appreciate it more. 


Overall my suggestion is if you love fairy tales read Uprooted. Let me clarify, I don't mean Disney fairy tales; I mean the true fairy tales where the end is happy but not perfect. It's like real life. You look back and think, well that didn't go exactly as I'd hoped, but it could have been worse so I'll take it and appreciate all the more the happiness I have been given. 


I'm confident most everyone will appreciate the gorgeous stringing of words that Novik has put into Uprooted, alongside believable characters with flaws that fit into an original and well developed fantasy world. Truly a book that every fantasy reader must have.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Alice - A blob of cream, peach & pink

Are you all super excited to see pictures of blobs of cream, peach, pink and some brown for the next, who knows how long?
I hope so cause there's gonna be a lot of that on this HAED. :)

Below is the 'first' page of my HAED, being affectionately called "Alice". What she will eventually look like is to the right.
For those wondering... this is not the top left corner like most people start with. This is the bottom left hand corner because I was taught to stitch as a lefty even though I'm a righty. Anyways I stitch 'upside down' or some such thing. It doesn't actually matter so long as all the stitches and crosses go the same direction and I've been doing it this way for 20+ years and there's no way I'm changing. So I start in the bottom left hand corner of giant pieces like this and stitch to the right and up.
So here she is to date:

I know this update is so super exciting we all can't possibly hold in our glee. LOL. 
Sadly this little blob is hours and hours of work so far. But gotta keep in mind this is a long, long road; just like Dragons was. And there is by no means a time restriction on this girly. 

In other news: My March Dragon has been started trying to stay one month behind (and no more) from the SAL. It's a bit tough to motivate myself on the little Dragons right now because all I really want to do is work on Alice! But it'll work itself out I'm sure. 
Next week is my local Comic Con! So little to no stitching is likely, but lots of geeking out will be had! 
Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: The Animators

 

Title: The Animators

Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker 

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars 


DNF (did not finish) after 23%. 

I realise I am going to be wildly unpopular if I give this a low rating as I did not finish this book and it's well loved by critics. Therefore I am leaving my star rating blank in order to not skew the rating downwards.


The reason for giving up is simple for me: 

I used to be a graphic designer, my husband still is, my brother works in special effects for movies and I've met dozens of comic book artists and other artists over the years. I can tell you one definitive thing from all that experience: We are NOT all train wrecks. PERIOD.

In fact most artists (of any kind) I know are really hard working people that bust their butts every day, for longer hours than the average 'office worker', and put their heart and soul into their artistry. Now are there some bad seeds out there, yes, in any industry (especially one as competitive as art) there always is someone who makes everyone else look bad. But as a general rule the art industry is not full of a bunch of washed up druggy losers there's too much work involved to just get noticed and they don't put the effort in. 


So why is this relevant? 

Because, as is so often the case, I feel like The Animators is setting up the art industry to be seen as awful. It's ironic that The Devil Wears Prada is one of the most honest books (and movies) out there. I have seen publishers be that awful, vague and mean; and I absolutely loved it so much because it was so true! However the same cannot be said for the Animators. I have met very few successful artists that are complete drugged out losers. And so I don't really understand what Kayla Rae Whitaker is trying to say with her portrayal of these two brilliant female artists (except to say that if art is hard for men it's doubly hard for women..?) as partying messes who have just made it big. 


Additionally, this book felt hard to read for me. I needed to work a bit too hard to follow the thoughts of the characters. It's likely a wonderful literary study but honestly as I was reading it all I could think was how much I wish it was A Visit from the Goon Squad which I really enjoyed. Maybe it's the difference in my personal view between the music industry and the art industry that I can accept a harsh, drug-addled perspective from the music world but not the art world. Maybe that makes me the one in the wrong... All I know is I just don't see the correlation that is being made here in this industry. 


At the end of the day it was just too much effort without any pay-off at the 23% mark. I didn't like either of our two main gals and was frustrated with both of them for being really annoying and just flat out dumb. Whether it was their relationships with one another, others, interviews on NPR, or their general laziness and overall stoned attitudes I just wasn't buying it; and therefore didn't feel 

any compassion towards them for it. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: Queens of Geek

 

Title: Queens of Geek 

Author: Jen Wilde

Genre: Teen

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 


Cute, cute, cute!!!

That's really the best description for Queens of Geek. This book is funny, heartfelt, adorable and genuine. The story resonates with me and I wish I had had this to read as a teenager. Not only is there lots of talk about coping with anxiety, but there are also moments discussing self esteem. These are two major issues I had as a teen and still have today even at the age of 34. 


This book does a wonderful job at showing that everyone gets nervous, anxious and self conscious. Whether your a celebrity, a shy girl, a geeky boy or a confident go-getter; you will still have moments of doubt and need support. 


True to its title Queens of Geek is very... well... geeky! So many amazing references to dozens of movies, books, tv series and comics. I couldn't help but feel like I was living the SupaCon alongside our characters as I appreciated every geeky moment. 

If you are not much of a geek you may find this book silly or ridiculous. But if you want to know how us fan girls feel surrounded by the geekiness we love this is a good book to portray it. Clearly Jen Wilde is a geek herself. 


So why only four stars... while this adorable book has some amazing moments of clarity in describing anxiety and self esteem; it's use of a three day span to bring two relationships together is a bit too quick for me. I especially felt that Charlie's storyline was a bit too rushed and somewhat unrealistic; even for a celebrity. That's not to say that there aren't some amazing moments in this book; it's just to say that Charlie's romantic moments seemed too soon. On the other hand Taylor's storyline was almost perfect. 


Overall an excellent teen read and one I'd buy for teens in the future. It knows it's audience and this is a true teen book, written for teens. It doesn't pretend to be anything else which I greatly appreciate. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane


Title: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Author: Lisa See
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First let's set up a couple of things:
  1. this book is about tea. How it's grown, picked, fermented, dried, wrapped, sold, etc.
  2. this book is about being a Chinese minority (Akha) and how that makes one standout
  3. and this book is about international adoption. Both sides of adoption are explored here; the parent giving away their child and the child whom has been given up
The narrative is beautiful and generally compelling. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is without doubt a historical fiction novel; it's just that the history it tells is quite recent. And for many, including myself, it's always sobering and a bit shocking to think of people living without common amenities (like electricity and running water) in the late part of the 20th century. And not because necessarily choose to be without technology but because they are so poor and remotely located these amenities are foreign to them. 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is so well researched you could probably write a thesis about the tradition and origin of tea from it. I hadn't read a Lisa See book before this and didn't know what to expect. At times while reading this I wondered how much was really true about the tea trade and Akha tradition. Had I paid attention I would have found out sooner (than the acknowledgements) that Lisa See did tons of research; never mind, she visited the area and villages she speaks about! This means the richness and details of tea and the culture are impeccable. It's even better that because they are presented in the context of our story the details are never boring. 

I know a few people have been put off by the beginning of this novel, and I too was a bit unsure. The introduction includes a very graphic description of a birth and a horror immediately following it. I can see how some would immediately stop reading for fear the whole book is this way. Rest assured, it's not. The most graphic parts are early in the story and not a common theme throughout. It is worth the pay-off to stick through the beginning if your at all captivated by Lisa See's gorgeous story and writing. 

That said, I can't help but feel this book would probably be five stars for me if there had been a little more restraint with the graphic details of birthing in a village with no amenities. As someone whom has not had children (and cannot) I felt like the explicit descriptions here were excessive and in the end added no real value even for someone like me who has not experienced or witnessed birth firsthand. I think it could have been described without all the gory moments. Another small critique is that midway through I felt like I had just read a thought and there it was repeated. So perhaps a tiny bit of editing the fat would have helped (not details of the tea or Akha; just the narrative of our main gal was a bit repetitive).  

Overall, a gorgeous book that reveals a part of Chinese (minority) culture most didn't even know existed (myself included). I would go far as to say this is the 'Memoirs of a Geisha' for the Akha. 

If you are at all intrigued by any of the following: Chinese culture, tea, one child policy, international adoption, the love a mother has, how a group goes from a traditional tribe to becoming a part of the 21st century, or historical fiction in general, then I believe you will enjoy this book immensely.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Ensnared

Title: Ensnared
Author: Rita Stradling
Genre: Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I won't lie, I didn't go into this re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with high expectations. I mean we all know how the story goes; beauty falls for beast, saves him from life of hermit and they live happily ever after. Ensnarled tells the typical story for the first 50% of the book. Sure there are robots and AI involved but for the most part it's very true to the base story we all know so well. But at the 52% point things suddenly get really interesting. 


I didn't want to put this book down once I got into the second half. It's a wild science fiction romp where you need to ask yourself if a robot can harm humans... and if it did why would it want to. 

That's really the interesting piece to this book is the motivation of what drives our characters (and robots) to do what they do. The culmination of this story wraps itself up nicely and is quite satisfying. 


There are sexual scenes in this book. They are quite tastefully described and blissfully brief but without a doubt this is an adult book and not written for teens. 


I'm anticipating many reviewers will compare this to Meyer's Cinder. I think that is a poor comparison. The only thing the two have in common is they are fairy tale retellings that involve advanced technology. Otherwise they are completely different in both treatment, set-up and intent. 


If you like a cute, but 'how could this ever work' romance, with some science fiction thrown in and discussions around what it truly means to be human than I think you will greatly enjoy this book. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: The Ship

Title: The Ship
Author:  
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Science Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is a very philosophical book. And like many philosophical books it starts out strong, lags in the middle, and ends with a bold statement. I love the beginning of it, but by about 150 pages in I was feeling like the same thing was being said using different scenarios and words. I feel I got it the first time and didn't need to be told for a couple hundred more pages. The final couple lines of this book are gorgeous and the kind that people will write on their whiteboards for inspiration. I just worry that most people won't get there because they fall asleep.

There are a lot of themes in this book and certainly an English teacher could go on forever about them all. If that is your thing you may really enjoy this book. Additionally a long-time book club that is close and wants a good challenge, discussing how people live their lives and why, would benefit from this book and the debate it is sure to bring about. 

The Ship is beautifully written, with every word chosen deliberately; which is why it's sad to me to give it only three stars but it just dragged on for too long. I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in the questions surrounding why we live and what is living. That's really what this book is about; the question of what is living and what is happiness. So long as you don't fall asleep I believe you will truly get something out of Antonia Honeywell's gorgeous writing.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave good or poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review: Catching Echoes

 Title: Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist Book 1) 
Author: Meghan Ciana Doidge
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars out of 5 

This is a bit of a tough book to review. It's a new trilogy set in an existing world where many of the characters are already known if you've read the previous books. I have not read the other trilogies (two I think) and this series is being marketed as not needing to. But after reading it I think it's probably much more enjoyable if you have read the other books. 


It's clear there's an elaborate paranormal version of our world built here but I never felt like I was immersed in it. Instead I felt like there were some scratches on the surface but that I was missing a lot of somethings. 


Our characters are fairly one-dimensional. A typical, all too powerful, gorgeous vampire and the timid, not so good at magic witch. It's just been done and I didn't feel there was anything here to really stand this book apart from the very saturated paranormal genre. In fact, for me, it felt like a not as good version of Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K. Hamilton, without the smut. Hamilton may be onto something when it comes to having lots of sexual tension and release in her books; maybe this genre just really needs that to make it palatable... 


It's really too bad because the writing is decent and the plot was intriguing; but it just wasn't enough for me. Maybe I've read too many paranormal books but I just wanted something more. 


If you're interested in this book I would suggest going to the beginning if the series as a whole; as many people love this world so there's hopefully something there to build off that is missing if you jump in at the beginning of this trilogy. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Monday, April 3, 2017

February Dragon - Complete

Got a cute little dragon to share! 

This is the second month Dragon, February: Amethyst. 
As before I have not included any gems or stones yet as I'm still searching out what I'd like to do for the birthstones. 
Only one month behind as I start March (and April was just released). I figure that's not too bad so far. If I can keep up and only be one month behind I'll be very happy! 
First picture is accurate colours. Second picture is oddly green... 
Here she be: 
 
 

I have been putting time into Alice and am very pleased with my progress so watch for an update from her next! 
Happy Stitching!!! 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review: Optimists Die First

Title: Optimists Die First 

Author: Susin Nielsen

 Genre: Young Adult, Inspirational 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 



There's nothing really awful about this book; but there's also nothing that really stands out either, except maybe that it's set in Canada. I'm a sucker for books written and set in my own country; especially when I've been to the place as many times as I've been to Vancouver. 


So why doesn't this stand-out? 

I think it's because, while well-written and engaging, the characters are just not all that interesting or unique. They are very stereotypical. You have your typical classes of 'troubled teens'; a drug addict, a gay, a disabled person, someone anxiety plagued; and of course all of them have mental issues because of their specific situations. Now this is all very good and true; but it's nothing new or even all that inspiring. 

It also takes on way too many issues at once. Not just teens with issues that are mentioned but even just the issues our lead gal has are overwhelming. What this means is that there is never a good focus on one thing over the other. I'd prefer to see more focus on an issue and really dig into them at a true human level and not just as a superficial discussion or thought. 


While the characters may be archetypes, there are some gems in the plot. The clever videos they all make to tell their emotional story, a twist that many will see coming but those that don't will be shocked by, and the organization of events that don't go from bad to great, but instead are like life. Sometimes the going is good and sometimes it's bad. 


There will likely be a teen or two out there that will really connect with this book (probably because of the cats); but this is not as impactful as many other young adult books like it.


So I give it three stars because it's fine, I read the whole thing, and it was entertaining enough. But I can't help but feel it could have been more. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: Gilded Cage

Title: Gilded Cage  
Author: Vic James
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

This book may not be perfect; but it's really, really, really good; especially for a debut novel. In Gilded Cage, Vic James has created a rich 'skill' (aka. magic) world with engaging and complex characters. 


Be forewarned, this story definitely doesn't stop here. If you hate waiting for the next book then don't read this until it's out as you will likely be dying to read book 2, as I am now. 


James does a solid job of tackling the difficult, and over saturated, Young Adult Fantasy genre. As someone who adores fantasy and has read a lot of it; I can honestly say that the magic and world set-up have unique aspects I enjoyed. 


What to expect: you will encounter magic, slavery, some cute romance, torture, sadism and a lot of "I'm better than you because blah, blah" attitude. There are lots of great prejudice and tolerance lessons or points made in Gilded Cage. James does a great job of showing how unfair the world is by making us appreciate characters from all sides. There is a lot more to many of these characters and clearly interesting future story to come for many of them, especially the younger ones. 


"Trust lent you someone else's eyes, someone else's strong arms or quick brain. Made you bigger than yourself."

The theme of trust is throughout the story and I love the way it is used to show characters connections; but also how tenuous a bond between people can be.  I feel one of the many things we don't talk about enough these days is trust. Who do you trust and when? There are some great scenarios in Gilded Cage that are worth anyone considering, not just teens. 


Although I wish it wasn't an alternate version of Earth with out country names. I definitely would have preferred an original map and world over recycling and kinda bastardizing our current country map. And while there was a moment about 40% in where I was bored with the droning politics chapters that were back to back; it was well worth the push to keep going. 


However, these are relatively small critiques overall in comparison to the gun I had reading Gilded Cage. I'm really hoping we get book 2 quickly (is tomorrow too soon?). 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Review: The Witches of New York

Title: The Witches of New York
Author: Ami McKay
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I want to rate this a five star book just because it's a wonderfully written Pagan book. Ami McKay obviously did her homework and in reading her acknowledgements she used reliable, well-known and respected resources that those of us in the Wiccan community respect. This means a lot to me. Not just as a reader who respects good writing and research; but as a practicing Wiccan that values all possible positive viewpoints of being a Witch. 


So why only four stars then? The answer is complicated, yet simple. It took me too long to get into it. The last 25% of the book read in no time as it was exciting and well set-up. But the set up took some time and patience, without a doubt, but there's a fine balance in keeping a readers attention and McKay just slips past my tolerance near the beginning. 


That said, this is a gorgeous book. And one I would possible revisit in the future to enjoy the beginning all over again; now knowing what to look for that sets up the end. Not unlike Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (an absolute fave of mine); Witches of New York requires attention to detail to pick up on the subtle hints and to appreciate the small moments that change our characters. 


The relationships are very realistically portrayed. I adore that there is no instant love between anyone. Even the ladies to the younger girl are wary and careful to start with. Exactly like real life and as it should be. 


It should be noted that there are some gruesome deaths. No details or anything horror-esque in the writing of them; but they do happen. If you're expecting a beautiful, no ugliness story then you will be surprised and disappointed. For as beautiful as this book is there is always ugliness in the real world. And whether you believe in ghosts or witches this world is very close to real life. Perhaps even more so than many readers would be willing to believe. 


Overall this is a book worthy of your time if the premise at all intrigues you. I would highly recommend it to the right type of reader. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review: A Second Chance At Life

Title: A Second Chance At Life
Author: Kassandra Lynn
Genre: Romance, Historical, Time Travel 
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 

This was a 3.5 star read for me. I add in the extra half star as it was so exciting I put down my other book, a New York Times bestseller, to finish this one. That's gotta says something! 
A Second Chance is a cute story about a girl whose had a string of bad luck and gets a chance to do it all again. She starts anew just before her luck turns wrong. There's nothing special here per say; but it's a solid romantic, historical read. I could pick many things apart about it (the announcement of a new heir, the amulet that is forgotten for half the book, the motives of the step sister are vague, the future man is one dimensional, calculated is repeated ad nauseam, etc) but the reality is I looked past all those little things and still enjoyed this short read. 
It's possible that it being just over 200 pages helps. I didn't have time to be annoyed too much by any characters and the action is non-stop, page turning fun. 

I sympathize and understand our lead gal personally which also helped bring me into the story. Being betrayed, wronged or persecuted 'just because' is a sore spot with me. I always seem to side with characters who are a little manipulative if it helps gets some small amount of revenge on their tormentors. So if you hate the small justifications that we all use everyday for our actions then you may not agree with all of our heroine's choice; but you'd have to be heartless not to sympathize with her on some level. 

Overall I believe this fun little romp is worth the time to read the 200 pages. 
I'm curious about it being a series... I hope it's time travel with all new characters and not these main characters again as I feel their story is mostly complete. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great or poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Start - Alice HaED!!!

It's finally time!!!
My new EPIC project is started.
This one is: endorsed by my husband, going to be kept for us(!!!), and absolutely huge (it's bigger than Dragons)!

So what is it? 
Title: My Wonderland (here forth known as 'Alice')
Artist: Enys Guerrero
Designer: Heaven and Earth Designs

Being done up with: 
- 28ct Lugana in Ivory
- 1 over 1 thread
- DMC colours as per chart

Sizing: 
- 450 wide X 651 high
- On 28ct final stitched size will be: 17" x 24"

I did get a chance to get a teeny tiny amount of stitches into her this past weekend... 


The beginning of what will likely take many years... 


In other crazy news: 
My husband won a trip to Seattle for one night and to see a rock band called the Japandroids last week!!! So on Saturday we are leaving for Seattle. Never been there so we moved flights and are paying our own hotel for two nights so that we can spend more than one day there. 
If anyone knows of stitching shops that are must see in Seattle (especially if in downtown area) please let me know and I'll see if I can manage to squeeze some visits in!  :) 

So next update might be with travel photos! I know it's been so long since we travelled I think I've forgotten how. Here's hoping we get across the border no problem (lol)! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Blood Key

Title : The Blood Key
Author: Vaun Murphrey
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This could have been so much more. The Blood Key is bogged down with too much history, lore, paranormal happenings, secrets run amuck and liars who lie about lying that it's nearly impossible to follow the main story. Or even decide what is the main story. 

Each time I thought I had a handle on things some other weird, crazy, unnecessary wrench was thrown in the mix. I'm all for fast paced books but this was ridiculous. I think a whole trilogy exists in plot within this one 250pg book. 


The part that is most frustrating about the over extended plot and cast of characters is that the writing is pretty darn good. Vaun Murphrey has a clear, concise voice but just can't seem to focus enough on any one thing long enough for it to stick. 

I felt there was so much that could have been done with the story before any major paranormal happenings occurred. It would have been nice to get to know our characters a little better and feel like we have a solid foundation before everything goes crazy. 


Overall a disappointment for me. Maybe a future series when Murphrey has evolved and matured as an author I'd try her out again; but for now I won't continue this series. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad. :) 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sleeping Giants

 

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis, Book 1)

Author: Sylvain Neuval

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 


I can see why this was the top science fiction book of 2016. I can see exactly why it's been described as The Martian meets World War Z (both books I thoroughly enjoyed). 


It was probably more of a 4.5/5 stars for me as at the halfway point I loved every word I read; and then I was suddenly really upset and frustrated with the story. It's obvious to me now that this is because I was still allowing the story to centre on characters instead of what I should have been focused on which is the technology that had been discovered and what that means for humanity. 

And yet I was feeling more and more disenchanted as I approached the end of Sleeping Giants... right up until a huge cliffhanger left me dying for the second book. Figures. 


The second half is still as well written and intriguing as the first half. Additionally it's likely very close to what would happen in real life given the events leading up to the major halfway turning point. Thinking back on that I realize the last half was obviously needed in order for our story to carry forward on a grander scale. 

And so this is why I still keep my rating above a four star; because obviously Nyvain is much smarter than me and knew exactly what needed to happen; as opposed to writing what many would want to happen. 


As always with books where I have to be vague to avoid spoilers I will say this; read this book. It's awesome! Even if science fiction isn't your thing there is still a lot of excitement in this book and like the Martian it's realistic enough, set on Earth in what could be current day; and so most readers will find it easy to get into. 


Now to count down the days until book 2, Waking Gods, comes out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

It's March?! But I'm still in January

Well the month may say March tomorrow (or today for some of you) but in my world it's still January as I work on Garnet from the Birthstone Dragon SAL. 
Here she is at about halfway. I'm doing backstitch as I go because I dislike backstitch and don't want to dread doing it all at end of the fun stitching crosses part. ;) 

 
 

In other stitching news... 
I've decided to hold off on ordering the Canada Patriotic SAL from Jeanette Douglas. It's just a bit pricey and seeing new patterns for Nashville Market makes me itch to get more patterns than one set with that money. But I'm holding off on ordering anything as I finally got to order my new HAED materials! 
Which means... Next post I will be revealing my new 'focus' piece that is a HAED!! 
And most excitingly (is that a word?) is that this HAED is supported by the hubby to go up in the house! Yep that's right, I'll actually keep some of my own stitching. Very exciting! 
Looking forward to the mail later this week or early next when my supplies arrive so I can share the excitement! 

Mermaid Trouble

Title: Mermaid Trouble 
Author: Andy Mulberry
Genre: teen, paranormal
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Well the great news for this book is I'm dying to read more! That's a big compliment in my mind. 


The not so great news is I'm not dying to read the next one because of amazing plot... but I do really like our characters. 

The main gal, Lana, is written like and sounds like a real person with real life problems including money, shelter, school, etc. It's always nice to read about someone relatable and genuine. 


The actual Fae, fantasy part of this book is where it's  weak. If you're hoping that mermaids make a large splash you will be sorely disappointed. If you're hoping for some grand sweeping world building you also won't get it. But there is some potential here. I almost feel like Mermaid Trouble is the free short book publishers give to readers to suck them into a new series. If that is the future of this story I think it will drive many new readers to Andy Mulberry. 


Overall this is a short but sweet, fun read. Nothing mind blowing or show stopping but that's okay sometimes you just want to read about a gal whose got problems like yours plus some fairies to deal with. :) 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave bad or great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Miranda and Caliban

Title: Miranda and Caliban
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Retellings
Rating: 3 out of 5

Let me begin with this; I've never read the Tempest. I'm vaguely familiar with the storyline but not to any level of detail. So going into Carey's latest novel I didn't really know what to expect. Miranda and Caliban is a well written, quick paced book. It certainly kept my attention.

What it didn't do is really make me care about any of our characters, especially Miranda. I don't really know why but I just never understood Miranda. Maybe because if it was me I would have been much more defiant than Miranda is towards her father; or maybe because I feel like she is so naive and I can't imagine any one person knowing so little about their own feelings, thoughts and body. This likely makes me a snob, but I just couldn't imagine being her or relating to her in most instances.
Caliban however is a doll and the kind of character you just want to pick up and coddle for the rest of their life. He's both kind, naive, helpful, and loving without even realizing what most of those things are.

There was one thing that really dropped this book to three stars for me however, I cannot figure out the point of Ariel except for two moments in which I feel Ariel is not actually as critical as it seems. One is to report something happening, but let's face it the character that is alerted could certainly have stumbled upon the situation without Ariel leading him to it. The second is to carry out a 'task' that I think another character could have conjured on their own. Therefore it seemed like Ariel was only there to be an annoying, inconsiderate, mean figure that put doubt in everyone's minds. But let's face it eventually all of our characters are likely smart enough to have figured things out on their own. Maybe not as quickly, but I don't believe any one of them needed for Ariel to be present.

I'm going to think about reading Shakespeare's the Tempest now that I have read this as I'm curious to know what Carey took from the play and what she conjured on her own.

Overall this book is certainly worth reading if you like the Tempest or Carey's previous books. It's not near as good as :Kushiel's Dart| series, Banewreaker or others. That said it certainly lives up to the excellent quality of writing I except from Carey, even if the story didn't do it for me.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great or bad reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad. ;)



Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Title: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
Author: Chelsea Sedoti
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is one of the most genuine, honest teenage narrations I have ever read. There are no points during our time with Hawthorne (who we experience the story through) that I thought weren't characteristic of what a teenage would think or do. Kudos to Chelsea Sedoti for capturing that teenage brain and thought process so superbly.

I didn't really love this book to start with, it was okay, writing was good enough however to keep going. I'm so glad I did. This is a case where a YA book is truly written for YA audience. Most adults are going to roll their eyes at some of the absurdity of this book; like werewolves potentially being real...and yet not really real. But I think many of us that enjoy YA books need to remember that we are not the target audience; and shouldn't be.

There are so many great awkward moments in this books including the loss of virginity, coping with death and grief, coping with bullying and overall coping with not knowing who you are or what you want to do. These are all moments we've all experienced. Some of us more recently than others of course (lol); but for those who are living those moments everyday, right now as teens I believe this book may speak to them and for that reason alone it should be in the library of every high school in the world. These tough topics are not dealt with in an overly sentimental, flowery way; instead they are handled in a real life, uncomfortable, uncertain, despairing way. Just the way the real world is.

I'm not a big crier with anything really (you can psycho analyze that later), but I really don't like books where the point is to make you cry near the end. The great thing about The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is that I didn't feel like I was supposed to cry. I felt many emotions for our characters but not once did I feel like things were so awful that I should cry for them. This way of writing the story and experiencing it was very honest to me. Some of you who are big criers will have your possible moment (or two) but for those like me that avoid the 'make you cry' books I can honestly say that while it feels like maybe this would be one of them it really isn't.

Overall I believe Sedoti has created a voice in the YA section that most teens will understand and relate to. That alone would be enough for a good review from me, but the fact that she has also instilled some learnings, understandings and reminders that are in the best interest for teens to adhere to is the icing on the cake.
Buy this book for a teen (especially a girl) that you know, they won't know it but maybe in ten years they will realize it made an impact and that it changed their life in small, important ways. That's what kind of book this is; one that unassumingly validates what you feel and then gently suggests a better way to view it or cope.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad. ;)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cute, cute, cute design!

So the other day I was doing some upgrades and changes to my Etsy shop. When you click the main home page at anytime Etsy gives recommendations. Like the age old Amazon trick, they try to find you things like what you've searched for in the past to engage in impulse buying. I may have fallen for it...

But it's not a bad thing as I found this super cute little design that I am just in love with! It's from the Etsy shop 14Count. The Lord of the Rings theme (but not the silly pixel people everyone loves so much) really called to me; because of course I'm a geek. Therefore I couldn't help myself. LOL! Also super affordable. 

14Count has a couple other cute patterns I may get in the future. They are just PDF downloads and there is nothing 'fancy' about the layout of the pattern. But who cares, they are affordable, from an independant designer and like I said totally cute! So forgive me for enabling but this little gem was just dying to be shared! 

So I will be putting this one near the top of the to be stitched pile; which as always is out of control. :) 
As always there was no paid endorsement here, this is just something I came across and wanted to share. Happy Stitching!

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

 

Title: The Girl Who Drank The Moon

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Genre: Young Adult/Children's, Fantasy

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 


This lyrical beauty has a strong beginning and end. Sadly somewhere in the middle, for a reason I can't identify I lost a bit of interest (4.25 stars out of 5 for me). However that can't take away from the gorgeous writing that Kelly Barnhill has put together. The story is both cute, poignant and funny all at the same time. 

This reminded me of a combination of Terry Pratchett's Discworld and Alice in Wonderland. 


What I can really say about this book is just read it if it intrigues you at all. Don't be put off by its children's classification as there's so much more here than a pre-teen/YA book. I can absolutely appreciate why it has won so many awards and would buy it for so many people I know. 

My small blip with it in the middle may have just been timing, my attention wandering for other reasons or any number of things. I think in a few years I'd be very comfortable and happy to re-read this book and feel like I was revisiting a real gem of literature. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birthstone Dragons - Border Start

I got my beautiful fabric on Friday for my Borthstone Dragons SAL and couldn't wait to get it going! 
I'm stitching it on 40ct Vintage Antique Ivory by Silkweaver. As always I just adore Silkweaver fabric. It's always so perfectly soft and of course a 40ct has nice, tight holes! 
I've decided to do the border with The Gentle Art 1110 Sable. I looked through a lot of different variegated threads I had on hand and in the end decided that I wanted something that wouldn't interfere with how colourful all the dragons are. So of course nothing is better than brown/black! 
Here it is so far: 
 

Teeny tiny stitches. I almost forgot how awesomely small 40ct over two is. I know it will turn out gorgeous so I'm sticking with it even after an hour of stitching and cursing tiny holes (lol). 

The dragons themselves are DMC.  I'm behind (SAL started in January) and it's unlikely I will catch up given how little time I can carve out to stitch while my shop is busy. But that's okay, because busy Etsy shop equals more money to buy stitching stuff!! 

I know a few of you might be remembering that I have a new HAED to start for the year. I do have it, but haven't had a chance to purchase the fabric and missing DMC I need. Hopefully by months end! 
I'm also planning to purchase Jeanette's Canada series for my birthday (in just over a week) so that's another new start. 
Goodness I have a lot of starts and not much progress! That will get better I'm sure. :) 
Thanks for stopping by and happy stitching!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Magdalen Girls

Title: The Magdalen Girls
Author: V. S. Alexander
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Literature
Rating: 5/5 stars!

This book is absolutely brilliant. Parts of it are based on true events or known situations which only makes the circumstances and treatment of the girls more tragic. Even without the tidbits of truth I believe Alexander would make anyone care about her characters.
I have always been intrigued by the way we, as humans in history and today, decide a person is unsuitable, mentally unstable or a harm to themselves or others. While there are many obvious cases in which intervention is needed ; I believe there are likely twice as many cases where prejudice, personal preference or other circumstances resulted in the incarceration of someone unjustly.
The problem with a lack of true scientific or compelling evidence (ie: video) is that suddenly the situation and what happened becomes subjective. The Magdalen Girls does an excellent job of showing how one person of power can ruin someone. I couldn't help but imagine, what if that someone was me? It's chilling.

This is an excellent book club choice. Lots of great content and moments that should spark conversation and possibly some good debates. For those who tend to shy away from religious books or women's literature let me assure you that this novel is really about injustice and how easy it is for things to get out of control. The means in which we are told the story are actually quite irrelevant at the end of the day. I didn't feel hindered at all by the religion (and I'm not Catholic or Christian so sometimes religion ruins things for me). This book is just written so well that I knew while reading it that this wasn't about priests, nuns or convents; instead it's about how unfair life can be. And a reminder that we all may be one misstep away from a very bad day that changes the course of our lives; because keep in mind this set-up is based on truth.

I highly recommend this book and am so grateful to have received an eARC copy. I liked it so much that it will be added to my list of eBooks that need to be on my print shelf.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good, bad or neutral. ;)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Selected


Title: Selected 
Author: Evelyn Lederman
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Teen 
Rating: 2/5 stars 

This is a frustrating book. The premise and social commentary opportunities should have made it amazing. And yet it wasn't. 
There are sooo many errors throughout this book it's painful. Between basic typos and punctuation issues to sections that jump around for no reason to statements or descriptions that immediately contradict each other; it's just annoying to read. (I checked the published text and it has the same typos and problems as my copy).The concept and idea is good. Some of the writing near the beginning is alright but it's like Evelyn Lederman only had moments of brilliance surrounded by poor writing the majority of the time. 

It feels like characters in Selected only have emotions of indifference or anger. Considering the children are ripped from their homes and taken away on an alien spaceship; everyone seems to be relatively okay with things. Yes there are moments of crying and attempted sadness but never once did I feel anything for these characters except major frustration that they weren't MORE upset. 

The romance is awkwardly handled and feels like we're in an 8-12 year old book. Chaste kisses, lame comments about how pretty someone is and a lack of desire really turned me off. When I was 14 years old I know if I liked any boy(s) I was much more obsessive about it and certainly didn't think about how I was too young or have thoughts about how it was inappropriate. Apparently the heroine Kara is a 14-year old prude.

If you want to read about kids being selected for possibly horrific futures just re-read Hunger Games. Trust me there is nothing here worth any amount of time (unless you want to edit or re-write Selected). 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad. ;)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Start of You and Me

This is close to a five star book for me. Maybe if there was a dragon or two in it I would be there (lol). Note: I did NOT read the emails at the back of the book. I loved the ending and wanted it to just stop there; with all the unknown future ahead.
 
Title: The Start of You and Me
Author: Emery Lord
Genre(s): Young Adult, Teen
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“The Start of Me and You” is a young adult book that appears to be the same old, same old story of some tragedy and the teen overcoming it. You may be (at least I was) excepting some in-depth comments or statements on life similar to those made in “The Fault in Our Stars”. You know the ones the outrageously philosophical one-liner that it’s very unlikely a teenage would ever think it. Or perhaps you are expecting a typical shallow girl YA book that uses tragedy as a crutch. In both cases you would be wrong. I surprisingly adored this book with its high school culture and awkward moments. 
I laughed, cried and felt joy with every moment of this book. And the best part is that the ending isn’t ‘all perfect’, it’s obvious it will be subject to the same ups and downs of any one person’s future. I can’t say much more about this book without giving things away. What I can say with absolute certainty is I know 20 years ago when I was a teenager I certainly had many of the same emotions, thoughts and experiences of our characters. And this book brought me back to that time and my emotions then. While difficult in some way to revisit my own experiences of: losing a grandparent when I was fifteen, watching an amazing friend slowly die one year later (from CF), and being a part of a high-school romance that was as tumultuous as it was endearing; I’m glad I could look back on those moments and realize that what I was reading was so similar to my own story. I validated in how I felt at the time. If any part of me was feeling like I did something wrong back then I am confident that Emery Lord has dispelled all doubt from my mind by showing that humans young and old all deal with tragedy in their own way. No one of us is right or wrong necessarily and eventually we all have to get through the firsts and lasts of those times in order to allow ourselves to move forward.  
If you lost anyone at all close to you as a teenager, or are a teen dealing with death, this is the book for you. Alternatively if you just want to read a realistic teen, no literary nonsense or bloating of situations book then pick this one up as I do believe there is something for everyone in “The Start of Me and You”. 
I believe in the future this book will hold a special place in my heart as a bittersweet reminder of my teenage friend Scott. I plan to purchase a printed copy of this book to add to my library.