Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: Colorless

Title: Colorless

Author: Rita Stradling

Genre: Young adult, Fantasy 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

I really wanted to like this more. The initial concept, a curse that makes everyone forget you and everything you touch (including yourself) leeches colour, is really cool. I like the setting and overall idea. But it seems to me that Rita Stradling is great at developing cool concepts and plots; and that's where her greatness ends. Colorless is filled with characters that could almost be interesting and side stories that have potential; yet when it comes to actual execution of these ideas everything seems to fall apart. 


Now that's not to say this isn't readable. It's quite readable. Action packed and again a cool concept. But Stradling is missing that 'something' that makes a writer a really great writer. If I didn't know better I'd think she was really new to writing (which she is not). I just wish she could up her game somehow and have loveable characters, and meaningful relationships. 

A note on language

Stradling is the latest author, in a string of young adult books I've read recently, to use archaic words. Now I read a lot of historical fiction and am no slouch when it comes to vocabulary and Latin root words (I speak French and English) but it irritates me when authors use words randomly just to seem cool. In Colorless the use of anni (year) and annos (years) annoyed me to no end. It just felt unnecessary. It's not like your teaching anyone words that will ever be used in regular English! I get it when middle school books use larger or more complex words, because they are teaching. But by the time you're at the level of this book there is just no reason for it anymore. So take things like ornery, anni and candor elsewhere. You're not impressing anyone. 

Back to the plot

There's also a weird thing that happens near the end that made me go 'What!?!'. It felt a little out of the blue. Looking back there was maybe a hint or two towards this outcome but I felt less like it was a twist and more like it was thrown in because she didn't know what else to do to give this book some closure. 

Colorless is book one in a new series. Would I read the next one? I'm really not sure. Maybe... but it wouldn't be at the top of my must read list. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Stitching: June Dragon Finish!!

I finally got some major time to stitch in!!! 
Today I have the June Birthstone Dragon done which puts me at halfway through the SAL. Only 4 months behind. Lol! Luckily the patterns don't expire. :) 

I've been loving this 40ct Newcastle and am looking to order more of it as it's so soft and nice to work with. I'm over two, of course, with one strand of thread. It's nice not to worry about railroading and flat stitches like with two threads. 

Here is June. She is based on the colours of a Pearl. 

And all six of the lovelies to date:

The next dragon is one of my favourite so far!! He's an adorable sleeping Fire-looking guy. 

If you haven't already seen it, check out my giveaway, closes on Sunday. All the details are in the post right below this one, or click here: 
Feminist Cross Stitch

I just joined another SAL... I know, I know that means I'm committed to three new projects in next month or so... new SAL (when my supplies show up I will share details), new Jeannette Douglas start (I think Once Upon a Time), and the Feminist project (still working on border and set-up for it). 
So needless to say new starts coming soon (And yes Alice page finish hopefully before end of Nov)! 

As always thanks for visiting, commenting and don't forget to check out the giveaway! Some brand new DMC and supplies in it; plus some other goodies not shown!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: The Salt Line

Title: The Salt Line 
Author: Holly Goddard Jones
Genre: dystopian, fiction, post-apocalyptic, thriller
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

While The Salt Line starts out as typical dystopia, post-apocalyptic novel; it's main theme changes at out the halfway point and then again just before the end. 

This makes it a bit of a weird read.

The writing itself is very good and certainly the story moves forward quickly enough to keep the attention of the reader. However, if you want a badass dystopian story this is not for you. If you want a bleak depressing story this is also not the right story. It's somewhere between a bit of horror (ticks that have wiped out huge portions of the populations), thriller (rebels) and humanism (reproduction concerns and overall quality of life questions). I felt confused at many points about what Holly Goddard Jones was trying to say. 

By the end I felt like I mostly understood the point, but didn't feel all that satisfied; hence my three star rating. 

Stereotype Shattered

I thought at one point that the author had to be a male given the lack of chemistry every couple had. Much to my shock I found out that our author, Jones, is a woman. While the stereotype shatters in my mind (lol); let me tell you a bit more about the pace of this book. There are three distinct portions to the book and if you feel like you liked what you read up to the end of one of the sections but are not intrigued by the latest "twist" in the story then I'd say you are probably safe to stop reading. I'm glad I read the whole book but could see people getting frustrated by the change of messaging in each section. 

In Conclusion

Overall it's like Jones tried to put too much into her dystopian novel and missed a lot of key factors. I wanted more chemistry between characters, less back stories about irrelevant people, and more focus on one or two characters (the voice is constantly changing). Maybe that's why the thrill is taken away at some times; I had heard about the situation from too many voices at some points and just wanted to move on or go back to a favourite character or two. The Salt Line is not a bad read, but it's not a good read. It sits right in that awkward three star zone. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: Wings Unseen

Title: Wings Unseen
Author: Rebecca Gomez Farrell
Genre: Fantasy, Teen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book really surprised me. I went in expecting a cool fantasy setting (and yes it's as good as the blurb makes it sound), some different magic and a really annoying love triangle. I was partially right, and partially wrong.  

The Not-So Love, Love Triangle
So let's deal with the 'three-headed' love triangle first. Is there a love triangle... not really. There are three people who are caught up in each others lives in some unlikely ways and there is some jealousy that happens at some points but it's not like a cat fight over the lead man. Nor is it a caddy fight between the two girls. Instead it's just progression of friendship, possible love and how tough circumstances create unbreakable bonds. 

The Overall Feel
The three perspectives (two gals, one guy) are all equal and none of them feels like a more important character than the other. Kudos to Rebecca Gomez Farrell for pulling this off. It's a hard feat to have equal standing characters in the lead. The magic is really cool. I love how sparse and yet how important it is. The 'enemy' is subjective and yet obvious all at the same time. The politics are brilliant and I adore our lead man's father who accepts that while he never wanted to be King it was his duty. This solid political base that the world is built around is part of what gives Wings Unseen it's unique feel. 

Of course my favourite character of the three is the morally questionable Vespiri (and she has a snake as her icon!). But don't worry the other two main characters, Jantos and Serra, bring in more than enough sweet, moral, hero traits to make up for any pitfalls Vespiri may have. Additionally they all have real personalities and real faults. Just like real people. I can't emphasis enough how REAL they all felt to me at times. I started wanting to savour this book at the halfway point. Something I rarely do these days.

Now, what's the best part about Wings Unseen? 
It's a STAND ALONE fantasy book! 
That's not to say that it might have future books; but you can easily read Wings Unseen and have enough closure to feel satisfied. I'd love to see future books (and it's unclear to me if it's going to be a series or not...) but it's also so rare to find stand-alone fantasy novels that I almost want to relish in it's uniqueness this way. 

Could I find faults in this novel? 
Of course. But honestly I feel this is a stronger debut than Gilded Cage and I really enjoyed it and gave it four stars. Wings Unseen doesn't have the same plot holes or unexplained circumstances the way a lot of my 4 star fantasy books have had this year and so I've given it 5 stars because I'd happily read it again... 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.

Stitching: New Project & Giveaway!! It's Feminist Cross Stitch!!

This is so fun to share with you all. A couple months ago I was approached about doing a review of a cross stitch pattern book! How could I say no to that!? 
So let's get the legal disclaimer out of the way: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but that has in no way influenced my review of this book or my decision to make a big sampler out of the motifs. 

Before we get into how fun this book is; let me share first this idea for a new project I will be doing. How about one big stitched piece with some phrases, the women and a fun border... (because I can only do 'epic' pieces right, lol) 

Feminist Icon Cross Stitch by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso

Isn't Frida cute!? 
So here's the concept, 20 influential women in history were chosen, along with some fun feminist sayings and put into a book as cross stitch patterns. Each of the women is significant in history and has a little bio written about them. So you if you don't know who one of them is get ready to learn. 

The stitching patterns themselves are full in DMC colours. As you can see from the quick snippet to the left; there are no symbols on the colour patterns. While I personally prefer the colour with symbols patterns I have not had any trouble determining the colours or what to stitch in any of the patterns. And I admired them all at length. Partially because of what I plan to do with these awesome little motifs. 

Because I had such a difficult time deciding which ones to stitch I've decided to stitch 18 of the 20 (sorry Beyonce but you didn't make the cut, lol). In order to make it an 'epic' piece I've created a grid of 6 rows of 3 with a border and some of the sayings included. I'm still finalizing the border pattern but as soon as I know what I'm going to do I will share it here AND make the grid and border design available for free. Then all you need to do is get the book to have the motifs and we can stitch it together! No timelines or scheduled SAL because we all know I suck at those and fall behind. :) 

The Feminist Giveaway!!! 
The publisher Running Press kindly sent me some supplies to stitch up one or more of the patterns; along with a super cute tote bag (all you need to do is buy the book!). I'm giving the supplies away to one lucky reader! See picture below for what all is included. 

Giveaway is open worldwide (I will ship anywhere for free). You get entries by doing the one or more of the following: 

  1. Comment on this post and tell me which of the 20 women, listed in the contents page above, you'd like to stitch first! 
  2. Share about this giveaway on your blog and post a link to it in the  comments on this post. 
  3. Tweet about this giveaway and post a link to your tweet in the comments on this post. 
Entries will close on Sunday, Oct 29 at 5:00 pm (MST). 


Feminist Cross Stitch is available everywhere books are sold! Ask your local retailer (or you can go to that giant conglomerate that has everything and ships to your front door); but local is awesome for your area! See here for more details:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: Elsie Mae Has Something to Say

Title: Elsie Mae Has Something to Say 
Author: Nancy J. Cavanaugh 
Genre:7-11 age fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is an adorable, 7-11 kids read. It's got dogs, bandits, a swamp, boats, simple politics and a loving Grandma and Grandpa in it. Very perfect for little girls or boys. I would recommend it as a read to them story, in case they have questions, but it's mostly fun with a good morale at the end. 

It is however, due to the setting at the Okefenokee Swamp and the 'swamp people' lifestyle, filled with a fair bit of religion. Interestingly however the lead gal isn't convinced by God at first; but without a doubt she is quite convinced of God in the end. It's not a bad thing; just something to be aware of if that sort of thing bugs you. 

I think Nancy J. Cavanaugh really captured the spirit and joy of our lead gal, Elsie Mae. As the youngest of seven it's very obvious that Elsie Mae adores her summers (alone) with Grandma and Grandpa because she is the star. I think many youngest siblings could find a real connection with Elsie Mae and her want to be a hero to the swamp residents. 
Alternatively the little boy we meet is a quieter, preachers kid who is clearly troubled by many things. I felt for Henry because he clearly felt unwanted through most of the book. Certainly an emotion I remember as a child and I'm sure most kids have felt this way at some point. 

There are some tougher topics in Elsie Mae Has Something to Say; from abandonment, prison, adults who don't measure up and some dangerous choices the kids make; I feel there is a lot of content here that would engage kids to ask their parents questions. If you read to your little one you might want to read this through first to be prepared for some of those questions. In particular I didn't like how the kids doing something dangerous resulted in them being rewarded just because it turned out okay. What if it hadn't? This is the one theme I had trouble with and why I can't quite give it 5 stars. 

Overall this adorable little (partially true) story about saving the Okefenokee swamp is worth the quick read if you're intrigued as an adult or teen. And certainly in my top 5 for age 7-11 good books picks for 2017.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Stitching: Two WIP Updates

I've got two updates for you today. 
First up is my Here There Be Monsters piece. 
Of course the border and I were not friends because I'm bad at counting to high numbers (laugh all you like it's fairly true!). But otherwise I am loving this fabric, the overdyed threads and the general pattern. It's also been a quicker stitch which is nice. 
Not done yet but here are some update photos:

Second one is the yearly SAL of Dragons. I am beyond behind on this one. Exactly as expected. This is the May dragon which is Emerald. It is standing on a gem but Ive been leaving the gems out because I can't decide how I want to deal with them (or: real stones, metallic threads, beads, etc.). 
Here's May dragon done: 

Without a doubt this project will bleed into next year. Where does the time go!! 

I have put some stitches into Alice recently but I need to find a lot more time for her. Luckily it's getting cold (first snowfall already came) and that means more reasons to stay home and stitch! 

Thanks for stopping by and happy stitching!! 

Book Review: Return to your Skin

Title: Return to Your Skin 

Author: Luz Gabas

Genre: Fiction 

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Did Not Finish (DNF) @ 27% 

Nothing in the world will make it okay for our leading lady to make out with mystery man only a couple kilometres from where her husband is catching up on work (because he spent time with her he didn't have). Just no. 

This reads a bit like Outlander (but nowhere near as good) in that there is trashy romantic moments, next to historical lore, next to literary devices. And while the writing is good enough; it feels a little like Lux Gabas wanted to span too many genres and be serious yet a romance novel at the same time. While it can be done, it's tough and Return to your Skin doesn't seem to achieve it. 

I was relatively bored from the get-go. Even the Wiccan ritual was described in a boring and unmoving way. How can you not make witchcraft/magic boring?! 

However, the facts of Wicca I read are correct and laid out in an acceptable manner. For many people (myself included) Wicca (a branch of Paganism) is not a mystery but our actual religion. Through Wicca I found my link to deities an the earth. 

It's possible that this will happen for our lead lady. That seems to be what is being foreshadowed. And yet I still couldn't care. 

Incredibly dull and not worth picking up for any reason I can think of. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Review: The Indigo Girl

Title: The Indigo Girl
Author: Natasha Boyd
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Certainly stories of strong historical women aren't unusual; even if history barely remembers them. We seem to want to tug on these journeys until their story unravels. Indigo Girl is a mostly true story. Eliza, our lead gal, was a women of not even 17 living in the American colonies in mid-1700s. 

The primary purpose of the story appears to be about Eliza but I actually think (based on the afterword); that this is really a story about indigo production and how to get by in the mid-1700s. 

The perseverance and no quit attitude portrayed by Eliza in The Indigo Girls is something I think anyone can admire and wish for; regardless of time period or gender.

As it's the mid-1700s on a plantation in what would later become South Carolina; inevitably much of the book is about slavery. Eliza was a very progressive woman for her time and truly loved her slaves like family. This caused her a lot of heartache but also meant she fought hard for her slaves and treated them well. 

At one point I did get tired of how 'special' Eliza was that she saw her slaves as real people instead of, well, slaves. I suppose that is because to us, today, it seems so obvious that everyone should be seen and treated equally. This was the largest annoyance I had in Indigo Girl is that it got a bit repetitive about Eliza's special bond with the slaves. 

However, without a doubt Eliza's love for anyone with a good heart is what makes this a poignant and sometimes sad story. Especially the elements of it that are definitely true. Natasha Boyd makes a point at the end of letting the reader know what characters were fiction and which were real people. In a historical book built on truth I always appreciate this. There's also a bibliography if you want to read more about Eliza. I love that most of the letters are quoted direct from Eliza's real life letters. 

I would highly recommend The Indigo Girl for anyone that loves historical stories; but also to those with a keen interest in some of the building blocks of the future that people in the USA laboured so hard to create. This Canadian is very glad to have learned the story of Eliza and her Indigo dye. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: Mask of Shadows

Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Genre: Teen fantasy, dystopian-ish
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Well I was blown away by this book. I had heard a lot of very poor reviews on it and gotta say I think it's quite good. The writing is wonderfully compelling and readable. It's fast-paced, has a unique fantasy world set-up and the main character does not identify with one gender over the other (it depends on the day). I love that the gender fluidity isn't the primary motivation of the story or even for our lead Sal. Instead it's just a part of Sals overall personality. 

Why don't others like this book?

There are some problematic areas and what doesn't help is most of them are near the beginning of the book. There are strong comparisons to Hunger Games at the beginning with the competition, but there's not much past that. 

Not unlike The Gilded Cage I think there are improvements to be made but overall for a debut YA author, in an over saturated market of dystopian-fantasy, Linsey Miller has made Mask of Shadows a more than decent read. I also think it's written for teens and sometimes I think us non-teens or older teens forget that to a 14 or 15 this could be their first foray into stories like this. And we all know that you never forget your first book love that opens the doors to a whole new realm of fiction. This book could be that for some people and unlike some books (ahem, Twilight) I think it has interesting morals and motivations to help someone start thinking about themselves in different ways. For me that creative thinking and self identity meant a lot when I was a teen (ie: I didn't have a self identity at all) and so I like that Mask of Shadows encourages this thinking and promotes individuality. 

Numbers as names

I know a lot of people had issues with the naming being numbers, so let's talk about that for a minute. When the competition starts the players are all given numbers and do-away with their names and (presumably) their old identities. I know a lot of people struggled with this.

I'm not good with names on an amazing day. I tend to remember people by association but rarely by their name (in real and book life). Because the number names are written out like Four, Five, etc. It was just a name to me and not a number. Funny enough the numbering system helped me remember that low numbers were invitees and high numbers auditioned to be in the competition. I think for many people you have to immediately dispel thoughts that the word Five means 5. And instead the word Five means a boy whose an arrogant jerk. The same way that you think of any other character with a 'proper' name. 

There are some cute comparisons to be drawn between Four in Divergent series and Four in this story. In the end I appreciated it as it didn't feel stolen but more an homage to stories that came before; but you might not get that until you finish the book which I think promotes a negative impression on readers quite quickly near the beginning. This doesn't help people feel confidence in the story and could result in DNFs. I get that. 


The romance in Mask of Shadows is adorable!! While I know our lead character is gender fluid I felt like they were more feminine than masculine. I think it's very individual (and shows how well Miller wrote the gender discussions into the story) that many people come away from the book with a different perception of Sals possible anatomy and identity. I hope we learn more about why Sal distinctly chooses to be male or female on any given day and I'm really hoping her anatomy makes sense to it. Ie: castrated male, born with no distinct genitals or both exist, etc. If Miller chooses not to get into the anatomy of Sal however I won't be disappointed because honestly there is sooo much more to love about this book than just Sals gender choices both for identifying herself and whom she finds attractive and desirable. 


I cannot wait for the next book in this series as the ending was awesome! I actually think book 2 is likely to be better because this one only improved as it went. I've read a lot of teen/YA books in my life and I gotta say that while Linsey Miller didn't write the best ever, she has done a stand-up job in a very difficult market. Her and Vic James should discuss their woes of trying to break into this market as I think they'd say a lot of the same things! 

I guess my point is if you've heard bad thing and have been avoiding Mask of Shadows that you should give it a chance. A 40% chance. If you still hate it after 40% then fair go on and DNF it. But I think you might find that by 40% you can't put it down and walk away as easily as you might have at 20% mark. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.