Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

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

Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2rLAqm9
The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy. 
Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life. 
And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits. 
Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.
But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos.
My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

🐺

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: MG Fantasy
 337 p.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: April, 3, 18
Source: From author for review
Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2Ib3Aph

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

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

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

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

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

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

🐒

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Anthology: Mad Hatters and March Hares

336 p.
Anthology
Edited by Ellen Datlow
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: From publisher for review
Affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2Jkufgf

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

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

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

πŸ‡

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle

Series: Forbidden Forest #1
448 p.
Publisher: Starling Publishing
Published: 4/9/18
Source: From author for review
Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2JUhKsX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

πŸƒ

Bloggy note: Thanks for coming back! I'll have a short post explaining later but thanks for sticking by me! πŸ’– Oh and as of this writing, the book, Stolen Enchantress is on sale for $0.99 at your favorite ebook retailer (Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2JUhKsX).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Arts and Crafts Post: Dog Sweaters

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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