Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Arts and Crafts Corner: Halloween Wreath!


I decided to make a wreath for my mom for Halloween. I had a old wreath I didn't like what I did and just adding various things to it. Some of it I had, some of it came from the dollar store (most of it actually), some was machine embroidery (the signs), and the main ribbon on the wreath I did buy at a discount (LOVE sales and coupons). It actually ended up costing very little but then again perhaps it looks that way. :) It is a hodgepodge of various elements although the theme is the same. 

Okay, I know the lighting is bad, but it was the best I could get at the moment. As of writing the post, my mom has yet to put it up. We've had a lot of fires surrounding us which often brings up the weather so she didn't want to get it dirty. Um... it goes outside mom... it's gonna get dirty! LOL

Here are some close ups I did:
I do hope this makes some of it clearer. All signs were machine embroidered and the Trick or Treat sign is done in glow in the dark thread. The Trick or Treat disappears and all you are left with is the spider webs and spiders. I couldn't get a good photo of it. The skeleton hands are salad tongs I got at the dollar store and the cauldron's bubbles are clear beads I glued to it and the potion inside is glow in the dark paint. :) 

Again I'm sorry for the bad fuzzy pics, but I didn't have a chance to get the pics taken when it was outside. :)

So, have you any crafty Halloween things done this year?

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

272 p.
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Published: 10/25/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul. 
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.
My thoughts:

This one sounded perfect for the season. And it is also from a prospective we rarely get in YA. This one travels from contemporary Japan and 19th c. Japan. This also has the bisexual aspect that factors in a big way here as it becomes Reiko, our main character, primary reason and justification in what she does in the story. I think the cultural aspects and also the bisexual aspect of the story were handled well and with some sensitivity.

As much as I loved the setting and background of our main character, I didn't really like her until the end. Granted you really weren't supposed to but instead of feeling her rage, she felt like a spoiled brat that railed against perceived wrongs done to her. I don't know if she was really justified in her feelings since I couldn't get beyond her idea of vengeance.

The story does involve a spirit trying to take over Reiko in the present trying to wreck havoc on all those surrounding her. She also travels back into this spirit's time period and finds someone not unlike her who ends up trying to relive her bloody vengeance. At one point neither Reiko or the reader knows where one ends and the other begins and this is where she is forced to either complete the spirit's mission or find it within herself to find herself and who she wants to be in life. What I found frustrating with this part is that she knew it was history, talked about going to find out what happened and then never followed through. I so wanted to shake her at times and couldn't wait for her to wise up and figure things out like you already knew she... well... knew!

The ending was a bit too easy and a bit quick for the buildup but it was complete. She even looked at her other relationships and figured out where she fit in the most important ones. We also finally find out what she really did in her relationship that started her on this path.

I give this book 3 stars. I like the worldbuilding and the aspects of the characters. While I had problems with Reiko's character, she did grow and I did like that aspect. Things were too easily wrapped up but were complete. I think this ends up evening out the book and is a good book for the October season.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rendezvous with Yesterday by Dianne Duvall

Series: The Gifted Ones #2
Offshoot series from: Immortal Guardians
406 p.
Published: 10/17/16
Source: From author for review
On sale as of this writing: $4.99 ebook
Modern-day bounty hunter Bethany Bennett helps her brother track two fugitives to a forest outside of Houston, Texas. But what should have been a routine apprehension of two bail skippers spirals out of control and ends in violence. After Beth and her brother are both seriously injured, a mysterious figure suddenly looms over her. And, when the smoke clears, Beth finds herself not only in another place, but in another time. 
As Lord Robert, Earl of Fosterly, attempts to identify and track down the nameless enemy who has been plaguing his lands and people with violence, the most peculiar woman stumbles into his path. Small, vulnerable, yet possessed of a bold, fiery spirit and wicked sense of humor, she persists in dubbing Robert and his men members of something called a medieval reenactment group . . . until she sees his castle and labels herself mad. It seems bounty hunter Bethany Bennett has come to him from the future, bringing with her laughter and chaos, swiftly winning the hearts of his people and inspiring within him a love he thought he would never experience again. But when Robert discovers a way for her to return to her time, will the love they share be enough to keep them together?
My thoughts:

I don't know what it is about time travel, but I usually find those kind of stories enjoyable even if they aren't successful. However, this one is quite successful and had me smiling quite a bit while reading it.

Bethany finds herself thrust backward in time to meet the Earl of Fosterly, Robert who we met in the last book. I really liked Robert so I was happy to get his story. Plus, the man is quite swoony! He is a gentleman to Bethany in every way and also very honest and forthcoming. I really enjoyed his character even more in this book. He is a hero to his people and is also a good leader who cares deeply about everything he does. He strives to keep his lands safe and despite the medieval upbringing he is accommodating to the independent strange lass who comes across his path. Yea, you can safely say I really loved this character. :) Even those who love a bad boy will enjoy this character as he is fierce in protecting those he loves and his people.

Bethany is no shrinking violet, but she is quite innocent in much of life experiences. She has had to endure a few things in life that had made her grow up and she seems fearless. She does get scared quite often but she doesn't let it stop her and there is such strength in forging ahead despite being thrust into a world so foreign to her. Her strength feels real and also feels like someone learning about life in general. She is such a likable character and both feel right together in their romance.

The sexy scenes are quite balanced. In that I mean that they are quite hot but do not overwhelm the story. My favorite parts are actually shocking everyone by Beth hugging Robert and kissing him in public in a time where that wasn't allowed, even with married people. Robert's response to this unusual behavior was perfect and made me swoon a bit more. They were such a good couple together.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really loved the romance within this one and it also held quite a bit of humor. You will smile, swoon and have a lot of fun with this addition to the series. The time travel was handled quite well and there is a scene that was cut added to the addendum at the end. I suggest you read that and if you didn't already want to read the Immortal Guardians, you will after that excerpt. I understand why it was cut, but it makes such a good case to read the other series. And speaking of which... you do not have to read that series to enjoy this one, but I do highly suggest you do for your own reading enjoyment. :D

Bloggy Note: I was a mention in the book! Whee! This is from my review of the first book, A Sorceress of His Own (review linked) which I did on audio and loved.

ALSO, currently there is a giveaway going on with the release of the book. You can access the blog post below to enter to win various prizes. Do check it out. Excerpts on the page as well. You can also access it from the left sidebar where I keep notices of all giveaways on this blog.

Click on above pic to go to post for excerpt and giveaway!
Go HERE to go to the release day blast of Rendezvous with Yesterday by Dianne Duvall w/giveaway!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Narrated: Zachary Quinto
2 hrs. 19 min.
Publisher: Audible Studios
Published: 10/4/16
Source: tbr pile (free until Nov. 2, 16)
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone - 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don't know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher - a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death's crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.

It's a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it's too late...before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
My thoughts:

This is a quick listen and I was curious since Zachary Quinto narrated it. He did a superb job of voicing the characters and his smooth voice seemed to lend an edge to the telling. It almost felt like a bit of a suspense novel as well.

In this short the world is firmly developed. In fact the world building really seemed to be the main factor in the story. Why are people who are murdered coming back? How? What is the timeline for the reset? Most of these things are answered and others (like why and how) are left to your imagination, but all feels plausible in this world. Plus it makes sense that the first things humans would do with what seems like a miracle... monetize it and make it a job. That is the dispatcher. They make sure people survive in circumstances and are given a second chance to get things right. It also lends itself to exploitation and an underground which has developed within this type of "job".

The characters are interesting but I didn't really connect with them. It is understandable since this, to me, is not a character book but really an exploration of a mystery and the world it inhabits. That part of the story is fully told and I was left satisfied after 2+ hours of this novella. I give this book 4 stars and highly recommend it to those that enjoy a different kind of world and a good sic-fi story.

Bloggy Freebie Note: This audio novella is free until Nov. 2 so get yours free now! A good way to try this one and see if this sci-fi is for you. :) Go HERE to get the audio (that is not an affiliate link).