Friday, January 20, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

336 p.
Publisher: Del Ray
Published: 1/10/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. 
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. 
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. 
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
My thoughts:
I knew I wanted to read this as soon as I understood it was a retelling of mythology, especially one that I'm not familiar. And while I've seen people equate Frost with Jack Frost in nature (and I totally see why), he felt more like a Russian version of Hades and his twin brother reminded me of Ares and Phobos combined. We also get some house spirits that reminded me of the mythology of Brownies but friendlier. Yes, you can safely say I enjoyed this book.

You follow Vasya who comes from an unusual lineage and has a wild and forthright attitude and is a strong woman. Of course during this time period, that causes problems, but he family still supports her being who she really is inside (with the exception of the step-monster... uh... mother). She has magic in her blood which also causes problems when an enigmatic priest comes to spread the word of God. This does deal with religion, but really isn't religious. The world this story inhabits is when pagan mythos clashed with Christian mythos. It reminds me of many of the stories you get when the fae diminish because of the one God religion. All is very familiar so it helps with those of us who don't know much about Russian mythology.

In the end Vasya makes difficult choices and also isn't the one to make the big sacrifice. I liked that she didn't fight as a man and didn't know how but had her own strengths she wielded with courage and wisdom. To me, this made her strong as she did not emulate man but was her own woman. There is also very little romance to the story and this book may become part of a series. I hope so because there is hint of something at the end and I need to know more. It isn't a cliffie, but I need that story I am hoping to get.

I give this book 4 stars. It is highly recommended to those that love mythology stories and a strong woman character who defies what she "should" become and has the courage to find herself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Craft Corner

Thought I'd show one last (I think) holiday pressies I did as well as a couple of other things.

I stitched this out on towels for my aunt:
Not the best pic but I kind of got it done at the last minute. It was the first time I did towels. :)

I also did some napkins for my neighbor, but that one was REALLY last minute so I didn't get a picture of it. I was behind but got it done! πŸ˜…

I also did a wreath for my mom. 

I also made a couple of scarves for my dogs.

The last thing I'll share is something I made for another bee I know. This one is for the soon coming baby bee. I made sure the patch on the big bee's tummy was something the mom loves and the little one is a rattle. I also made the bib in the hoop and the burp cloths were sewn on the machine with an appliqué on the embroidery machine. I bought the onesie but embroidered the bee. 🐝

So done anything crafty? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Because of the political climate in the US right now and also because it is a day we need to recognize now more than ever, I thought I'd dedicate today's post to MLK day. 

I think an important piece of history we often have heard about but most have not read in it's entirety is the Letter from a Birmingham Jail (link in title). He did struggle with what was happening around him. He was frustrated with everyone telling him to "wait" for others to either catch up or let others finally do what was right. For this he states: 
This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never."
He reiterated: 
We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
 This brings me to this point we often hear:

I think we may be at this point again so it is important to speak up. 

Why are we at this point again? Well, it isn't just the recent elections. I feel this has been coming for some time now and we have all ignored the signs because we didn't believe that we would truly have to go through this again in this country. That we would be led so far back. 

An example of this is Rep. Bob Thorpe (R) AZ has recently introduced a house bill to ban almost any gathering or courses in colleges that even discusses social injustice especially those of racial equality (link to NY Daily News Article). So yes, it is happening now. I also have no doubt it will not be the last of them nor will it be contained to just racial injustice.

So, I think to honor this man truly we need to stand up once again and forever for those principals he fought so hard to get into our consciousness.

And it is good to know that John Lewis, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. is still working hard for all of us. This is what he said against the nomination for Sen. Sessions.
I'll leave you with a bit of song and one last thought.

We all have it within ourselves to chose the latter course no matter how small of an act.

Friday, January 13, 2017

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

432 p.
Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: 1/10/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
My thoughts:

A retelling of Phantom of the Opera? A.G. Howard? Um... yes to all please. :) I enjoyed her other retelling of Wonderland so I was pretty sure I would enjoy my time here. I was not wrong.

I really liked how the story of the phantom unfolded and gave me a few twists and turns I did not expect. I did like Rune and Thorn and the idea of twin flames, but the romance felt weak until the end. I think all the secrecy just interfered with me getting to know them as a couple especially when they really spent so little time actually together. What stole the show was a cat and a swan. Both a familiar of sorts to the ones they have chosen to help. Both have a mind of their own and feel they know what is best for their people. If nothing else read it for those characters. I just wish they had more time in the book.

I do think that the paranormal twist in this book may not appeal to some. I didn't mind it and even appreciated it when I read the author's notes. It doesn't quite flow with the characters naturally as you first read it, but upon reflection you can see why the author took that direction.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. If you like retellings, if you like twists (I really did not see one of them coming) then you need to pick up this book. It was a fun time and I really enjoyed her author notes at the end which tells how she got the idea and some of the history involved. I also understand that the book has some of Christine's (the Phantom's bride) journal entries in it. I wish the ARC had it so I guess there is a book I need to buy. Twist my arm. LOL

Oh and that cover! πŸ’“

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winners, Cape and Things...

The winners of the annual Puppy Birthday Prize pack


Grand prize:
Melissa from Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf! (confirmed)

Second prize:
Terri from Alexia's Books and Such! (confirmed)

No, you didn't have to have a book blog to enter, but if you haven't do check those great blogs out!!

πŸ‘‰Also, if you entered but did not get 1st or 2nd, do check your e-mail... just sayin'... πŸ˜‰ (not everyone has gotten back to me yet...)🎁

Sorry it took me so long to get to the announcement, but I had limited access to my computer for a time and I didn't feel well over the holidays so I just decided to take the time off. However, now I'm playing catch up. 😷


Well, I have a few things for this category... one positive and one not. I guess I'll go not first.

The Not

Simon & Schuster under the imprint of Threshold books has given $250k to Milo Yiannopoulos who is known for his racist and misogynistic viewpoints. In fact, that is what made him "famous". Won't give him anymore time here, but you can look him up if you are not familiar. The companies response was heartbreaking since they did the whole not condoning and multiple view argument and I also responded that statement.

What does this mean? Well, so far this year I have not reviewed a S&S book. This may become an issue soon for me and I'll have to weigh supporting the author vs the publisher since I know a lot of authors have no choice and it isn't easy to move. I can guarantee that I will keep it to the bear minimum if at all and perhaps this may be the key to getting out of book blogging (blog may turn into something else). I'm still considering.

The Positive

For those that don't think that calling (best) or mailing your statements to your representatives doesn't work consider what recently happened:

I know a lot of news outlets gave Trump the nod nod on this one, but if you really look, it was the astonishment of the number of calls they got that really took them by surprise. No one reverses a decision like that so soon after a tweet so there is no way I'm giving Drumpf the credit. He just knew what was coming and like he has been doing, taking credit for other people's work. πŸ™„ You can check out other sources for the same comments if you don't like HuffPo. I just happened to see it there first. Yes, calling does work.

One not within this one though... The House GOP snuck by a way to hide he cost of the ACA removal. Yes, the removal (especially without a plan to replace... costs more) will cost taxpayers money. I'm upset that they are doing so much to hide and be less transparent as possible. We need that transparency and I wonder what else they have planned when they are trying to be opaque as possible. However this hasn't gone totally unnoticed and Bill de Blasio and a few other politicians are outing the numbers anyway. Good time to call your democratic politicians. Light a fire under them. 😏

Btw, if you are upset at Paul Ryan trying to defund Planned Parenthood then there is an easy way to do that. Just to go Call Speaker Ryan and they even give you a script (you do get signed up for text alerts, but can opt out). Teen Vogue did a good article on how Ryan is locked in his office refusing to collect petitions and why this subject is important and why their reasons don't make sense. The article is HERE.

If you haven't seen this, I do think you'll enjoy...
Yep, Mark Hamill took Trump's New Years odd tweet into something magic... I don't get half the stuff he writes on twitter but it makes more sense in this context, sad as that is...

Yes, you may get sick of me doing these, but I want to do something so this is it. 

Now go have some fun...