Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Round Up

My October

Another month that has been crazy for me.  I really wish this trend would stop.  I didn't do too much this month.  Construction started on my house, so that's been awful.  It's supposed to be done before the end of the year.  I think the contractor is going for before Christmas.  We'll see.  I got pretty sick early in the month, and that paired with construction workers at my house forced me to go into work every day except for one when I finally decided it was too risky for me to be operating a car and I stayed holed up in my bedroom (one of the few rooms that isn't having work done - at least not until December).  

I did get to go up to Cape Cod to visit my brother and sister-in-law for their birthdays.  It was so gorgeous out there, we had lots of hikes with the puppies.





I received my second OwlCrate.  This month I got a book that was on my TBR list, but I didn't own, so that was awesome!  I'm going to start reading it once I'm done with my current book.





October's Artsy Stuff

I was able to get some artsy stuff done this month.



I made this for my boyfriend for our one year anniversary.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.


I started a hockey watch.  I need to do some more work on it, I was waiting for charms I had ordered to come in.  But it's made with an actual hockey skate lace.  I made a bracelet too that matches, but is also unfinished.



I also made these snitch earrings.  I was pretty hesitant on them at first, but I think I like them.  I think I would like to open an online store, maybe through this blog, to sell them on.  Would any of you be interested in them?  Or other book-related items?





I made this for part of my Halloween costume.  They're elf ear cuffs.  I want to try to make another pair to see if they come out any better.


A testament to how blegh this month has been, I only did my nails once, for the hockey season opener.  My left hand was the Ranger and my right hand the Canadiens.  The numbers are my favorite players (Zuccarello (36), Brassard (16), Stepan (21) and Lundqvist (30) for the Rangers, Eller (81), Pacioretty (67), Subban (76), and Price (31) for the Habs) The logos I did free hand, and damn the Canadiens logo is difficult to do, it looks so simple...so deceiving while the Rangers was the exact opposite.

October Blog News

Nothing really to report.  I did a lot of scheduled posts this month, so I ended up not missing any Short Story Sundays (whoo hoo!) or missing any days when I felt like death.  So I'm going to try to keep up with that.  Have reviews and other stuff set up for at least a week in advance so if something happens I don't fall crazy behind.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been toying with the idea of selling my jewelry, I looked into Etsy and their business model sucks, so I want to do a poll to see how many of you would actually be interested in buying stuff from me, if I should put in the effort to have a shop within my blog.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or just vote a simple yes or no in the poll here.  The link to vote is also in the side bar on the left.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Streams of Mercy

by Lauraine Snelling


Summary from GoodReads

Anji Baard Moen, a recent widow, returns from Norway with her children. She quickly settles back into life in Blessing, teaching Norwegian history in the high school and writing articles for the Blessing Gazette. When tragedy strikes, Anji steps in to run the newspaper and soon finds a kindred spirit in the widower who owns the printing press. As they spend time together, Anji wonders if there's something more than friendship growing between them.

But Anji has also caught the eye of a recent arrival to Blessing. He has put his carpentry skills to good use on the town's building projects, including Anji's house. But Anji is torn between her feelings of loyalty to someone who needs her and the chance to build a new life with this intriguing newcomer.

Where will her choice take her?

Thoughts on the Book

I love the world of Blessing, North Dakota and the Bjorklunds.  I grew up reading them and I will continue to read them for as long as Snelling continues to publish them.  The description made me really nervous though, Thorliff, one of my favorite characters ever written, owns the newspaper.

My Review

This book is about a train that comes into Blessing seeking medical attention.  It also continues everyone's story, focusing on Ingeborg (of course), Anji, and Devlin.

This is probably my least favorite of the entire series, bumping up Blessing in Disguise's ranking.  It didn't have the same rhythm and feeling as all the others.  It seemed kind of forced.  The characters were pretty flat and there was a lot, and I mean a lot of reminiscing.  Weird uncalled for reminiscing.  Like Kaaren out of nowhere stating that she was randomly crying one day and realized that it was because she missed Carl, Gunny, and Lizzie.  The books have progressively getting much more religious focused too.  It used to be religion was just a part of who they were, now it's like any chance Snelling gets she randomly adds a quote from the scripture.  It's part of the problem with the flow of the book, it doesn't occur naturally it's so forced.

Another issue I had with the book was Anji.  I didn't care about her at all.  I used to really like her, then she screwed over Thorliff, and now?  I still find her totally unlikable.  Maybe I would have cared more if the love interest wasn't Devlin.  If she were still in love with Thorliff and after her husband died she came back and suffered while Thorliff was living a happy life with Elizabeth and their children.

I don't understand why Ingeborg was such a focus in this story.  Lately it's seemed like she's the main focus of everything, but in the original series half of the books she was a side character.  As well as a few of the sub-sequential series.  There was absolutely nothing going on with her in this book, but there were a lot of scenes, for no reason, at the farm.  Since Anji was supposed to be the main focus of the story I was expecting to see a lot more of Penny (and Hjemler) but then were both mentioned once.  And Penny's daughter was mentioned out of the blue in one section.

Overall I'm giving this a 5.5/10.  It felt too forced and there were so many things that just didn't feel right.  Characters that should have been crucial to the story (Astrid, Elizabeth, Deborah, Miriam, Penny) barely showed up or were missing completely and characters that served no purpose were in it a lot (Ingeborg, Emily, Manny).  I'm hoping the next in the series brings back the original feel to the world of Blessing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday [24]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating











This week I am waiting on The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (February 16, 2016)



Summary from GoodReads

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.  

Why I'm Waiting

I'm a sucker for time travel and boats, so a time travelling boat? Yes please! I don't know much about historical Hawai'i, just the basics, so it will be very cool to read about it.  And the travel being completely paradoxical sounds so awesome!  I can't wait for this one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [22]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics









Top 10 Literary Halloween Costumes


 Singles

1 - Cath Avery from Fangirl

Cardigan, Keep Calm and Carry on Simon Snow shirt (or just a plain tee and bring Carry On), jeans, snow books and glasses. Wear your hair in a pony tail.


2 - Willowdean from Dumplin'

Curly blond wig, red dress, awesome heels


3 - Dahlia Moss from The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

Jigglypuff hat, geeky shirt, jeans, and pretty much anything else geeky



4 - Cinder Linh from Cinder

Cargo pants, plain t-shirt, combat boots, tools.  Add some grease smudges to your face and arms.


Alternatively you could throw in some cyborg tights - make sure only one leg is visible!



5 - Carswell Thorne - Cress

Plain t-shirt, flight jacket, nice pants, nice boots


Couples


6 - Iolanthe and Titus from The Elemental Triology

for both: Outfits that look like the Eton College Uniform.  Also have a wand for Iolanthe and an old looking book and a blank journal for Titus.


7 - Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

For Lola: Dress up as crazy/awesomely as possible
For Cricket: pinstriped pants, button down top, spiked hair, rubberbands on wrist, and a star on the back of your hand.


8 - Scarlet and Wolf from Scarlet

For Scarlet: Red hooded sweater, beige pants, boots
For Wolf: White t-shirt, jeans, nice sneakers


9 - Simon and Baz from Carry On

For Simon: Gray suit and sword, style hair as curly on top
For Baz: Vampire wig, black suit, wand





10 - Isla and Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After

For Isla: Cute skirt and top, some French comics (Bandes dessinées, or BD)
For Josh: T-shirt, jeans, sketch book.  Add some ink spots on your drawing hand







Monday, October 26, 2015

Crenshaw

by Katherine Applegate


Summary from GoodReads

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

Thoughts on the Book

Growing up I was a huge Animorphs fan.  When I heard Katherine Applegate was going to be at BEA I was so excited, I had to get a copy of this book.  Unfortunately she was signing at the same time as another author I wanted to see meet even more.  I was super lucky though and I was able to get in line (they had a finite amount of books, way too few for the amount of people who wanted them) and get a copy.

My Review

Crenshaw is about a boy, Jackson, from a poor family who was about to evicted, again.  Crenshaw is Jackson's imaginary friend who made his original appearance the first time Jackson's family was homeless and who returned when Jackson started suspecting they were going be homeless again.

I loved this book, it was really cute and moving.  The family really cares about each other and his parents try their hardest for their kids.  It's a lesson on sticking together as a family and trying your best no matter what life throws at you.  

Jackson was such a cute kid.  He loves science and wants a logical explanation for everything and he loves sharing his random bits of animal knowledge with people.  Crenshaw is as absurd as Jackson is logical.  He's funny and nonchalant all while being extremely insightful.

I also loved how ambiguous Applegate was with if Crenshaw was real or not.  Obviously, he's not real, he's an imaginary friend.  But then, Aretha, the family dog sensed he was there, and Jackson's best friend made a comment alluding to him.  And Crenshaw knew all about Jackson's father's imaginary friend.

Overall I give this a 9/10.  It was a cute, fun read.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Short Story Sunday [13]

Harrison Bergeron
from: Welcome to the Monkey House
by Kurt Vonnegut

My Welcome to the Monkey House review will be split amongst several weeks of Short Story Sundays.  I will review each short story that appeared in the book.

Review

This story is about a future where everyone was made completely equal.  Those people smarter, or more athletic than the stupidest or least athletic people were given handicaps to dumb them down or make it difficult for them to move.  The main character, George, is smart, so he has to wear his handicap earphones which constantly plays loud noises to prevent him from thinking analytically or too intensely.  His wife, Hazel, doesn't have any handicaps.  The story revolves around them watching a government sanctioned television program in which their son, Harrison, makes an appearance.

This just might be my favorite story from the anthology.  I loved how Vonnegut portrayed the idea of total equality.  He made it look as ridiculous as it is, nobody is truly equal to another, one will always have advantages over the other.  Not that one is better than the other, but two people, one will be smarter, but the other might be more athletic, or more artistic, or more attractive.  Vonnegut demonstrates this fantastically, from the conversation between George and Hazel to the musicians playing the music for the ballet and the dancers performing the ballet.  He also demonstrates how ridiculous a government has to be to in order to enforce equality.  This story was written during the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality in the US.  Vonnegut likes going to the extremes of what people were asking for (like what he did with "Welcome to the Monkey House" with the Church's stance on contraception).  It sort of reads as a cautionary tale - be careful what you wish for.

I give this one a 10/10.  It was such a great story, I loved it.  I listened to this as part of the Welcome to the Monkey House audio book.  It was narrated by Maria Tucci.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sword Art Online - Fairy Dance

Story by Reki Kawahara
Art by Tsubasa Hazuki

Since this one's 3 book manga series I'm going to post it one review.


Summaries from GoodReads



Kazuto Kirigaya (aka Kirito) has survived the death game of Aincrad masterminded by Akihiko Kayaba, programmer of Sword Art Online, and made it back to the real world. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Asuna Yuuki (aka Asuna the Flash), the girl Kirito fell in love with in the game world and who has yet to awaken from her seemingly endless slumber. As his sister, Suguha, sadly looks on, Kazuto continues to visit Asuna in the hospital in the hope of finding answers... But one day, the answers suddenly find him in the form of a man who claims to be Asuna's fiancé?! With him, the man brings an in-game screenshot of someone who looks a lot like Asuna being held captive! Now Kirito must dive into an all-new VRMMORPG, ALfheim Online, to bring Asuna home!!



Kirito jumps into a new VRMMORPG called ALfheim Online (ALO) in search of Asuna, who still hasn't regained consciousness. On his quest to find the World Tree and reach Asuna, he meets a sylph girl named Leafa. A veteran player experienced with the sword, Leafa recognizes that Kirito is motivated by serious circumstances and decides to help him. But...Leafa's identity in the real world is Suguha Kirigaya--Kirito's sister. And it's the glimmer of her beloved brother she sees in Kirito that prompts her to lend him a hand. Now, despite the conflicting interests guiding them on, the pair set off on a journey to the World Tree!!



Having defeated General Eugene of the salamanders and aided the alliance between sylphs and cait siths by protecting their leaders, Kirito and Leafa reach Alne, the town at the foot of the World Tree, at long last. But before they can tackle the tree--and their main objective--server maintenance begins, and they are forced to log out. Back in the real world, Kazuto and Suguha Kirigaya, each unaware of the other's in-game identity, pay a visit to Asuna Yuuki, who still lies asleep in her hospital room. While there, Suguha suffers a terrible shock when she realizes just how strongly her beloved brother cares for Asuna.
Meanwhile Asuna, still imprisoned atop the World Tree within the game world of ALfheim Online, sets her escape plan in motion... 
The adventure in ALO finally reaches its climax! Enjoy the conclusion of the Fairy Dance arc in this massive final volume!



Thoughts on the Series

A coworker recommend the Sword Art Online (SAO) Anime for me to watch.  I loved it.  So when I happened to go into a bookstore and saw the manga I grabbed this three book series. I was only halfway through the anime at the time, so I grabbed this arc because Kirito looked so awesome with elf ears.  I did finish the anime before I started reading though.  This series is the second half of season 1 of SAO.

My Review

This story arc picks up almost immediately after the Aincrad arc ends.  Kirito learns that there are about 300 players that never woke up after game, including his in-game wife, Asuna.  Kirito delves back into a VRMMORPG (Alfheim) in order to save Asuna.

I read this manga while watching the anime, and while I really enjoyed the manga, the anime was better.  And I learned that that manga is three times removed from the original.  Usually manga gets translated to anime.  This story was odd, it started as a light novel then was adapted as an anime, once the anime became popular it was adapted as a manga.  The illustrator for Fairy Dance also wasn't the same illustrator that worked on the original arc, Aincrad.  All that being said the manga didn't really stand up to the anime, but it was very good.

There were some parts that were rushed in the manga, I think I would have been confused by them if I hadn't seen the anime.  I think it would have been better if they ignored the anime (except for the character design) and based the manga off of the light novel.  They tried to copy what was done on the screen and some parts just didn't fit right in manga form.

The story was great though, and there were parts of the manga that I enjoyed more than the anime.  The very end of the arc, when Kirito gets to the hospital I liked better in the manga than the anime.  It was interesting to see the slight changes between the anime and manga, the tentacled scientists in the manga...shudder...they were awful, poor Asuna, in the anime they were just silly.  Then there was the final scene in the birdcage, that was way more awful in the anime than it was in the manga.

I give this arc a 8/10.  It's an awesome story, but I would recommend watching it rather than reading the manga.  But if you do read the manga it's awesome, but the manga gets an 8/10 while the anime gets a 10/10. The anime is just more awesome.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday [23]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating











This week I am waiting on Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins (June 14, 2016)



Summary from GoodReads

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Why I'm Waiting

Let's list the reasons: 
1 - Stephanie Perkins
2 - Cassandra Clare
3 - Jennifer E. Smith
4 - Veronica Roth
5 - Libba Bray
6 - My True Love Gave to Me was phenominal
7 - Stephanie Perkins' story is about the same couple from My True Love Gave to Me

I'm really really excited for this one, everything Stephanie Perkins touches is just utterly amazing.  


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [21]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics









10 Wishes I'd Ask the Book Genie to Grant Me

1 - A magical bookshelf that can hold an infinite amount of books which can be summoned forward in order to find them




2 - The ability to read in the dark




3 - To fix my eyes so I can read without glasses/contacts




4 - To make every book I own/will own waterproof 




5 - A time bubble I can enter whenever/wherever to read to my heart's content without loosing time or being interrupted.  So from the outside it looks like I just sat down with a book, but on the inside I've just read the entire Harry Potter series)




6 - The Simon Snow series to exist and have been written




7 - The final two A Song of Ice and Fire books to be released

Missing from photo: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring


8 - To be able to learn any skill that you've read a character learning (ie: the ability for swordplay and jousting via Alanna learning how in the Song of the Lioness or spells via Harry Potter learning them in class)



9 - To have immediate access to any book as soon as it's published




10 - The ability to recall verbatim anything I've read and be able to locate it in in the book.





Monday, October 19, 2015

Waving Backwards

by V.L. Brunskill



Summary from GoodReads

Imagine not knowing who you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800 miles from home.

Join intensely passionate and fiercely independent New York college student Lara Bonavito on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery in sigh-worthy Savannah, Georgia. Adopted into an abusive and impoverished home, Lara’s quest to find her roots lands her in the southern jewel’s historic district. A vivid cast of characters help her unravel clues found in a cryptic letter hidden in the family bible for two decades.

“The baby’s roots are with the southern lady who waves forever.”

With the help of mischievously handsome trolley tour guide Robert Taylor; Kipling-quoting florist Abel Bloom; and comically outspoken Louisiana beauty, Susan Fletcher, Lara uncovers family secrets wrapped in the mystique of Savannah’s Waving Girl statue.

Waving Backwards is a coming-of-age quest that reveals the healing power of family bonds, and maternal love


Thoughts on the Book


I received this book from NetGalley.  It's been sitting on my Netgalley bookshelf for a while, but I finally got around to reading it.  I requested this book because it sounds really cool.  A girl receiving a cryptic letter which leads her to search for her biological family.  The cover looks pretty awesome too!


My Review

This book is about an adopted girl, Lara, who finds a letter in the family bible which prompts her to want delay college for a second year while she goes off hunting down her biological family, who made it known they didn't want to be contacted with the agency.  Lara "figures out" that the letter references Savannah, Georgia and she heads down south to find her family.

I can't get over the stupidity of this story.  It was excruciating to read.  The first two chapters were written in past tense then it just switched to present tense.  Then there's these awful random flashbacks which are also in past tense.  The tense, and the pointless date at the beginning of each chapter, is the only indicator that there's a flashback.  No book should be written in present tense.  The actual writing is awful too, some chapters are 2 pages, barely, if they're that short they shouldn't even be a chapter.  Here's an example of the prose: "Whirring past cars in a haze of haphazard thinking and driving, Lara reflects on the letter, pulling it repeatedly from the passenger seat to review the words as questions squawk in her head.  What if her family owned slaves?  Will she find a bunch of bigoted old folks who look down their noses at her? Will they like her?  Will there be brothers or sisters?"..."Questions and possibilities make it impossible to focus. Other drivers fly past, waving aggravated hands as she swerves to grab the letter."  That's about a quarter of chapter 4, by the way.  It's SO DUMB.  She's swerving around the lanes grabbing for a letter that's 5 lines long?  Her first question about her bio-family is if they owned slaves?  Then there's the fact that she's from a poor family in New York City, where'd she get the car from?  And how does she know how to drive?

The story seems to progress by Lara making random assumptions and weird decisions.  For example, she finds a "letter" in the family bible, automatically assumes it's about her since she's an only child (and no other children could have possibly been born - ever), then assumes it means the east coast of the US, and she had to look up the oldest cities in each southern east coast state, and randomly decided that Savannah had to be the city in question.  She gets this all from the line "Buried in the first city is a man who holds the 9th key".  If it were me, I'd immediately think the first city was Roanoke (the first British colony, founded in 1585), but since the colony didn't last a year, Jamestown would be my second guess (founded in 1607) both in Virginia.  Or if you want to go technical and say the first settlement/city that has been continuously inhabited in the Continental US it would be St. Augustine, Florida (founded in 1565).  Or, if you want to say the oldest (aka first) city of the United States it would be Lewes Delaware (founded in 1631) since that's the first city in the first state to sign the Constitution.  Savannah (founded in 1733) is so far down on the list of 'first cities' it's ridiculous.

At one point in the book there's a tornado.  In Savannah.  A tornado.  And these are normal there...check out this.  Yep, that's right, about 6 tornadoes in Savanna (12 if you expand your radius by quite a bit) since 1950.  This is because Savannah does not get tornadoes, they get this other storm quite often...I think it's called a hurricane.  Yeah, they get those a lot.  They get more waterspouts than tornadoes for crying out loud.  And supposedly the author lives in Savannah.  Give me a break.

The ending of the book was as dumb and boring as the rest of the book.  There's these stages in books that they're supposed to follow, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.  There was none of that.  Barely an exposition, no rising action (unless you consider Lara making up answers to the "riddle" as a rising action), no climax so there was no falling action, and of course no resolution.  Just "whelp, found out what I wanted, now I'm going home to not go to college since I wasted all my loan money in the search for my bio-parents".  Never-mind what she actually found out and how it impacted her (that would have been the climax had it been written correctly).  She just got the answer of how she was conceived and by whom then called it a day.

I give this a 0.5/10.  It was truly awful and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  Unless you really do enjoy a mediocre plot that is written like a 6th grader would write.  But I think that could be an insult to 6th graders.