Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Stitching: Ornament Finish

So it's just little and insignificant in the grand scheme of my projects (as I always have a mill hill kit on the go) but hey gotta count all finishes when you have less than 10 in a year. Lol! 

 
 
Mill Hill kit
Blue perforated paper with beads and thread

I get asked a lot why I like these little easy kits so much and actually the answer is simple. They are affordable and well, easy! On days where I am not feeling good, when you take as many meds as I do those days tend to pile up, these kits are something I can turn to if my fingers are itching to stitch but not capable of handling anything more difficult. 
I really like perforated paper as it's easy to hold and you can never miss those big holes! :) 

Other news: 
I'm past the 3/4 point on the first Alice page so that will come by end of June I hope! 
And a new Dragon is almost done so watch for him. 

Happy Stitching! 

Book Review: Piercing the Veil

Title: Piercing the Veil
Author: Nicole L. Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Paranormal
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars 

This is a tough one to rate and review. I’ve reworked this review a couple of times… so here’s my best shot at reviewing... 

During the first 30% of this book I was engaged with a number of things. I like the charity work our main gal does, love her siblings, was intrigued by some magic and overall felt like maybe there was something here. That was before I read for the fifth time (the author even tells you how many times they’ve shown up in case you lost count) about the crows. I get when you want to portray an ominous coming event, or that something is happening but crows showing up everywhere is just plain boring. The foreshadowing throughout this whole book is poor. You’ll get a foreshadow maybe ten pages ahead of the reveal. I think there should have been subtle little foreshadows all throughout the first 200 pages leading up to the larger reveals. Additionally by the 30% mark it had been established that all the boys loved her and there were no women anywhere in this town... ugh. 

Ultimately Piercing the Veil suffers from trying to do too many things at once. In this story we have fantastical creatures, magic, talents (like magic but not quite the same), unknown places, scientific analysis, abusive events, multiple romantic love interests, dark family secrets, orphans AND a coming of age main character. Now you can take two, maybe three things off that list and do them well in a novel but you don't need all of them (at least not in a series introduction).

It felt like Nicole L. Taylor (to be fair she's a new author) wanted to tackle everything in 300+ pages. I would have removed a couple of things out of this immediately including; the unnecessary multiple men chasing our lead gal (at least one of them could be a female friend), the science (it’s a fantasy book not a science fiction book), and have limited the amount of fantastical creatures or references to other creatures significantly. I’d have focused more on our gal’s abusive past (this was barely scratched at and had no depth emotionally) and her desire to get away now that she’s graduated college. Then I'd have had all these crazy things start happening around her (and not just crows). Just because the world has gone a little crazy shouldn’t have take away from her ultimate goal which is to go somewhere and do something, and yet that completely fell off the map by the halfway point (if not sooner). I'd also completely eliminate the prologue as at no time is it even remotely relevant, helpful or does it link back to the story in a way that adds value. Additionally there is never any veil mentioned at all throughout the story and I can't figure out what the title is meant to represent. We also never have mention of a Crusader (and yet that is the series title). It's like someone changed some key wording and forgot to apply it to all aspects of the novel. 

It’s disappointing for me because there’s a good story in here somewhere and the writing itself is pretty good, it just needs some help to get rid of the clich├ęs, tighten-up overall writing, better foreshadowing and a real ending!

I wanted to give this book 3 stars for a good effort but I can honestly say that had I been reading it over the course of a week I probably would have DNF’d it and given up (thus giving it one star). I think the saddest part for me is that even though the ending was literally in the middle of the climax I don’t think I’ll read book 2. I just don’t care what happens to our lead gal (maybe her brothers, but not her). 

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: Lady Mechanika

 Title: Lady Mechanika (Vol 1. The Mystery of the Mechanical  Corpse)
Author: Joe Benitez 
Genre: Comics, Streampunk, Science Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I can't tell you how awesome it is to finally read a full Lady Mechanika series!! Started in 2010 this series never got a fair publishing shot as it was infrequent and never completed. Kudos to Joe Benitez for never letting this series and character fall into oblivion. 


For those who are not big comic fans let me assure you while these are comics there is a lot of story here. This set of 6 comics probably has more writing than a full 50 comic run of any other superhero comic you can think of. The art is rich and beautiful, the mystery is intricate and who doesn't love steampunk!! 


If you love The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, book 1) then I believe you will love this story (and hey sometimes pretty pictures are a great break from dense reading). 

For those who already love comics Lady Mechanika deserves to stand next to other leading ladies series like Dawn, Vampirella, Withblade and more! 


I highly recommend this series if you love fantasy, science fiction or steampunk , even if it's your first foray into comics, it's a solid choice. 


<I>Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.</I> I actually own the individual comics in this series as they are gorgeous and a variant features one of my fave artists Franchesco! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review: Waking Giants

 Title: Waking Gods (Book 2 of Themis Files)
Author: Sylvain Neuval
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

So I was beyond stoked to get an eARC of Waking Gods and prioritized it to be ready within a week or two of approval. And I certainly wasn't wrong to be so hyped as this book was AWESOME! 


The first 30 pages is slightly dull as it's ten years since the end of Sleeping Giants and so we spend some time catching up with everyone (after the opening chapter gives us the 'hook' to stay interested). I'm not a very good binge reader as I can't sit still for 3+ hours at a time; but given the opportunity I think I could binge Waking Gods as it's that fast paced! 


Not only does Waking Giant keep you engaged but it also keeps you guessing and ensures you understand that no one is safe. There are always victims of war and Sylvain Neuval keeps the realism flowing by ensuring that on one character is sacred or safe. 


At about the 75% point an 'ah-ha' moment is revealed that once explained I felt dumb for not figuring it out! Even though it's a vastly complex theory, but that's how well Neuval can explain intricate scientific concepts. His ability to explain complex science reminds me of Michael Crichton's skill to bring science down to palatable, digestible explanations for us non-science folks. I'm so glad that someone today has this special talent. 


I think for me part of what makes Waking Gods, and the Themis series to date, so compelling; is that it's based in plausible truth. This is something many fantasy and science fiction books don't do well. The more relatable the scenarios the easier it is to be caught up in the story. I have no doubt that the average reader will easily follow all along. 


I could go on and on about how amazing this book is. But instead let me say, read it! Start with book 1 as this is a series that must be read in order. 

I intentionally say little about plot or situations as I don't want to spoil any of the amazing moments in this wonderfully written novel. 


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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: Withering Rose

 

Title: Withering Rose 

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Whew am I glad that is over! Withering Rose and I did not get along. Book 1, Gathering Frost, was sooo much better than this one. 


I think the issue with Withering Rose is that it stuck too close to its Beauty and the Beast roots at times (and at other times when I wanted it to stick to the original story it didn't). For example, when you have the opportunity to describe one of the most famous fictional libraries ever don't you exploit it?! Apparently not, as Kathryn Davis decided not to... 


There was a lot of random babbling in this book, less focus and with no scenery changes (everything happens in the castle) it got dull fast. It didn't help that some passages were just annoying.

"Glimmering silver. Stormy gray. Sharp steel."

I get it, his eyes are grey. Moving on... 


Oddly I'm still excited to read the next book when it comes out because I love the smashed together worlds Davis has created for this series. In this book as learn more about how magic works, why some have it and others don't, as well as get some exposure to "natural" magic versus "stolen" magic. Very interesting and I can see the complexities of the magic system really starting to build. 


All in all I would say read/skim this one just to get through it (assuming when book 3 comes out it's as good as book 1). It wasn't bad enough that I want to ditch the series or author; it was just missing something (action, plot, adventure, characters, engaging dialogue...) that made book 1 so memorable and enjoyable. 


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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Girl out of Water

 Title: Girl out of Water
Author: Laura Silverman
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a very realistic and fair portrayal of what it's like to be a teen torn from their home for a summer they didn't expect. The dialogue, thoughts and actions of Anise, our lead gal, are genuine and honest. This is not a girl who is perfect and selfless; this is a teen girl who is bitter and confused but also sensitive and caring. I found myself relating to many of the things Anise said or did. All things I thought or did as a teen. 

I believe Anise is a teen much like many of us were (or are). Selfish at times, but not because she doesn't care but because life is hard and being a teen is even harder. 


The love interest in Girl out of Water is probably the most frustrating part. While I like him, he's a little too perfect. I would have liked to see him have some vulnerable moments and share times when he's struggled. With the love interest being a little more realistic there might be a fifth star for this book, but as it is I just can't rate it next to Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes at five stars. That said, this is a solid four star read. 


This is not a book where the plot moves the story forward; in fact there is very little plot. Instead this is a character development book focuses on Anise and her 'coming of age' story. I didn't have a problem with it and felt it had just enough of everything. 


I would recommend this book for anyone that enjoys average teens doing average things for stories. Or anyone who is struggling with leaving to go somewhere. This is an excellent story to gift to a teen that is moving homes, being forced on a vacation they don't want to go on or anyone that is struggling with change. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great or poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stitching: UFO FINISH!!!

Okay I can't lie, I'm super excited about this finish. 
Now this is a bit unusual for me as I don't stitch to have finishes. I stitch because I love it. Finishes are a side bonus. If someone told me I'd work on the same piece forever and never finish I'd still want to stitch. Strange but true. 
That said I read to finish books so I get the obsession with finishing. 

Here I was the other week going through my stitching basket that should only have "active" projects in it (limited space near my chair) and I find this little beauty over 3/4 finished. I could barely remember why I didn't finish it... until I started back in on it. While absolutely beautiful it is a big PITA. 
Metallic threads, variegated silk, fragile easily stretched linen and a pattern full of random errors (mandalas should be identical all on ALL sides; yes I fixed mine up as I couldn't handle the inconsistencies). 
But I pushed to get it done (only took another 10 or so hours which isn't bad). 
Here's the finished product! 
 
 
 
Medieval Hearts
By Kelsyn's Designs 
On 28ct hand-dyed linen 
Rainbow gallery metallic and Waterlilies silk

So there you have it an actual finish of something that was stashed so poorly I forgot about it and just didn't get back to it. :) 

Got another little Mill Hill finish on it's way and an update for Alice soon! 
Happy Stitching!

Book Review: Gathering Frost

  

Title: Gathering Frost

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Gathering Frost is a surprisingly well thought out book and a lovely kick-off to a new series based on fairy tales. Our first tale is that of Sleeping Beauty and yet nothing like Sleeping Beauty. It's clever in its use of the idea of being asleep or emotionless and has some great characters. 

Yes it's a young adult book so there is the required romance and all that. But while there are moments where I roll my eyes a good 85% of this book is solid story telling. With interesting and believable characters Kaitlyn Davis provides us with a magic system and fantasy world that (literally) crashes with our own and creates unique and interesting scenarios. 

I didn't go in with very high expectations necessarily but without a doubt I am blown away by what a good read this is. It's so rare to find interesting and unique retellings of fairy tales (Cinder is another amazing one). Goodness knows there are enough of them out there right now! 


Additionally I couldn't help but have major feelings about the photo walls. It reminded me so much of our real world and the search for lost ones after crises or the average milk carton missing child. Very sad and difficult to deal with. This use of a photo wall was easily a major turning point for me to realize that Davis had really thought out this idea for a split word and wasn't just slapping words on the page. 


Overall it's a nice, light, well built read. Gathering Frost measures up in an over saturated genre of typical fairy tales. Looking forward to more in this series! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: Crown of Ice

  

Title: Crown of Ice 

Author: Vicki L. Weavil

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy 

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars - did not finish


DNF @ 35% 


I hate to not finish books but I honestly couldn't handle another I this, I that, you this, you that sentence. And that's all there was in this book! 


This is a cute little story of a Snow Queen trying to save herself by putting together a magical mirror that was once broken. It's obvious there are twists, world building, magic and more characters to come in this first book of a series; but I just couldn't handle the writing style any longer. Not only is it juvenile but extremely repetitive. Young adult books do not need to read as though they are for five year olds. Give teens and kids some credit; they can understand a book that doesn't tell us every little thing. 


Aside from the language the lack of showing bugged me in Crown of Ice. Every silly thing was described by our main gal and her POV. I know that wolves are loyal to a daily to their leader. I didn't need to be told once, though am okay with mentioning it once; I certainly didn't need to be told four times in 15 pages about the loyalty of a wolf. Onwards the progression of the story and characters went. 


Very stilted dialogue, unoriginal descriptions and the lack of understanding of how to write well in first person turned me off. From page 1 I had a feeling the style of writing was going to frustrate me, sadly I was correct. 


There might be something here that resembles a good story; I just couldn't hack through anymore "I" statements to get there. 


For this review and more visit my new book review blog at: <a href="http://epicstitching.blogspot.ca/search/label/reading?m=1">Epic Reading</a>


<I>Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great or poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.</I>

Book Review: Children of the New World

 

Title: Children of the New World 

Author: Alexander Weinstein

Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi, Short Story Anthology

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 


There were three really solid little stories in this anthology of dystopia snippets. I say snippets because many of these stories are more ideas that haven't been fleshed out enough. 

Even the best writers can't tell a good story in 8 pages. Almost all the ideas in Alexander Weinstein's compilation of Children of the New World are unique and engaging; but most just don't have enough there to really make me feel like I was told a story with characters I can remember. 

Many of the stories I can barely remember the basic premise they were so short. 


The three stories definitely worth reading however are: The Pyramid & The Ass, Fall Line, Saying Goodbye to Yang. 


I hope Weinstein takes a concept or two and writes some substantial stories in the future. Even 100-200 pages could really be a difference maker to feel like there's a real message in his words. 

I'd definitely read fiction from him again; he has a great handle on dystopian futures that are weird and odd but all very believable. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave great or poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: The Change Room

 Title: The Change Room

Author: Karen Connelly

Genre: Women's Literature, LGBT

Rating: 3 out of 5


Let's start with things to know about The Change Room: 

       1) Sex: there is a lot of it; and not just alluded to but described in beautiful detail 

       2) LGBT: we have wonderful lesbian characters 

       3) Sex trade: is a focal point, but seen in a practical, loving way 

       4) Adultery: is the main theme and focus

       5) Ending: it just stops. Right at the moment where things were the most interesting!! 

       6) The main character is obsessed with having babies. To the point of utter annoyance to me (as someone whose mid-30s with no children and zero plans for any this was super frustrating).

       7) There are rape and molestation flashbacks   


The Change Room read quickly for me. Karen Connelly definitely knows how to write a compelling, forward moving story. At no point was I bored. This is not a traditional romance novel even though it has many descriptive sex scenes. It's really more of a literature piece. 

Set in Canada, and with many references to my home town (Calgary) I loved the descriptions and settings used. (Side note: I've lived in Alberta my whole life and never ever heard the 'Alberta curse' phrase she uses)


It's obvious that Connelly either did a lot of research on Greece and political matters as all the political and socio-economic things happening in the world in this book happened in real life. I found this refreshing. While not necessarily relevant to our main story it lent credibility to the overall text and I'm sure an English literature professor could find a hundred ways it relates to the story. 


The focus of Change Room is a married woman whom has two children, a content husband, and an 'average' life that many readers can likely relate to. But she's not really happy. Something is missing... in walks a gorgeous lady to the swimming pool one day and so begins an affair that changes everything in her life. 


Overall this book is intriguing, handles the subject matter really well and intelligently sheds light into a number of situations and scenarios society doesn't like to talk about (see list above) . It's very realistic and handles all its sensitive subject matter quite well. 


The reason for my 3-star review, given all these factors, is that just as the book feels like it's at a pinnacle moment that I'm dying to know how plays out, it ends!!! 


Yes it's an ending where you know what's about to be said and can decide how it plays out for yourself. However I just wanted way more! Normally wanting more would leave me with a high review and excitement. But in this case I felt so invested in the characters and their situations that I can't believe it ended! 


Maybe that's unfair... maybe there are tons of philosophical reasons why this ending is perfect. For me it was a huge let down and makes me frustrated as a whole with The Change Room and the investment of time I put into it. It's possible in a few days I'll feel differently but for right now it just felt like Connelly didn't want to decide how it ended and that feels cheap to me. 


I would recommend this book for anyone that wants a different perspective on the sex trade, affairs, lesbianism and suburban family life. 


Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave good or bad reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Stitching - March Dragon

Completing the March dragon is like I'm caught up because May and March both start with M right? (Lol) 
Yeah I know now I'm more than a month behind. But I gotta say I don't really care. It is what it is and I'll get them done with I can. I'm allowing no stress on this SAL. Cause it's a silly thing to be anxious or stressed about. (And goodness knows I have enough of that at work!) 

So here's March dragon: 

 
  

In other news
I picked up an old UFO last night to complete it and I got a lot done. It's very satisfying to work on a UFO, for once! Usually I hate it if I've left it alone too long but this piece is very pretty. 
Pictures later this month when I anticipate it will be done! 
Thanks for stopping by! 

Book Review: Caraval

 Title: Caraval 
Author: Stephanie Garber 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

First I want to say there is a lot of potential here. Great ideas and creativity in Caraval. But it just wasn't quite up to my expectations or standards. 


Essentially Caraval will make a stunning movie if put into the hands of the right studio and given a proper budget. Without a doubt it's a beautiful world that Stephanie Garber has presented to us. The magic, tone and use of colour will come across nicely on the silver screen. 


<i>So why doesn't this work so well as book? </i>

Let's start with this, 3 stars does not mean the book was bad to me. It just means it could be improved (a lot) and that at a number of moments I was annoyed or frustrated with it but the overall plot and characters are solid. 


<b>In Caraval I have two major complaints: </b>

1) The constant descriptions of smells (using colours), and ongoing, repetitive descriptions with little imagination. The actual things being described were beautiful but how it was written bugged me a lot. 

2) Magic needs rules. In order for a twist in a book to be truly shocking or worthy the readers need to feel like they know what's happening and when they are instead told something else have it stuck out as obviously the real truth. 


Throughout Caraval we are reminded that it's not all real. But with no mechanism to even begin to figure out what is real, it's frustrating to start formulating theories. I like it when I understand the rules of the magic or world and can feel like I have a sense of the twist. Whether I'm right or wrong at the end; so long as it's not a cheap twist, is okay because at least I felt invested in the story. In Caraval all I knew the whole book was something wasn't right and after awhile I was bored and wanted to get to the twist because I felt like anything could be true. This took away any true investment in the story and characters for me.


Some spoiler-y ranting... don't read below if don't want to have twist revealed. 



















<b>Spoilers</b>

Why is the issue of the real Count never addressed? Was there one? Where is he? Isn't he expecting a wedding? 


Does Legend just have an everlasting amount of money that he keeps his actors employed all year around? What do they all do when it's not Caraval? 


If Julian is Legends brother (btw not shocking at all) how come Legend is so much more 'special'? I realize this story is likely being reserved for future novels (which is okay) but I felt that this reveal should have meant more than it did. 


Almost all magic in any world doesn't allow for people to come back from the dead exactly as they were before... of all the 'magical' things in this book I am bothered by this the most. 

Also there was zero reason to need to kill Dante, could just have had him make-up'd as dead. The whole concept of aging and mortality is a large factor in my lower rating of Caraval. It's just not realistic enough (okay I know your laughing, realistic magic? --but the reality is that we can accept a lot of things as magical; generally coming back from the dead isn't one of them). 




<I>Will I read the second book?</I>

I'm not sure... if it sticks with me maybe. But if I can barely remember the players and story in 6 months then possibly not.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: The Mercy of the Tide

 

Title: The Mercy of the Tide

Author: Keith Rosson

Genre(s): Mystery, Fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


This is a really odd book. You don't really understand the plot until the very end. The best description of The Mercy in the Tide I can think of is that it's a 'mans book' like Patrick deWitt novels. I don't mean that it isn't for women so much as it's a book about men and how they cope with grief. Our one female character is a nine year old deaf girl whom I just adore. Interestingly it's not that Keith Rosson forgot about women, it's that the main female character start out dead. And so we experience and learn about these women through the memories of the men left behind. It's quite clever. 


Told in rotating perspectives we get a slice of each person's struggles with grief. Ultimately this book is about grief; how to cope with it, move on from it, and eventually live with it. 


There are some interesting twists and turns that I can't say anything about for fear of ruining it. Just be assured that the story does develop and if at the halfway point you are enjoying the book but still not sure what the main plot is hang in there as it all comes together at the end.


Overall this book is interesting but not amazing for me. If I had skipped reading it I don't think I'd have missed out on something; however, it was good enough to finish. This is also outside my usual genre and so was a nice change both in content and writing style. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave good or bad reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.