Monday, January 23, 2017

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone-just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous. 
In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago. To protect the innocent-and to punish those who stand in her way. 
With the NYPD out of its depth, Selene vows to hunt the killer on her own. But when classics professor Theo Schultz decodes the ancient myth behind the crime, the solitary Huntress finds herself working with a man who's her opposite in every way. Together, they face a long-forgotten cult that lies behind a string of murders, and they'll need help from the one source Selene distrusts most of all: the city's other Immortals.
My thoughts:

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one but they already had me at Greek gods. :) In this one the gods have been diminished by the lack of believers and worshipers. They are born out of human's imagination and mythos but are now becoming human, losing their immortality. Some are panicked at not just dying but at losing their godhood and powers. Some are still powerful depending on how the worship has changed. I really thought this world was interesting.

It isn't just the worldbuilding that was good here. There was also a serial killer that Selene (Artemis) has heard the call to avenge. She has made that her life's work until she fades, she still protects the innocent. She is also haunted by a wrong that she committed under the falsehood of her brother and twin, Paul (Apollo). This action not only blinds her to certain aspects of the killer but also plays a huge role in her wanting love but not believing in it. AND with all this the ritual sacrifices within the serial killings are also making her stronger and closer to what she had as a god. This is all confusing but all eventually leads to who could be the serial killer. Oh, and let me mention this... it works.

I'd have to say my biggest criticism would be that there were parts that lagged. All of it was interesting but some might not enjoy the slower bits and some might like how it keeps you in the world. I think it all depends on the reader. Despite this, there were a couple of big twists that kept me guessing and I didn't guess who it was until the end. She did a good job on the mystery aspect of this book.

I give this book 4 stars. I really recommend it to those who enjoy mythology retellings and a good mystery/thriller.

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! 😅

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! 💓