Monthly Wrap Up – August 2022

Wow, tomorrow is the first day of September! Where has this year gone? Seriously, wasn’t it just Easter?

Well, in terms in reading, August wasn’t the best month. I only finished two books, but they were both fairly long books so I’ll cut myself a little slack there.

Lately, I’ve felt like I want to make things. So, I’ve started doing cross stitch and really want to get back into crocheting, which is something I haven’t done in many years.

So, as I have a tendency to do, I’m obsessing over those two things, pending most of my evenings working on my current cross stitch project and spending other free time looking up patterns online. This also means I’m spending all my money on getting supplies for these new projects. Thankfully, I was able to borrow a few things from friends and family so I don’t have to buy everything.

I haven’t completely ignored reading, though. I still try to read at least one chapter a night. In September I may focus on a few shorter books to sustain me while I continue with the cross stitch and crochet stuff.

So, how was August for you? What are your plans for September?

Book Review – Spirit Gate – Crossroads #1 by Kate Elliott

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians’ power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.

I have just finished reading this and to be honest, I’m not sure what I think of it.

I expected the giant eagles would be something more along the lines of the Companions in the Valdemar series. I thought they would have some type of bond or telepathic connection with their Reeves, but they don’t. The only similarities are that the eagles choose their Reeves and Companions choose their Heralds. It’s also never really explained how exactly an eagle chooses a person to become a Reeve.

I felt like this book lacked enough action to truly keep me engaged. My mind wandered often while reading. A lot of the narrative just feels like a long set up before getting to the point. I’m not sure what the point even was. The journeys of the different characters do bring them together as the plot intertwines.

As for the characters, I like Mai and her husband Anji. Mai is beautiful and therefore not expected to be smart. Most of her life she has molded herself to what she believed others wanted her to be. Once she is married and leaves her hometown, she is suddenly free to become who she truly is. It’s also nice that Anji is a good man who never forces her into anything.

Mai’s uncle, Shai, who left with his niece and her new husband hasn’t really grown on me. Sometimes he was just kind of whiney and I didn’t care much for his POV. Reeve Joss is a broken man who is grieving the loss of his lover even after 20 years.

One thing I did really like is that the cultures were based more in Asian cultures than western ones. A woman with blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin is thought to be a demon or the spawn of a demon because her colouring is so unusual. The majority of the people, including all the main characters, have darker skin tones, hair and eyes. In a genre that often defaults to a more mid-evil Europe type of settings, this was refreshing.

There was nothing in particular that I disliked about this book, but I would have liked more action, more sense of urgency to keep me more engaged as I read. The ending of the book was certainly enough to guarantee that I will read the next book. I just hope the next two books are more engaging.

Oddly, there is no type of magic system here. It is mentioned that there is some type of magic around the eagles to help them choose Reeves but what exactly that magic is or where it comes from, isn’t mentioned.

My rating for this novel is 3 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy a slower paced fantasy with little to no magic.

Thanks for reading!

Book Talk – Fantasy Fun- Unicorns


Beautiful, majestic creatures synonymous with purity. The legend around unicorns doesn’t vary much by country, or really since they were first believed to exist. Many believed that unicorn horns contained magical properties and could cure any illness. Therefore, unicorn horns were widely sought after, and fake ones were often pedaled as the real thing. It was believed that a young maiden could entrance a unicorn, that if she sat calmly a unicorn would come, lay down and put it’s head in her lap. This was supposedly the method used to capture unicorns.

Now a days, unicorns are every where. I don’t think I can go into a store of one kind or another and not see something with a unicorn on it. Granted, these unicorns are more the cartoon-y type ones as opposed to the majestic, graceful ones. Not that there’s a problem with this. I myself have several of the TY unicorns, in varying colours.

Where I don’t see unicorns very much is in fantasy novels. As I was thinking of writing this article, I realized I could only think of 3 instances, that I’ve read, of unicorns in books. The Last Unicorn, The Obsidian Trilogy and The Twelve Kingdoms. And to be fair, in the Twelve Kingdoms, they are Kirin, the Japanese version of unicorns.

A quite search on Goodreads for the word “unicorn” brought up mostly children’s and middle grade books about unicorns. There was very little that I could see that would be YA or adult fiction. Why is this? Are unicorns not a staple of the fantasy genre? When you think of “fantasy” do unicorns not come to mind?

Do you know of some fantasy fiction about unicorns? Do you want to see more unicorns in fantasy novels? Why do you think unicorns are written about as much as some other fantasy creature?

Book Talk – Fantasy Fun – Dragons

What do you think of when you hear the word “fantasy?” Does it make you think of magic and far off places? Heroes going on epic quests? Fantastical creatures? Dragons?

Years ago, I was reading advice published from a fantasy author to aspiring authors. Her advice to those wanting to break into the genre was to never write about dragons. Why? It’s overdone, she said. I remember reading this and feeling a bit confused. Why shouldn’t fantasy authors write about dragons if they want to? Aren’t dragons a staple of the fantasy genre? Aren’t they popular for a reason?

I can also understand that some fantasy novels may throw dragons into their stories because of some sort of expectation that a fantasy novel or series should have dragons in it. I’m sure there was a point in time where every fantasy book had at least one dragon thrown in there are one point or another. After all, Tolkein had a dragon, so shouldn’t all fantasy have dragons?

Well, the answer to that would actually be no. And I think that is the beauty of fantasy, you don’t have to have certain things to have a successful novel. Authors are literally making it all up in their heads! They can do anything they want. So, you want dragons? Yes, have dragons! You want other mystical creatures, great! There are no set rules.

Now, you may think that you don’t want to read or write a book just like every other book currently out there. You want something new! Something unique. And why shouldn’t you? No one is forcing you to read or write about dragons but, admit it, you are a fantasy fan you and love dragons!

Like many other magical creatures, the role of dragons has changed over the years. At one time, dragons were only a monster to defeat, an obstacle for the hero to over come in order to carry on with his quests. Knights would rescue damsels in distress who had been kidnapped by dragons (because everyone knows dragons love maidens). They’ve gone from being evil or an enemy to companions and even gods.

I personally love to read novels about dragons. I’d love to read even more! Got any recommendations for me?

What are some of your favorite dragon books? Let me know in the comments!

I Am Dragon – Movie Review

So, I was stuck at home the last few days, sick, tired of watching Disney movies when I start scrolling through Amazon Prime until I come across a movie called I Am Dragon. I’m all like “I like dragons” so I check out the trailer, it looks promising. Holy crap am I glad I decided to watch this because I absolutely loved it.

The movie is like a Russian fairytale. A village once sacrificed young maidens to a dragon until a brave knight hunted down and killed the dragon. The ritual became a wedding ceremony instead of a sacrifice.

Mira is about to be married to the grandson of the knight who slew the last dragon. Everyone believes there are no more dragons and that performing the old ritual as a wedding ceremony is safe. Of course, they are wrong and Mira is carried off by a dragon.

Now, from here, you might expect that Mira will weep in despair until her beloved rescues her and slays the dragon. Well, Mira isn’t much of a damsel in distress. Oh, she has a good cry after being dumped into a dark cave and left alone but once that is out of her system, she sets to trying to escape.

She immediately meets a man she calls Armand (he can’t remember his actual name) who she initially believes is also a prisoner. It’s not long before it’s obvious that Armand is the dragon (this is shown in the trailer so I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler). The majority of the movie is about their growing relationship.

To say this movie is good would be an understatement. I think it was far better than a lot of Hollywood movies nowadays. The costumes were beautiful, the acting spot on. In the opening scene where several girls are being prepared for sacrifice to the dragon, their fear is so real. Imagine laying in a boat in the middle of a harbor, waiting for a giant flying monster to choose one of you as a sacrifice. The tension is real.

The music also really made this movie. So much of it is so beautiful and adds to the overall ambiance. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an actual soundtrack in existence for this movie. I’ve only been able to find clips on youtube.

There were parts that I felt didn’t quite fit properly. Armand tells Mira about his childhood and how his father was killed. Something in that timeline didn’t quite seem right if Armand’s father was the last dragon that Mira’s people made a sacrifice to. It’s a fairly minor thing so probably best to just ignore it.

Overall, I rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who enjoys a real romance in a movie. Absolutely fantastic!

The Boys – Season 1 – Review

Other than Squid Game, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a more messed up, gory show currently airing on any streaming service. As evidenced by when I am writing this, I was somewhat reluctant to watch this show as I’d read the first volume of the graphic novel on which it is based and that GN didn’t really do it for me. It wasn’t until a good friend said that she had really liked it that I decided to give it a chance.

The Boys takes place in an alternate reality where superheroes exist. Most people love them but other see the damage they cause while “saving” people. Poor Hughie, the main protagonist, witnesses his girlfriend completely blown apart by a super hero running as super speed right through her. Not long after, Hughie is approached by Billy Butcher, who offers him help getting back at A-Train, the supe who killed his girlfriend.

This show is messed up in so many ways. It does not shy away from the gore in the least. Don’t eat anything while watching this because it’s pretty much guaranteed that at some point in every episode someone is going to explode or get ripped apart in very bloody fashion.

Super heroes in this show are more like celebrities than actual heroes. They spend more time doing photo shoots, making movies and promoting crappy products than actually saving people. The company that basically owns them, Vought, controls just about every aspect of their lives and makes sure they stay “on brand” all the time.

Along with Butcher and Hughie, there’s Mother’s Milk (or MM) and Frenchie that make up the team that is The Boys. Their mission? To take down Vought and expose super heroes for the killers, rapists and all around horrible people that they truly are.

The Boys is definitely an acquired taste. It is not the short of show I would recommend to a lot of people. As I’ve said, there is a lot of gore. There’s also a lot of swearing and references to sexual assault, as well as sex scenes. This show is out there and if you like that kind of stuff, you will enjoy this.

I enjoyed it. I’m still enjoying it as I near finishing season 2. But again, this show is rated 18+ and it more than earns that rating. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2022

I’m a bit late on the wrap up for this month, but I have been feeling a bit out of sorts the last few days.

July was not a great month for reading for me. I only finished two books and I’m now two books behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I don’t know if I’m going to catch up on that this month or not. I’m thinking probably not as the book I started reading last night is a longer one, as are it’s sequels, so I’d be surprised if I got through those quickly.

July had a focus on other hobbies for me. I started a jigsaw puzzle which I pick at periodically and I also started doing cross stitch for the first time. I even completed two projects. (pictures on my instagram if you’re interested) I have two other patterns now waiting for my attention. One is definitely going to take quite a while to complete. It’s of a butterfly and I intend to give it to my mom after it’s complete because she loves butterflies. The other is of a black cat that I just thought was really cute. Not sure what I will do with that when it’s done.

I also rewatched all of Ted Lasso for the third time while working on my cross stitch and started watching the Boys. A review of season 1 will be posted shortly.

So, how was July for you? Did you read lots or not so much? Were you able to enjoy summer at all? Maybe read on a beach?

I’d love to know about it in the comments or link me to your own monthly wrap up!

Thanks for reading!

These Gossamer Strings – The Last Gift #3 by Allegra Pescatore – Book Review

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

A God is Dead. A Queen is Missing. Secrets are Unraveling.

On trial for the murder of the King, Elenor and Gabriel must become allies if they want to survive. His magic is spiraling out of control, awakening a mystery hidden in the very walls of the palace. She has one month to pass her Water Rite and find a way out of the marriage her parents set up. But things are about to get much more complicated.

Between sadistic family members intent on taking Elenor’s throne, Tirit Mindel breathing down Gabriel’s neck, and a Golden Dragon appearing in the sky above the Mondaer Desert with an ominous warning, more than the Kingdom of Lirin is at stake.

If that weren’t bad enough, time is ticking down for Fedrik and Fay as well. With the desert turning against them and Daemon as a questionable new ally, figuring out how to control Fedrik’s Gift has become a matter of life and death.

Picking up in the fallout of Where Shadows Lie, In Silence Abiding is the long-awaited and non-stop second instalment of The Last Gift. Dive back into the world of Dracona and hold onto your hats. Things are about to get… salty.

Allegra Pescatore is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Her writing is amazing from beginning to end and this novel is no exception.

The author has created an amazing world in The Last Gift series. It is rich and detailed, filled with magic and political intrigue. There’s always something happening. Even when you think “ok, these people have been through enough, give them a break” no! They are thrown into more impossible or dire situations. Every time I think these characters can’t possibly handle any more, some new horrible situation arises for them to deal with. Honestly, if I were any of these characters I’m pretty sure I would have had a mental breakdown in the first book.

I love how each chapter begins with a snippet from a letter or journal entry, giving a glimpse into the past, which adds understanding into some situations and relationships. These snippets add depth in a way flashbacks never could.

Several plot point were wrapped up in this novel, but several others are still hanging loosely, fluttering in the wind, taunting me until the next book comes out. Not sure how I will wait that long. There was one thing I predicted would happen in the first book that has finally come to pass (I don’t want to spoil what that is) but other than that one thing, this series is the last thing from predictable. I never knew what was going to happen next. My attention was constantly engaged and rarely wandered. I truly can’t wait what is in store for this world and it’s characters next.

There were a couple sex scenes in this novel, normally something I’m not a fan of, but somehow, I felt like the scenes added to the relationship between the characters instead of just being a sex scene.

I think I might have a bit of a crush on Gabriel. He’s just such a good person, truly caring and understanding of others, fiercely loyal and protective of the people he cares about. Best of all, he knows when people just need a hug and is willing to give one, no strings attached.

I really want to gush how amazing this novel is as well as the series itself, but instead, I’m just going to tell you to read it yourself. If you are a fan of any kind of fantasy, I think you will enjoy this novel. I’m rating it 5 out of 5 stars and hope more people will come to pick up this series and enjoy it as much as I have.

Have you read this book or any of the books in the series? I’d really love to know what you think if you have.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Check out my reviews of the previous books in this series: Whispers of Stone and Where Shadows Lie