Wednesday, April 25, 2018

XBR4OF #11: Red Rising #1

Xyra's Book Reviews for Older Followers

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

A friend of mine from The Leaky Cauldron posted something about this book on Facebook; I checked it out, read the blurb, and thought the premise sounded interesting albeit brutal. 

The front cover has a quote...
"Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow." ~Scott Sigler
I haven't read Ender's Game, but I have read The Hunger Games. Mentioning Katniss, if you are familiar with her and all her people went through, then you can guess how brutal this story could be. As I have read the Hunger Games trilogy, I could see bits that reminded me of Katniss's story. However, the Golds are capital residents on steroids; and all the tributes are their own⏤not from outlying districts.

Red Rising is book one in a series. The series currently has five books. Book six is yet untitled. Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star, Iron Gold, Dark Age...

The Blurb

"I live for the dream that my children will be born free, " she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.""I live for you," I say sadly.Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

     Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his bloods and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
     But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow⏤and Reds like him⏤are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
     Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forded to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies...even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Things that make you say, "Whaaatt??" That would be the ending...and that's no spoiler, well, maybe a small one.

I had never heard of this series until a friend suggested it. A very good suggestion. However, the first chapter did not impress me. In fact, I almost put the book down. The style seemed disjointed and character overly crass. In the past, I would confer with my GUSIALI friends and they would tell me, "Just keep reading." Though we do not chat as we used to, their voices urged me to continue, to look for more. I found it.

Darrow is fantastic. Emotional. Sometimes not quick to think, other times a tactical genius.

Otherwise there are so many characters, I'm not 100% certain who will continue through the entire series. I can guess the ones that are more developed like Cassius, Mustang, and Sevro (who I keep calling Servo) will make themselves present as the story progresses (I have not visited the Howlers fan sites; will wait until after book 2).

This is a quest rebellion adventure. Darrow is the chosen one (or maybe one of many; the most successful perhaps). A dream planted by a wife, tended by a carver and rebels, grew through dangers untold in a cruel academy.

Once into part two the pace really picked up for me. By part four, I stopped reading before bed because I was having a hard time putting it down; I had to know what was going to happen next.

Twists, turns, surprises. Blood, battle, betrayal. Love, loyalty, and hatred. You'll find it all in these pages. The book comes to a close, but does not stand alone. The quest is not finished.

As I want to learn what happens next and will be calling the library shortly to see if I can get book two, I'll say this is a good read. I am glad I did not quit on Darrow. Maybe I am a Howler.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Saturday Fun Finds

Woo Hoo!

Doll Finds

Honestly, I rarely happen upon the fun stuff, but this past! Franz and I were in Virginia visiting friends and picking up a few new things for his collections. Our hostess planned a girls' morning at a local multi family yard sale. The third set up I noticed something obviously American Girl and checked it out. Price marked $10 for the set...I knew there were some parts missing, but $10. I snapped up this "set." 
I washed and ironed the bedding, but the bed and scooter are clean and lovely.

Girls Find

Grace, Kirsten, Melody, 2 or more

Hey, what's this?
Is that a bed and scooter?
I love the butterflies!
Looks like Missy approves of the bed. (giggles)

This is great! A daybed, so we have a fun couch as well as a bed.
Missy definitely approves!
Looks like Bonbon and Coco do too.
I love that it's blue.
It's an interesting blue.
My favorite color.
Do you think your quilt will look good on it?
We'll wait here, you go get it.
Here we go. I think it's great.
Well, maybe not the butterfly pillow. (giggles)
Yeah, we might use that some place else.
Missy still likes it.
I kind of think Lanie's quilt will look better or even Kaya's.
(gasps) But blue...
Let's try putting the bedspread on.
Looks cool. 
Should be more comfortable this way. (giggles)
Quilts make great mattresses. (giggles)
Yeah, they do! This is great. Oh, Coco...oof...(giggles) I think my quilt will go better with this bedspread.
Yeah, it will!
We're all agreed the bed is really cool.
Yep. Absoluely!
And the scooter!
Fun, fun, fun!
Can I try?
This is great!
I think we need to take it to a bigger space.
Let's go.
This is awesome!
Here I go!
Hey, come back! (laughing)
My turn! See ya!

Xyra's Notes

  • Missing pieces: the trundle drawer, both mattresses, the pillow, and pillowcase. There are some great tutorials to make these items...well, not the trundle drawer. 
  • Love how the bedding is a nice sturdy cotton fabric with actual embroidered design on the bedspread and sewn on rickrack at the top of the sheets.
  • The scooter is outstanding!

So who do you think will get to claim the bed as her own?
The butterfly pillow?
How long do you think it will take Xyra to make a mattress, pillow, and pillowcase?

Best wishes,

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sadness in April

April Showers of a Different Sort

Late Condolences

Our hearts are heavy again. Gramma Enne and Opa Hans' lovely kitty, Morrisa crossed over to the bridge last Saturday. Morrisa was a fun and unique kitty; she will be missed.

Please keep Gramma Enne, Opa Hans, and Morrisa's feline sister, Gracie in your prayers.

Much love to all!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Goodbye to a Friend

Heavy Hearts and Wet Eyes

Yesterday we learned that a very special member of our Coolspring Power Museum family passed away. One that took us totally by surprise and still has us in a state of shock. A wonder woman who took many of the volunteers on as her "kids." Kim will be missed by many.
Please keep Kim's immediate (and extended) family in your prayers.

From the Coolspring Power Museum president:
"It is with sadness and a heavy heart I have to report the passing of Kim Himes from Coolspring, PA after complications with cancer. Although not an engine collector, many of you will know her from the ice cream shop that the Himes family ran, and donated all proceeds to Coolspring, Many of the regular volunteers at Coolspring considered her our "Coolspring Mom" she was always feeding us after a long workday or running errands or doing whatever was required. She was also our secretary treasurer for many years. Rest in peace, Kim, you will be missed by many."

Hugs to all our readers and followers,

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday Wonders #9 Plus

A Good Cover

It's been difficult finding cool covers to recreate.
But Xyra recently picked up a lot of books that may have potential.
This one really did. It's called Murphy's Island by Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna.

The Shoot

The Actual Cover

A few differences.
Yes, quite a few differences, but we focused on the foreground.
I think there are fewer differences in this recreation than in Grace's effort. (giggles)

The Blurb

"Collette Murphy-City Slicker?
Collette had Big Plans for sixth grade. But that was before she found out the Murphys would be spending a few months on a small island far away from anything.
It's not all bad. Collette will finally be able to wear real clothes to school instead of uniforms, And there is a cute boy in the picture...and he's being pretty nice to her...
But why are her new classmates so unfriendly?
Why are they treating her like a major outsider?
Poor Collette! She couldn't wait for sixth grade to begin-now she can't wait until it's over."


  • This is book 5 in the Murphys series by Colleen O'Shaughnesy McKenna. Series books are: Too Many Murphys; Fourth Grade is a Jinx; Fifth Grade Here Comes Trouble; Eenie, Meeine, Murphy, No!; Murphy's Island; The Truth About Sixth Grade; Mother Murphy; and Camp Murphy.
  • The books stand alone so you don't have to read them in order. In fact, they aren't even really grouped as a series on Scholastic or Goodreads. I did find an order of FictionDB. Honestly, we have only read this book in the series and had no trouble. We all enjoyed this book. It made us think about the actual residents of Ocracoke and how they might feel about the tourists - good and bad.
  • I'm playing Collette (great name), Haley is Courtney, and Lanie is Melanie. Melanie and Courtney are island residents. Melanie is the local rich girl. Courtney is Melanie's best friend, but she also wants to help Collette feel at home in school.

Xyra's Review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Apparently this is book 5 in the Murphy series by Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna, but enjoying it is not dependent on the previous books. It stands alone well. It really made me reflect on

The main character, Collette, is the eldest in the Murphy family ready to take on 6th grade! [That's the last year in elementary school (if you district is organized that way).] But her family is moving away for four months and they chose to live where they spend their summer vacation. This is where the first conflict begins.

In my area, the residents of one shore (or more) shore town call the tourists "shoebie" or "shoe-bee." It definitely fits many of those who visit the area and feel they are entitled to do whatever they want because they are contributing to the economy of the destination. On Put-in-Bay island the term is even worse; they are called "tourons." "Half tourist, half moron." If they moved to Scotland they'd be sassenach or maybe not since the Murphy's are Irish and would possibly speak Gaelic...

Anyway, moving to a new town anywhere is hard, but here it's even harder. The resident population is very small and everyone knows almost everything about everyone AND aren't 100% welcoming to these new residents. It can be hard to try to blend in and learn the customs if no one is willing to teach you. In walks Brian. From the very beginning he is a wonderful friend to the Murphy family.

Collette is not all that observant or intuitive. She wants to be liked and fit in, but she also wants to be back in Pittsburgh. Tough battle there. Two of the local girls seem to take interest in her; one you see as being the mean girl (no surprise her family owns most of the touristy stuff on the island) the other is harder to place. I was unsure of her motives the entire story. Figured the two were playing good cop bad cop to trap Collette and humiliate her. Which sort of happened.

I was also waiting for the big blow up with Brian. It happened, but not with the results I had imagined, and much later than I expected.

I really liked this book (I wanted to take Collette aside a couple of times and give her a talking to too, but...) It's a good read. Timeless story.

Have you read any of the Murphys books? Which are your favorite? How did we do with our recreation?

Best wishes,