Review: The Mermaid and The Bear

“Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and The Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.” – taken from Amazon

Author: Ailish Sinclair

Print Length: 221 pages

4/5 stars

This was a nice quick read for me. I found the beginning rather slow but it eventually picked up and took a quick, unexpected turn towards the end. I found Isobell’s character likable. She was easy to sympathize with and I was rooting for her happiness until the end. I enjoyed the witchcraft twist although it did bring me to tears. I had my favorite characters (Bessie) and my least favorite (Agnes). Man, I haven’t hated a fictional character as much as I hated Agnes in quite a long time. From the very first time she’s introduced until the end, I just could not stand her. I’ve been a fan of historical romance for quite a while and I thought this was very well written and quite an enjoyable read. The only part that I marked it down for was the fact that the very end was a bit cliche and expected. It gave me sort of a Disney movie feeling at the end. Not necessarily a bad thing but it gets a bit tiresome reading endings like that particularly in this genre.

Brightside

As if social distancing and quarantine wasn’t difficult enough… imagine having to leave your home with two kiddos in tow (one a special needs toddler) because your home is suddenly infested with mold and becomes uninhabitable. Well, that happens to be the scenario myself and my family were recently thrown into. Unbeknownst to us, we had a leak in our master bathroom shower area and it caused one hell of a mess inside our walls and underneath our floors. We’ve also all developed breathing issues which we now know can be attributed to living in a mold infested environment. They have to open up and demolish roughly half of our home including both bathrooms and our oldest son’s bedroom. It’s a big headache and a big bill. We’re going to have to get all new drywall, flooring, bathroom fixtures, etc. We won’t even be able to return home for about a month. Luckily, insurance hooked us up with a nice AirBNB. So, in lieu of our crappy situation we got put up in a lovely 5 acre estate with a pool and spa. It’s a nice way to continue our quarantine even if we are driving back and forth to move all of our belongings into our temporary residence. So, in short, I won’t be able to game or access internet too much. I’m running off DSL in the wine country so it’s pretty unreliable and slow. Stay safe, everyone! ❤

Review: Ready Player One

“In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.” – taken from Amazon

Author: Ernest Cline

Print Length: 386 pages

5/5 stars

In the year 2045 society is hung up on searching for James Halliday’s egg in the Oasis, an online virtual reality world created by Halliday, in order to inherit the massive amount of money he left after his death. The interest in Halliday and his treasure hunt have spurred a huge interest in 1980’s culture to the point where a large portion of society is obsessed with all things 80’s. The main character, Wade is a huge Halliday fan and has been searching for the egg for the past five years. One day he has an epiphany and figures out the first clue to the series of events that lead to the discovery of the egg at the end. Wade is a likable character. He is courageous, ethical, funny, intelligent, and just seems like a downright good person. I found his love interest refreshing in that he doesn’t fall for the “cookie cutter” type of girl. His critical thinking skills are second only to Art3mis, who happens to be the lovely lady he falls for. I liked her character as well but she did get on my nerves a bit when she got bitchy about Wade finding her name out and what she looked like, especially when he didn’t single her out in that process and only did it for her own safety and so the egg wouldn’t be found by the bad guys (the Sixers). Her defensive reactions towards him in regards to her physical appearance seemed a bit over the top. I enjoyed the twist towards the end when Wade and Aech meet as well. I didn’t want the story to end and enjoyed every minute I read. This one is definitely going on my Faves shelf.

You Do You

Times are crazy right now. I’m sure the majority of us are all experiencing crazy stress and life changing alterations to our day to day activities. There’s seriously not a better time to practice self-care than the present. If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you be able to take care of the people/pets/plants/inanimate objects around you? Below is a list I’ve compiled of some of the best ideas for self-care during these unexpected and scary times.

Emotional

  • Exercise kindness (within reason) towards those around you
  • Try to focus on the positive whenever possible
  • Call/text/message friends or family so as not to become lonely
  • Spend more time with pets to help reduce stress
  • Spend time outdoors if possible. (keep social distancing in mind)
  • Focus on hobbies and interests you may otherwise have little time to work on
  • Start a new hobby or interest
  • Limit time watching/reading the news (this sometimes perpetuates fear and paranoia if done excessively)

Physical

  • Rest so as not to compromise your immune system
  • Eat healthy
  • Meditate, stretch, exercise, or do yoga
  • Make sure to go outdoors when possible to get your daily dose of Vitamin D
  • Give yourself a home manicure/pedicure
  • Take a long bubble bath to relax your tense muscles during these stressful times
  • Catch up on yard work/gardening or any projects around the house

And even though this post was about self-care we shouldn’t just focus on ourselves all of the time. I’m talking about the hoarders out there and the people who are going out and ignoring the social distancing or lockdown orders. You all are the problem. In critical times like these we need to act within reason, with empathy, and logic. To act impulsively with your own best interests in mind does no good. There are so many people out there that are vulnerable and we need to take the proper precautions to ensure their health and safety as well during all of this. If you have any elderly neighbors or family members, please check on them. You can always help them out by ordering necessities and groceries for them through apps like Instacart. A lot of older people are unfamiliar with these services which are extremely helpful during this time. Stay safe and be kind, everyone! ❤

Review: Pale Queen Rising

“As the royal assassin, Claire is used to moving between the mortal world and the Winter Kingdom. When the queen commands her to kill, Claire does the job and doesn’t ask questions. Her deadly skills and loyalty are soon tested when Claire is sent to the Immortal Circus, one of the many places where “Dream” is harvested from the imaginings of mortals. There she must find the culprit who is causing Dream to mysteriously disappear before the Winter Kingdom’s supply is depleted enough to threaten its very survival. But when she meets Roxie, a beautiful mortal singer with a strange link to the Dream thieves, Claire quickly recognizes an odd and unexplained connection that may cloud her judgment. As each new clue unveils another secret, Claire finds herself confronting the riddle of her own buried past—and a dangerous illusion that, as part of the Immortal Circus, is just another act in the show.” – taken from Amazon

Author: A.R. Kahler

Print Length: 256 pages

2/5 stars

I found the story-line rather slow in the beginning. It felt as though I had read this story before but I couldn’t exactly recall from what author. I did not find the main character likable or relatable. I understand she is supposed to be an assassin for the Winter Queen but she seems to be lacking some major common sense and seems to be oblivious for someone whose primary purpose is to hunt people and other worldly creatures down and take them out. Just seems a bit odd to me. She’s super cliche and it gets tiresome hearing about how “bad ass” she thinks she is when she is in fact. quite the contrary. Also the fact that she doesn’t care about how she was kidnapped as a child, by the Winter Queen, seems bizarre to me. I know I certainly wouldn’t be okay with being kidnapped and forced to kill people. I forced myself to finish the book even though it didn’t really hold my attention. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the other books from this series. It wasn’t terrible but it definitely wasn’t something I want to put myself through again.