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Mashiara Sedai

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  1. This month’s “Fantasy Review” is Deadmen Walking, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. A swashbuckler tale, with a hefty dose of romance and comedy, this book was a lot different than I expected. Slight spoilers below. Synopsis: Cameron Jack’s brother was killed when his ship sank off the shore of Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, she received a letter—and a trinket—from him dated weeks after he was supposedly dead. Taking the advice of a witch, Cameron seeks out Devyl Bane, feared captain of a crew of Deadmen—souls damned and freed from hell to fight evil in the human realm. Cameron’s brother is being held by an evil Vanir, who also happens to be Devyl Bane’s ex-wife—their marriage ended when she cut out his heart centuries ago. Cameron and Captain Bane, along with a hodge-podge crew of murderers and scoundrels, seek to find a way to free Cameron’s brother from the hands of his captors. The Jack family, being descendants of Michael—the Archangel—allows their blood is able to open the gates of hell and release all the demons lurking within. Pros: This story is stuffed full with every sort of mythology. Mermen. Seraph and fallen angels. A servant of the Greek gods. Vanir and Aesir. Jinn-like men who keep their souls in whisky bottles. Ghede Nibo, the leader of dead spirits. Dragons and sea monsters. And more. The world Kenyon inhabits is vibrant with its characters and its settings. A history buff would better understand all the underlying relationships and oppositions of these sometimes-warring, sometimes-allied peoples, but even without such knowledge, it’s still easy enough to follow. The plot is thick, and though a bit predictable at times, the pace is quick and engaging. The characters—and the story boasts many of them—are complex, unique, and interesting. Each of the Deadmen come with tragic backstories which explains their motives for wanting redemption. The romance was the most surprising aspect of the tale. Without going into too much detail, I expected Cameron to be the object of the captain’s affection—with her innocence and part-Seraph heritage to provide the nice contrast to Bane’s brooding, damned soul. But, the two are not fated to be together, and the romance that blooms instead is a lot more fulfilling. Cons: As a personal preference, I don’t particularly care to read third-person omniscient. It’s very difficult to do correctly. Some authors have succeeded (see Frank Herbert’s Dune for an excellent example) but most I try to read in this format fail utterly. Kenyon pulls it off pretty well, but it’s still not my favorite style. Not necessarily a con, but something that was contrary to my expectations, was the lack of grittiness. Thinking this a tale of pirates, demons breaking free from hell, and a ship full of sinners, I thought it would be a bit rougher. The voice Kenyon used was almost poetic, which was a contrast to the theme of death and damnation. Conclusion: This story was fascinating, full of fleshed out characters, detailed settings, engaging mythology, and a beautiful romance. Though not my typical read, I still enjoyed this. The plot didn’t offer much in the way of new material, but the characters were endearing enough I would have loved to read about them sitting around to eat dinner. Their banter was charming and so natural, and their friendships were touching and sweet. This book was a lot of fun and definitely worth a read. Rating: 4 out of 5 If you’re interested in a copy of this eBook, check out Dragonmount’s DRM-free eBook store!
  2. Welcome back to another exciting edition of "Fandom Flair." I couldn't wait to have an opportunity to show off the Yuri on Ice cosplay outfit I put together for the Phoenix Comicon in May! For those who aren't aware, Yuri on Ice is an anime that features Katsuki Yuuri, a Japanese figure skater. After coming in last place in the Grand Prix Finals, he contemplates retirement. But then his idol, and five-time World Champion, Victor Nikiforov, shows up and offers to be Yuuri's coach. It's a delightful anime, full of humor, romance, and beautiful skating routines. The show has been discussed in great deal because the romance between Yuuri and Victor is incredibly well done. Yuuri also suffers from anxiety, and much of the show focuses on how he--and his family and friends--deal with it. Also, there's a great amount of diversity in the characters. Victor--and his young protege, Yuri Plisetsky--are Russian. There are also skaters from Canada, Thailand, Switzerland, and Kazakhstan. There are so many aspects of this show to love. But I should move on, or I will simply gush forever. In the season finale, one of the skaters, Phichit Chulanont from Thailand, thinks about his dream of having an ice show, to show the people of Thailand how fun skating can be. He imagines all his skating friends in costume with him. It's a lovey scene, and it shows how optimistic and bright a character Phichit is. The costume Phichit wears is elaborate, and I've seen cosplays of it already. I was more drawn to the other skaters' costumes, and the adorable hamster hats they wear. The first thing I did was make the hat. I did this the day after the season finale because I couldn't get over how cute the hamsters were. And since it was December, I had plenty of opportunities to wear it outdoors to keep my ears warm. I started with this tutorial on how to make a fleece hat. I've used this pattern countless times and could do it in my sleep. I cut it out of brown fleece, then trimmed about three inches off the bottom. I cut out a white fleece, about five inches, and sewed it to the bottom. Next, I worked on the ears. I made them rounded, and cut them from the same brown fleece. I also added a smaller white circle to the center for contrast. I sewed them together with a blanket stitch. I folded both ears and placed them face down on the bottom piece of the hat. I sewed the matching top piece over (right side to right side). So when flipped, the ears stuck out at an angle. I stitched up the V at the top, then folded the white bottom up two times to give me a puffy brim. I cut out a small strip of white fleece and sewed a line through the center for teeth. I also cut out a nose, eyes, and eye glimmers. I hot glued all these accents on, since my fabric was too thick to sew through. I also added just a bit of hot glue around the brim so it would stay up. Now, for the rest of the costume. The skaters wore two different outfits, and while I'd loved to make the one with the ruffles, I don't think my sewing skills are at that level. So I went with the striped happi instead. I looked online and found a simple happi pattern. What made it not easy is that I could not find any fabrics with wide blue and yellow stripes. My dedication to authenticity reached a new height, so I decided to buy plain cotton fabrics in both colors, cut them on a diagonal, and sew them together. This was very, very time consuming. But I loved the end results. Totally worth it. After that, I simply cut out the front two pieces, and the back piece. I sewed them together and hemmed the bottom. Next, I added on the pink collar. I also used a bit of the pink to finish the hem on the sleeves. With the little I had left over, I made a thin belt. (It was crunch time by this point so I didn't get pictures of the last few steps.) I paired the happi with a long-sleeved white shirt and white leggings. I loved this cosplay. It's pretty obscure, because it's only shown during a ten second scene, but I enjoy the moment it represents. Phichit is one of my favorite characters on the show and I was happy to include something from his dream into my cosplay repertoire. Thanks for reading!
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