Monday, September 15

Post Gaming Convention wrap up

Every year, for the past 4 years, I've attended a local gaming con here in North Carolina.   The first cons I went to were all scheduled/sign up with some open gaming, and I just got used to those (I like that I don't have to know anyone or talk to utter strangers trying to get into a game).   Down here, this con is all about the open gaming, so I'm happy I know people now and don't have to try to find a game.  I'm so bad about talking to strangers, even super awesome friendly strangers, which is pretty much this entire con.  I'm an introvert, I can't help myself.

A rundown of the gaming (with pics, because I can):

First, we kicked things off with Tyranno Ex, which is an old Avalon Hill game.   It was fun, managing the environment was the key to the game (the key I sucked at).  There's a lot of dice rolling and it perhaps took a bit too long for my liking.  But I really like trying new-to-me games even if they're not new.


Tuesday, September 9

September WIPocalypse update

wip_button3 

I have a bit of progress (huzzah!) - so here's the run-down.

I organized everything.
Even ironed it and put in into a better bin!

I stitched part 3 of my BoInk carpet page:



I made some progress on Celtic Ferret Knot!

Before - Page 1 & part of Page 2

After - Pages 2 & 3 all black is complete!
And here's my little bit of progress on Deco Spirits:

Thursday, September 4

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Originally published on Booklikes
Here's the link to the Goodreads post.



★★★☆☆

The second in the Slains series (I'm not sure how many there are going to be), this is a continuation of the first book, The Winter Sea.

In this novel, we experience the same sort of modern/historic double story, with Nicola and Rob as our modern day couple (who, of course, aren't together, but, spoiler alert - will be, eventually, we all know it).   Nicola is an art historian/dealer with a Russian history (her grandfather and mother escaped the USSR).   Rob is a Scottish policeman/constable? (I'm already getting fuzzy on the details).   But wait, they met while taking part in a study about psychometry.   You see, they can see into the past.   So we're psychics.   Rob is more powerful, Nicola has to actually touch objects to see their pasts.

She inadvertently touches something that gives her a flashback of Anna, the "abandoned" daughter of the first Slains novel, who would be part of the romantic duo we'll focus on in the past.  In the historical flashback storyline, we're treated to St. Petersburg during the reign of Peter the Great and Catherine I and the marginal part that Russia played in the Jacobite rebellion.  Anna (of course) meets a dashing rake, and navigates the society among the Jacobites that have fled to Russia.  Cue angst among misunderstood characters.

I am an utter junkie for anything Russian, and I'm just going to say that I'm disappointed.  There is  lot less historical "meat" in this novel than there was in the first one, with most of the novel just being about Anna maneuvering about in life with a couple of adorable plot!twists! and more of the "fade to black" romance that I really don't enjoy.

It's still a solidly written book, and I think the biggest issue I honestly had was that the narrator for this novel (audiobook) was not nearly as good as the one for the first one. 

All in all, I'm pretty done with this series.  I picked up The Firebird because Russia.  And I got the first book so I could get the background before checking out the second, but I don't find myself compelled to continue.

Tuesday, September 2

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Originally published on Booklikes 
Here's the link to the Goodreads post.



★★★☆☆

The only way for me to cover how I feel about this book, is to bring up a lot of spoilers, so you've been warned.

I picked up Kearsley's The Firebird thanks to an Audible sale, and I was about to start it when I decided to check out some basic information about it, which is when I found out it's the second in a series (the Slains), so I went back to pick up the Winter Sea first.

The Winter Sea is a frame story, taking place in modern day Scotland as a historical novelist (Carrie) researches the details about the Jacobite shenanigans of 1708ish.  She decides to tell the story through the point of view of a minor character, Sophia, who has come to live at Slains as an orphaned distant relation of the family that lives there.

So the generic good and bad, before I get into the spoilery details:

The narrator for this audiobook was absolutely fantastic.   One of the best I've ever listened to, and she did a great job with the accents and distinguishing between the different characters.   She also spoke fairly quickly, not droning on... fast enough that I didn't speed it up (I listen at 1.25 speed, normally).

The history is solid and well written, though we're told, rather than shown any of the major historical events.   However, I like reading historical fiction, because it usually gives me a nudge to reading up and learning about events I was previously unfamiliar with.

The writing can be a bit cheesy and repetitive (there are a lot of similar/same names which can get confusing) but I found the world building to be very atmospheric.

The characterization, particularly with the modern world, was very weak.  I cannot fathom why the modern day characters are in a "relationship" or where they are coming from, because they're very secondary to the historic part of the story.   It felt, very strongly, that the modern day protag was only there as an actual extension of the author, which made my eyes roll more than once.

And this book is absolutely a romance, but one of the really weak-sauce ones, where we fall into each others arms, and cue fade to black.   There are no sex scenes, and nothing remotely interesting.   I prefer my romance trashy, so on that front it was disappointing (not so bad, if you are like me, and only thought of the novel as a historical fiction).

So onto the bad, which involves some serious spoilers:

Wednesday, August 27

August TUSAL

It's TUSAL time.  TUSAL (totally useless stitch a long) seems really fun, so I thought I would join in.  You just collect your orts in some sort of container and post a picture of it sometime around the new moonish (which puts it at a nice interval with the WiPocalyse, which is posted every full moonish).   I used to keep  an ort container, but then just used the edge of the couch and periodically trashed what I had collected.

Back in the day, if I was stitching a project for someone, I would keep the orts from that project and put them in a clear Christmas ornament and give that as part of the gift.   Most of the time, projects were made with a variety of colors and threads (metallics!) and I thought the ornament rather pretty.


I'd cleaned a glass jar to use, but I think it made its way into the recycle bin, so I used one of my spare Ikea spice jars (I make brisket rub and taco seasoning in batches and keep them in these jars - this one had never been used).




It's pretty boring this month.  I've been working on the outlines in Ferret Knot, so that's just a whole lot of DMC 310


There probably won't be much in the stitching way for the next couple of weeks - I've got some major reno/update/whatever work going on in the kitchen, and I've got a gaming convention coming up, so things will probably be pretty tight/busy.  Whoohoo?

Tuesday, August 26

Storage

As the last part of cleaning/organizing, I decided to work on my storage for finished pieces.

Most of this came around because I had grabbed some stuff to frame, and thanks to the chaos that is my finished pieces bin, I had to do a bit of pressing just to get the piece unwrinkled enough to take them on the trip to the framers.    Then there's the whole "oh dear god, that is a lot of dog/ferret hair in there" and it just seemed like something I should do.

Most of the large pieces are wadded/folded up (I did an initial press and tried to keep things tidy but failed) in a small-ish bin (again, mostly a product of having moved several times and trying to consolidate space).   I know there are those really large under-the-bed rolly bins that would probably fit the pieces better, but I don't have a good space to put them (oddly, under the bed space is at a premium).

I went to Target, bought a bin, hauled the iron/ironing board upstairs, put on an audio book and went to work.

And then I discovered that one of the pieces was not color-fast and I have a right mess on my hands.  I'm currently soaking the piece in cold water/Orvus and changing out the water every few hours.  Hopefully I'll be able to rescue it, as I've always quite liked that piece (hazard of having pieces so old you can't remember if the threads are delicate and not keeping them nicely stored).  The fibre used was a Needle Necessities that was variegated with dark green/dark red and the red ran.  Everywhere.

But this is what I started out with:



Monday, August 25

Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

Originally published on Booklikes 
Here's the link to the Goodreads post.



★★★★☆

This is one of those books that I really wish I had read as a kid/teenager.

It's a very "old skool" military fantasy, with the exception that the bad-ass warrior hero happens to be a heroine.   The narration starts sometime in the future and tells the story of Paksennarion, a headstrong girl who joined a mercenary outfit to escape an arranged marriage.   Along the way we get a lot of training, details of camp and marching life, pretty good descriptions of war and pillaging, and discover that Paks has some sort of magical talent or ability.   We're not sure how the magic system works, because Paks herself isn't sure of what's going on, but as this is the first part of a three part story, we might learn more later.   

The characterizations weren't really strong, but it's not a character driven novel, in my opinion.   The world building is solid, the plot was good, although it did get a little bit dry/slower with the training (and other) narratives.   To be honest, I thought it was interesting and did not make me feel like I was slogging through it.  
I think the biggest weakness is Paks, herself, which while being headstrong, is painfully naive and is a passive character much of the time and could be classified (pretty solidly) as a Mary Sue.
It is refreshing to have a non-heteronormative character (she's asexual) who is also breaking gender norms, and that there is a little bit regarding gender norms in the novel itself (this mercenary company, or at least the land where it is located does not consider women mercenaries to be noteworthy, whereas later they do do go to another land where it is unusual).
I can see why many people didn't love this book, but I really liked it, and will probably get around to reading/listening to the rest of the books in this... book.