Monday, September 29

September TUSAL & other stuff

So first off - here's my TUSAL update (hosted by DaffyCat, check the sidebar for the gif/link).  I should have posted last week, but by the time I thought about it, I realized I'd be sequestered to the home with this vicious cold and figured I'd throw a few extra orts in there...

I did Miss Witchy Mouse and worked on Deco Spirits, so there's a bit of festive orange, but is mostly the monochrome scheme of the Mirabilia.



And here is the progress I made on Deco Spirits - I got the first block completed!  Huzzah!

I even made a fun "Awesome" photo (thanks, G+/Android) of the progress as I went  (You can't really tell most of the progress because there was a whole lot of white involved!):


Here are some fun shots/close ups:

First block completed - Earth

Face

Star


I subbed the Petite Treasure Braids when working with the gold an the blue.   I did stick to the 9294 Kreinik, because I never saw the PTB that's supposed to be equivalent and I didn't want to chance it.   I do think it's funny how much more green the blue TB/Kreiniks look in the photo when up against the more purpley blue hues.


And just for fun, I'm going to try to do another SAL - just for the month of October.  It's the Mega Mini Month Madness SAL hosted by Pull the Other Thread.   I think it looks like fun.  Basically, stitch on minis.   I'll go into more detail about what I'm going to do for my first post (in a couple of days).

Friday, September 26

Swordspoint - by Ellen Kushner

Originally published on Booklikes
Link to the Goodreads post.



★★

If I could sum this book up in one statement, it is:
This is one of those books I could discuss often and probably change my mind about very easily.

Isn't it funny how you get around to reading some books by accident?    I picked up the sequel to Swordspoint during an Audible sale.   I was excited to get to it, because Neil Gaiman produced? Helped to produce? it.   Neil is an excellent audiobook narrator and an audiobook afficionado, which I find kind of awesome, and he is helping to bring some of his favorites to audiobook.

So I picked up this book, Gaiman junkie that I am, and during the introduction, he drops that this is the second in the Riverside series, so back to Audible I go to get this.

And I listened.
It's not my preferred style of audiobook, with multiple narrators.   I'm a little peeved that the multiple narrators are not used throughout the book, but only during passages  deemed important or those with heightened tension.   You have Kushner giving the audiobook it's "regular" read for most of the book (and she is good), but then the characters have their own voices.  It's just... odd.   And I don't like the sound effects (swords clashing, walking, horses, shouting).   I eventually got used to it, but I would not recommend this book in this format.

Onto the actual substance of the book - I don't think this is fantasy, strictly speaking.  It's much more historical fiction/romance set in an imaginary time & place.   There's no magic or anything otherwordly that distracts from the main story line.

We have the set up of the nobleman/aristocracy who run an unnamed City and the people who live in it.    One of the main characters, Richard, is a swordsman, which nobles will hire out to duel, challenge others on honor, be honor guards for weddings, etc.

Richard is living in the poorest area of the city with his lover, Alec.   He is engaged by noblemen to do different killings/duels.

The other part of the story line is the shenanigans of the noblemen and their maneuvering around the political and social sphere.

The world building was really good.  The writing was solid and very easy to follow.   I can't say that I just adored this book, but I was interested in it, and the political machinations of the characters and how Richard was caught up in it, but I was not interested in any of the characters (well, except maybe the Duchess).    Richard is a sociopath who is in love with Alec, for no reason I can discern, and Alec is a troubled, cynical, and really annoying youth who I neither like nor care about.  

I did like the politics and social maneuvering, and I think this book lives up a bit to the idea that it's an Austen-esque take on a fantastical society.   It gives the foibles, humor, mockery and silliness of antiquated situations, which was cute (best word I can think of there).

I was a little bit peeved, though, because while the book was very open with male non-heteronormative behavior (apparently homosexual behavior among men was nothing to raise an eyebrow at and quite common), you don't see any glimpses of these kind of relationships between women, and women were still stuck subservient in a very strong patriarchal system.

I had a hard time wondering why we couldn't have stronger women, lesbian relationships, or a more egalitarian system while we're totally accepting of (male) homosexual behavior, and from a woman writer, no less.

I don't know, the story was interesting, interesting enough that I was curious about what happened next and immediately started The Privilege of the Sword, and I did like it overall, I think.  

Monday, September 22

IHSW for September - my first!



This weekend I participated in my first International Hermit and Stitch weekend, which is hosted by Joysze.

I did go to Drag Bingo on Saturday and a movie festival on Friday, but I was looking forward to a quiet weekend after all of the craziness of the gaming convention.  I spent most of the weekend binge watching the last season of Once Upon a Time (why isn't American Horror Story on Netflix yet! arrrrgh!)

The first thing I worked on was Just Nan's Miss Witchy Mouse.  It was so cute I couldn't *not* stitch on it, and I had a piece of linen in my stash that was perfect for it.  (More info in the link above).




I finally got back to working on Deco Spirits.   I had gotten the #8 Kreinik I needed, and spent a couple of hours ripping out the metallic that didn't work out so well.    And then I did the building bits.   When I finished with that, I worked on finishing the star, and after the Kreiniks, the Treasure Braid was such a pleasure.  I really don't like working with metallics over all, but their effects are so nice, I never think to swap them out for something without sparkle.

So here's the Before and After:


Apparently my ott lite is definitely affecting my photography.  KER POW, blue!


And just for fun - a slightly blurry shot that caught some of the pretty sparkle!



I am really enjoying Deco and I think I'll stick with it through the block.  It's what I had planned for my rotation, but I don't force myself into doing something I don't enjoy.

Sunday, September 21

Miss Witchy Mouse by Just Nan

Back into stitching means back into seeing new patterns.  
Just Nan has been releasing these adorable little constructed ornament mouse pieces that are just too cute.

There have been several, and I managed to snag a Witchy Mouse for Halloween and a Gingerbread Mouse for Christmas (there's also a gingerbread jingle mouse, but they're so similar I don't need both that I've recently purchased because I'm a weak, weak woman).  There's also a Lindy Mouse that was created exclusively for the Silver Needle and Minerva's Mouse, which is the one I'd love to get a hold of (though I'd rather have just the pattern than the whole owl cloisonne kit, but see previous weak statement, I'd spend the cash!).

The one only took me a couple of days and was a lot of fun.

The instructions call for the use of a toothpick to make the broom, but my toothpicks weren't ones I thought would work well (colored and shaped oddly).  I think I'm happier with this cut down bamboo skewer.

In regular light

Under the Ott.   I should have gotten a better picture of her back - there's a spider! :)


So I'm back to my regularly scheduled rotation.
I think I like the screaming/schedule hybrid that I've adopted.  It's working out pretty well.

Update:

I emailed Nan/Just Nan - I had met her multiple times at CATS and because one of my high school buddies knew her (his sister was her god-daughter, and they lived in her house, complete with stencils and art she had painted on the wall!).   I wanted to thank her for designing these awesome mice and to say that I was happy that she was still designing after my long hiatus from the stitching community.  So many designers have either retired or just disappeared that it's nice to see a great designer still around.   She returned my email (quickly!), and mentioned there will be another gingerbread mouse!  whoohoo!

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.