Taking Stock  August 11, 2014

Sienna does not think taking photos of her is a productive use of my time.

Sienna does not think taking photos of her is a productive use of my time.

What I spent yesterday doing - cutting all of the the cardstock backings for packaging my prints.

What I spent yesterday doing – cutting all of the the cardstock backings for packaging my prints.

Bare bones booth setup practice for this weekend's craft show.

Bare bones booth setup practice for this weekend’s craft show.

Taking a page from Pip’s book and using this list to do a life snapshot.

Making : a few more prints for this weekend’s craft show.
Cooking : nothing at the moment. Will probably have leftovers for lunch (spaghetti).
Drinking : water.
Reading: The Furies by Mark Alpert.
Wanting: to do too many things at once.
Looking: at the computer screen, out the window, and occasionally at the pup at my feet.
Playing: I was playing Two Dots, but I beat all of the levels. I need a new iPhone game now.
Deciding: what to tackle next after I finish this post.
Wishing: that my shop would really take off so Ian can quit his job at Samsung with ridiculous hours and go into business with me. :-D
Enjoying: all of the recent sunshine.
Waiting: for the mailman.
Liking: that I’ve been able to keep things relatively organized lately, since our big house cleaning.
Wondering: whether I’ll actually sell enough to make my money back at the craft show.
Loving: that we had an awesome 5 year anniversary day on Saturday. Lots of good eats were had.
Pondering: whether to apply for the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
Considering: when to schedule this month’s ladies coffee meetup.
Watching: season 3 of Scandal. I am sick of this Fitz-Olivia nonsense. I didn’t find their ‘love’ story believable from the start.
Hoping: that my web-related projects go smoothly today.
Marvelling: at how quickly 5 years with Ian has gone by.
Needing: to still bag and tag all of the prints for the show.
Smelling: my shampoo/conditioner scent, as my hair is still wet.
Wearing: a striped dress and belt.
Following: a more steady routine (as far as sleeping, eating, working) lately.
Noticing: that I need to trim my nails.
Knowing: that I have to run to the grocery store and library today.
Thinking: that I need to do laundry.
Admiring: people who do craft shows regularly. It’s a lot of work and investment!
Sorting: through prints to figure out what will go where in the booth display.
Buying: groceries later.
Getting: excited about the next vacation we’re planning – looks like a cruise to the Bahamas in May!
Bookmarking: things for this week’s Tuesday Treasure Trove.
Disliking: waiting for paychecks.
Opening: Dreamweaver and a different WordPress site.
Giggling: snarky posts on Twitter.
Feeling: pretty good today.
 

What’s your day look like so far?

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Book Review: The House of the Four Winds  August 8, 2014

The House of the Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters #1)

by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

House of the Four Winds Princess Clarice is the eldest of 13 royal children – 12 girls and one boy. Her parents, though loving, are also too poor to dowry 12 daughters and leave their son something to rule the kingdom with. So it’s decided that on each girl’s 18th birthday, she will set out into the world to make her own fortune. Clarice is thrilled with the idea, and hatches a plan to see the world and make a name for herself as a swords-woman. Or swordsman, as she finds it easier to go about on her own disguised as a boy. Spontaneously booking passage to the New World, Clarice (now Clarence) finds herself embroiled in ship politics, between a cruel captain with secrets, a mutinous crew, and the honorable ship’s navigator who has become a good friend. When things come to a head, she must choose sides. And when the ship finds itself in a pirate haven cloaked by magic and ruled by a sorceress, keeping up the charade while finding a way to get out of the situation alive tests her limits, and her heart.

This was a fun book. It’s a quick read with the classic adventures-on-the-high-seas setup. The world is ours, yet not ours – the names of places are different, and magic is a reality. Clarice is a spunky yet no-nonsense character. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty if work needs done, and she has a certain charm (although if that’s supposed to be her on the cover, I’m not sure how she passed as a man for one second, let alone most of the book). Her navigator friend turned (of course) romantic interest, Dominick, is also an interesting character. He’s got a history and a good moral compass, and I wish we had gotten a look at his thoughts as he and ‘Clarence’ became closer. When the reveal comes (as you know is has to, I don’t think this is a spoiler), I was surprised at how he handled it. In a good way. I think in general one of the things I liked best about this book is that even though there’re adventures and action and Things Happening, there’s not a lot of drama in the way of unnecessary tension and misunderstandings. Those get old quick, and it was refreshing to read a YA book that wasn’t rife with them.

I do think the plot was a bit iffy in places, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I also wish the end had extended for a bit so we see the aftermath, but maybe that will be touched on or hinted at in the next book(s). Judging from the name of the series, I’m guessing there are at least 11 more books to come, one for each girl. I’m ok with that. The authors have already set up the fact that each sister has a distinct personality, so their adventures are bound to be different enough to keep things interesting. I plan on checking out book #2 whenever it lands. If you’re in the mood for something lighthearted and entertaining, pick this one up.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

The House of the Four Winds


Tuesday Treasure Trove  August 5, 2014

Tuesday Treasure Trove: this week's round-up of read-worthy links.


Things of Note:

Yesterday was up and down, but ended on a good note. The boy and I go to a baseball game for our anniversary every year, and while our actual anniversary isn’t until Saturday, the games later this week are all away. So we went last night on $1 hot dog night. :-D Nothing wrong with being a cheap date! We had a great time and surprisingly didn’t sweat to death, as the weather was much balmier than usual (just 90 instead of 100).

Aside from that, I am still craft show prepping and re-working my freelance site. And actual paying projects for clients, too, of course.

What are you up to this week?
 


Book Review: I, Morgana  August 4, 2014

I, Morgana

by Felicity Pulman.

I received a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.

morgana I’ve long been fascinated by the legend of King Arthur, especially retellings where new perspectives or unexpected elements are added. Consequently, as soon as I saw this title available on NetGalley, I applied. In many ways its the traditional legend of King Arthur, except this version is told in 1st person from the point of view of Morgana (Morgan le Fay), Arthur’s sorceress half-sister. Raised from a young age with the expectation of ruling her father Gorlois’ kingdom, Morgana sees her birthright usurped first by Uther Pendragon and then by Arthur. Consumed with the need for revenge, Morgana uses magic learned from Merlin to make her plans, and unwittingly sets in motion a far larger catastrophe.

This was an interesting read. We fully get the feeling of Morgana blundering ahead fueled by her emotions, and not really thinking through her actions until afterwards. Which is a problem when you work irreversible magics. This book definitely paints her more as a young woman, hurt and lashing out, than the evil incarnate some other versions depict her as. There were some new elements added, such as her having been taught by Merlin originally, and also a liaison with one of Arthur’s knights that has far-reaching consequences. Arthur and Guenevere appear in a much less flattering light, which was refreshing. The writing, though, was heavy on the telling rather than showing, so I never did get fully immersed in the story. And while Morgana as a character is more understandable with this narration, she did tend to harp on about how everyone had betrayed her and she’d get even, long past when she should’ve outgrown such a teenage sentimentality (this book spans several decades in her life). By the end, she is full of remorse and regret, but the growth to get to that point wasn’t as fully fledged out as it could’ve been.

But overall, if you have a liking for Arthurian lore, this is work picking up. It’s a quick read, and weaves in some new elements.

I give it 3/5 stars.

I, Morgana


August Shop Charity  August 1, 2014

UNICEF

In case you missed it at the start of the year, one of the things I’ve decided to do with my shops this year is donate a portion of all sales to charities or causes that I support.

August, aside from being back to school time, is also host to World Humanitarian Day and International Youth Day. Fittingly, to support kids around the world, I’ve chosen UNICEF to be this month’s beneficiary. UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, was created to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. They are active in over 190 countries and territories. They work to give children everywhere the best start in life, from immunization and nutrition to education and safety, because they believe that proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future. I couldn’t agree more (and a big shout-out to my mom, who deserves much of the credit for how I turned out). If you also agree that children everywhere deserve safety, health and an education, you can support the cause by a direct donation on the UNICEF’s site, or by shopping in either of my shops (screen printing or digital) this month.

At the beginning of this month $30 was donated to the July shop charity – thank you!


Book Review: Fool’s Assassin  July 31, 2014

Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz & The Fool Trilogy #1)

by Robin Hobb.

I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book for review from NetGalley. Publication date is August 12th.

Fool's Assassin First, if you are reading this review and somehow haven’t read the books that lead up to it (namely the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy), you need to stop and go do that right now. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice and get to know the young FitzChivalry Farseer and the cast of characters that will pull at your heartstrings for many a book.

Still with me? Ok, then I assume, like me, you are a fan of the Fitz and as excited as I was about this new chapter in his life. Yes! This trilogy takes us back to FitzChivalry Farseer and happenings in the Six Duchies, after Hobb’s digression into Bingtown and the Rain Wilds. And it does not disappoint. I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as I’m able while still conveying why you’ll want to read this. The voice of Hobb’s writing is as engaging and relatable as ever. Fitz returns as the main narrator, though partway through his POV alternates with a new and surprising POV (also in 1st person, and with a distinct voice). While Fitz has more or less retired to a quiet life in the country, ghosts from his past pop up in a few new ways to bring trouble down on his head once again. There are all of the elements from the other Fitz books that made readers fall in love with them: great narration, political intrigue mixed with personal dilemmas, deceit, love, heartbreak, danger. You say goodbye to some familiar characters and hello to some new ones. And in general there’s a satisfaction to seeing how Fitz’s life, and the lives of those around him, and the relationships with certain characters, have turned out years later. It was, to me, as compelling a read as any of the other Fitz books.

However, that said, I will say that plot-wise, especially toward the end, it was less surprising. I actually had to stop probably about 85% through for a bit, because I knew without a doubt what was going to happen and knew I wasn’t going to like it. Not because it doesn’t make sense, but because this is a trilogy, and it does end on a cliffhanger, and I could tell what that cliffhanger was going to be. I was also slightly annoyed at Fitz for not making a super obvious realization, despite his honed observational skills. But then he has a habit of being really skilled in some areas and really dense in others, which is of course part of what makes him a great character. I wouldn’t be annoyed if I didn’t care about him as a character. Sigh.

Overall, if you are a fan of the earlier Fitz series, you should pick this up. It’s a good read, and will sink you back into that world like you never left.

I give it 4.5/5 stars.

Sidenote: how perfect is that cover? That’s EXACTLY how I pictured Fitz in my head, as an adult.

Fool's Assassin