Book Review: The Woodcutter  January 9, 2015

The Woodcutter

by Kate Danley.

the woodcutter This was an impulse buy during one of Amazon’s holiday Kindle sales, and I’m so glad I got it. It’s the story of The Woodcutter (as you might guess), a seemingly simple woodsman who despite the name does not actually chop wood for a living. Instead, he is tasked with maintaining the peace between the world of Men and the world of Fairy. He’s a denizen of The Forest, which seems to be the kind of nexus where the two worlds meet and the start of Fairy. He wants to live quietly and peacefully with his wife, perhaps raise a child or two to pass on his mantle. But of course that’s not to be. It starts with a body – a fair maiden with chipped glass slippers, mysteriously murdered. His search for the killer leads him into a whole tangle of otherworldly plots and mysteries, all adding further upset to the delicate peace between the two worlds. Someone is doing their best to take over the kingdoms of Fairy and Man alike, and is up to The Woodcutter to stop them.

Honestly, this started a little slow for me. But once I got going, and caught on to the set up of the world, I really enjoyed it. The author has taken pieces from classic fairy tales, Aesop’s fables, Norse mythology, Celtic/English tales of the Fair Folk, and more, and woven them into something new. The end result is at once epic and provincial, and I mean that in a good way. The tales within the tale all have the feel of a story you’d hear at bedtime or by a fire, and yet the scope of the whole is world-spanning (as far as the world in the book). The author’s take on The Woodsman was very unique. He is tied to both worlds, but not really of either one. He’s at once gentle and powerful, and takes his job very seriously. His character ties the whole thing together. It is The Woodsman who goes questing for answers, and meets and enlists and clashes with all of these other characters. There are appearances by Odin and Titania and Snow White and Jack of the beanstalk and a whole host of others. But it is not all whimsy and happy endings. There are murders and slaves and drugs and heartbreak. And of course, the ultimate plot he needs to stop.

There were some spots where the transitions between scenes or quests was a bit abrupt and jarring. But overall, it’s just a really distinctive and enjoyable read. If you are a fan of fairy tale re-imaginings, definitely give this a try.

I give it 4/5 stars.

Buy From Amazon

The Woodcutter


Tuesday Treasure Trove  January 6, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove


Things of Note:

Well, things are getting somewhat back to normal after the holidays. Clients are returning from the xmas-nye hiatus, so work is picking back up. However, that means wedding planning has also kicked into full gear, as venues and vendors are also back. I’m trying to get a tour booked at my #1 choice venue this weekend. I may also have a spreadsheet and google map of 15 other possibilities… Oh, and then I found out there’s a Bridal Extravaganza expo thing here in Austin, this weekend. So that’s happening. It might be crazy/overwhelming, but might also be super useful. Who knows! The best news? I also get my ring back this weekend, as they said it would only take a week to resize when we dropped if off – yay! My finger has been feeling naked.

How’s your 2015 kicking off- with a bang or slowly rumbling?
 


2015 Shop Charities  January 5, 2015

2015 shop charities

Last year, one of the things I decided to do with my shops was donate a portion of proceeds to a different charity or cause each month. Over the course of 2014, between the shop proceeds and my own contributions, I donated around $400 to worthy causes. However, dividing that up between so many different groups meant each group didn’t really get that much. This year I’m changing it up. I’ll still be donating a portion of shop sales, but I’m going to do it quarterly instead of monthly. I’ve also decided to keep it local. So here are the four places I’ll be concentrating my efforts this year:

  1. 1st quarter (Jan-Mar): TreeFolks – focused on growing and maintaining urban forests in Central Texas for cleaner, cooler air and healthy communities.
  2. 2nd quarter (Apr-Jun): Austin Humane Society – Austin’s largest no-kill, non-profit pet shelter focused on saving homeless pets and reducing pet overpopulation.
  3. 3rd quarter (Jul-Sep): Sustainable Food Center – cultivates a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food.
  4. 4th quarter (Oct-Dec): Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas – providing affordable healthcare and birth control, accurate sexual health information, and advocating on behalf of women and families.

These will be the beneficiaries from sales in both my screen printing shop and my digital shop. I’m hoping that moving to a quarterly setup will result in a bigger donation to each group. You can always find the current supported group in the welcome message on the shop’s home page. Of course, you can also donate directly to those groups, via their respective websites.

How are you planning to give back in 2015?


Book Review: Annihilation  January 2, 2015

Annihilation

by Jeff VanderMeer.

annihilation This is a great example of one of those times when picking up a book because of its cool cover really pays off. Annihilation is the first short book in a series about the mysterious Area X. It’s never stated directly, but the sense I get is that this takes place on Earth in the future. Area X is where some sort of Event happened, and humanity has let nature take that area back, keeping it walled off from civilization as best it can. Several expeditions have been sent in to map and study the area. The first one went fine, but expeditions since then have ended in disasters of all sorts – suicide, murder, cancer, disappearance. This book is the story of the 12th expedition and what they find there. It is not what they expect.

This was such an interesting read. For starters, none of the characters have names. The 12th expedition is made up of 4 members, all women, and they are referred to solely by their job title. Even the narrator refers to herself as the biologist and never gives her name. You’d think that would make it hard to follow the story or connect with the characters but somehow it doesn’t. And the writing itself is just… atmospheric. The air of mystery and menace and general off-ness in Area X comes through quite clearly. The suspense is well done. The world VanderMeer has created is just so strange, it’s near impossible to predict what will happen next. I wasn’t bored once. The pace is pretty fast throughout and it is a quick read, being somewhat short (195 pages). And while the narrator’s story is wrapped up satisfactorily at the end of the book, some of the answers about Area X are still unknown, waiting to be explored in the next book. Which I will definitely be picking up.

If you’re into otherworldly sci-fi with a thriller twist, give this a try.

I give it 4/5 stars.

Buy From Amazon

Annihilation


Farewell, 2014!  December 31, 2014

Farewell 2014

Most Popular Posts from 2014

Books: Series to Read While Waiting for GRRM’s Next BookJane Austen SubcultureBig Blogiversary Book Giveaway
Recipes: Monkey BreadPurple Velvet CakeWhite Wine Marinara Tortellini
Other: My Reverse Bucket List10 Lessons Learned from FreelancingThe Story Behind the Paper10 Ways to Make Life Easier for Others5 Online Tools That Make My Life Easier

Accomplishments & Exciting Things

  • Got engaged!! And saw the Grand Canyon for the first time.
  • Branched out with my shop and did some in-person craft shows.
  • Donated to over 15 charities and causes, from part of my shop proceeds and just on my own.
  • Read over 100 new-to-me books.
  • Re-did the front flower beds and back porch pots, and have managed to keep all of the new plants alive so far.
  • Painted the master bedroom, master bathroom, and loft new colors.
  • Redesigned my freelance site & relaunched the freelance blog.
  • Started a newsletter for my shops.
  • Joined a book club and met a new group of fabulous ladies because of it.

Learning Experiences

  • While I’m glad I did the craft shows for the new experience, none of them ended up being a good investment of time or money for me.
  • I did not finish my TBR Pile challenge. In fact, not a single one of the books I picked for it got finished. Guess there’s a reason they’ve languished on the shelf so long; I’m not motivated to read those instead of newer things that catch my fancy.
  • While I did much better saving money and paying off debt this year than last year, I’m still not where I want to be on either front.
  • Similarly, while I did better exercising regularly this year, it still wasn’t to the level I aim for. Since I’ll need to fit into a wedding dress nicely sometime this next year, that goal is getting a kick in the pants to get moving!
  • The Dragonflight Digital shop got put on the back burner with all of the craft show craziness. Hoping to re-energize my efforts there for 2015.

Overall, it’s been a year of growth and pushing myself in new directions and just… striving towards change and betterment. With myself, my blog, and my various businesses. Here’s hoping 2015 continues in the same vein. :)

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone!

What’s your favorite memory from this past year? What do you hope for in 2015?
 


Tuesday Treasure Trove  December 30, 2014

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


Things of Note:

Just a short list for you today, as most of last week was spent on Christmas and the Grand Canyon and, you know, getting engaged, rather than browsing the internet. :-D And now New Years is right around the bend. We’re just having a small group of friends over, for drinkery and hanging out. Although two of those friends have learned how to open champagne bottles with a saber, so there’s talk of a saber-off between the two. Could get interesting.

What are you up to for New Years?