Saturday, September 30, 2006

Good grief

Last night I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Phoenix and Ashes for this month's Fantasy Favorites group read. We usually vote on a book for everyone to read, but this time chose to do a theme. "Fairy Tale Retellings" won and I chose to read Phoenix and Ashes.

I have to admit to a fundamental liking for the Cinderella story and there aren't many retellings of it - Beauty and the Beast seems to be the favourite and appears often, but not Cinderella.

I read and enjoyed the first in Lackey's Elemental Masters series, The Serpent's Shadow, which is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, although I've tried a couple of times, I never got into the second one, The Gates of Sleep (Sleeping Beauty). So I'd decided to leave Phoenix and Ashes alone rather than have two unread books in the same series sitting on my shelf. This month's theme gave me a good excuse to buy the book after all.

So far (probably about 1/3 through) I'm enjoying the story but good grief, the editing is apalling.

There are words left out, misspellings, extra words and other fundamental errors, so that I have several times been tossed out of the story because I need to reread a sentence several times until I figure out what it is supposed to say, as opposed to what's on the page.

Probably the best one so far was "the sun shown through the window". I puzzled on that for a bit until I worked out that the sun actually shone through the window, which makes much more sense.

I don't know if the problem here is Lackey, the editor, or a combination of both. I am more inclined to blame the editor as, while I'm no long the Lackey fangirl I used to be, she can still tell a good story when she leaves her soap box at home, and I assume she has way too much experience for these kind of basic mistakes to be anything other than minor slip ups from the typing and creation process. Surely it's the editor who should be noticing missing letters and missing words as that's what he/she is being paid for.

I'm finding it highly annoying. This is basic suff that shouldn't be in a novel published by a big publishing house (Daw). Come one guys, maintain some standards please.

Aries #002

Aries #002
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

My stitching after my second Wednesday working on Aries.

I stitched 408 stitches this week, which gives me a total of 689 stitches, which is 2.2%.

There's going to be a lot of scattered stitches, but I'm still enjoying myself.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Boy Has Persistence

The Boy Has Persistence
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

The Boy Has Persistence

Journalling ~
Sunday, 21st May, 2006

Marcus and the Gumball Machine outside KMart, The Plaza, Palmerston North

I thought you might like to watch one of the gumballs going around in the machine while we waited for Daddy to finish some shopping. Boy was I right. You loved it. You loved it so much you did everything you could to get it to happen again. You tried to get the gumball back up inside the machine from the bottom and the top and the side, but nothing worked. Luckily, when Daddy arrived he had another coin and he made another gumball spein around inside for you to watch. You didn't care about the candy, just watching it go.

Credits ~
Sketch from Baby Love by Traci Reed; papers, including brackets, from Artlines 4—Kallista by Tracy Robinson; ribbon from The Photo Shoot in Expecting Sweet Stuff by Christy Lyle and Robin Carlton; metal flower from Bloom of the Week Club by Amanda Lacey; alpha is Hand Stamped Brushes by Michelle Coleman; fonts are Pea XOXO from Karen and OCRB

Caution - Underage Driver on the Loose

Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Underage Driver on the Loose

Sheepworld ~ 29th July, 2006

Scraplift of "Naked Raspberry Picker" by Emily (SheScraps) in the DST gallery

Frame doodle by Susan McCormack from "Art for Asher" by the DDE Creative Team; alpha is Paint Stamped Alpha from "This Love" by Dani Mogstad; everything else from "Puppy Love" on the "This Love" CD by Dani Mogstad; font is Bernard MT Condensed

A Day at the Zoo

A Day at the Zoo
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

A Day at the Zoo

How could this beautiful lady not get a scrap page?

Auckland Zoo - 25th January, 2006

Made with a sketch template from Lime; everything is from A Day at the Zoo by Michelle Coleman.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Aries #001

Aries #001
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

My stitching after my first Wednesday working on Aries.

This is a grand total of 281 stitches, which works out at 0.9% of the whole. If I can keep up doing this much every week, by my calculations I'll be finished in two years!

Except for the bit I had to frog because I had placed it out by a stitch, it went pretty well. The chart is very hard to follow though, so I'm highlighting it as I go and I'm grateful this is a small design (150 x 209 stitches).

Aries Original Art

Aries Original Art
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Original art of Aries ACEO by Sara Butcher ( as charted by Heaven and Earth Designs (

I've decided to stitch this as part of the HAED BB's Quick Stitch Wednesday SAL. That means I just stitch as much (or little) as I feel up to on a Wednesday and let it take as long as it takes.

I don't feel up to my big projects at the moment, but did want an art wone going. Nicki ( suggested I make starting this an anniversary present for myself (this month it is 16 years since I developed CFS) and I thought that was as good an excuse as any.

The rest of the time I'll work on my smaller projects (mystery gift, The Ice Dragon's Kingdom and Celtic Horse) and see if I can get in a finish or two by the end of the year.

Fifth Embroiderer's Guild Sampler

Fifth Embroiderer's Guild Sampler
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Wow, at last some stitching.

As usual, I did the last row, in this case satin stitch hearts. The threads were actually really slick and it was hard to keep the stitches taut, so it was a bit harder than I intended it to be.

I have two left to do and I'm just waiting for a bout of energy to get to them.

(I hope this is rotated right, Flickr seems to be being silly about it.)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip

Solstice Wood
Patricia A. McKillip

What a beautiful, lovely book. Solstice Wood is a wonderful blend of the mundane and the mystical, all tied up through misunderstanding.

Two worlds collided badly in McKillip's Winter Rose and in this book, generations later the reverberrations of that are still present. After Rois Melior won Corbett Lynn back from the queen of the winter wood, spells and guardians were put in place to keep the wood folk away and contained.

If you follow tradition and the path set down by your forebears, is there ever room to re-evaluate the situation and see if perhaps, it is time for tradition to change.

This, really, is the crux of Solstice Wood. It is beautifully told through differing first person point of view characters. This manner of writing seems odd to me at first, until I realised that all of them had a different view on the same truth and only together could the full story be told and understood.

McKillip's lyrical writing still shines, but in this modern world tale, it is tempered with the everyday, and I think this probably makes Solstice Wood more accessible to the causal reader. I love the way she writes - I always imagined I would like to "write like Patricia McKillip, but less obscure" and that's how this book feels. It's still weaves magic with words, but I feel much more like I understood the story than I sometimes do at the end of one of her books.

This book makes a much deeper, emotional sense if you've read Winter Rose, but it still works alone. All the same, I'd say read both. Why miss out on another good story.

Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip

Winter Rose
Patricia A. McKillip

This was a reread for me. I have McKillip's latest, Solstice Wood and since I knew that was about descendants of the characters in Winter Rose it seemed a good idea to reread that one first.

This is classic McKillip. The writing is dense, lyrical and beautiful. The tale is told in a tangle of metaphor and illusion that drags the reader in. Winter Rose is build from the basis of a retelling of Tam Lin, but McKillip takes the tale new places and tells her own, new story all the same.

The story threads are never crisp in a McKillip tale; they are wrapped up in and occasionally obscured by her lyrical writing but the story always comes through as they do in this case.

It's years since I last read Winter Rose, and I came away with a feeling that I had a clearer understanding now than I had before. It was worth the reread and makes me want to find space to put more McKillip in the TBR shelf to see what else I can discover in her other books.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Imitation in Death by J. D. Robb

Imitation in Death
J. D. Robb

A quick read for me, and very enjoyable.

More lovely progress on Eve and Roarke's relationship and a good murder mystery this time. I did some to-ing and fro-ing on who the murderer was before it was revealed at the end.

Just one small word of warning - don't look at the cover too carefully (the US version) as it gives something away. (Which is why I haven't included it this time.)

Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear

Blood and Iron
Elizabeth Bear

Wow. I loved this book.

Bear has created a complicated and compelling world and tale in Blood and Iron. It builds on many well-known tales, particularly using Tam Lin, the Celtic faeries and the Arthurian legends, but with her own, personal and I think brilliant spin.

The writing is beautiful; evocative, complex, metaphorical and lyrical. She paints pictures with words that touch the emotions and drag the reader in.

There are layers upon layers here and I'm sure I didn't get all of them on this first reading. That's all right though, as I'm sure I'll be reading it again.

This is not a simple tale and there are places I'm sure I missed all the nuances. It's epic and passionate and tragic all at once and the reader is drawn in to care about the characters even when they are struggling to feel and care themselves.

There is no clear cut right and wrong, not obvious heroes and villians - one of Bear's themes seems to be that we are what we are and must take responsibility for what we do, whatever our motivations and reasons. I don't know if the "good guys" won, heck I'm not even sure if anyone "won" but the end of the book, but that too is part of the complexity and depth of the tale.

There is no simple story and happy ending, indeed it has a feeling of high tragedy about it at times and that is what makes this such a great book. No easy roads are taken, not by the author or her characters and as a result, not by the reader either. It's a journey well worth the taking.

I finished this just before going to sleep last night and, as I rather expected, the fae invaded my dreams. This book and its characters dig their hooks deep and don't easily let go.

Go. Buy. Read. Recommend.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Oh dear

When Martina Weber from Chatelaine announced that she was going to be doing a Pompeiian Garden Mandela, I started drooling on the spot. When she released the first picture, it was with a certain relief that I decided it wasn't for me after all. I'd been imagining gardens and statuary and columns and we seemed to have houses.

Unfortunately, I've now seen the final picture - the class started today - and I'm drooling again.

Isn't it beautiful?

Of course, with my current stitching progress, I know I can't just go off and start it. I have no time and two Chatelaine projects before it. The stash budget is also totally empty and likely to be for a goodly while, so I can't afford to pay US$250 for the materials and probably couldn't justify it even if I could. All the same, I find I'm in love after all.

I guess I'll watch the progress pictures on the board as they starting coming up and see if it turns out as beautiful if it looks now. If so, I may try at least to buy the pattern and hope I win the lottery and get fully healthy at some point so I can consider actually stitching it.