Tangled Yarns

Tangled Yarns

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I called up the burning sensation of anger to help cleanse me of the oily chill of fear. It was a weak glow, the merest spark, but enough to catch on the dead wood tinder of indecision, self-pity and worry. The burst of heat energized me. I can see my goal now. The path to it is no longer covered by insurmountable obstacles. It is filled with opportunities, masked as challenges and difficulties. The meager flame of rage has transmuted to a blaze of determination, to be fed with the debris of each conquered task. 

It's been rough on this end of things for a while. I've missed the Friday Flash crowd. There is still lots to do, and I don't know that I'll be here every week, or even get to comment as much as I'd like. Big thanks to Danni for getting me started, both the first time and yet again. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review of The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer

Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Release: April 2, 2012
ISBN: 9781937293642

Blurb: Sometimes it's funny how fast things can change, and sometimes it's not...

Welcome to Albert Keane's beautifully designed medieval kingdom nestled in a completely isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness. Peaceful, happy, and prosperous, it takes nothing from the modern world, not so much as a single clock.

There is a castle, of course, and a monastery. There is even a pitch dark, rat-infested dungeon - because you simply have to have one if you are trying to rule a feudal kingdom!

Farmers work the land, artisans ply their trades, monks keep school and visit the sick, and nobody (well, almost nobody) misses the modern world at all.

So why has Jack Darcey - actor, wanderer, ex-competitive fencer - been tricked and seduced into paying a visit? And why hasn't anyone told him that the only way to leave is a perilous trek across hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness without a compass or a map?

Because a tide of fear and violence is rising from the twisted ambitions of one of King Albert's nobles, and Albert's fortune teller believes that Jack could turn the tide - if he lives long enough ...

My thoughts:  My first thought...is I need to hand this over to my SCAdian cousin. (If you don't know what what that means...here's a link.) The premise of this book is at once very novel and very familiar. Familiar in the 'Oh look, I've fallen into a different time" had been done before...but the manner and tone of this book are different from the others I've read. The writing has a strange blend of formal and informal that works very well considering the way past and present are, and are not melded. *laughs* Ok...that's a very confusing statement, isn't it? 

It's no wonder that poor Jack is a bit befuddled as he learns his way around. 

I do try to not reference other authors when I do a review...but in this case, I have to say that this book pleasantly reminds me of Charles De Lint's work. Not in that it uses old legends in new ways, because it doesn't reference myths in that manner. It creates its own, and  the atmosphere of the work has that dreamlike quality to it. And yet it's just reasonable enough, honest enough about the painful edges in life to feel plausible. 

I love the fact that the life in the past is not entirely romanticized. While there is a great peace to be found in 'unplugging' from the chaos that we have created in today's society...there advantages to modern life, which we see a nod to.  And yet...some things don't change. The dilemma Jack faces is as simple as a bully. Power can be abused in any age. A villain is a villain in any time. And defeating one is never as simple as we'd hope. 

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to the edge of reality, and I hope you take the time to visit as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Acquisitions vs. Experiences

 Today is my birthday. Amid a very touching number of birthday wishes, I was asked, so what did you get for your birthday. I think the answer was a bit surprising.
I got breakfast in bed, my children played nicely together, and best of all I got to go for a walk. You see, I’d rather be given the opportunity to do something new than receive an actual item. Books are always welcome, and I would hardly scoff at a new outfit. But I’d be more excited about the chance to learn how to make jewelry than get a pair of diamond earrings. So my gift today was being kicked out of the house, all alone, for a few hours.
I live in the suburbs. (Oh the horror!) You could drive through my town and feel that dreary sameness. There are about 12 to 15 different styles of houses in the town, and in any given area you’ll see 4 or 5. Walk a few blocks down, and the styles start to change only to rotate back eventually. We’re an older town, built fast and cheap to provide homes for soldiers returning from World War II. There is a sense of decline, as time and weakened economy takes its toll on the area. On this walk, however, I got to see that despite their cookie cutter beginnings, people have made these homes theirs, given them a unique stamp. Some of it is through additions, my favorite being the oriental themed house a veteran remodeled for his wife, rumor says to help her feel more at home. The details and work are phenomenal. Other endeavors are more modest, but just as effective. Sculptures, landscaping, decks and fencing…I love turning a corner and seeing what an imaginative person can accomplish. (Sadly, on this walk, I foolishly left my camera at home.) The variations are astounding. Some have gorgeously manicured and immaculate lawns, while others are a riot of jumbled wildflowers hiding quirky creatures that peek out at you.
Also, my humble town was not built in a grid, there are twists and turns throughout the streets, and even more fun, the odd sidewalk that leads between houses to the street behind them. Half the time I think they are a path to a house until I’ve almost passed it. Today I took one, just to be adventurous, and ended up in a park I never knew existed. I have lived in this town for all but 8 of my 36 years. Surely, there should be no surprises here anymore, right? Nope. It’s not that the park held anything special; it’s just that the delight of finding something I hadn’t seen was so unexpected. Along the walk there were other treats – a grasshopper as big as my hand (so mad I didn’t have the camera) sitting proudly on a branch not far from my head enjoying the perfect weather, a deciduous tree with needles far softer than the usual evergreens and bountiful crop of fruit (nuts? I’m not sure) instead of a pinecones. A falcon sitting on the edge of someone's roof. I took another impulsive turn later on and found myself out of the residential section and across the street from the center of town.
It’s a quieter place than when I was a child, many of the shops empty. However, we boast of an active theatre, the headquarters for a symphonic orchestra and a fine arts association, with its gallery, gift shop and school. I peeked in the windows to see what was posted for the coming season, and was happy to find that there were people working in the fine arts gift shop. Despite being closed, they were kind enough to let me wander through the gallery and enjoy the beautiful work they collect and sell. Most of it is from local artists, which makes it all the more amazing to me. Oils, acrylics, watercolors,  digital work, photography, textile art, sculpture – wood, glass, metals, paper…with the smell of paint from the work they were doing in the next room and the upbeat rhythm of the music playing echoing through the building. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was living in the soul killing drudgery one associates with the suburbs. For the moment, I could have been living back in Boston, visiting one of my art major friends in the SFA building.

When I left, I had a lot to ponder.
Meandering back again, taking random turns, generally in the direction of home, I thought about all the things I’d experienced on my quiet walk through my ‘boring’ town. There was a dizzying array of music, one house blaring metal as a boy worked on his car, another R&B while a woman tended her garden. Calypso, jazz, top 40, classical…I couldn’t tell you all of them. And the people I saw were just as diverse. A rainbow of colors, and it fed my soul to see that all of them were neighborly. Not a single person passed by without at least a nod and smile of acknowledgement. A young girl shouted a greeting at me from across the street, and a grandfatherly sort flirted shamelessly with me from his front porch.
My town is not that homogenous, soulless place of nightmares and bad horror movies. Suburbia is does not mean the death of creativity, intellectual pursuits and independent thought. Today I walked through a bastion of individuality, filled with the beauty of nature and human ingenuity.
Thank you, love, for sending me out to walk today. Next time, make me take the camera.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who me?!

My friend Julie-Anne has passed on the pain er…fun! I am now the official recipient of the Versatile Blogger award. J Now if I could just figure out how to put the damn thing on the home page. This post is my kick in the butt to start posting again. I need to come up with 7 interesting things about myself.
Jeesh. I'm pretty familiar with my life, so none of this seems new and interesting anymore. But here goes:

Practice, Practice, Practice

1.       I was in choir in high school, with a fantastic director. Not that interesting. But because our director was so awesome, my choir was invited to sing in Carnegie Hall in New York City. We sang Vesperae Solennes de Confessore by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  That link? Not us. I’m pretty sure no one recorded a bunch of amateurs singing, much less uploaded it to Youtube a decade or so after it happened. But it’s still one of my most cherished memories. Thank you, Mr Ulrich.

2.       Also choir related – we went to New Orleans, sang in the Cathedral (holy acoustics, Batman) and got to sing with a jazz band while on a dinner cruise.  Completely different world from New York, but just as awesome an adventure. We rode the train (the City of New Orleans) there and back. Everyone should travel by train once in their lives. And I don't mean the commute to work!

Warren Towers,
Tell me that doesn't look like it could be a prison!

3.       More travel! I went to my college sight-unseen. Never visited the campus, or had even ever been to the East Coast. Took the brave leap to leave Chicago and go to Boston. Difficult, but I never regretted it. I’d move back there in a heartbeat if I could. My first dorm was Warren Towers, which I was told was designed by people who build prisons. I could see that. My last dorm, and favorite housing assignment, was Myles Standish. It used to be a hotel. Babe Ruth stayed there, since it was so close to Fenway. (*sigh* I miss people watching there.) I actually had a room in the main dorm and the Annex over the years.

Myles Standish Hall
See that balcony over the awning?
My window was just to the right..

4.       I was my mom’s Lamaze coach when my youngest brother was born. I was 16. Best birth control ever. It didn’t exactly make me wait for marriage, but it made me far more careful! All joking aside, it was a very wonderful experience. Hard to believe the little guy is now taller than me and in college. Thankfully my kids are already repaying the favor and making HIM feel old.

5.       I collect hobbies. As you can tell, I knit and crochet. Dabble in writing and blogging. I also cross-stitch, garden (sort of), bake, sing, go dancing, do yoga, swim, read, recently tried making candles (very fun), have plans to try making bar soap, have made homemade laundry soap (it smells so good!), like making fun t-shirts(which reminds me I need to get RIT dye and some more transfers) and have fun making decorative, but often useless, knot work. I’m sure there are other things I’ve tried over the years, but they’re not really hobbies if you only do them once, right?

6.       I’m only on six? Dammit. What exactly do you people think is interesting? I like Asian cultures. I think they are incredibly interesting. Japanese more so than others, but I will pick up books and stories about people and history from the orient whenever I can. Origami is fun, but I have a hard time finding paper that I like. It all seems so thick. (Hey look, another hobby. Told you I forgot some.) Oh, and I feel silly expecting people to be at all interested in what I have to say. Which makes this blog an odd endeavor for me. (Does that count as two?)

7.       I love accents! And I pick them up unconsciously. That trip to New York? I came home with a southern accent. (It helps that the only other high school choir there was from somewhere in Oklahoma. And one of the guys was hot. We spent a lot of time with them.) But I cannot under any circumstances successfully pull off an accent on purpose. Except occasionally a South Boston one. Rarely. And only if I'm giving someone shit about pahking yah cah in Hahvahd yahd. You can't do that, you'll get a parking ticket. Just so you know.
Ok. Hope that was interesting enough for all of you. Now to decide who to pass the torch onto.  
Susan K Mann truly has a versatile blog! As she says, she is a woman wearing many hats. It's always fun to stop by and see which one she has on for the moment.
Kelly Metz also likes to mix things up. Photography, writing, work, family - busy, busy, busy! Hopefully she'll have the time to come play and share with us.
and someone I'm new to reading, but find very interesting:
Estrella Azul - even though she's gotten it before. Because she's really got a lot of different and fun things on her site.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Pretty Souls by Julie Particka

Book Blurb: My life followed a simple pattern.

Run to keep my inner wolf asleep. Make sure my blood-sucking foster sister, Cass, feeds. Hunt for supernatural trouble when we should be sleeping. Keep my grades up and my head down.

It was mostly a game.

Until people started wandering around like living zombies. Until people I care about started getting hurt. Until the menace came knocking on my front door.

Game’s over.

Time for the soul-stealer to realize just because he’s hunting something doesn’t make it prey.

Cass and I bite back.

My Thoughts: One of my favorite things about Julie's writing can best be shown by this line in the book:
"The realization that my life could be something other than the colossal mess it felt like on a daily basis elated me."

She writes about life. Granted, she adds some paranormal elements that we mundanes don't get, but that's part of the fun. Her characters live and breathe. They are, despite their otherworldly leanings, human. Elle, for example, is so me at 16. Right down to being in the Color Guard and the "Wait, you like ME?" moment. She my favorite kind of heroine. One I can identify with. She is not the prettiest, or the smartest, but she's certainly not hurting in either category either. She just needs a bit more self-confidence. Even bettter, she doesn't let her self-consciousness keep her from getting things done.

She's also not alone. Her sister Cass is more like the girl I always wanted to be, not without her own insecurities, but still popular and ever cheerful. An unlikely pairing, sisters by fate rather than by blood, the two of them work together to solve the mysteries in their town and keep their new family safe. By the end of the book, they've gotten put together some of the big pieces, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment to see how the rest of the puzzle falls in place.

Publisher: Decadent Publishing http://www.decadentpublishing.com/

Released: February 14, 2011

This book is owned by the reviewer

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I struggle with anxiety issues. Random terror that makes me breathless, and not in the fun Marilyn Monroe kind of way. It stops me in my tracks and puts my life on hold. The external me cannot function, every option, every action has unseen consequences, and they are too terrible to contemplate much less risk. But even as my body refuses to move, my mind is never still.
The images are from The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman,
illustrated by Charles Vess, Copyright 1990 DC Comics, Inc.

Words, phrases, dialogue, song refrains, whole chapters of books…they keep me company and drive me mad. Wheedling, cajoling, pleading, begging, asking, pushing, demanding, bullying, screaming, threatening – they want me to release them, share them, use them.
But that fear, that agonizing indecision locks my lips, and freezes my fingers on the keyboard. Words are dangerous, sneaky things. They mean one thing while dancing sweetly in your head, but once let loose? All your best intentions may be lost. Mercurial little things, words. Impertinent, fickle and utterly unpredictable. To one person, your words may whisper sweet encouragement, while to another bitter, stinging condemnation. And you can’t stop them. Once spoken or written, they take on a life and mind of their own, much like mischievous children. Oh, you think you can make them mind. I mean, really, you brought them into this world, and by God, you can take them out of it. Isn’t that a morbid delusion?

So I resist. Why imperil myself and others with the devastation these merciless little terrors can wreak? Instead I try to calm them. Music, movies, pointless games and, all too often, food. They may quiet for a time, granting me moments, sometimes whole days of serenity. Fool me into thinking I have control once more. So I reward us all with new friends, unread books!

Used with all respect offered to Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess,
copyright 1990 DC Comics, Inc

Because with all the pain words can engender, they can also bring unmitigated joy. Soaring, blissful, take-you-beyond-the-horizon happiness. And the most inspiring thing to me? Is that I find this joy because someone else was willing to brave putting their unruly words out there for others to see. For all that I love music, or that movies can make me laugh or cry, it’s only other people’s written words that prod me to share my own. News articles, books, blogs, posts, tweets – there is something about the image of letters marching across a page or screen that makes me contemplate their meaning more deeply. Ponder their nuances, mull over their tone, consider what made their author decide on those words in that order. Occasionally, all that reflection is overwhelming, and I end up frozen again. But more often than not, it triggers a release. Sometimes it’s a violent torrent, ideas bleeding from my consciousness, leaving me woozy. Weapons that they are, words can wound their owners as well as those they are wielded against. Damned double edged swords. Other times, it’s just soothing. Firm, gentle pressure, a mental massage letting go of all the tension. I never know which it’ll be, or what will spark a reaction.
This time, it was an unexpected treasure. A sci-fi novel, an urban fantasy whose author treated me to some rarely used words, like atavistic, and mitotic. (I mean, really, mitotic? Outside of a science text? Gotta’ love that.) Impressed and amused, my constant companions could not sit still. They’ve been wiggling and giggling all morning, tickling me. They’ve been conjuring funny fairy dances and all manner of silliness until I just had to sit down and let my fingers join in. Hopefully, this time I will not lose the courage to risk letting them dance with the rest of you. If so, please remember that I’ve tried to teach them manners, and I hope they don’t offend you.
The work of these two artists helped shape my love of a good story,
and the belief that books with pictures are not just for kids.
copyright 1990 DC Comics