Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Book review: The Last Days of the Romanovs

The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at EkaterinburgThe Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. The author takes us on quite the journey in this book. She introduces us to Ekaterinburg and the people within. We learn about the revolutionary forces in Russia and how they affect this city.

But most of all, we meet the Romanovs in exquisite detail. The passive father who suppresses his feelings, the tormented mother whose madness brought down a dynasty, and their five cherished children. We get to know their captors and their allies, we learn of some of the people who wanted to rescue the royal family. But they were too well-guarded and in the chaos of the Russian Revolution, the resources just weren't there for a rescue.

When woven together, we have a stunningly crafted book that lays out why the Romanovs were murdered, on a personal and on a national level. Their enemies did their very best to obliterate the Romanovs and they almost succeeded. It would take time and shifting priorities in the USSR before their remains and their fate came to light.

I've already read Helen Rappaport's book, The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra, so I wasn't too disappointed at how the daughters are the most enigmatic Romanovs in this book. Read the other book for its rich detail.

The amount of information is carefully parcelled out so that it isn't overwhelming. I have to say that the execution scene is the most detailed one I've ever read and it is grisly. I would say that the author included many details to reinforce how horrific the crime was. She also details the poorly planned disposal of the remains, in such a way that it seems incredible that the bodies were undiscovered for decades.

While reading this book, it struck me that is a very rare glimpse because there aren't even photographs of the Romanovs in Ekaterinberg. One can easily find photos of the Romanovs under arrest at the Alexander Palance and in Tobolsk. The last few images were captured on their way to Ekaterinberg. The Bolsheviks whitewashed the windows of the Ipatiev House and erected barricades so that the former royals were cut off from the rest of the world.

So it is Rappaport who vividly describes the family and the conditions they were living in. I could easily imagine the scene where local women entered the house to wash the floors. They were the last civilians to see the family alive. Rappaport uses their testimonies to make the scenes come alive - I could see the friendly daughters who happily help the workers, grateful for any kind of physical exercise. I could also envision the diminished Nicholass II and the imperious Alexandra, the human beings that shattered the women's visions of the exalted Tsar and Tsaritsa. Most poignantly, the women tell us of a frail and sickly Alexey, who was never meant to grow old in the world he was born in.

My interest in reading about the Romanovs came from information about my own family tree. Eight years ago, I was told that my paternal grandmother's mother was a chambermaid to the Tsaritsa, and her husband was a doctor in the Tsar's army. I don't know how true that is, but I started reading more about the Romanovs to learn more about that part of my ancestry. Books like this are wonderful resources, so textured and detailed that the era is brought to life cmore.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

MckMama goes viral again

...for posting her manicure on Instagram. While driving. Because her fingernails are more important than her kids?

Thanksgiving nails. 💙

A photo posted by Jennifer McKinney (@mckmama77) on

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My week on Instagram. June 21 2015

Thank goodness a man was selling umbrellas at the Chinook train station.

A photo posted by Angela Boyko (@angelamermaid) on

I crocheted a blanket. Charlie approves.

A photo posted by Angela Boyko (@angelamermaid) on

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Guest starring ...

I interviewed my friend Susan for my artist website. She designs knitting patterns. Read it here. At some point in the near future, she will interview me.

I would like to continue doing guest spots like this, for my artist website and for Enchanted Mermaid Treasures. If you would like to write a guest blog or be interviewed for one of these sites, let me know. Your subject matter needs to be art-related and/or mermaid related. You can write about what inspires you, or what you've learned about Etsy or share some photography tips.

What's in it for you - more exposure for you, backlinks to your website(s) to help your search engine optimization.

What's in it for me - more traffic to my site if you choose to link to it and say "Hey I wrote a guest blog/was interviewed!". More content.

I would be willing to write a guest blog for you or be interviewed.

Changing the sheets

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Noro waves scarf

I've finished a Noro waves scarf, and I love it. I used three different skeins of Noro Silk Garden, so that I could capture all of the colours of the rainbow. The pattern itself was easy to pick up. To knit it yourself, you'll need to know the knit stitch, how to do a yarn over, and how to drop yarn overs.

Noro waves scarf

Project on Ravelry
Pattern on Ravelry (It's free!)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

3 tools that are improving my entrepreneurship

I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I thought I would be a worker bee, settled into a comfortable hive somewhere.

There are things in life beyond our control. Like your company laying off 400 people during a reorganization. Including you.

When I found myself holding an envelope with details of my severance package, I had no idea of what was to come. I missed being a worker bee. As I started doing temp work to keep engaged in the labour market, I discovered something else. I missed being a queen bee. Because that's what it felt like, having my niche and my strengths in my former position.

Part of the stress of job hunting is that so much is out of your control. You can have a great resume and have a great interview - but you can't do anything about someone else being more qualified.

So that's how I started putting together Enchanted Mermaid Treasures. I planned it as a source of extra income and a way to maintain my HTML and CSS skills, while celebrating my love of mermaids.

So I built it. And started building Angela Boyko Art, because I've been returning to my creative roots over the last year.

Sounds simple, right? Well, you can build the site, but that doesn't mean visitors will come. I have had some sales, but I discovered that there was a lot I didn't know about marketing and SEO. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools have helped me see where my traffic is coming from. Now I need to know how to get better exposure.

I tried a Facebook ad - ended up paying $1 a click but no sales. I tried Google Adwords - averaged .15 per click but also did not produce a sale.

So now I'm digging in to figure out how I can improve my site and my advertising. These have proven to be valuable resources:

Wordpress SEO by Yoast
I had a love/hate relationship with this plugin when I started, because it was so hard to write at least 300 words per page! But now I love it. It points out specific things to update, such as putting the keyword in the title, URL, and alt tags. It tells me to have at least one image per blog post. And it's free!

Chapter 1 of "The Definitive Guide to Copywriting"
Yes, chapter 1. I haven't finished the guide. I'm including this because chapter 1 asks some really good questions about your product. The questions had me thinking about my sites from a different perspective, and I'm going to be revising a lot of copy.

Google AdWords courses
Google wants you to buy advertising. Google wants you to reap the benefits of advertising with them. So they've provided free online courses. I'm in the second course and the worksheet is asking some very thought-provoking questions. I'm not sure how to define my audience when I don't have much of one right now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

And because every blog post should have a photo ...

Today I received my new business cards and new postcards for Etsy #cards #etsy

A photo posted by Angela Boyko (@angelamermaid) on

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

What's going on

I'm slowly putting together my artist website, Angela Boyko Art.

Progress is slow because:
  • I'm also looking for work
  • I had a job interview yesterday!
  • I'm also building a mermaid niche website at the same time
  • I'm also constantly creating new products for Zazzle
  • I went to Red Deer this weekend to celebrate my birthday
  • I'm also learning SEO and marketing
  • I'm also writing chapter 4 of my Crowen fanfiction Branching Out

  • I have three cats that demand my attention on occasion. Not today, because I clipped their claws and they're all mad at me.

  • I cook at home rather than eat out, so there goes some time.

  • I need to sleep. I need to practise good sleep hygiene. So staying up until 1am to code doesn't work for me.

One of my Zazzle stores is 12 Steps Serenity. I just added a Serenity Collection to the website. I forgot knitting! This is part of a group blanket going to the ICU at the Foothills hospital. Blanket What have you been up to lately?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Thank you, Leonard Nimoy

My photo op with Leonard Nimoy

I had never been to a science fiction/fantasy/comic book convention prior to April 25, 2010. My buddy Phil, one of the organizers of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, got me to go because Leonard Nimoy was going to be there and it was a Big Deal. He also said I should buy a photo op, because hello? Leonard. Nimoy.

So I bought a one day pass and a photo op, This is what I blogged about my photo op with Leonard Nimoy:
I stepped up, he put his arm around me and asked how I was, I said, "Great! How are you?", he said, "great, thanks!" And we smiled for the camera and I thanked him and bounced out of the way so the next person could step up. Short but very sweet. I enjoyed watching him while I was in line - he was really very gracious with everyone.

Because of a massive screw-up by the company doing the photo ops, I didn't get a printed copy of the photo. I didn't even get a digital copy until a week later. It's not the most flattering picture of me, but my excitement is genuine. When Leonard Nimoy put his arm around me, I felt special. And bold enough to hold up Star Wars toys with a Star Trek actor. Those toys have been in every photo op since.

Thanks for everything, Leonard. For your words of wisdom that have been prospering online, your kindness to everyone, your arm around me.