August Challenge Review

August’s challenge was to survive which, honestly, has been easier said than done. It’s been almost a week since Mum moved, and I’m still recovering. Case and point, this was supposed to post yesterday, but I didn’t have the brain power to sit down and type. Really, all I’ve had the brain power to do of late is watch episodes of Once Upon A Time, but I’m now up to date on that, so no excuse!

Things are starting to get back to normal now, though. I’m almost on top of the housework I’ve been neglecting, and though my study is full of stuff to eBay, generated by the move, I’ve managed to sit down in here a few times and bash some words out.

So, my challenge was surviving, but also to be in a good position for September. I have one more day to do that, and I think it’s achievable. I’ve written 4500 words on my current WIP, which means I’ve got a decent chunk under my belt before getting back into a proper writing routine for September. Even with all the days I’ve missed writing my daily word count, it’s still only 804 words a day to hit my goal, which is more than manageable. Hopefully today once the Fiancé has gone to work, I’ll be able to do a couple of thousand words and get that daily total back down somewhere around the 650 word mark.

And I even almost managed to keep up with the blogging and reading. A few missed posts, but I have read some of my Netgalley backlog, which is good, and I’ve been really enjoying having the 5 Things guest posts (Loads of slots open now, if you want to join in – just send me a message on Twitter, or comment on this post!) Hopefully now things have all calmed down a bit, I’ll get back to my usual schedule and start racing through my reading list once again.

So here’s to September. It’s going to be an interesting adjustment not having Mum just around the corner, but it’s the beginning of a new chapter, and I hope to make the most of it.

Weekly Round Up #56

Weekly Round Up #56 (17/08-23/08)

I am so tired. Seriously so tired. I should have written this last Sunday night while it was all fresh in my head, but instead I’m writing it now, nearly 9pm on the day it’s supposed to post, and I can’t remember anything about the week before, except FordFest, which I’ve already written about.

It has been an exhausting few days with the move – but more on that next week. Just know that my arms are aching, my legs barely support my own weight, and I went to bed at about half past eight last night and could go to bed again now.

Not exactly an excuse for being poorly organised about writing this, but definitely a legitimate excuse as to why I can’t remember what the hell I did last week.

Bear with me, people, my brain should start operating again sometime soon. Thank God for Bank Holiday weekends!

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

inkTitle: Ink

Author: Amanda Sun

Series: Paper Gods #1

Genre: YA Paranormal

Summary (from Goodreads)

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Review

I was really excited to read this – Japan is not a country I’m very familiar with, nor its culture. Fish out of water stories always appeal to me, and it could have been a great chance to learn about a part of the world I don’t know.

And it almost was. The narrative was certainly steeped in a lot of Japanese culture – from the Kendo clubs, to the language used from time to time, to the ways the characters react in situations that is very different to how Western teenagers might have reacted. There was a rich knowledge behind the story that could have added depth to the story.

The problem was, there wasn’t much story to add any depth too. The story basically is ‘Tomohiro is so hot and mysterious’ and despite some interesting elements – Japanese mythology, Yakuza gangsters – it never really stops being about how hot and mysterious Tomohiro is.

I can’t understand why Katie is so crazy about him. It seems to go from ‘he’s a horrible, nasty person’ to ‘I have the warm fuzzies when I look at him’ with no real journey in between. There’s the shared loss of a parent, which I can see would warm Katie to Tomohiro, perhaps even make her try to overlook his callous behaviour when they first meet, but I don’t buy that it would move to romance without something else going on in between.

There were also a lot of weird jumps in time – judicious use of line breaks would have made the story much easier to follow. Sometimes I had to re-read whole pages to understand what was going on, and that really took me out of the flow of the story.

Basically, there was a lot of nice window dressing for what was essentially a story about a girl swooning over a boy. It was never horrible, but at best it was a little distracting, at worst boring. And then it ended rather abruptly, and I can’t say I’m all that bothered about finding out what happens next.

Rating: 2.5/5

Cover Lust #75 – Deceptions

Cover Lust #75 – Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

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Blood, city scares, butterflies, faces – there are so many layers to this. I can’t even begin to fathom what’s going on, and that’s much like the story (in a good way – it’s a paranormal mystery). I really like all the covers in this series, though this is a little different to the previous two. Can’t wait to get reading!

What covers are you lusting after this week?

The Big Move

Up bright and early this morning ready to do the big move. My legs are aching from helping move boxes yesterday – I honestly don’t know how Mum is still going. 

I’ll be packing an overnight bag and trying to get my much neglected house in a state of some order, then it’s over to mum’s for the last little bits of jobs – cleaning, loading the car. Then it’s a long old drive down to West Sussex to do the packing thing all over again. Only in reverse.

Wish us luck!!

Top Five Life Changing Events by Feather Stone

This week Feather Stone is sharing her 5 things with us. She is the author of The Guardian’s Wildchild (which you can get at Amazon and Simon and Schuster) and blogs at Romance Under Fire and is talking to us today about her top five life changing events. Check out her website here for more info on Feather and her books.

Top Five Life Changing Events

Do you stay within what’s proven manageable, make sure there’s a safety net around you at all times? No wonder you might feel bored, like you’re standing on the sidelines of a rich and rewarding life. Are you aware your body, mind and soul are screaming for more? There are ways to enrich your life without ending up in the morgue. Here are few suggestions which propelled me to realize how vibrant and fulfilling life can be.

The risk? You may discover what you thought was true about yourself is flawed. And, you may not be able to go back to the tame existence you had accepted as enough.

  1. Pushing Your Idea of Fun to the Edge: Rafting Down the Shotover River in New Zealand: http://www.queenstownrafting.co.nz/shotover/ I kid you not. This experience was absolutely thrilling. Sometimes I was terrified. Other times I couldn’t stop laughing. It was like the kid in me had been released. Never before did I feel so alive. A switch in my psyche flipped. No more would I settle for a quiet afternoon fishing in a row boat. Later, my husband and I bought a canoe and travelled on the many rivers in Alberta.

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  1. Spiritual: Wailing Wall, Israel, Silent Meditation Retreat or Shamanic Exercises

When I had the opportunity to stand in front of the Wailing Wall in Israel, I’ll admit I was hesitant. I’m not religious and thought it would be a waste of my time. Looking at the experience from a historical point of view, I followed my guide. After receiving instructions on proper decorum, I set foot solo toward the women’s section. For a while I sat in a chair just watching and listening. My heart rate escalated in noting that I was surrounded by strangers and armed guards. In a short while, my trepidation eased. The massive wall only a few feet in front of me seemed to invite me to come forward. As I approached a vacant section, I felt showered by a calm energy. For a while, there was only the wall and me and a sense of being adored. Thinking of it now brings tears to my eyes. I can only say that I know there is something more than what we physically see and experience. We are more powerful than we can possibly imagine.

I’ve had similar experiences while meditating and following my Shaman’s instructions. Once you have the courage to begin treading this inner path, your life will evolve in ways you cannot begin to envision. It’s a journey of joy and peace. Untitled

  1. Physical: Volunteer with Habitat For Humanity

Year 2007 rose from hell’s gates. My brother committed suicide, my husband’s parents died, and my two Shetland Sheepdogs suddenly developed cancer and died. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never see the light of day again. When a friend mentioned she was leading a Habitat For Humanity group to build homes in El Salvador. I signed up. I explained to her I wasn’t coming along for any noble cause to help the less fortunate. My motive was purely selfish – to dig my way out of a sense of hopelessness. It worked. The physical labour on the mountain side in scorching heat nearly killed me. As I began to be touched by the beautiful people in El Salvador, my heart came back to life. I saw that they had nothing. No home, no medical care, no transportation. Nothing but each other. They smiled, danced and laughed. I’ll never let misfortune try to destroy me again. 3

  1. Rear-View Perspective: Genealogy, Ancient History

Without knowing about the struggles and victories of your ancient family, it’s like driving without a rear-view mirror. I had thought my ancestors were simple people entrenched in poverty and illiteracy. Not so. Famine, disease, war, cruel governments proved they were made of tough fabric. Some failed. Driven by desperation, some fell victim to alcoholism or shipped off to suffer as a slave in a strange land.

Having learned of their sacrifices, that they were honorable people facing overwhelming odds, I feel a greater responsibility to carry their name with dignity and reverence. The footprint I leave matters a great deal. I may be judged by my family’s descendants. And five hundred years from now someone may gain strength from my example.

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  1. Do something physically outrageous.

Keep it legal and honorable. And don’t suddenly decide you can fly off tall buildings. But get outside your comfort zone.

My dear husband, bless his stubborn heart, decided we should buy a snowmobile. Oh God, are you crazy? Yes, we live six months of the year buried in snow. However, I didn’t want to be labelled ‘one of those biker types.’ We joined a local snowmobile club and learned basic riding techniques. Years later we were racing and riding mountain peaks. I used to hate winter. Then it became a freakin blast!

Aside from the incredible adventures we had riding in Canada and USA, I learned a vital lesson. Life is meant to be lived with gusto. Mucho muy mega gusto. The exhilaration blasts worry and fears to smithereens. Free of useless negative emotions, one can triumph over challenges more easily. Find an activity that makes your heart pound with excitement. At any age, push beyond your perceived limitations. Yes, initially you may get bumps and bruises. Develop your endurance and fitness at a reasonable pace. Then, baby, fly!

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Thanks again to Feather! Be sure to visit her website here. Want to do your own ‘5 Things’ guest post? Message me on twitter @libertyfallsdwn or email me at libertfallsdown@hotmail.co.uk!

A Perfect Storm

It was an interesting day yesterday. Taylor and I were playing an acoustic set at a local beer festival which, despite us now living on totally different sides of the country and therefore having limited time to practise together, went pretty well.

After our set, we set about enjoying what the festival had to offer – which meant listening to some drummers, having a few drinks and eating some chunky chips. Mum has been busy with the packing, so it was nice for her to let her hair down a little bit and have a bit of a break. We were, with the exception of Taylor the designated driver, all a little tipsy.

It had been a glorious day. The sun had been shining, it was warm, if a little humid – almost perfect Festival weather. There were odd patches of rain, some a little heavier than others, but not even noticeable enough to remind me that I’d left my washing on the line.

Then the gazebo we were sat in started being lit by flashes of lightning. We couldn’t see it anywhere, but the whole sky lit up with the flashes. A sky that was now an almost uniform grey.

A few people were outside watching. We went to join them, straining to see round some trees. We didn’t have to wait long for an arc of lightning to cut across the sky in plain view, drawing our attention to the oncoming clouds.

We could see how fast they were moving towards us. We stood at the top of a hill, looking down into a valley and watched as the clouds raced in our direction. It was like something out of an apocalyptic movie – clouds like teeth in the sky swept towards us.

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Just ahead of the storm front, the wind picked up. It went from lightly breezy to blowing a gale. The wind battered against us, driving us back towards the tent. The first few drops of rain hurt when they struck our skin.

Then the storm passed over us. Driving rain that soaked those valiantly battling with the gazebo doors, wind strong enough to make closing those doors take the efforts of four men. The walls of the gazebo bowed inwards and the noise of the rain was deafening.

So, surprisingly, was the sound of laughter. Despite the storm practically ruining the festival, everyone was in high spirits. Amazed by the experience of watching the storm come towards us like that, and aided by a general state of tipsiness, everyone had a really good time.

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The photo doesn’t quite do justice to the battle with the door, but you can see how wet Mr T. is, and that’s inside the gazebo. Mum’s look of half terror, half amusement pretty much sums up how everyone felt.

Not quite the experience I was expecting of the festival, but one I feel will pop up in my writing from time to time in the future!