Monday, September 1, 2014

{2014} August Reading

Books bought:
~ The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
~ The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Books received:
Aurealis Awards...
~ Blood of Innocents (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence #2) by Mitchell Hogan
~ The Other Tree by D.K. Mok
~ Blood Work (Night Call #1) by L.J. Hayward
~ Aftermath of Armageddon (FirstWorld Saga #2) by Christopher Jackson-Ash
~ Inside Out by Will Elliott
~ North Star Guide Me Home (Children of the Black Sun) by Jo Spurrier
~ Demon Child (Celestial Battle #2) by Kylie Chan
~ The Eternity Gate (The Timekeepers #2) by Traci Harding
~ The Shadow's Heart (The Risen Sun #3) by K.J. Taylor
~ Wall of Spears (Empire of Bones #3) by Duncan Lay
~ Bound (Alex Caine #1) by Alan Baxter
~ Obsidian (Alex Caine #2) by Alan Baxter
~ The Sorcerer's Spell by Dani Kristoff
~ The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick
~ Peacemaker (Peacemaker #1) by Marianne de Pierres

~ The Book of Days by K.A. Barker
~ Defector (Variants #2) by Susanne Winnacker

Books read:
~ Julia's House of Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
~ The Rise of Aurora West by Pope/Petty/Rubin
~ Memory (Vorkosigan Saga # 10) by Lois McMaster Bujold
~ The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
~ Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn
Blood Work (Night Call #1) by L.J. Hayward
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

This month was a bit of a reading bust for me, honestly - you can probably tell. I normally manage to get double digits - at least I have for the last few months - but this month I made it to seven... with two of those being fairly short graphic novels, and one being a children's book. Hmm.
I do have a fairly legitimate reason for not reading much - I've just been too sick to do much of anything. It has been really hard not reading much - and then, often when I was able to read, I'd just jump from one thing to another incessantly, without much pause. I couldn't settle.
The Aurealis Awards are well and truly off and running for 2014 - at last count we've had 23 nominations for our category, and we've already received well over half of them. So of course I managed to read one book for the awards... and then jumped into other things.
I suddenly had an urge for some decent Sci-Fi earlier this month, so I grabbed the next Vorkosigan book off the Kindle store and read it - I was having trouble finding the right order to read them in, though, but I think I'm there now. I also got part of the way through the 11th book, but didn't end up finishing it.
Chronic Resilience was an excellent book to read, and it appeared on my library's 'new books' stand at just the right time. I have been having so many problems with my health lately and still trying to move forward, so reading this was just excellent and reminded me of the things I could do to support myself.
Finally, The Queen of the Tearling positioned itself on my radar quite a few times before I finally gave it a go, and I am so happy I did. This is an excellent historical-style fantasy (it's not really set in our history, but has castles and queens and awesomeness like that) that took a little while to get into, but was definitely worth the effort.

I am still on my book buying ban at the moment - but I had allowed myself two 'emergency' books if I wanted. I have now used those - I purchases the Cuckoo's Calling to replace my copy that was given away (totally fine with this as now I have the cover I like), and then I really wanted my own copy of The Queen of the Tearling to read. My book-buying ban ends on September 20th, so we'll see how I go!

Have you gotten much reading done this month? What are you enjoying at the moment? Have you read anything in any of my lists above?
Love to all who read.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On Instinctive Knowing and Other Conundrums

gorgeous picnic times with Xin

People who read regularly, or those who actually know me, may know that I have been getting sick almost every week lately. Not just with my usual stuff - I can generally work through that these days (generally being the key word here) - but with additional things like infections and viruses of every kind.

Surprisingly, I haven't really decided that this whole thing is 'unfair' or anything like that - even though it has been quite a few weeks of getting sick and then getting better only to get sick again. Whenever I talk about it, I just say that it's been really hard/difficult, and leave it at that.

The thing is, I just feel like this is supposed to be happening right now. I don't know why. I feel like I'm supposed to be resting for the majority of the time, and learning how to be without getting too worried or stressed. I am relearning the important things in my life once more.

Don't get me wrong, it's really really difficult. I have been brought low by this so many times, but I give myself a pat on the back for getting back up again. I try to do my best each day - even if my best is just managing to empty the dishwasher. I am proud for doing that activity.

I am trying to give up on comparing myself to others - not just those who have careers and energy to burn, but also those that are 'sicker' than me. I know other spoonies that have terrible pain every day that no one can diagnose, and others that haven't been able to walk unassisted in over a year. I applaud them for their bravery in continuing on, and I send them hope and love that one day they won't have to go through such discomfort. But I try not to compare. Because, yes, I can still walk. And yes, my pain doesn't last all day every day. But it still impacts upon me and my life, and it is hard to get through sometimes.

I had an idea the other day that sprouted from my frustrations about needing someone impartial/sympathetic to talk to, but being unable to give the energy to finding a good counsellor, let alone leaving the house to see them. I wonder if someone could set something up online - like the emergency counselling you can find online - but for people with chronic illness. I want to do that for others. I've had this idea floating around me for months now, and I keep thinking about it, but I'm just not sure if I can pull it off. This is my other conundrum at the moment.

Understandably, my health has not made it very easy for me to study or see people lately. Sometimes I have a glimmer of stress about that, but I have learnt to acknowledge it, realise that it isn't really going to help if I start worrying while I can't do anything, and then return to calm. Things will work out when they can.

Love to all who read.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sparkle Points to be Gained #2~~

(this post series was formerly known as To-Do Listing (post one here) but I wanted a nicer name that worked for me. so... Sparkle Points!)

I am catching up with uni, and doing things with health appointments. But I feel the need for a review of what I wrote before, and maybe writing out a few things I want to do here to keep me going! So, points from last time will be in black, and I will update them if they are done, and new ones will be in another colour!

  • get back into the FODMAP diet - more recipes and more cooking will lead to more joy and commitment Done! To a certain extent. It was decided that the FODMAP diet doesn't really suit my needs right now, so I am trying other options. But I did commit to it for about seven weeks.
  • go swimming! I miss it...
  • collect the piece of pottery I painted over three weeks ago... (I really need to do this...)
  • get back to writing! (I took a few days off from it and haven't gone back yet.) find the joy in it again!
  • start learning about book proposals and such~
  • figure out if I want to go ahead with some big plans of mine...
  • try new things with regards to my health. make the new appointment (anagram: nap pimento newt!)
  • continue with lovely rituals that Xin and I are developing to spend more quality time together. I love our rituals so much.
  • think about constructing a blog series on what seems to be a huge passion of mine: kpop idols and how they are treated in their industry

UNI To Do:
  • Unit Outline #2 - read and mark assessments in diary Done!
  • get readings and start for next week~ also done!
  • finish researching and writing my short feature article for my magazine features unit
  • construct and submit my blog submission on authorial identity for my writing, deception and authenticity unit
  • finish readings and ilecture for week four
  • familiarise myself with other assignments!

WISHLIST (current):
  • AKMU Album - Play  ordered for me!
  • G-Dragon Album - Heartbreaker
  • SHINee mini-albums that I don't have....  I still want a few more of their mini-albums, but I have pre-ordered Taemin's mini-album (although technically it's out now...) and also pre-ordered SHINee's new Japan Album that is coming out in September... plus many other Kpop albums that I am so excited about!
  • DVD copy of the 1995 Sense and Sensibility movie...  Xin and I watched this recently and I forgot how much I adore it. Alan Rickman! Emma Thompson! Hugh Grant! Hugh Laurie! Kate Winslet! Goodness.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Hello lovely people,

I am very sorry that I have been only intermittently writing for the past few weeks. Sometimes I manage to get some posts up for you, and other times I have trouble remembering to do so.

To be honest, the last month or so has been really difficult. I have been really sick at times, and really stressed at others (sometimes those two have overlapped). I often feel like I am being tested in some way and, while I think I am passing these tests quite well, they just keep coming.

I have had multiple health appointments, and lots of emails and talks with uni. Things are being processed, organised, and hoped for. I am trying to keep on top of things whilst also stopping myself from falling into a heap at every available opportunity (it doesn't help a lot of the time).

I am struggling at times, but I am also really proud of myself for the action I have been taking to support myself and others around me.

I have been meditating every night for about two weeks now, which feels great.
I have started making a point of doing my full teeth-cleaning routine before bed for a week or so, too - including brushing, flossing, and mouth-wash - and that feels great, too.
I have been keeping regular appointments with friends for gaming, which brings the fun back in to my life, whilst also giving myself time to study.

I am relearning lessons, and trying new things. I am stepping up when I am needed, and resting when I am not.

Yes, I am still scared of the future if I think about it. But that's okay. I still get angry about being sick so often and having to deal with things that I don't think anyone should have to deal with. I still get angry at other people who deliberately don't understand my or Xin's situation and how hard we are working to be good people. But that's okay, too. I can let that go (sometimes :P) and I am still me.

While I am hoping for an improvement and some answers with my health, it's okay if that doesn't happen. I will figure it out. I just want to continue being me.

Love to all who read.

P.S. Hopefully I will have some more blog posts up over the weekend.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Shadow Hero
Authors: Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
Publication Date: July 15th 2014

Synopsis: "The Shadow Hero is based on the golden-age comics series The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity... The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.
Now, exactly seventy years later, New York Times-bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has revived this nearly forgotten, pioneering character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.
With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this hilarious and insightful graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics."

My thoughts: I actually didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I loved the idea of an Asian American superhero, and I wanted to see where Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew would take the story - how they would explore the backstory of a character created over fifty years ago. What a fascinating premise! And I have to say, I think they pulled it off beautifully.
The art style was reminiscent of traditional comic books, but with a new edge to it. The characters were excellent - particularly Hank's mother. She was equal parts terrifying and hilarious. And the romance, while there, was not overbearing - which suited the story really well.
I loved this back story that Yang dreamed up with Liew. And I also loved how they talked about the history of the original Green Turtle comics at the end of the book - and even put an example of one of the old comics at the end! Horrific stereotyping of the Japanese of the time and everything.
My only nitpick about this book was sometimes the motivations behind the characters were a little bit of a stretch for me - I wasn't sure if what happened made complete sense for the characters and the story. But other than that, I really loved this book.

I received a review copy of this book from First Second Books.

You would like this book if: you're interested in alternate superhero stories, or the reinvention of old, forgotten heroes.

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope, JT Petty, and David Rubin

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Rise of Aurora West
Authors: Paul Pope, JT Petty, and illustrations by David Rubin
Series: One of the prequels to Battling Boy
Publication Date: September 30th 2014

Synopsis: "Acropolis is rife with monsters and short on heroes.
Luckily, there's a new hero on the rise.
Aurora West has her hands full trying to fit in martial arts lessons between chemistry and math classes, helping her father on his missions, and unraveling the mystery surrounding her mother's death. The answer, she discovers, may be as close as her own childhood memories - if she can only survive the monster Sadisto and his murderous clan long enough to piece it together.
Set in the world of Paul Pope's hit graphic novel Battling Boy, this fast-paced adventure is the first of two volumes of mystery, mayhem... and murder!"

My thoughts: I will admit, to start with, that I have no read Battling Boy - nor had I heard of it before reading Aurora West. Whether that affects how I see this book, or my experience of it, in any great way - I'm not sure. But I suspect that it does.

Anyway, onto Aurora West. I really liked her character - a kickass female protaganist is a good way to get me into a book. At times, Aurora is shown as being a bit insecure/unsure of herself, and I really appreciated that side to her. In fact the whole book did a good job of not making the heroes seem completely infallible. We learn about their pasts a little bit - particularly Aurora's father's past - and that helps the book to come together.

However, I did feel like there was a little too much going on for me to follow well at times. This may have had something to do with the art style, which I wasn't a huge fan of - I can acknowledge that it's very well done, but I just didn't like it all that much. This may have also influenced how much I cared about what was happening to the characters within the book - I didn't find myself caring about them at all until about three quarters of the way through the book - before that I just felt like my brain was being bombarded with information and illustrations, and I was finding it hard to piece things together and understand where things were going.
To sum up, I found this book intriguing - it had a good premise, and a strong character - I just didn't feel that interested in the story while I was reading. I'm not sure if I will read the next book... I guess we shall see.

I received an Advanced Reader's Edition of this book from First Second Books.

You would like this book if: you enjoy David Rubin's art style; you're into heroes-battling-monsters with interesting back-stories.

Rating:  6.5/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spoonie Diaries #2: Body Aches

For just a minute, imagine that you have a really bad case of the flu. You're feeling pretty wretched and there's a lot of symptoms rolling around your body and mind. But there's one - usually alongside the constant cycle of hot-cold - that really makes you feel uncomfortable. Your body is aching ALL OVER. 

It's not just in one specific location, it hurts everywhere. It feels slightly like you've run a marathon, but it also comes with that awful sick feeling. That feeling like you have the flu in every muscle of your body. It permeates your thoughts and makes you feel awful. I feel like it might be closely linked to brain fog - with that pain comes lack of thought.

However, slightly differently to my post on brain fog, I can recommend a few things that can help. At least, they sometimes help in me. I have to warn you though that sometimes my body aches aren't just normal body aches (hahaha "normal"), but can be mild fibromyalgia, which I get occasionally. (More on that in another post... probably.)

Here is what I find helps:

  • paracetamol - I recommend this very warily. I am not a doctor, and I don't know how certain painkillers react with your system. Paracetamol are one of the lightest forms of painkiller, but you should always check with a medical professional before starting to take something.
    I find that this can relieve some of the pain and discomfort, and help me to sleep if that's what I need (it usually is). Sometimes, though, it feels like it doesn't touch it. So you gotta see how you go.
  • a warm bath - nothing makes the aches disappear like being suspended in warm water. you can make it as luxurious as you want - bath salts, bubbles, fizzies, lovely smelling cleansers, whatever you want. Or you can go the simple option and just buy some epsom salts to chuck in there - they are rich in magnesium and are very good for muscle aches, and skin/hair health.
  • heat packs/cold packs - I would put the edge on heat packs with this. cold packs are generally more for injuries or muscles out of control, not for body aches, but I put them here because different things work for different people.
    I personally prefer heatpacks - I have been known to have two on different parts of my body at once. Just figure out what is the most affected area and put a heatpack on there. Yes, they can mess with your hot-cold issues, but sometimes they don't and you can relax for a while. Play around with different things to get yourself comfortable.

Those are just a few suggestions I have for you. I am currently experiencing pretty bad body aches because of a bad virus, so I am using these things for myself. As always, my main message here is to look after yourself. Slow down, tune in to what your body needs, and give yourself permission to see to those needs.

Thanks for reading :)
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