Wednesday, October 1, 2014

{2014} September Reading

Books bought:
~ Squire (Protector of the Small Book #3) by Tamora Pierce
~ Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry
~ The Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori #3) by Lian Hearn
~ Aurealis 43

Books received:
Aurealis Awards...
~ Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan
~ The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller
~ The Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke
~ a few other Aurealis books - I've not been keeping great track of things this month...

Other...
~ Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (previous preorder)
~ Lullabies by Lang Leav (previous preorder)
~ Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

Books read:
~ Defector by Susanne Winnacker
~ Landline by Rainbow Rowell
~ H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
~ Lullabies by Lang Leav
~ Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
~ The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

And so it goes on with my slow reading. I did manage to get through a few books that had been waiting for me, and a couple of newer ones that I may or may not have squealed over when they arrived, but I wasn't reading terribly fast. I haven't had as much trouble settling to one book as I did last month, but my sickness frequency (yes, I measure it now) has still been rather high. Much of my sick time is taken up by mindlessly watching television and things that bring me comfort. Of course, reading tends to bring me comfort, too, but it's been a hard road!

Now, a few notes on the books I actually read. Defector has a link there, so please feel free to check out my review. Landline was a wonderful read when I was feeling quite sick - her writing is just such a comfort, and her characters feel so real. I have loved all her books so far, and hope there are more to come.
H is for Hawk is a book that I won off of a friend's blog, and I am so very grateful that I did! It was a wonderful, thoughtful read. Very sad in some places, but I definitely think I will be re-reading it again soon. I still think about it even now, and it has been at least two or three weeks since I finished it.
Lullabies by Lang Leav continued on with Lang Leav's fantastic, beautiful, amazing poetry. I cannot praise her work highly enough. She has this amazing way of weaving pure emotion into her work that I haven't yet experienced with any other poet.
Dreamer's Pool was an unexpected but wholly welcome surprise from Pan Macmillan. It was a joy to read more of Juliet Marillier's work, and I definitely still count her as one of my all-time favourite authors. Just so much love.
Finally, the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. On the whole I enjoyed this book. It was decent YA fiction with a touch of fantasy and a dash of creepy, and I found myself picking it up more often than I expected. I ended up giving it a 3 out of 5 stars on goodreads, but I found myself reading a few of the other reviews while there. Some people raved about it, but others had issues. This is normal for any book, but for this one I found myself reading quite a few reviews where people were saying the characters in this book were...anti-feminist in a way? Thinking back over my reading experience, and looking at their examples of this view, I found myself agreeing with them on only one topic - the slut-shaming of one popular girl who bullies the main character. I think that could have been handled a little better, for sure. But these reviews went on to say that the romance was reflective of a sort of Twilight-esque relationship - where the girl completely disappears into her crush/love for the guy. Here, I think I disagree. While the romance within the book is fairly conventional by YA standards at its heart, I really don't think there was a huge display of disrespect or marginalising of women within it. I believe that the examples that these reviews used simply showed a playful element to the relationship - some gentle teasing and such. I find myself wondering that, had the male character been changed to a female friend (or perhaps lover), would these reviews be thinking the same thing? Or was it just because it was a guy saying these things? I only found this to be frustrating simply because these reviews had convinced so many other people to not read the book in the first place, instead of suggesting that they find out for themselves if they'd like to.

Sorry for being so vague, I just didn't want to give too much away while I rambled. Anyway! Onto a new month! October already. Is anyone planning to read anything spooky this month? I am a self-confessed scaredy cat, so I don't tend to read creepy things that often, but I may actually reserve the next Mara book at my library. Otherwise, back into Aurealis reading for me!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thinking about Pain

I wasn't going to write anything today, but I found myself in front of an empty blog post page, and the title that popped into my head was 'thinking about pain', and so I followed it.

Yesterday morning I woke up around 2:30am in pain and discomfort. I spent much of that morning in my family room, alone, drinking tea, watching television, and trying to calm the pain responses in my body so I could go back to bed. I wasn't angry or upset, I was just tired.

And then, when I woke up later that morning, I pushed myself through the process of getting ready because I wanted so badly to go to a Save the Children book sale with Xin. On the way there, the pain in my stomach returned and got worse and worse, until I started to feel a little faint. All of these things have happened before, but I try to take a different approach to them these days, if I am feeling strong enough.

Yesterday, instead of moving around, shifting and shaking to try and rid myself of the pain, I sat still in the passenger seat of Xin's car. I quietly told him what was happening, and then I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. And then I focused on my breath. I focused on the texture of the chair underneath my hand. I tried to take my attention away from the pain - it was going to be there regardless of whether I paid attention to it or not - and tried to focus on other things.

I'm not a terribly zen person a lot of the time, but I try to be. And I'm not going to say that breathing through the pain made it go away, or made me feel more at peace with the world. I still felt upset, frustrated, and scared. But just that mere action of trying to focus on my breath instead of on the emotions or the pain made me feel just a little more in control, just a little more capable. Because often the worst thing pain does to me is take away who I am - it strips me of my control, warps my personality, and makes me feel other to what I am.

I am not always strong enough to do this, but I still try. Because my breath is the one thing I have some link to, even when I feel like I might pass out. I think sometimes people forget to breathe properly, and that can make situations ten times worse. Sometimes taking a deep breath or two can help to change things, just a little.

Love to all who read my ramblings!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

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: Dreamer's Pool
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Blackthorn and Grim
Publication Date: October 1st 2014 (Pan Macmillan)

Synopsis: "Embittered healer Blackthorn, wrongly condemned to death, is offered a lifeline by a mysterious stranger. In return, she must set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once loved. Not only that: for seven years she must agree to help anyone who asks for her aid. She and her companion Grim settle on the fringes of a mysterious forest in Dalriada, far from the place of their incarceration, and start a new life.
Oran, the crown prince of Dalriada, is waiting for his bride-to-be, Lady Flidais. Her letters and sweet portrait have convinced him that she is his destined true love.
But letters can lie.
To save Oran from disaster, Blackthorn and Grim will need courage, ingenuity, and more than a little magic."

My thoughts: Can we just take a moment to admire this beautiful cover? How wonderful is that? I have heard quite a few people complain about how Marillier does not get the covers her beautiful stories deserve (aside from a select few, such as Prickle Moon. SO beautiful.) and so here is a beautiful cover to admire. Huzzah!

Anyway, on to the story contained within. Blackthorn and Grim are complex characters with dark back-stories, just trying to make a new life for themselves. You can feel the emotions that course through Blackthorn when you read - she has been broken in the past, leaving her a very angry individual indeed. When she agrees to the deal that saves her life, she does not undergo a complete change and start loving everyone everywhere - and I loved this. People who have been hurt so deeply don't just change that way, overnight. The characters in this book felt real and emotional.

The story itself gripped me from the beginning and I always wanted to be reading it. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. I love how Marillier weaves character, story, and a sense of the Other together and creates stories you just want to disappear into. This one was no different - she seems to just keep getting better.

I will admit that my thoughts are a little jumbled on this book, as I want so much just to dive right back in to the story and keep reading, even though I've already finished it. When I finished the book, I wanted to hug it. Or, at least, keep it close by for a while. Just in case I opened it once more to find I had missed another chapter or two at the end. I love that this is the first book of a new series - but I do fear that I will become exceptionally impatient for the next one.


I received a copy of this book for review from Pan Macmillan. (THANK YOU.)

You would like this book if: you like Juliet Marillier's other books; you enjoy deep characters with just a hint of Otherness.

Rating:  10/10

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

Book Review: Rift Runners Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon

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 Rift Runners Trilogy - The Undivided, The Dark Divide, Reunion.
Author: Jennifer Fallon
Series: The Rift Runners Trilogy

Synopsis: Book One blurb - "The Undivided are divided.
The psychic twins Ronan and Darragh have been separated by a traitor Druid, Amergin, who has thrown Ronan through a rift into another reality. Now time is running out for Darragh. If Ronan isn't found soon, they will both die.
Meanwhile, Ren Kavanagh has no notion of where he comes from and is plagued by mysterious injuries. Then he meets the enticing and mysterious Trasa.
Ren's life is about to become more bizarre and dangerous than he could ever have imagined."

My thoughts: I had to read these a little out of order, as the third book was nominated for the Aurealis Awards last year (please note that anything I say about the third book should be taken as my own opinion, not a reflection of the panel from last year) and I then received the first two for review from Harper Collins. It took me a long time to get around to reading them all.

Some of the ideas in this trilogy are fantastic, and Fallon clearly has a very lyrical way of writing, but these books just didn't sit right with me. I felt like there were too many things going on - too many different worlds trying to be joined (figuratively and literally within the story). This led to overwhelming amount of information in all the books, which didn't really help the books or the trilogy overall to flow terribly well.

I did really want to like this trilogy - I've heard good things about Jennifer Fallon and I thought this would be a good opportunity to get into her books, but I just don't think this was the right one to start with. I have been told by a few different people that her other books are much better than these, so I am not giving up on her as an author as yet. I think these books would probably suit fans of her work a little more, as they may be able to work through the info dumps more effectively and understand the thread of the story a little better.

I wish I could say more about the trilogy overall, but I just found myself really confused during the books as to what was happening to whom, and who was doing what. I'm sure there are readers out there that could bring much more meaning to this series, but I'm not one of them.


I received copies of these books for review from Harper Collins.

You would like this book if: you like Jennifer Fallon's writing.

Rating:  5/10

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sparkle Points #4

We're up to number four! And things are getting done...for the most part. XD Also, another announcement - we have passed 15000 pageviews! That just feels kind of crazy, so thank you to everyone who reads the blog. I'm sorry things have been so sporadic lately!

LIFE To Do:
  • go swimming! I miss it... This hasn't happened mostly because I keep getting infections and viruses and such. But maybe soon!
  • collect the piece of pottery I painted over three weeks ago... (I really need to do this...) Some organisation for this has happened!
  • get back to writing! (I took a few days off from it and haven't gone back yet.) find the joy in it again! I haven't been writing (aside from poetry!), but I HAVE got some beta readers on the go! Yay!
  • continue with lovely rituals that Xin and I are developing to spend more quality time together. I love our rituals so much. we haven't been able to complete our rituals as much lately because of busy-ness and sickness, but we still talk about doing them when we can :) - this is still true!
  • draft up my first blog post on kpop idols~
  • start walking again - and yoga-ing! this has been ever-so-slightly happening when I've had energy!
  • cook more, as I know it brings me a lot of joy. baking? last week, even though I was sick with another virus thing, I made dinner three nights in a row, and I baked a loaf of gluten free bread! And then Xin and I baked two loaves over the weekend! :)
  • learn some new iced tea recipes - experiment!
  • organise for big changes in my bedroom and study (ie. painting and such).
  • look out for a lovely second-hand wardrobe?
  • catch-up on reading and writing goals!


UNI To Do:
  • start and complete the process for withdrawing from one of my units (I had to make a decision here. I may or may not go into it in more depth at another time.)  done and done! sent in and just waiting to hear, now.
  • readings and ilecture week six - finish! ilecture not yet complete, but hopefully soon. one of the readings done, and both readings for week seven are done. just the two ilectures and the rest of one reading.
  • construct second blog submission on truth in memoir working on this...
  • start presentation assignment due week eleven yes. this is also needs to happen.
  • ilecture and readings week 8
  • construct third blog submission on parody and hoax
  • start the process of enrolling in online units for next year

WISHLIST (current):
  • AKMU Album - Play  ordered for me! still waiting... I got it!! Listening to it as I type. These guys are so cute, I hope they keep making music.
  • G-Dragon Album - Heartbreaker
  • 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.
  • Ouran High School Host Club Manga boxset? Still thinking about it...
  • Film for my instant camera! I got some more recently (just a little) and I forgot how much I love this darling device.
  • Crash Course DVDs?
  • new wardrobe?

Monday, September 22, 2014

mini updates~

once again I have drifted off the radar a little bit - sorry! I really enjoy keeping my blog updated, but I just haven't been that well lately and have found it difficult to spend time doing so. I also haven't really been reading that much (aside from the last couple of days or so) or doing much uni work, so I'm just trying to focus these days!

just a few things I wanted to write about today!

~I mentioned in one of my previous Sparkle Points posts that I had made a decision to withdraw from one of my units. Basically, I am (currently) doing two units internally this semester, and my body just seems to be rebelling against everything lately. It's been hard to do much of anything. I had originally planned to withdraw from both and do them online later this year, but that just wasn't going to work, so I decided to withdraw from the one that demanded a bit too much from me (despite how much the teaching staff were trying to help!). That process went a lot more smoothly than I had thought it would, so my application has been submitted as of early last week, and I am just waiting to hear whether I have been successful or not. I hope everything will go smoothly so I can focus on my single unit, and then redo the other unit online next year.

~the Aurealis nominations are still rolling in - we're up to 35 so far. I have not been able to read as much as I'd like lately, but I am excited to continue on.

~THESE.


I have already finished Lullabies by Lang Leav, but I will probably read it again. The Juliet Marillier was a complete surprise - I knew it was coming out, but MacMillan sent me a copy out of the blue for review so I squealed. I am enjoying it so far! I love her writing.


I think that's about all I had to write about today! I will have another Sparkle Points post up in a couple of days, and then maybe some book or tea reviews, my health allowing. I hope you are all well. Love to those who read.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

little pieces of poetry

I have thought about posting some of my poetry for a while now. It is just something that I enjoy writing, and I want to share it every now and then. So here are a couple I have written this year, with little explanations as needed.


[written the night before I had my operation]

there is this moment
where I want to disappear into you
so that I don't have to face tomorrow
I can just be a part of your
bloodstream
meditating on the sound of your
heartbeat
and forget that I have my own



[popped into my head one morning]

we, who are amputated at the hip,
feel each other still. 
Acutely and totally. 
Wondering at the absence of each other 
and trying to find the reason. 
But can there ever be
sufficient reason enough for our
operation? 
We must continue on as our own person, 
no longer sharing life with another.




thoughts and feeling are welcome. love to all who read.

p.s. this is my own work. please don't reproduce without permission. :)
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