Yet Another Reading ‘Slump’

So, I’ve only read one book this year, which is pretty atrocious considering it’s now April. Though I’m forty pages away from finishing three of my uni books, so hopefully I’ll get through those soon(ish).

BUT, to make up for the lack of reviews and general bloggy stuff, here’s a pantoum I attempted to write. Let me know what you think!

ANXIETY

You close your laptop, hungry for
discs of cabanossi and cheddar shavings,
and aching in the throes of indecision.
Yet here you are, shut up completely.

Discs of cabanossi and cheddar shavings
flow in abundance at parties like these
yet here you are, shut up, completely
lost in daydreams and nightmares, which

flow in abundance at parties like these—
well, you should know, except you don’t:
lost in daydreams and nightmares, which
more or less, for better or worse…

well, you should know. Except you don’t.
You close your laptop, hungry for
more or less, for better or worse
and aching in the throes of indecision.

Other than that, I’ve been pretty busy with uni and work (i.e. tutoring kids), but I’ve got a few musicals lined up over the next couple of weeks (Oklahoma!Chicago, and my absolute favourite musical of all time in its Sydney premiere: Next to Normal. So excited!) and plays in the coming months (not least of which is Alan Bennet’s The History Boys.) So much to see, so much to read, so much to DO!

How are you all doing?

And so it begins…

So, it’s just after 1AM on the 1/1/2014. I’m a little late writing this post (should have scheduled it or something, but whatevs) but just wanted to wish my lovely followers the best for 2014. For most of you, the New Year is tomorrow, so I’ll leave you with this quote:

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. — Brad Paisley

All the best for the year ahead...thought I'd give the internet another snapshot of me, at 1AM on 1/1/2014.

All the best for the year ahead…thought I’d give the internet another snapshot of me, at 1AM on 1/1/2014.

White Flag; a story

Hi friends and followers!

Sorry I’ve been AWOL for far too long, but you know how life gets. I’ve just had uni assignments and readings, and every time I sit down to relax, I remember I’ve got to be doing something else … I’m looking forward to holidays, let me tell you!

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any spare time, could they read over a short story I’ve written for an assignment? I would value as much feedback as possible. You can comment here, or on this link (if you have a deviantART profile) or wherever else I’ll be able to see it.

Here’s the description I wrote on the piece to give you a little more background:

A piece I wrote for an upcoming assignment. The criteria is to combine two forms (which I have done here with prose and script), but it’s slightly too long (about 100 words over the limit) and I need to cut it down. So if you see any unnecessarily wordy parts, please tell me. Or even if you think a scene is unnecessary. I thought I was doing pretty well, because after workshopping it in class I had to shorten the whole piece by 200 words AND the teacher wanted me to put in the whole letter sequence. So that was fun.

Please tell me what you think! Are there some parts that don’t work? Any historical inaccuracies (I’m afraid my knowledge of early-1940s England leaves much to be desired) or narrative plot holes?

NOTE: Although there are script segments, I do not intend for it to be performative; they are only there (aside from meeting the assignment’s criteria) to reflect the imaginings of the mother, and contrast them against her realities.

I would be so appreciative of any help you are able to give. Thank you in advance!

The Weight of Souls — Book Review

As I sit here, hot chocolate by my side and rain thundering outside, I am glad to say that my holidays have been very full. I’ve had five weeks of church camps, acting at the local theatre, family and friend get-togethers, job hunting, movie watching and book reading. I also got my uni marks for last semester back, and I’m pleased to report that I went extremely well in all of my subjects. (Yeah, I know, I’m real modest.)

Somewhere in there I received an ARC in the mail: a book for me to review, free of charge. I think it’s obvious that I was excited. Plus, I received a little card signed by the author and a little ghost charm (it’s themed, don’t worry). And it was a Strange Chemistry book—an imprint of Angry Robot, a publisher I love. So, awesomeness in a little cardboard package arrived at my house that day.

Bryony Pearce’s novel The Weight of Souls gripped me immediately with its story of ghost-avenger and struggling teenager, Taylor Oh. It had the perfect mix of fantasy and reality, of ancient curses and broken friendships. It took me a week and a half to read it, but I had read half of it in two days before I left for a four-night camp, which was followed by two nights of performances in the play I was in. Cut me some slack, you fast-readers you.

Cover for WEIGHT OF SOULS

A pleasing mix of China, Egypt and magic…

The main character is of Asian descent (‘Oh’ is generally a pretty good indicator of that, as is the cover), and the rest of the character cast is pleasantly multicultural. But don’t let that sway your opinion one way or the other, because it really doesn’t add much to the story. The most her being Chinese means is that bullies can direct racial slurs her way. Anyway, it was nice to read something where different ethnicities aren’t that big a deal. As they shouldn’t be.

Know that this is a YA novel. It shouldn’t make a difference, because the best YA should be universal, but I do feel like the plot is dumbed down a bit. And I’m getting really sick of the ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ endings. I mean, the novel is obviously set up for at least one sequel, but does everything have to go so swimmingly all the time? My favourite ending of any story would have to be at the end of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials — but no spoilers for those of you who haven’t read the trilogy yet!

All in all though, this was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the second one in the series (as there has to be after an ending like that!). I’m tossing up between three and a half stars, or four stars. Meh, what the heck: four stars it is. Well done Bryony!

Stuck in the doldrums of literature…

So I haven’t finished a book in…ooh, four months? I know, I know. But hear me out. I’ve started so many books, but then I always get interrupted with life: uni, chores, friends. Not that I mind, but I wish I could just finish a book for once. I think once I finish a book, I’ll get back into the swing of things, and perhaps be able to keep my attention focussed long enough to read more.

See, I’ll start a book, read maybe 250 pages, then leave it for a few days (or weeks, whatever) and when I come back to it, I feel lost and confused — but not bothered to start it again. I’m a slow reader; I can admit this freely and without shame. However, it does frustrate me that to enjoy a book (even only a slim one) can take me up to a week, and that’s without reading anything else.

Image

Maybe not THIS slow…

I’ve decided to put away all the books I’d started on, and to just begin afresh. It made me feel so much better. I didn’t realise the pile of books was haunting me so much. If you’re interested, the books I’ve started (some of which I’ve even read over half of) include (but are not limited to):

And yesterday I started E.M. Forster‘s Howards End, but got distracted by a second hand bookstore in a hospital and am now reading Robert Cormier‘s I am the Cheese. Not to mention that I’ve got about a dozen more books to read for uni for next semester. So much for a break. When will this madness stop?

Image

And I read faster than this statue does. I think…

Does anyone else have this problem? Please tell me I’m not the only one! (Comments and/or encouragement would be more than welcome.)

Ode to the Novel

You thirst for the completion

That opening this trove of

Treasure can – will – bring.

Beyond rhyme or reason, you

Know only the clots of ink

Will satisfy you.

 

You crack its spine, relishing

In its dusty, primal scent,

Its papery flesh.

The lifeblood of literature

Spills over your hands, congealed

Already. You eat.

 

Gorged on imagination,

You drain the dregs, bittersweet,

Head tilted backwards.

You cry yourself to sleep, scared

This is the only way you’ll

Feel emotion.

 

So you stroke it (bloated, full),

Creativity’s creature,

A drug; side effects

Include nausea, distress,

Sleeplessness and sleepiness.

You are tainted, quenched.

So, my life has been quite hectic during the past few days (if you’re interested, reading this article will help — the children involved in the accident were my brother and two sisters, one of which has a broken rib, contused kidney and had to have an operation on her abdomen), but it’s nice to take some time out and work on a bit of poetry. Plus, it also knocks over some homework for my Creative Writing class. Two birds, one stone…

Any feedback or opinions are greatly appreciated! I’m a tough cookie so don’t be afraid to really tell me what needs fixing, what doesn’t work, etc. Thanks for reading!

The Definition of ‘Family’

Sometimes I wish my family was the perfect family. You know the one: well enough off so as to not be constantly worrying about money, siblings that never argue, a good size house, with all the trimmings included.

I think at Christmas, the flaws in my own family become more apparent, but you know what? I wouldn’t change them for the world.

My family is none of the things above: my parents chose to send me and my three siblings to a private school, each month costing as much as a monthly mortgage payment; my brother and I used to fight heaps (even though now we get along most of the time), and my sisters are the cause of more than their fair share of disputes; and our house is a two bedroom cottage — needless to say, it gets kind of squashy. And we seem to get all the bad luck.

But — and I say this with all honesty — I would not change my family for another. Sure, we have our imperfections, but don’t we all? So, we didn’t get iPads from Santa, and Mum works on Christmas Day, but it’s okay: we have each other. I don’t want to get too sentimental and sloppy, but I truly think that it’s important during this “festive” season that we remember who we’ve got in our lives, and the part we play in others’.

I say all this today because I just spent the day with Dad’s side of the family. I do not get along with them at all. In fact, my nana hates my mother’s guts. But, I am so glad to live in the family that I do live in, that I put up with their crap (often said on the sly so the ‘victim’ is the only one to hear it) to appease my father, who is only just now beginning to see their vicious malice — but only just. Anyway, it makes me realise that I live in a family that loves me for who I am (most of the time), and have parents who have given up a lot to put us through private education. For that, I am extremely grateful.

For those of you who want to brag about your gifts (the specific ones I’m referring to are most probably not reading this blog), I actually don’t care that I didn’t get a ridiculous amount spent on me for Christmas, because I know my family loves and cares for me, and I don’t need to presents showered down on me to know that. And you know, I’m grateful I don’t need that kind of confirmation.

Sorry for the rant! I don’t even know if I make any sense…Anyway, let me know about your thoughts on family and this particularly stressful time of year. Any good stories to share?

Chilling with the fam-bam.

My siblings and I (left), with my brother’s girlfriend.