Friday, 27 October 2017

#fridayflash: Open skies

Clear blue skies. Not a good day for dying. Nadira focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Tiny beads of sweat collected around her neckline and she looked up at Riz. He'd stopped a few steps in front of her and was gazing out into the distance, his hands outstretched.

"What are you doing?" Nadira asked as she stopped beside him.

He dropped his arms and shrugged. "Waiting."


"It's stupid, you know? The way we internalise things. Our perception is skewed from birth."


"Okay, maybe not from birth. But from young, anyway."

"What do you -"

"It's nothing. Come, let's go."


The air was still. Stifling. They'd hugged awkwardly when they met for lunch, rearranging limbs around each other. When had he grown so tall? He'd been an inch shorter than her the last time they met. When he'd suggested they take a ride after lunch, she'd said yes, because how could you deny a childhood friend you haven't seen in decades - at least a decade?

So here they were. Not that she knew where here was. Hot. Sunny. Dry. Sand. She could disappear into this desert and no one would find her for months.

"It's in our heads, as much as we try to deny it. As much as we say we're good enough, we're capable enough, we look at our work, our careers with hypercritical eyes and pick out all the problems, all the hiccups. And then we look at the Other and say it's good. Even when they're doing just about the same as us. Or worse. But they're failing with confidence and we're... we're performing with self-rejection."

"Riz?" Maybe she should have declined. After all, she hadn't met him for so long, she didn't know if he was safe, if he was sane. "Is something the matter? Why are we here?"

"Open skies. The heavens are open, but we install our own glass ceilings."

"I'm getting worried here."

His lips quirked upwards. "I'm not going to kill you. Or do anything to you. I'm just..." He slumped on the ground against his car. "I'm just so tired."

Nadira sat down beside him. After a while, she put her arms around his shoulders, pulling him close to her chest. "Rest. Tomorrow will be better."

Dust and sweat. Cigarettes and spice. Clear, blue, open skies. A day for living.



What I used: a boy has a crazy idea, ending up with him and friend in the desert.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

#bookreview: Dancing Dragon or Headless Chicken

Dancing Dragon or Headless Chicken: Unleashing The Leader In YouDancing Dragon or Headless Chicken: Unleashing The Leader In You by Robert J. Kirby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction books hardly ever make my to-read list, but this was given to me by a writer friend of mine (who happens to be his daughter) and the title was super catchy. So *shrug*

As leadership books go, I suppose this is useful. It's got all the things I've heard before in the millions of leadership seminars I've attended for work and church. Dancing Dragon or Headless Chicken focuses heavily on the self-awareness side of things, following the spiel of "you should lead yourself first to be able to lead others." There are the usual probing questions to answer and exercises to complete -- which puts this book in the category of much-more-useful-when-done-in-teams (instead of reading solo, like I did), so if you're looking for an introspective type workbook/discussion group type of leadership book, this would definitely ping your radar.

And because I'm a ridiculous person, I would have liked this book better if he'd worked more with this Dancing Dragon/Headless Chicken imagery throughout the book, rather than just the intro and the end. Because, you know, I'm running around like a headless chicken enough. I'd really like to see this Dancing Dragon in my head too.

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Note: Also updated the weightage system above to include non-fiction stuff.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

#bookreview: The Hush | Skye Melki-Wegner

The HushThe Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chester Hays is a musician—a very good musician. But he hasn’t been (and doesn’t have the money to) audition at the Conservatorium. Which means he isn’t a Songshaper and he shouldn’t be able to connect to the Song or play Music—that special sort that was made of sorcery and secrets—but he can. And he doesn’t know how. Or how to stop it. Travelling from town to town in search of his missing father, Chester makes a terrible mistake out of pride—and suddenly he finds himself on the run from the authorities, hiding in a secret world that shouldn’t exist and doing things he shouldn’t be able and isn’t allowed to.

The Hush is brilliantly written. This magical steampunk world comes alive and sucks you into it like whirlwind. Revelation upon revelation is thrust at you, the rhythm of discovery and rest keeping you as off-balance as Chester, layered secrets seeping out the way magic itself seems to seep into the Hush. Behind it all is the thrum of danger; danger that leads to imprisonment, torture, and even death.

It is also a stark commentary on the real world, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, nobody cares about the disappearing poor, and second chances hardly ever exist—if you’re not from the right family or the right background. It’s also a story of the poor and the disenchanted rising up to make a change—hoping to improve their lives. It has echoes of Robin Hood, of strong women fighting against their tormentors, of self-sacrificing love, of betrayal and conspiracy.

All woven together in an enthralling melody that catches your ear and won’t let you go.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

#bookreview: Lawless by Janeen Ippolito @thequietpen

Lawless (The Ironfire Legacy, #1)Lawless by Janeen Ippolito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest, I went into Lawless a little warily. I had a rocky start with it--liking the snarkiness between Kesia and Zephryn, but stumbling a little to figure out what was going on. Fleetwings? Talents? Congruency? Scepters? What? But confusion soon cleared and then it was off on an adventure!

The dragon-human war has dragged for years with no resolution. On the dragon side, Kesia, convicted murderer, serves as a soldier for the Pinnacle in hopes of redemption; her fleetwing and tactical partner, deposed Prince Zephryn, too has little choice in his involvement. On the human side, Captain Shance Windkeeper has been conscripted into the war, hiding his distaste for it with alcohol and sex everytime he can. Unlikely partners, it would seem--and yet all three must work together to find the truth--and hopefully, stop the war.

I love the way Ippolito has created a dragon culture that's almost tangible and the world comes alive. It's also more interesting when the dragonshifters themselves constantly rediscover parts of their culture and lives that have been stolen away from them due to the war. But really, the best thing about Lawless is how fun it is. True, there's war and conspiracy, death and betrayal, but there's also the lighthearted side of life: Kesia muddling through confusing human social customs; Zilpath's gentle teasing; Shance constantly making a fool of himself for love; the banter between Kesia and Zephryn, Kesia and Shance.

However, it's not just a flighty read. Interweaved into this lightheartedness are broad themes of worth and redemption, strength and conviction, and faithfulness. Kesia struggles with her self-worth and is constantly fighting to redeem herself. Yet, as she remembers more about her forgotten past, and discovers more about what brought her to that place, she also learns that her past doesn't have to define her future, the actions of others don't necessarily demean her worth, and that who she is is strong enough.

Since this is book 1, obviously the story doesn't end yet. It reaches a sort of pause, and I have questions. But they can wait. Until book 2.

Note: I received an ARC from the publisher. This review is my own independent and fair evaluation.

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Get your copy on:
Amazon | Apple | Nook | Kobo


Author Bio 
Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She's also an experienced author coach, editor, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, geeky TV, and brownie batter.

A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and at her two websites: and


The Cipher Scavenger hunt is still ongoing, so make sure you check out all the starred posts! 

Sept. 21* - Laura A. Grace - Unicorn Quester - Author Interview 
Sept. 22* - Josh Hardt - Character Interview
Sept. 25 - Annie Douglass Lima - Realm Explorers
Sept. 26* - Anna Tan - Steampunk, Fantasy, and Cultures
Sept. 27* - Fanni Suto - Author Interview
Sept. 28 - Leanna Shields - Character Chat
Sept. 29 - Kessie Carroll - Book Spotlight
Sept. 30* - Bethany Jennings - Character MBTI
Oct. 1 - Melissa Sasina - Book Spotlight 
Oct. 2 - Alexander Preston - Book Review
Oct. 3* - Kyle Shultz - Character Interview 
Oct. 4* - Cathrine Bonham - FANtastic Interview
Oct. 5 - C. S. Johnson - Book Spotlight
Oct. 6 - Kara Swanson - Character Interview