Wednesday 28 February 2018

#bookreview: Hall of Heroes

Hall of Heroes: A Fellowship of Fantasy AnthologyHall of Heroes: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology by H.L. Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're looking for a fun anthology of short stories, this is the book for you! Each of the 27 stories in this anthology features a hero of some sort, whether they're heroic friends or warriors or parents, and since it's written by the Fellowship of Fantasy, all of them include some form of magic, superpower, or fantastic creature! There's a little bit of romance in some of the stories, but nothing more than an innocent kiss (or two), so this is perfectly safe for kids to read. I'm inclined to say it's aimed more at the MG/younger YA crowd.

Some of the more touching stories (to me at least) were those with heroic teenagers who did their best despite the odds and/or despite their apparent lack of useful powers: In The Hero Feat of Hannah Helstrom (J. Philip Horne), Hannah only has the strength of her determination and half-trained power of regeneration to attempt to save her cousin's life; Marisol in Sweet Basil (Lea Doué) is on the run from sorcerer hunters, yet she still uses her gift of healing as best she can; Gem (RJ Conte) is the only one who can save his world ... at the cost of his life, whilst Jaiharu in Sacrifice to the Iara (H.L. Burke)is willing to give up his life to save his beloved sister; whilst Jenny puts aside personal enmity to save her nemesis in Save the Day (Page Zaplendam).

There's more than that, though. There are superheroes and supervillains, magicians and sorcerers, sprites and faeries, angels and demons, princes and princesses, and all sorts of legendary beasts (mermaids and dragons, oh my)!

Out of the 27 stories, there was only one that I was rather meh about, so I'd say this was a very good investment.

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Monday 26 February 2018

#musicmonday: O My Soul | Audrey Assad

Rivers and stones and the trees of the field, they sing in the night
And a thousand tongues lay deep in your lungs to raise to the sky

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God.
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God.

Deep in your heart you feather and tar your folly and fear:
Expose them all for the fools they are, and the world becomes clear.

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God.
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God.
Love your God.

Your worries will never love you
They'll leave you all alone
But your God will not forsake you
O my soul, my soul.

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God.
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God.
Love your God.

Friday 23 February 2018

#fridayflash: Tides | for the living

Grief comes in stages, like waves lapping on the shore, the crashing of the surf. Softgentleharshpounding.

You sit, staring at nothing, as grief curls its tendrils around your heart, squeezing, bleeding. There are no tears, because tears would mean you feel. You cannot feel. Not yet. Not now. When tears come, they come in floods, fast-rising waters from which there is no escape. You do not wish to escape. You are flotsam on the tide, drifting where grief would take you, tossed between happy memories and the ache of absence, never resting, never stopping, like the child who once ran circles around you.

Grief never sits still, never recedes. If it recedes, flee; the tsunami comes next.

The world is grey, monochrome, perpetually overcast. The cold moon speaks in words you almost grasp, pulling, drawing you into its silvery shine, offering empty platitudes; you are here, but you are not. You drift, ripped from reality. The house is empty, you are empty. You have a girl-shaped hole that can never be filled. A nothingness, a vacuum, a void. Avoid. Avoid everything that once meant to escape the cascade of memories you cannot bear.

Grief sucks you into a whirlpool of losspainsorrowtearsfear and never, never once, lets you go.


In Memoriam

Annalise McKinney
1st Dec 2006 - 20th Feb 2018


I cannot grieve for my dead…
Instead I must take my grief and make it into a figure of alabaster…
“Exhibit N.58 Grief, Alabaster. Miss Henrietta Savernake.”

The Hollow | Agatha Christie


From our last play Stop Interrupting Me! at OBS, 10 July 2016.
L-R: me, Rebecca McKinney, Annalise McKinney
Photo by Thum CC (
For the McKinneys, and Annalise who is gone too soon.

If you have cash to spare, here's a gofundme that's raising funds to cover the costs of Annalise's hospital bills in Children’s Hospital Colorado which has been rejected by their insurance:
"On June 30, 2010 the McKinneys lost their middle daughter, Anya, after a tragic accident. Now, their youngest daughter, Annalise, has lost her valiant battle against Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (IPAH).

Annalise was a vibrant young lady full of life. She loved singing, dancing and playing sports. But in July 2017, her world turned upside down. She was diagnosed with IPAH, a severe and progressive disease that causes irreversible damage to the lungs....
In the midst of this, the McKinneys face an uphill battle with their insurance company, which informed them the first week of February it would not cover the hospital stay at Children's Hospital Colorado. The McKinneys have retained legal counsel in the hopes of compelling the insurance company to pay benefits, but the outcome of the legal process is uncertain.
Sadly, God's plan did not include a miracle healing and double lung transplant for Annalise. Nevertheless, the McKinneys continue to stand firm in their faith in God. Please continue to pray for His comfort and strength for the family in this unimaginably difficult time. Stand with them. Cry with them. Love on them.
The McKinneys have incurred substantial medical costs through this trial. Though God has choosen to bring Annalise home, He is still our provider on earth. Thank you again for your prayerful consideration of being a part of God's provision for the McKinneys.
In addition to helping the McKinneys, we also would ask that you consider donating to the Children's Heart Foundation or other pediatric cardiology charity focused on early detection and treatment of congenital heart defects or reducing the incidents of congenital heart defects."

Wednesday 21 February 2018

#bookreview: The Song of All | Tina LeCount Myers

The Song of All (The Legacy of the Heavens, #1)The Song of All by Tina LeCount Myers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m gonna give this novel like a 3-star/3.25 star rating because the beginning is so so slow I wanted to die, like legit can I stop reading yet 2 stars.
Part of the problem is that there are so many long-ass multi-syllable words “drawn from various Saami languages” (as stated in the Author’s Note) in just the first chapter alone that I kept going what. What. Who. What. Which is weird because I read (and write) a lot of fantasy with long-ass multi-syllable fantasy terms (I.e. not real words) that I’m okay with. So maybe it was just a little too much a little too soon. Ok, I’m thinking it’s also because the words are initially italicised, so my head interprets it as a foreign language and gets caught up in what the heck is that word and I get stuck. If they weren’t italicised, I’d just be like ooo new fantasy word that I’ll figure out on the way and read on until I get it.
It also switches POV every few paragraphs which takes a little getting used to. It’s just not a book that will capture casual readers. Or readers from the get-go. It’s for the slow-build type of readers who are going to just wait and linger and plod their way through.

BUT it’s beautiful. Of course it’s beautiful. When you get to the middle (or well, at least somewhere in Part 2) it turns very omg this plot why because everything is related to everything else and if you pull one thread out, everything unravels. And the further you get, the more you feel like omg what why no yes, at probably 4.5 to 5 stars. It’s just that you gotta push through until you get there.
And then there’s also the damnit there is definitely a second book to this because why does it end there no don’t end there gah.

Yeah, and I’m too lazy to write my review in proper words right now.

Note: I received a review copy via Edelweiss.

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Monday 19 February 2018

#musicmonday: Drawn to You | Audrey Assad

'Cause after everything I've had
And after everything I've lost
Lord, I know this much is true
I'm still drawn to You!
After everything's been said
After everything love costs
Lord, I know this much is true
I'm still drawn to You


Audrey Assad on Evergreen:
'But I’m able to come at that from a place where I’m [saying], “God transcends all concept of God.” God transcends everything that I’m saying about God right now.'

Wednesday 14 February 2018

#bookreview: The World Awakening | Dan Koboldt

The World AwakeningThe World Awakening by Dan Koboldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The problem with third books in a trilogy, especially when the second one came out about a year ago, is the fact that as much as you really liked the earlier books, suddenly you're thrown into a world that you have vague memories of.

The World Awakening starts in the middle of the action. Honestly, I feel the book loses part of its impact for this sole reason--I had to backtrack a little and skim through parts of The Island Deception to figure out what was happening so that I could move forward. It was rather more jarring between The World Awakening and The Island Deception than between The Island Deception and The Rogue Retrieval, primarily because Rogue has its own complete arc, whilst Island doesn't.

Other than that, Koboldt does a great job tying up all the loose ends he managed to scatter throughout The Island Deception. There're betrayal and secrets galore, but each player is slowly making his stand. Quinn stands with Alissia and Kiara with the Company, but Logan's and Mendez's loyalties are getting muddied.

I loved the interplay between Veena Chaudri and Richard Holt--where everything was confusing and muddled in book 2, things are finally getting clearer here. Veena is smart, conniving at times, but a brilliant negotiator, and you get a front seat view to see how she blossoms into the new role she's created for herself.

The Tukalu are a wonderful addition to the world and Quinn, oh Quinn. You'd think he'd learn not to flirt with dangerous people by now... especially when his grip on magic is still unstable.

Anyways, The World Awakening is a satisfying end to the Gates to Alissia trilogy (is it a trilogy or will there be more? If there's more, I'd rather like a spin-off on Veena, or maybe Relling, because so many questions).

Note: I received a copy for review via Edelweiss

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Monday 12 February 2018

#musicmonday: Mmhmm | Relient K

Aesthetic of the month, really.


What happened to us
I heard that it's me we should blame
What happened to us
Why didn't you stop me from turnin' out this way
And know that I don't hate you
And know that I don't want to fight you
And know I'll always love you
But right now I just don't


And I'll let it be known
At times I have shown
Signs of all my weakness
But somewhere in me
There is strength

And you promise me
That you believe
In time I will defeat this
Cause somewhere in me
There is strength

Wednesday 7 February 2018

#bookreview: Writers of the Future Volume 33

Writers of the Future: Volume 33Writers of the Future: Volume 33 by David Farland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Writers of the Future anthologies are a great way to find new writers, and this is no exception. I'm just trying to fix names in my head so that I'll recognise them later on. This one seems skewed more towards fantasy rather than science fiction, with paranormal/horror and folklore thrown into the mix.

Some of my favourite pieces include:
Moonlight One (Stephen Lawson) - how can you prove you didn't murder your husband when you're the only two people living on the moon?
The Armor Embrace (Doug C. Souza) - a dying mech-soldier heads home to see his daughter for the last time.
Obsidian Spire (Molly Elizabeth Atkins) - Fiske isn't much of a sidekick, but Varga can't let him die anyway.
The Dragon Killer's Daughter (Todd McCaffrey) - The village is slowly dying and Paksa's father is keeping secrets, but she's got enough gold to make a small fort, so that'll do for now.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from via NetGalley for review purposes.

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Monday 5 February 2018

#musicmonday: From Now On | Hugh Jackman

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won't hold
'Cause from then, rubble
What remains
Can only be what's true
If all was lost
There's more I gained
Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What's waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on