Wednesday 27 March 2019

#bookreview: The Winter Road | Adrian Selby

The Winter RoadThe Winter Road by Adrian Selby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What does an ex-soldier, newly rich merchant want with a road through the Circle? But Teyr is hungry to prove herself to the family she left behind in the Circle and to the family she has gained in Hillfast: Aude and his boy Mosa, who calls her Ma. The Winter Road is the tale of Teyr Amondsen's ambition, pride, and folly as she pursues her goal, only to be pursued in return by war and death.

It's not often that you find a fantasy book as gritty, grim and brutal as this with a woman who's not waiting to be rescued, but who's leading the fight. Yet also not a woman trying to be a man, but one who has weighed her choices, found peace with her barrenness, and instead loves the people and children that life and chance send her way. It's a fine balance that Selby walks, and Teyr is as facetted a character as you could wish for: ambitious, broken, courageous, defeated, empathetic, foolish... I could go on.

The Winter Road is initially a hard read. I was reading multiple books at the same time, so I had to backtrack and restart the story because a) the flipping between past and present threw off my sense of time, b) I lost track of names, and c) Selby doesn't exactly use standard English all the time. Do not do this. Do not torture yourself. You need to hit this book running and keep going until the payoff when you can no longer stop.

But also, give yourself time to cry and be traumatised mid-book. It's not like Selby doesn't prepare you for it. Almost from the beginning, you know it's going to happen, you know it's going to hurt, but when it finally does, oof, it's a stab in the heart.

The going gets easier in Part Two, when it's all in the present and the action ramps up. Also, if you haven't gotten the slang by now, I don't know what or how you've been reading. The book really ends for me at the closing of Part Two; Part Three is denouement, the playing out of that final story of Aude and Teyr, most of it via letters. It's nice to know, but it feels a little like filler, like when Frodo gets back to the Shire, or the Aragorn and Arwen appendix--you're settling in for the end, tying up loose ends. It's also maybe set up for Snakewood, which I haven't read yet.

The Winter Road is not for the faint-hearted. It's dark and brutal, though, funnily enough, driven by one who wants what's best for the world.

View all my reviews

Monday 25 March 2019

#musicmonday: Slow Your Breath Down | Future of Forestry

This chest is full of memories, of gold and silver tears
I'll give you more to own than all of this
And I'll give you more than years
For you were once a child of innocence
And I see you just the same
Your burdens couldn't win or lose a thing
Oh, I'd tell you once again
But you're always on the run

Slow your breath down, just take it slow
Find your heart now, oh
You can trust and love again, oh
Slow your breath down, just take it slow
Find your smile now, oh
You can trust and love again, oh

If you leave I'll still be close to you,
When all your fears rain down
I'll take you back a thousand times again
Oh, I'll take you as my own
I would sing you songs of innocence
'Til the light of morning comes
'Til the rays of gold and honey cover you
In the sweetness of the dawn
But you’re always on the run

Slow your breath down, just take it slow
Find your heart now, oh
You can trust and love again, oh
Slow your breath down, just take it slow
Find your smile now, oh
You can trust and love again, oh

You're not alone
You're now a part of me
You feel the cure
I'll feel the toil it brought you
You're not alone
You're now a part of me
You feel the cure
I'll feel the toil it brought you

You're not alone
(Slow your breath down, just take it slow)
You're now a part of me
(Find your heart now, oh)
You feel the cure
(You can trust and love again, oh)
I'll feel the toil it brought you
You're not alone
(Slow your breath down, just take it slow)
You're now a part of me
(Find your smile now, oh)
You feel the cure
(You can trust and love again, oh)
I'll feel the toil it brought you

Songwriters: OWYOUNG ERIC


If my music is split into eras, this comes from the years of indie and Thern, thrown up into memory by a random Spotify playlist. 

Sunday 24 March 2019


When do you stop?

I feel like I'm going, I'm moving, I'm pushing, but I'm just going in endless circles, pushing against nothing, achieving nothing. I want to be done with this, to move on, but I don't want to, it's too much effort.

I'm exhausted from doing nothing, honestly. Or rather, from telling myself to do things that I then fail to do.

All I can tell myself now is that in 1.5 weeks, this will end. With that stupid assignment that's dragging out of the way, and the last of the formal classes done, I'll be able to sit and focus and write.

No distractions.

No excuses.

But for now, I have a lot of things to get out of the way by the end of March.

... how is it already March?!

Friday 22 March 2019

#bookreview: Lunching with Lions: Strategies for the Networking-Averse

Lunching with Lions: Strategies for the Networking-AverseLunching with Lions: Strategies for the Networking-Averse by Katherine McGraw Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I hate hate hate hate hate networking. You know that feeling where you know you should go to stuff and talk to people and tell them about what you do and all that?
Turns out, according to Patterson I'm doing half of it right but two things are holding me back: my mindset and my lack of purpose.

Lunching with Lions is a pretty breezy read. It's not a textbook that you're going to be struggling over, but a conversational classroom (sorta) with very honest personal anecdotes that make you go yeah, that's me. It's designed to give you both the confidence of "hey, if she can do it, so can I!" plus the kick in the pants of "I really need to get my act together, don't I?"

Patterson breaks things down step-by-step so that it doesn't overwhelm, effectively holding your hand through the process. But then as with all books like this, you've read the materials, now you gotta put it into practice. Which is the hard part, but not as hard now that you've got tips to help you on the way.

View all my reviews


Apologies! Apparently attending a three-day fair and then going to Stratford-Upon-Avon has wreaked havoc on my deadlines so I've been pushing things further and further back. I hope to be back on regular schedule soon.

Uh I have to anyway, because A to Z is coming up.

Friday 15 March 2019

#bookreview: Written to Be Heard: Recovering the Messages of the Gospels

A couple of days late because I was waylaid by the London Book Fair!

Written to Be Heard: Recovering the Messages of the GospelsWritten to Be Heard: Recovering the Messages of the Gospels by Paul Borgman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This took me longer to finish than expected, mainly because it requires a lot of thought (I tend to speed-read my way through a lot of things, which isn't really optimal, but is what works for me). Written to be Heard, however, is the kind of book that you want to mull over and read with your Bible open at the same time, not because you don't trust what Borgman and Clark are expounding on in the text, but because you want to see with your own eyes the patterns that are being pulled out for you--and maybe read aloud to yourself.

Part Bible exposition, part literary study, the writers cover each of the Gospels in great detail, teasing out the biases, aims and structure of each writer, or in this case, storyteller of the Good News. Rather than cross-referencing the Gospels to each other and arguing about their differences, as we tend to do, they suggest that we consider each Gospel as individual stories, and as a transcription of an oral heritage. Variations, repetitions, and the way each book is structured then becomes understood as less of haphazard and poorly-constructed narrative--they are instead cues for listeners to pick up the points and themes of each Gospel.

Written to Be Heard: Recovering the Messages of the Gospels gives modern Christians a lot to chew on. As society moves from heavy reliance on text and the written word back to a preference for audio-visual forms, maybe the church should also reconsider what it means to read the Bible aloud.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Monday 11 March 2019

#musicmonday: Light / Dust | Josh Yeoh ft Jon Cho

You’re the God who spoke light into darkness
You hold my heart, You remember my frame
You’re the strength in the midst of my weakness
You remember my name
You remember my name 

Saturday 9 March 2019

I signed up for the #atozchallenge and need your help!

Okay, in line with my facebook fast for Lent, I now need to find *ALL NEW WAYS* to procrastinate on homework, and this idea came to me in the shower. (Shower thoughts are the best.)

I've been doing a module on writing in the community and in education, so what better way to procrastinate than to put into practice all the things I've learnt! HAHAH. At least it's productive! Somewhat.

This April, I will be writing flash fiction based on words suggested by YOU, yes all you people who are reading this post. All you have to do is open this google sheet and give me random words/themes/thoughts that begin with the letter for the day. (Or leave a comment here and I'll add them in.) The only rule is let's keep it kid-friendly, eh? Bonuses if you go the mythological/folktale route.

Yes, that's it.


My past A-to-Z Challenge posts/themes:
2011: Fiction, on a now defunct blog. I think it became a single, interconnected story
2012: Unrelated flash fiction, words (mostly) chosen from the last word for each letter in the dictionary.
2013: Unrelated flash fiction, mostly influenced by icebreakers and KOL.
2014: Flash fiction: mythical creatures. This eventually became Coexist.
2015: Worship songs, because I was doing camp nano and couldn't write two things at the same time.
2016: Anna's A to Z of Worship Leading, which was compiled into an ebook.
2017: Princesses, which comes with pretty pictures on
2018: Absolution, where I merged campnano with A to Z and ended up blogging about my WIP, which is still my WIP, and an offshoot of which will now be my dissertation. Don't you love it when all your projects become one. massive. *insert swearwordy* thingamabob.
2019: Community writing HA.

p/s If you want to throw in a guest post on any of the letters, let me know! Email me at posts [at] annatsp [dot] com and we'll work something out.


It's the Blogging from A to Z Challenge's tenth anniversary! This is my ninth year with them, so that's pretty great. A quick summary of what it is: we blog a post a day (except Sundays) following the alphabet! Anything goes--there's a wide range of topics from everyday stuff, photos, music, research, locations, art, fiction, as long as it follows the sequence of the alphabet. Then everyone hops over to other blogs on the list to see what they're writing about!

If you've always wanted to start a blog but didn't know how, this is a quick, easy way to get started. It comes with a guide of posts for the month (A to Z) and it comes with an inbuilt, interactive community (other participants) who will cheer you on the way. 

Friday 8 March 2019

#fridayflash: Deep Waters

For you cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,

I ran. Of course I ran. What else was I do to? I couldn’t stay—not when staying was certain death. That’s what happens when you disobey a Royal (not quite, but close enough) Decree.

What decree? Do you think I have a death wish? I don’t know you well enough to tell you. I’m far enough away now, but not that far. His reach is pretty long—I shouldn’t even be telling you this. (You’re listening, aren’t you?) I just… don’t have anything else to do on this ship, I guess. By the time I reach shore and you get word back to him, I’ll be long gone anyway. Not that I’m telling you who. Or where. (Not like… never mind.)

I’m not saying anything else.

And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

What do you mean we’re sinking? You said this ship was unsinkable! The best on the Mediterranean Sea! Was that lie? (I knew you’d catch up.)

Pray? What— (No.)

I— (I’m not talking to you.)

Fine, fine, fine. It’s my fault (Your fault, why are you doing this to me? Just let me go). Throw me in the sea. You’ll be safe. My God’s after me, all right? It wasn’t a Royal Decree. It was a God Decree and YES I KNOW I WAS RUNNING AWAY. (YES, I KNOW I AM A FOOL.)

Just throw me in the sea. You’ll be fine.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

Good fish. Nice fish. Don’t digest me. If you could just throw me up on a deserted island, that would be great. Wouldn’t that be great?


If I ascend into heaven, You are there
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Fine. I’m talking to you. Yes, I’m talking to you again, God. I know I’ve been stupid and childish, but hey, here you are keeping me alive. In a fish. Which is gross, but—alive. Alive is good. (A nice island with nobody around, I’ll survive on fish—no, maybe not fish—Uh, or monkeys. Or something.)

I’ll go. I will (this is coercion) but I will. I—

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Yeah, I know I’ve been stupid. But you still love me, don’t you? And you still love those horrible people so I guess… I guess I’ll go. (DESERTED ISLAND PLEASE!)

After all, who says they’ll listen? (I hope they don’t.)

No, I didn’t say anything. Scout’s honour. (Though I’ve never been a scout.)

Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Uh, hey guys. So you’re probably not going to believe me, but God’s angry at you. In forty days, you’re gonna be toast. So you better repent. (Or not—ah yes, repent. Repent!)

(I hate my job.)


Because I felt my blog needed more crappy fiction and I found this in my archives. lol

No cookies for guessing where it's from.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

#bookreview: A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for You | AW Tozer

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for YouA Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for You by A.W. Tozer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night is a compilation of A.W. Tozer's sermons around Exodus as compiled and edited by James L. Snyder.

Starting off with seeking God's will in your life, each of the 23 sermons is a compact reminder that as God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Canaan with visible, tangible signs of His presence, God will also lead you through your wilderness into the place that He has prepared for you. He doesn't promise it will be easy, doesn't sugarcoat it with the platitudes common in church nowadays, emphasising instead that the journey will be hard and there will be many things that discourage us and disappoint us on the way, and that obedience often means surrender and sacrifice as well.

It's easy to get distracted and to give up, but remember that God goes before you, and stands behind you, providing the cloud by day and a fire by night to get us to where we're meant to be. If you need affirmation of God's truths and guidance to understanding God's will for your life, this is a good book to pick up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Monday 4 March 2019

Pick up my #ebooks for #free or at 50% off at #Smashwords this week!

Hey! It's Read an E-Book Week over at Smashwords.

In line with that, I thought I'd give you a quick overview of my books and how you can pick them up for free/cheap!

The Painted Hall Collection is a series of short stories set in the mythical North.

A curse binds the City of Winter and the Dragon's prophecy holds the key to breaking it. But will a poor fisherman from the South have the means to fulfil the prophecy? Or will the foreignness of the North itself repel him and his efforts?

Whilst the collection itself, which includes a new standalone story, is at 50% off, you can get the original four short stories in this series free:

1. When Winds Blow Cold
2. The Flame of the North
3. Beneath the Rumbling Earth
4. A Still, Small Voice

If you're looking for Western fairy tales featuring elves, dragons, and fairies, Coexist is the novella for you!

Fifteen-year-old Jane stumbles upon a portal to a fantastical and dangerous world--and discovers things about her family and heritage that she has never known before! Along the way, she makes friend with a friendly adlet, almost gets tricked by a kelpie and has to run from the Fairy Queen herself.

Coexist is available for free this week.

Many years later after Coexist, a young woman named Sara who lives half the globe away stumbles upon a different fairy world--the Malaysian Alam Dongeng.

There’s a war to protect Alam Dongeng, helmed by the Orang Bunian and Garuda. But are the ranks of Hantu really Sara and Helmi's enemies? They may very well be fighting the wrong battle.

Dongeng brings together the dark folklore and fairy creatures of Southeast Asia and the Western fairy tale lore already explored in Coexist

Get your copy of Dongeng at 50% off this week.

Sunday 3 March 2019

New book out--The Principal Girl: Feminist Tales from Asia!

This has been a while in the making... I think I got the acceptance for my short story sometime in 2017! At any rate, if you fancy fairy tale rewrites and folklore from Asia, here's where you can get them. Mine features the mythical Gedembai, legends of Laksamana Cheng Ho, and damsels not in distress.

Here's the blurb:

The Principal Girl: Feminist Tales from Asia features stories of bold, bright, and heroic women and girls drawn from Malaysia and Singapore, and the Asian diaspora that underlies the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the two countries. All eighteen stories in this anthology emphasise female empowerment, and privilege the strength and wisdom of young girls and women, over conventionally idealised traits such as beauty, obedience, conformity, and passivity, so frequently depicted in traditional male-centric folk tales.

Of these, eight tales are based on, or inspired by Asian folklore and well-known female cultural icons, while ten are original stories with contemporary settings, drawn from sources as diverse as the Mahabharata and Sejarah Melayu, to Iban and Kadazan folklore.

Apart from reimagined tales of legendary female figures like Hang Li Po, Princess of Mount Ledang, Draupadi, Queen Vishpala, Khawlah bt Azwar, Mahsuri, and Cik Siti Wan Kemboja, and mythical creatures like the Phoenix and Gedembai, readers will also meet the crime-fighting teenager Surya, the scholar and philanthropist Lilly Po, and the beauty queen Eve, who learns the true meaning of embodying the spirit of Huminodun, among many others just as dauntless.

Aimed at young adult readers, this volume showcases the writings of both new and established authors from Malaysia and Singapore, and hopes to inspire its young audience with empowering narratives of various ‘principal girls’ of past and present, all courageous, resourceful, and intelligent in their own ways. These are tales readers will want to revisit, again and again.

Get your copy now!


On another note, it's read an ebook week on Smashwords this Sunday onwards, so that's a great chance for you to get all my books cheap.