July Wrap-Up: Family News, Red & Blue is the New Black

I feel like a lot of my personal posts lately have just been me going, “I’m a sad little bundle of sadness!” And, well….the same applies today (I promise a LOT more flowers and rainbows for the next one). But I’ll try to keep it brief this time.

To put it shortly, my grandmother passed away from cancer several weeks ago (I wrote about her diagnosis a month ago) and I’ve been dealing with a lot of the family stuff surrounding that. See, everyone on my mom’s side of the family–from her parents to her four brothers and their eight children and down to me–is incredibly close (we have multiple group chats and we do frequent video calls). And our line of communication works like an actually functional game of telephone, so that when there’s any kind news or gossip brewing in one sector, it travels down the line until everyone knows about it word for word. And while it’s incredible to know that I’m part of this intense support network that crosses oceans, sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming. Like in this case, because being smothered with non-stop condolences and well-wishes because you’re the baby of the family isn’t exactly fun, and at some point it just got…macabre.

Then last week was the funeral, which my uncles attended on my dad’s behalf, and apparently there was a group of church “friends” who were talking loudly about how irresponsible it was of my grandmother to not have visited the doctor sooner. My mom got super angry about it, which got me riled up because 1) who the fuck says that at a funeral, and 2) I’m an “empath”–which is a term I hate using because of all its sci-fi connotations (and being an emotional sponge is a shitty superpower)–and people’s emotions easily affect mine.

And to cap it off, I found out that a gaming personality, called Geoff “iNControLTV” Robinson, who I had admired and had been watching for many years, had suddenly passed away without notice. Which was shocking and heartbreaking and made me really sad for some number of days (“sad” sounds like I’m downplaying it, but sometimes there’s just no better word.)

So it’s been a month of combing through emotions and memories, and discussing grief and mortality with people. Draining, yes. Difficult, yup. But all that processing does help, and I think death is a topic that we as a society shouldn’t shy away from.

I did read some really fantastic books, though, and that’s also been helping with my overall mental health. So let’s get to them!

 


βš”οΈ= Fantasy; πŸš€= Scifi; 🐺= Paranormal; πŸ‘»= Horror; πŸ”= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; πŸ—οΈ= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQIAP+

 

This is Me Plastering Myself Against Your Window With a Sign That Says “Drop What You’re Doing and Read This Now

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➽ This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone πŸš€πŸŒˆ:
Two time traveling agents. Flowery passive-aggressive taunts morphing into gentle teasing into unabashed love. All the blue and red imagery you could ever want. I adored it to pieces. [Review]

➽ Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:
This book. This fucking book. I went into it not expecting a whole lot and now it’s one of my top three reads of the year. I’m saving the more colourful words for the review, but the bottom line is that it made me incredibly happy. With the way it uses language (the way it’s so in love with language), and how it embraces magic in all its strange and sharp glory. It made me feel like a kid again and it’s been a while since I was so genuinely enchanted with a fantasy book.

 

Solid Queer Mysteries

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➽ Proper English by K.J. Charles πŸ—οΈπŸ”πŸŒˆ:
K.J. Charles once again proves why she’s one of the best in historical romance, this time with a f/f whodunit. This was short, uncomplicated, sexy fun.

➽ Orientation (Borealis Investigation 1) by Gregory Ashe πŸŒΊπŸ”πŸŒˆ:
A solid, engaging P.I. mystery feat. friends-to-lovers! Speaking of which, I seem to have less patience with slow burn friends-to-lovers nowadays. I mean, there’s “slow burn” and then there’s “four books of longing glances and almost-but-not-quite moments that go on forever when there’s literally nothing hindering them from getting together.” Like, I’m not made of time. I did make an exception for this because Greg is one of the few authors I trust to do long-term relationship building well.

 

Could Have Been Better, But Overall Not Too Bad

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➽ Contagion and Immunity by Erin Bowman πŸš€πŸŒˆ:
The series starts out as scifi horror with Contagion and ends as a scifi action/adventure drama with Immunity. I was disappointed that the horror element wasn’t more drawn-out, but overall, it’s a solid series.

➽ Prince of Killers (A Fog City 1) by Layla Reyne πŸŒΊπŸ”πŸŒˆ:
The head of a modern day assassin organization gets tangled up with a private investigator and a plot to unseat him from his throne. It’s one of those “you’ll enjoy it if don’t think too hard about it” stories.

 

Beautiful Prose & Atmosphere, Bland Characters

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➽ Wilder Girls by Rory Power πŸŒΊπŸš€πŸŒˆ:
Loved the atmosphere, loved the plot, loved the emphasis on girl love (of all kinds), but I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Oh, and the ending? We don’t talk about that here. [Review]

➽ The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall βš”οΈ:
Despite it featuring one of the most bland MCs I’ve come across in the past year, I found this to be a pleasant read. If you like underworld stories and quiet, atmospheric fantasy stories that border (no pun intended) on weird horror, this is for you. [Review]

➽ Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:
Again–loved the setting and the atmosphere, but I feel like the book was far too short for me to get a good sense of the characters.

 

Nope/ DNF

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➽ The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin βš”οΈ:
A dystopian story crossed with an underworld story that I didn’t enjoy because of, you guessed it, the characters. [Review]

➽ Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:
DNF @ ~20% because while there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, there wasn’t anything particularly great about it either. And I’m trying to get better about DNFing ARCs that I’m “meh” about.

 


Red and Blue Hell

I’ve been kind of obsessed with This is How You Lose the Time War, and I painted these little pieces as a quick palette cleanser in between the larger ones I’ve been painting and often ruining (but I’m learning to be okay with that because mistakes are integral to watercolour learning and if you fear them, this medium will trample all over you. Yay for growth!)

And….people actually really like them?? And they want buy prints of them????

So right now I’m in the process of digitally rendering them and setting up an Etsy store. So if you’re interested in these birdies, stay tuned!

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This past month and a half has done wonders for my confidence with sharing art online, because between health scares and unexpected tragedies, I’m realizing that art–which is, like, what keeps us going when these tragedies strike and things get bleak–is the last thing I should be fearing. And putting out into the world a thing you created from this kernel of idea floating around in your head is always, always something that should be celebrated.

So I’m thinking of doing a bi-weekly/weekly post thing where I share little doodles and/or full pieces inspired by the books that I’m reading–to help boost awareness of the books and also because I just really love doing fanart. Aaaand I wouldn’t at all be unhappy if any of you were to join me… πŸ˜€

 

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Now whisper to me all the wonderful things you did in July!

I’m Back! – Health Nightmares, Weird Analogies about Canadian Health Care, and Queer Mermaids

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I love how positive-yet-uncertain this bear looks. Which matches me perfectly right now. Like, “HI! I’m back…? Maybe…? I don’t know what’s going on….”

Hey everyone! I’m back (possibly? hopefully?) from my completely unintended hiatus!

Sigh. Let me be blunt: these past two and a half weeks have been the absolute worst.

You know the saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”?

Well, June came in like a beautiful flying unicorn spraying rainbow spectral dust and has been crashing in a big glittery inferno ever since.

So. Let me try to sort this mess out for you into something that’s digestible and not a blog post equivalent of me sobbing into a pillow for an hour.

It started two weeks ago when I got a call from my mom saying that my grandmother back in Korea has stage 4 liver cancer. And that was a “I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you properly” moment, because I’d seen her and talked to her in a video call a month ago and she’d seemed completely fine.

I hadn’t had to face the prospect of any of my grandparents not being healthy since my grandfather passed away 15 years ago, so I was at a loss to how to process it.

Now, that same week I’d been to the clinic because of some abdominal pains I’ve been having, and that led to a trip to the lab for blood tests. And not soon after I got the call about my grandmother, I found out from the doctor that my vitamin B12 levels were high, as were the numbers for one of my liver enzymes. Either one of those results by itself is notable but not exactly scary. Coupled together, however, means that there’s a probability of liver damage. (I had an ultrasound done since then and my liver seems fine, so that’s one worry off the list)

And that’s when my brain starting spinning in on itself.

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One of my favourite end products of human evolution is pattern recognition–our ability to take disparate bits of information and create a whole picture out of them (WAIT, there’s a point to this, I swear). And I love that so much.

I love that we hung a fish, a lion, a queen across the sky because we saw specks of light in the dark and believed them to have meaning.

I look at the stucco patterns on my ceiling and convince myself there’s a shape of a person holding an umbrella.

We connect dots and find stories in chaos. Which is beautiful, right?

Except when our brain turns it against us.

Because somehow I connected my grandmother’s health troubles with my test results and came to the conclusion that there’s something severely, awfully wrong with my own liver. And when it comes to personal stuff, I tend to catastrophize. So whenever something remotely bad happens I can’t help but assume the worst.

Cue stress dialed up to 11.

I was shaking, I was having anxiety attacks, I couldn’t fall asleep at night, and when I did, I only managed about 4 hours before bolting awake.

So I decided to go work out at the gym every other evening because I desperately needed to release the stress somehow.

Cue breathing troubles.

My first two workout sessions went fine–I took it easy and did light cardio. After my third session, though, I was dizzy and wheezing and it felt like my chest was constricting and I could only take shallow breaths. And this lasted through the next day.

So I visited a clinic and the doctor sent me in for an X-ray and signed off a prescription for an inhaler. Now, I don’t have a history of asthma and I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was asthma, but I just wanted to breathe properly again and surely a couple of puffs couldn’t kill me, right?

So I tried two puffs.

Cue intense vertigo and wooziness (I’m chalking this up to the inhaler’s side effects).

And I spent two days lying in bed watching Youtube videos and Netflix because I couldn’t focus on anything else. Also, getting vertigo on a 5th floor balcony is decidedly not fun.

Then about five days later, I started having chest pains. It started with my chest and spread to the shoulders and neck, and there were periods where I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe properly. And on Thursday night it got severe to the point where I was slumping against the wall of my apartment.

So I went to the ER, and they set me up with an X-ray, ECG, and yet another blood test, and then had me wait 5 hours until they came to the conclusion of “Tests look fine, don’t think it’s a heart problem. Take Tylenol.”

And I went home at 2 AM.

(*deep breath* Do not turn this into a rant about the Canadian health care system. Do not turn this into a rant about the Canadian health care system. Do not–)

Here’s the thing about the Canadian health care system.

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Let’s think of our doctors and hospitals and labs as little inns scattered across a kingdom. The quality of the inns is pretty great–clean environment, nice food, well-trained workers–but the roads that connect all the inns–the ones that you need to follow in order to get from one inn to the next–are unpaved and infested with bandits and giant man-eating scorpions.

So because you’re fending off swords and deadly stingers and trying not to trip over a minefield of uneven rocks, it takes you forever to reach the next inn, and by that point you’re poisoned and bleeding and sleep-deprived, and those well-trained workers have their work cut out for them. (oh god this is a terrible analogy)

You’re not really aware of the problem if you just visit the family doctor every now and then for checkups and things like the flu. But if you’re ever dealing with a more severe condition that has you moving from doctor to lab to doctor to specialist to lab, it becomes abundantly clear how inefficient and bogged-down the system can be. Especially compared to other countries that have universal healthcare.

But yeah! That’s kind of where I’m sitting at right now. Been crying a lot. Still dizzy. Still having chest pains. The tests say my heart is fine, so I suspect it’s a blood vessel issue, but I won’t know for sure until I see a cardiologist (which will probably take 4-6 weeks).

I think I’ve gotten past being scared and anxious into just plain exhausted. I hate the feeling of not knowing what’s going on with my body, but that’s what it is at the moment. I can’t yank our system by the collar and force it to work faster.

So in the meantime I want to try to get more rest and focus on positive things.

Like BLOGGING. And BOOKS. And GAMES. And talking with all you LOVELY, LOVELY PEOPLE. ❀

So let’s close on a good note!

 

Some Happy Things that Happened in the Past Two Weeks

🌻 I caved in and bought watercolour paints that have been on my wishlist for half a year. They’re a brand called Daniel Smith and their special thing is that they mine minerals from all over the world and grind them into pigments to make a lot of their paints.

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When I first started watercolour last year and began researching different brands, I kind of side-eyed Daniel Smith because using semi-precious gemstones to make paints (and charging $16-$30 per 15 mL tube) seemed kind of pretentious and elitist. But then I watched demonstrations and read articles and I saw how every paint behaves differently with the water in such mesmerizing ways…and it’s just the perfect marriage of science and art. How can I possibly hate that?

I’ve been playing around with them a bit and they. look. stunning.

🌻 I walked (very slowly) around one of my favourite forest trails in the region and sat by the lake for a couple of hours. Nothing gets me feeling more comfortable and at peace than being in the woods.

🌻 I saw female mallard ducks leading their ducklings on a practice flight session around a lake (a different one). It was disastrous and adorable and made me laugh.

🌻 I wrote an email to a UK publisher asking for an ARC, and to my joy and utter bafflement, they sent a physical copy over.

🌻 I stumbled across this freaking gorgeous painting on Twitter and I’m pretty sure it added several years to my life. I NEED it to be made into a story.

You can find the artist @trappedinvacancy on Twitter and Tumblr!

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Now you! Tell me something you saw, heard, experienced that made you happy this month!

Update (I’m Back!) and Discworld Month 6 (Better Late than Never…?)

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m back from my unannounced hiatus! Incidentally, I’m a broken record.

November and December are generally not great months for me (one of the million things they don’t tell you as a kid is how the holidays can go from the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Time of Dread as you grow older), and this time was no exception. And then some. Bad mental health stuff and hospitals, basically.

I’m probably turning into one of those characters in SFF series who spend half of their screen/page time waking up in hospital beds and being like, “Hey doc, nice to see you again” and “We should really stop meeting like this.” Well, minus a cool sword and a world to save.

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As for Discworld, we’re now six months into the Discworld Readathon started by me and Nicole (the Bookworm Drinketh).

This month’s book is (was?) Wyrd Sisters and if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, you have two whole days to get to it. Pfft that’s totally feasible, right? :DD

Wyrd Sisters

Arbitrary deadlines aside, if you want to join now then go for it. Leave me a comment, enjoy Sir Terry’s brilliant imagination, and post your review whenever.

And a thousand apologies to Nicole and the other participating bloggers for the radio silence. I’ll definitely try to get to the book by the end of next week.

I also have a backlog of posts I need to publish, a collab project that I’m super excited to unveil (hopefully sometime in January), and need to figure out how I’m supposed to write reviews for books I read over a month ago. So look out for those!

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Do tell me how your month has been, what interesting books you’ve picked up, etc, etc. Happy reading!

October 2018 Wrap-Up – Book Things & Art as a Double-Edged Sword

It’s the middle of the month…and you know what that means! πŸ˜€

So, I was going to include mini reviews for some of the games I played in the past month because Nicole @ Thoughts Stained With Ink was like, “Heck yeah! You should totally do that!” But the post was getting kinda long and there’s this one game that I absolutely need to GUSH about, so I’m shuffling those to separate posts.

And that means I’ve finally decided to do semi-regular posts about video games (with a heavy focus on indies because while I love AAA titles, it’s the indies that make my heart sing). Will anyone read them? Who knows!

As for books, October was an okay month. I read 9 in total, most of which I enjoyed:

βš”οΈ= Fantasy; πŸš€= Scifi; πŸ‘»= Paranormal; πŸ”= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; πŸ—οΈ= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQIAP+; Horror= πŸ‘οΈ

The Brilliant

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth βš”οΈπŸ—οΈ:
If I were a cat, this book would have killed me nine times over. Thank you for breaking me in the best way, Laura.Β  [Review]

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:
This was such a clever and entertaining story about, well, stories and their power to change the fabric of the world. And its protagonist is an elderly man in his 70’s which you don’t see everyday in fantasy. [Review]

 

The Great

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Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink πŸ‘οΈπŸŒˆ:
I really liked it. I think it works perfectly as a companion to the podcast. But I don’t know if it’s something that can hold up on its own? I’ll talk more about it in the actual review.

Sadie by Courtney Summers πŸ”πŸŒΊ:
Yet another review I have to finish writing! “Enjoyable” is probably the wrong word to describe the story, but it is a compelling one and I can’t say enough good things about the audiobook. Massive kudos to all the voice actors.

Mort by Terry Pratchett βš”οΈ:
Read this as part of our Discworld Readathon! I’ve heard people talk about it like it’s the second coming of Christ, and to my surprise, it was actually really good. [Review]

 

The Good/Okay

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The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood πŸ‘»πŸŒˆ:
Gerry (Book Nook UK) remarked about the prevalence of male werewolves in stories, and this is one of the few books I’ve read with a female werewolf love interest! Overall, a fun, sexy F/F story about werewolves, MMORPGs, and harassment culture. Plus, the author’s a local!

Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson βš”οΈπŸš€: A mashup of time travel and epic fantasy! I guess “pleasant” would be the best wor? Nothing amazing but I did enjoy it for the most part. [Review]

 

The Bad

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The Phoenix Empress (Their Bright Ascendancy 2) by K. Arsenault Rivera βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:
Yeah, this was not a good one. The cultural issues aside, I found the pacing to be glacial, the character development lacking, and worldbuilding more or less nonexistent. [Review]

Mage Against the Machine by Shaun Barger βš”οΈπŸš€πŸŒˆ: I noped out of this one halfway through and my tablet is so, so grateful. [Review]

 

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So in this second half of the wrap-up I’m going to ramble about art and my decision to return to it after so long.

And it begins with a little story, so gather around!

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a bit of an eclectic family. In terms of profession, anyway. On one half there was a seafood restaurant owner, a spicy chicken restaurant owner, movie producer, teacher, pastor, dentist, investment banker….and the other half were just artists and writers.

So the girl grew up with a brilliantly artistic mother and a brilliantly artistic grandfather, and some years later she met a brilliantly artistic young girl who would become one of her best friends. And it was really, really hard for the girl not to feel dull and dim in comparison. Like a ragged baby bird that may grow up to be large and healthy and magnificent, but most likely won’t.

The girl loved photography, writing, and drawing, and it was this last one that she felt the most insecure about. Insecurity turned to shame and shame turned to cold dejection and she decided one day that she would quit–because she wasn’t any good, so what was the point? (And when the girl looks back on it years later, she’ll recognize that it was partly an act of self harm–this denying herself of something she so loved)

But then 8 years later, thanks to a book, the girl’s returned to the world of drawing (because books are amazing and can literally change lives), and she’s been loving it–absolutely loving it. But on the heels of that love came doubt and heartache.

(And here I switch back to first person because talking about myself in third person is getting on my nerves)

So it’s been four months since my “return” and I’ve been spiraling into that oh-so familiar mindset of “I’m fucking terrible at this,” with my brain constantly yapping in the background, “Hey, remember how you quit all those years ago? Yeah, this is why.”

It’s hard to look at a finished work and not see a road map of all my flaws. Not just flaws of the drawing–though they’re obviously the first ones I see–but all of my flaws. Like, as a person. Because that’s how my brain operates.

And it is exhausting.

Turns out comeback stories are more fun to read/watch/play than to actually experience.

But one thing’s for sure: I’m not quitting again. Because once was enough for me to realize that it’s a shitty, shitty place to be in–no wi-fi, no heating, 1/5 on Yelp.

It was like locking yourself out of your house, throwing the key down a drain, and then just standing there, peering through the window (and there’s a part of you that knows this is your home, it’s always been your home, it could have always been your home, and just what the hell have you done?) And this terrible, aching longing settles inside you, and the more you peer, the more it floods you until you’re no longer a person but just a vessel of regrets and self-inflicted hurt.

I run through my life via two extremes–exaggerated indecisiveness or blind impulsiveness–and I never really know which one I’ll pick in a given situation. With this, though, my brain chose the latter. So deciding to return to art after nearly 10 years of avoidance was like punching through the window (because that key’s lounging at the bottom of the Pacific by now), climbing in and declaring, “Okay, you and me? We have unfinished business.” And the sheer relief I feel in that moment? Indescribable.

But then I realize my hand is all bloody and crusted with glass and I end up hopping around muttering expletives which really just ruins the bravado of it all. (That’s generally how my life goes. I want to think of myself as a protagonist in a Chris Nolan epic, but in reality I’m probably more like the sidekick in an Adam Sandler film–awkward, sad, and the antithesis of good comedy).

I could rant for days and days about how unfair it is that your passion can be this nourishing, too-bright thing that fills up your entire world until it’s not.

Until your fears and insecurities take the reins and turns it into an ugly, shameful blot that you can’t bear looking at so you shove it into the deepest corner of your mind-closet, buried under every rejection and hurt you’ve been collecting since childhood.

Except, as it turns out, not looking at it is equally painful, just in a different flavour.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Fighting myself (which isn’t anything new), a lot of late-night crying (also nothing new) and saying “I’m not letting you take this away from me again,” and my brain–always eager to get in the last word–whispering with smugness and false concern, “I’m only trying to help you.”

On good days I can laugh and give it the finger because, hell, the floodgates are open and I can finally create everything that’s been crowding my brain for years and I’m having fun. On bad days–and those often eclipse the good–I sit down and listen like it’s a sermon worth giving a damn about.

And I just wish it were easy to find a healthy, balanced relationship with our creative endeavours. To be able to hold forgiveness in one hand and critique in the other and navigate the tightrope that life demands that we walk, and achieve a state of…well, not satisfaction–because no creator is ever completely satisfied with their work–but a comfortable awareness.

And this is all just a really dramatic explanation for why my reading/blogging pace has dropped, why I’ve not been blog-hopping as much, why it’s taking me forever to respond to your comments, etc, etc. Because I’m dedicating these last three months to aggressive, aggressive drawing–to try to meet my pains head-on instead of shying away as I’ve done in the past.

Because it’s you or me, brain.

And I plan on winning.

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On that note, I hope all your Octobers went super well! Happy reading!

Shelfie By Shelfie #1

This is a tag that I first saw on Tar Heel Reader, which is run by the indelible, incredible Jennifer, and was created by Beth from Bibliobeth. Thank you to Jennifer for bringing this to my attention and to Beth for coming up with this awesome tag!

“If you want to join in, you share a picture (or β€œshelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf.”

I told myself I’d do this post weeks ago and then–surprise surprise–I ended up procrastinating. Now we’ve gone from scorching sun to constant rain and I lost the opportunity to make use of natural light. So I dragged out two desk lamps from the closet and tried to create some nice indoor lighting. The result wasn’t…great.

Imagine a praying mantis–like this one!

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Now imagine those two front legs as my table lamps. And imagine a camera resting against one of the shoulders.

That’s more or less how I looked trying to take this picture. Only 10 times more wobbly and 1000 times less fabulous.

Glitter and glamour, my life is not.

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1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

…That’s a very good question! *Sweats* Is “I like the way these books look next to each other” a valid sorting mechanism? How about “I let my right hand guide me like a dowsing rod and these are the books it picked out for this shelf”? No? Okay.

I recently resorted my books and I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me. But these ones do share a few things in common: they’re mostly fantasy, most of them have LGBTQIAP+ representation, and they’re some of my favourites. You may also notice that I have a habit of not buying all the books in a series.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

Six years ago, I got my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale signed at a university event where Margaret Atwood gave an hour-long talk about the zombie apocalypse.

Two things I learned on that day:

1. Atwood is very funny in a very dry kind of way. I couldn’t believe she was Canadian because I don’t generally associate our country with wry humour. Some guy asked during Q&A (in the most haughty tone imaginable), “What made you go into writing? Was it the elements of plot, the characters? Or was it the language, the words, the sentences?”

And she answered, “Well, it was better than Home Economics.”

I loved it.

2. Margaret Atwood may look like “a frail baby giraffe but [she] has the intimidation factor of a 8.0 earthquake” (actual words I found in my journal entry).

See, I’d brought The Handmaid’s Tale and my new journal to get signed after the talk–my new journal that I hadn’t written in for about a month. When I gave the journal over, she flipped to the latest entry, flipped to the front page, looked at the date and then at me and said, “You haven’t been writing.”

I squeaked out “Um, no!”

Which she followed with a shake of the head and a “You need to write more!”

Then she proceeded to scribble across half of an empty page, “For Kathy–write more on this page today! – Margaret Atwood”

I don’t know if I was more ecstatic or mortified. But I did write on that page that day. And the day after. Becaue when Margaret Atwood tells you to write, you write.

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

I think I would sooner ditch myself. BUT if my loved ones were being held at gunpoint, I guess The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg would do the job since I have another (larger) copy on a different shelf. πŸ˜›

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Beth, we haven’t even talked yet! Why do you already hate me? 😭 I adore these books and two of them are signed and beloved, so I’m going cheat this time. I’ll get myself a Bag of Holding and just stuff the entire shelf inside.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Most of these are fairly new but I’ve had Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta since 2011!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

That would be The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I have already re-read quite a few of these, but I’m very excited to get to Blue Lily, Lily BlueΒ for the first time!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There are several objects!

Tal
On the left: the miniature traditional Korean masks (“tal”) my mom got for me on her most recent trip to South Korea. The larger ones were/are used during ceremonies, rituals, plays, and dancing (which my dad used to do). We had them hanging around our house when I was little and they used to freak me out. These two are much more pleasant to look at.

In the middle we have the Little Prince & Fox figurines!

And on the right there’s a Joan of Arc-inspired mini sword that I got for myself last Christmas because I love swords and Joan of Arc is one of my favourite historical heroines.

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

That I read a lot of fantasy and that my methods of organization are a mystery even to myself?

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I don’t want to pressure anyone to showcase their shelves so I won’t be tagging anyone, but if you’d like to do the tag, go for it!

And go check out Jennifer and Beth’s shelves!