News

News: I moved the keyboard to my room and now I feel strongly inclined to tell the world that I adore Phantom of the Opera. Everything is perfectly normal and no, I don't have access to any secret underground labyrinth...yet.

--12 August 2017 --

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

December 20, 2014

Neverqueen by Scott Appleton - A Review

As my semester slowly wrapped up at the university I was given the opportunity to read and review Neverqueen by Scott Appleton. I thoroughly enjoyed his Sword of the Dragon series and when I heard Neverqueen was an addition to Appleton's well-loved cast of characters within the very same world, I couldn't pass it up; so here's my review!


To be queen was never her destiny...Arthensil City was the refuge of humanity along the Eiderveis River. Under the guidance of Lord Ostincair humanity thrived. Only select hunting parties dared venture into the deep forests along the river, for a corruption spread from the wizard's mountains in the south to beast and creature alike.
But Ostincair's men were about to make a discovery that could change the face of the river. For a child born of two races would be found, and her innocence would be a beacon to the faithful. 


Cover-Art
I'm a big fan of well rendered cover-art. I know many readers quip, "Don't judge a book by its cover!", however that's just it - many people do judge a book by its cover (especially if they're not a voracious reader). That being said, I was exceptionally thrilled with the cover-art of Neverqueen in the copy I have (there are two versions). We see a mystical land filled with fog in the background, and a regal It'ren holding a crown in the foreground surrounded by little mer-people. If anything I would buy this book simply for its delightful art!

Characters
There are a good deal of intriguing characters within the pages of Neverqueen. The main character, Violet, and her two unlikely companions take the lead - however, we also see the appearance of little mer-people (as implied by the cover-art), the great white dragon, a sinister blind fairy, and much more. There are a good deal of extras to help the plot along, but in general the story never strays far from Violet and her mission at hand. 

The Plot
In literary criticism, this type of tale would be termed a bildungsroman, or a "coming-of-age" novel. We grow with Violet, watching her life unfold from tiny babe to curious kid, from brave girl to noble queen. The plot sweeps from the fingertips of evil to the heart of darkness, which can only be conquered by the faith of a child - Violet and her companions struggle to overcome traps laid by a villainous Ar'ten all the while trying to avoid the pitfalls within their own hearts. There are lessons to be learned along the way, some much harder than others - and the consequences of doing things as one sees fit can lead to life-threatening disasters. 
Appleton delivers strong supporting morals for his story, which go hand-in-hand with Biblical truths. I was a fan of this style in the Sword of the Dragon series and was pleased to see it once again in Neverqueen

My Thoughts
I think Neverqueen is the perfect tale for a middle-school reader. The writing style is straight-forward and simplistic; my main qualm was that the characters often acted in ways that were not believable. I felt this took away from the plot of the novel. However, I think it would be well enjoyed by the young and growing reader. The style is easy and there are many great action scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. 
I would recommend this book to any pre-teen (as I feel that age group would best enjoy the novel)! And I'm pleased to have it in my collection - I look forward to telling the kids in my life about Neverqueen!


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Overall, Neverqueen is a great fantasy read with strong moral background - perfect for the young reader :) I give it 4/5 stars. 

To learn more about Scott Appleton, visit his website at: http://authorappleton.com/
To buy Neverqueen, check it out over at Amazon.


Signed with cinnamon, 

Squeaks.


June 27, 2014

Ultraviolet by Owl City - EP Review

Some of you may or may not be aware of exactly how much I love Adam Young (aka. Owl City). He's best known for his big hits Fireflies and Good Time, the latter of which featured Carly Rae Jepsen. That's beside the point though - the reason I write to you is because Adam just freshly released his new EP, titled Ultraviolet, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about it!

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  • Beautiful Times
    • The first song on the album features violinist Lindsey Stirling (she's amazing). It's a wonderful tale epitomized by this part of the bridge: 
When did the sky turn black? And when will the light come back? 
    • Beautiful Times brings us the story of reality. Life is hard and it will cause us hurt and pain along the way. However, no matter what our struggle might be, it is our instinctive human desire to fight for life - at the end of every night there is morning, and so it is with suffering. Every hardship is followed by a "beautiful time", no matter how small or insignificant that moment might appear. 
    • The music is upbeat, followed by calmer points of musing. The violin blends in so well that I barely noticed it. The part that drew me the most (with this song and with Wolf Bite) is the glorious bass - I adore the bass...it's what can make or break a piece for me, and this song has definitely been made. 
    • Overall, I give this song 4/5 stars

  • Up All Night
    • This was the song I most anticipated on the album (followed by Wolf Bite). It makes me think of Adam's old music...like his albums Ocean Eyes and All Things Bright and Beautiful. The start of the chorus is definitely the attraction for me, mainly because his voice sound so crisp and epic: 
You were my clarity, I swear - all alone in a daydream. Yeah there was magic in the air, and you were right here beside me. Held down like an angel with no wings, I want to fly again; I just can't get you off my mind, and now I'm gonna be up all night.

    •  Up All Night is so unique and crisp sounding. It makes me think of biting into a fresh apple straight off an orchard tree. Knowing that Adam has a soft side, I believe this song is about falling in love with the idea of someone. Perhaps that someone doesn't even know you love them, but you think about them at night, often enough that it's almost as though they're present with you...but you're only disappointed when you emerge from your daydreams. Or perhaps it is a song about loving someone that's no longer around to receive your love (someone that moved far away, or maybe a friend that passed on). In any case, it's a fascinating little unrequited love song. I really like it :D mostly because Adam's voice just sounds amazing
    • The music is perfect for this track. It's sparkly, vibrant, crisp (how many times can I use that word and get away with it?); it's everything I was hoping for this EP. The harmony is edgy and the drums and bass are absolutely delightful - and the piano is wonderfully enchanting. This is by far my favourite song on the album (although, really, Wolf Bite is amazing too). 
    • Overall, this song definitely gets 5/5 stars!

  • This Isn't the End
    • This is the only genuinely sad song on the EP - I knew it was coming, but when I finally heard it for real, I was wowed by the story Adam tells. 
When the rain falls down, when it all turns around - when the light goes out, this isn't the end.
    • He first starts off with a heart-wrenching story of an 8 yr old girl who has a panic attack because her dad leaves - on the outside she tries to appear happy, but inside she's breaking down. At first I wasn't certain if the other two verses were connected with this one, but the more I look at it, it seems they are. So, the story goes on to say that the father of this girl was a really nice guy; everyone liked him, but he struggled with depression. Despite ensuring his family he'd be fine, he only sank deeper and deeper into darkness, until he took his own life with a gun.
      Next, Adam sings that this man didn't deserve to be a father because he left his little girl, never to come back again. Over the years, the daughter suffered intense pain, but she eventually was able to forgive her dad for taking his own life, and that's marked the point she was able to start healing.
      Adam closes the song by reminding us that we don't know when the end will be - none of us can determine when one of our friends or family members might pass away and so we need to make the best of each moment we are given. We need to stop taking life for granted. He concludes that we need to fight to survive; just when we think we're at the end of the rope and we can't go on, we need to remind ourselves that this is simply a beginning to something greater, not the end. 
    • The music accompanying this sad song starts off by reminding me of a horse plodding along down a road (that would be the drums) - this effect continues throughout the song. The chord progressions are generally minor in nature; however, I was amused to see that Adam strategically placed certain sombre sentence ends over major chords, resulting in a generation of hope. I thought it was very well written :)
    • Overall, I give this track 5/5 stars

  • Wolf Bite
    • This is the song you've heard me mention a few times now - it's wonderful and I can't exactly decide whether it's my first or second favourite...so let's just say it ties with Up All Night :P
It's another bad dream, poison in my bloodstream. I'm dying but I can't scream; will you show me the way? 
    • As the title suggests, this song is laced with metaphors that relate to wolves. The chorus appears to be a plea for direction and guidance, no matter what the circumstance might be. I know Adam is a Christian (he expresses that without reservation on his blog) and while most of the songs he writes are a little vague when it comes to his beliefs, I can definitely see connections in this one. So, from that perspective, I believe this is a call out to God, asking him to be the guide in the middle of a world full of wolves (temptations?). I also particularly enjoyed his modernization of the Biblical passage about wolves in sheep's wool; Adam sings: 
It's another werewolf, all dressed up in sheep's wool - changing when the moon's full, will you show me the way?

    • Here he seems to be asking God to guide him, because somewhere out there, a werewolf dressed in sheep's wool (thus a two time over impersonator) is prowling about, interested in taking advantage of those that don't have a guide. I was rather awed at how Adam fit such a strong message into a catchy song. 
    • The music is delightful, upbeat, and, as I've mentioned already, very catchy. I've listened to this song at least 30 times since it was released - it's amazing. Adam's voice is amazing and everything just fits together wonderfully. I also see he's fit in a few mock-drops that give the song an almost dubstep-esque feel to it :P *claps*
    • Overall, I give this song 5/5 stars :D
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I hope you guys have enjoyed this review :D If you're interested, I've posted a couple links below that you can check out!

To look at (and potentially purchase) Ultraviolet check out this link: Ultraviolet on iTunes 

Check out Adam Young's blog here: ayoungblog

Follow Adam on Twitter: @owlcity


I hope you guys have a superb day! 
Signed with daffodils,

Squeaks.

June 24, 2014

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis - A Review

Greetings, Reader;


I'm listening to some lovely music right now (the soft, melodic type that you'd associate with candle-light, soft conversation, and fantastic far-away worlds). I've finally had a moment to put aside the bustle of life and write to you concerning a lovely tale by Ashlee Willis, titled The Word Changers.

I stumbled across this story when I saw a Facebook notification from Anne Elisabeth Stengl that explained how Ashlee was looking for pre-publication reviewers; I was blessed to receive a go-ahead from Ashlee regarding my inquiry into the matter. Over the last few days, I've spent my free moments reading The Word Changers. First let's take a look at the back-cover blurb, then I'll share my thoughts :) 



Her parent's marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels like her life is falling apart with it. Retreating to an old library down the street, she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story...
Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess has fled and the kingdom is teetering toward rebellion. Posy is joined by the Prince Kyran as they fight with the characters of the story against their slavery to the Plot.
Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They visit mysterious places, face horrifying monsters, and fight fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart.
Now Posy must find the courage and forgiveness needed to save the story and, most important, heal the heartache she knew in her own world.

The first thing about The Word Changers that caught my attention was its Narnia-esque qualities - and let me say, I am a huge fan of all things Narnia! In this story, Posy is magically drawn into a storybook world when she stumbles across a curious tome in her local library. We don't get to see much of Posy's daily life other than what she chooses to share in small asides - from Chapter 1 on out she's strictly within the tug-of-war battle between The Plot and The True Story.

The Characters
Posy & Prince Kyran were the main characters of this novel; they were joined by many other unique individuals as well, all of which added a vibrant tone to the various settings. Emotion and personality shone through both dialogue and prose; there were moments I found several of the characters a little shallow, but I believe this is easily forgiven by the reader in light of the unique story Ashlee spins.

The main characters deal with their own flaws throughout the tale; this provides a prime platform for the delivery of Ashlee's own moral beliefs to shine through - she discusses forgiveness, love, and mercy all within reason. I found her implied arguments well voiced and I believe they, hidden within the guise of the overall story, can provide excellent learning material for a young reader.

There was also plenty of variety aside from the human characters - centaurs, ipotanes, nymphs (mainly dryads, I believe), and owls. Perhaps this is why I found myself recalling the world of Narnia so often. My personal favourites were the owls, by far - especially this one little guy called Nocturne; I honestly wish he had a bigger role in the story because he was really quite adorable! Anyway, that's all I'll say on that matter :P

The Plot
The plot was great - I love good, solid Christian literature, even when it's entirely allegorical, which was the case with The Word Changers.

There was plenty of variety within the story, yet it clung to the underlying truth of the Author. This character is the God-figure of the story; he knows each character by name and (as implied by his name) has written the entire story. However, despite this, he only appears to the main characters when they have earnestly sought him (albeit unbeknownst to the characters), and he refuses to tell them how the story will end. Rather, he explains how he gives his characters a free will to write their own story, thereby providing his creations with a true and purpose-filled life.

The symbolism within the plot was delightful; the undertones of the conversations are riddled with double-meanings that speak to both the believing Christian and the eager young writer. Overall, I was impressed with the easy way Ashlee conveyed her faith in a unique setting.

The Dark Side
It is often every middle-aged Christian mother's fear that her children will inadvertently pick up a book that focuses all too entirely on the evil rather than the good, thereby subconsciously imparting dangerous knowledge to the youthful mind. I know this because my own mother falls into the category. In any case, I am pleased to assure you that the dark side of this book is even less dark than what we read of in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. Yes, there are the 'bad guys', and yes, those bad guys are truly interested in bringing down the plot...but the story does not put its spotlight on them. They're present (sometimes terribly present) within the scenes, but I was happy to read that their evil manipulations only added to the realization of how powerful the good side truly was - even in the most dire circumstance.

The Romance
Then, of course, there is the beautiful romantic sub-plot between Posy and Prince Kyran - I had been forewarned of it when I read up about The Word Changers on Ashlee's blog; part of me felt a little hesitant, because many romantic sub-plots become overly cheesy and meaningless. I'm happy to say that's not the case in this tale - yes, there are moments of cheesiness (sometimes the endearing terms passed between characters felt a little off-kilter), but the meaning of their relationship delved deeper than a simple kiss. Within this sub-plot we see expressions of self-sacrifice, the rearrangement of priorities, and forgiveness.

I found myself rather attached to the secondary tale of the young couple; in fact, it was because of their relationship that I teared up at the end of the novel - I truly would love to explain why, but I'm afraid if I did I would ruin the story. So, you'll just have to buy the novel, read it, and find out for yourself :)

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Overall, The Word Changers is a story of love, forgiveness, mercy, and faith. I would highly recommend this book to anyone - both young and old. It's a clean read and it's a beautiful tale that I believe will stick in the minds of young kids and teens. I give it 5/5 stars (an extra half star just because of Nocturne :P).

To learn more about Ashlee Willis, visit her blog: Finding the True Fairy Tale.
To buy The Word Changers, check it out over at Amazon.

Signed with edelweiss,

Squeaks.

June 19, 2014

Lupus: The Cynosure (a poem) || Wolf Bite

If any of my readers are fans of Owl City, they'll be aware that Adam released the full track Wolf Bite just the other day (for his new EP, Ultraviolet). I've been quite enraptured by it and as a result it's been on repeat. Have a listen!




I love it! The beat is catchy and the music is peppy, despite the dark lyrics. In fact, to quote Adam, 
Spoiler: Owl City is 95% sad lyrics over uplifting chords. (Source)
 Needless to say, I love Wolf Bite - as my auto-replay button on Youtube can attest :P Now, from the pattern of my previous posts, if you've read here often, you'll recall I sometimes like to write poems to accompany the songs I listen to; I'm a bit hesitant to write to Wolf Bite though, simply because in my opinion the song is so beautiful I don't know if I can do it justice. However, for the sake of my own curiosity, I will attempt to do just that and I hope I do not grievously err (but really, how much worse can my poetry get? :P).

With all that being said, I present to you my poetry :D

ayoungblog


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Lupus: The Cynosure

The wall is white, and I am still
My hands are ghosts beneath the sky,
I look ahead and breathe my fill
And watch the wind exhale a sigh.

This paint I stir is thick and green
Its colours match my thoughts unseen
And still I hold my passion in,
Its waves unfold beneath my skin.

My mind is lost among the stars
I cannot comprehend my path
And so my dreams are stirred to scars,
The empty wall devoid of wrath.

Oh Lupus how you ran unseen,
From end to end, so strong and lean.
The ancients thought you simple prey
For Centaurus', his spear to slay.

Yet I know different, here above -
For sharper teeth have bitten clean;
And so you leapt, still undreampt of,
Your sparkling eyes with knowledge gleam.

My path is lost among the stars,
Will Lupus show me not the way?
How must I go and why so far
Cannot the ancients hear me pray?

And so I trekked between the clouds
My eyes now dim, with sadness shroud;
My hope of somewhere finding light
Had been extinguished in this night.

And Lupus answered not my call,
For all I knew, no All in All -
Perhaps the world went stiffly blind
And I, now lost, among my kind.

In my despair, my angel called -
His voice throughout the heavens rang,
And then I knew without a doubt
This was the one to face the fang.

My arms were chained to Lupus' feet
My legs enslaved by starry heat
Yet look, my saving grace arose
And swung His blade as Lupus froze.

With solemn pace I followed, free,
His footsteps, till they reached the sea
And there I stood, my paint-stained hands,
Now dripping from my heart's demands.

My back and thighs, they burned with pain
And looking down, I gasped with shame.
For underneath my bloodstained clothes,
Were Lupus' bites from Lupus' woes.

My eyes upturned to saving grace,
And, quaking, dared my voice to ask,
"Will you appear then, to this place
If Lupus fells the cosmos' mask?

And plunges all we know to dark,
Will I be left to seek my mark?
Won't you proclaim a firm decree,
And send your hope to set me free?"

Then, softly there came His reply
At first, less ardent than a sigh,
Until it swelled and overwhelmed
Each universe and earthly realm.

The skies roiled, violent with their load
And stars outstretched and darkness slowed
Till softly split the night in half
And summits glowed with strains of wrath.

And shaking now, I stood once more,
Calm, before my wall of white.
Paint dripped softly to the floor
Yet no more was I plagued with fright.

There reaching out, my fingers fell
Upon the wall that was my hell,
And swiftly they erased the pain,
As swift as hope had severed chains.

And now my masterpiece remains,
Thickly coating what was dry,
With strains of grief from opened veins,
Now scarring over back and thigh.

It was so fierce, this nightmare dark
And choked through with despair,
But now what's left is but a mark -
My saving grace was truly there.

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Signed with starflowers,

Squeaks.

June 12, 2014

The Thingy That Does So Much For You

There's a thingy that does a lot for you in your house (now, I should point out, not all people have it). Many of us probably take this thingy for granted... Let me explain in detail:

Definition of the Thingy: Aka. ~2.45GHz Self-contained electromagnetic radiation bombardment chamber. Appropriate for dielectrically heating polarized dihydrogen monoxide molecules by means of passing non-ionizing microwave radiation through organic, non-metallic substrate within the ~122mm wavelength range. 
More Commonly Referred to As: A microwave
Loch Chon Gold by Ian Cameron on 500px


Have you ever really thought about the glory that is the microwave? It came to my mind recently when our microwave of about 7 years decided to abruptly give up its ghost and die. We were able to get another one within a few days, but until then I found myself realizing how convenient it is to have a microwave.

The Things I Couldn't Do

  • Reheat old coffee (gack, who even does this anymore!)
  • Melt cheese - this required the stove-top and a pan 

Those are really the two main things I use the microwave for, aside from heating up odd bits and ends of strange food items. Needless to say, I could live without a microwave in the house - it's just convenient...especially when it comes to left over coffee (I'm not really one to let a cup go to waste if it's luke-warm or cold). 

That being said, I conclude my PSA on microwaves. I hope you take the time to appreciate the little things in life today :) 

Signed with a leaf, 

Squeaks.

June 11, 2014

Five Glass Slippers - A Review

Five Glass Slippers is a collection of Cinderella-esque stories written by young authors from all over the place - several of these ladies have never before been published! I received an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest review - so here we go :)



Despite my excitement, I was a little hesitant about reading some of these stories, simply because I knew all the submissions had been for a contest and (as I mentioned) some of the authors had never been published. However, by the time I finished, I was thoroughly impressed and realized my fears had all been for nothing. The stories are charming, unique, and well crafted. Several had plot twists I didn't expect and left me feeling quite comforted with the various happy-endings. Let me give you a bit more detail.

What Eyes Can See - by Elizabeth Brown
This short romance brings us into the world of an introverted, shy Cinderella who wants nothing to do with royalty. You'll be surprised! Of the five, What Eyes Can See is the most similar to the original Cinderella story...but at the same time, while maintaining all of its similarity, it is vastly different. Brown leads us through the normal paces of the tale, but alters the character of each player in a special way to bring a new feel to the reader. It was a superb start to the collection.

Broken Glass - by Emma Clifton
As the comedy out of the collection, Broken Glass does a good job of maintaining familiarity while flipping everyone's expectations upside down. It's a page-turning, prank-riddled pot magical of fun. The characters are outrageous and funny - but beware! The slipper fits the wrong girl, and things could very well all go up in smoke!

The Windy Side of Care - by Rachel Heffington
As a follower of Rachel's blog, I looked forward to reading this piece - it did not disappoint. In a battle of character, we discover that the prince and the princess have essentially switched dispositions. Here, the Cinderella player (Alisandra) is the true heir to the throne and (from my point of view) plays the part of the hero, while the prince is an imposter. I loved Alisandra for her strong, demanding character - it was truly a unique twist on the story and it still managed to have a delightful happy ending.

A Cinder's Tale - by Stephanie Ricker
Out of the five shorts, this one was the most displaced from the original Cinderella story, yet it managed to captivate my utter attention and fascination. A Cinder's Tale is the sci/fi twist that takes us to the edge of the space frontier where mining cendrillion proves to be a well-paying, albeit dangerous job for the brave cinder. Elsa (our Cinderella-like character) works together with her companions to save her mining station from disaster. Her happy ending differs drastically from the rest, yet by the end I left the story with a satisfied sensation - it was a wonderfully different tale to experience!

The Moon Master's Ball - by Clara Diane Thompson
This short was my absolute favourite out the five - I thought it was well placed to end the collection. Wreathed in mystery and magic, The Moon Master's Ball delivers a chilling, spellbinding tale of sacrifice and enchantment, in which Tilly (our Cinderella-like character) must overcome her greatest fear. It seems that everyone hides behind a mask, and only until the end is their true character revealed. If you are a fan of magic, mystery, and masquerades...this is definitely the story for you!

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All in all, Five Glass Slippers is a wonderful collection. The stories are neither too long nor too short - they're just right for a mid-afternoon break, accompanied with a cup of tea, some biscuits, and a cozy spot on the couch. If you're a fan of fairytales, happy endings, and well-written characters, then I think you'll really enjoy reading these tales.

My rating: 5/5


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Signed with periwinkle,

Squeaks.

May 15, 2014

The Great Mutiny + Sailing Ships

I've been travelling a bit in the USA over the last couple days (those of you who read my personal blog, The Minstrel Warrior will know of this already). Today I came upon a delightful find - my brother wanted to stop by a little nautical shop we'd seen the other day, so we pulled up and walked inside. It was a quaint, warm little place with sea charts curled up in cubby holes and books on ship design scattered about. I saw some stairs and discovered an attic filled with old books that had something or other to do with the ocean.

The first thing that caught my eye was Sailing Ships by Attilio Cucari. It's a cute little book with pictures of many important old ships - it gives basic information about all kinds of stuff: the cog, the caravel, the frigate, the galleon, the brigantine, the schooner, etc etc. If you've been a long time reader of this blog, you'll know I'm rather fascinated with old ships and I've always wanted to try my hand at writing about them or incorporating them into a novel at some point in the future (if that ever happens). So now I've got this book, perhaps I'll feel a bit more confident about turning out into uncharted waters, so to speak :P

The second thing that caught my eye was a thick volume with beautiful cover art: The Great Mutiny by James Dugan. Goodreads gives the following short blurb:
A gripping and thorough account of the great British naval mutinies at Spithead and the Nore in 1797 when the sailors of the Royal Navy rose up in revolt against their appalling working conditions and withholding of pay. The author contrasts the unexpected success of the Spithead mutiny, in which the sailors were granted most of their demands, with the story of the Nore mutiny where, under the leadership of a seaman called Richard Parker, the revolt took an altogether more tragic course.



Some pictures from inside The Great Mutiny


All in all, The Great Mutiny sounds like a superb book, and even if it's a dry read I'm happy to keep it simply for the wonderful cover art.

That's all I have for you today folks :) I hope you're all enjoying your week - it's blazing hot where I am right now (an undisclosed location ;) we know how it goes, lol).

Signed with a soft breeze,

Squeaks.

May 8, 2014

[Review] Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson

I just finished Dreamtreaders this morning and now give myself over to write a review of the book.

First I'd like to point out the fact that this book is written in the typical, humorous style that I've come to love from Batson. His characters are unique, the scenery is delightful, and the implied Christian undertones are most welcome. I've noted that a few reviewers have claimed the introduction was rough or "typical fantasy style" - I, however, found it wonderful. We were quickly introduced to the main character (Archer) and his protagonist (The Nightmare Lord); we were also thrown instantly into the dreamscape and became acquainted with its rules and regulations.

There wasn't any bumbling about, nor were there any useless bits of fluff and drivel that didn't help support the overall plot. This I was very appreciative of - as a wide reader of many different genres, I often find myself skimming past silly rabbit trails authors thought important to their tale. Let me tell you this - it is a very rare thing for an author to be able to get away with a good, decent rabbit trail and not lose the interest of the reader :) So thumbs up to WTB for avoiding them altogether!

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Quick review break to include Squeak's absolute favourite quote from Dreamtreaders ;)
They could no more catch Archer than a sloth could leap up and grab a soaring hawk. --Dreamtreaders, pg 9
Honestly, the simple beauty in this analogy is what defines my favourite property of the story - the humour. It's priceless. And gosh golly, pairing the imagery of a leaping sloth to that of a soaring hawk creates the most delightful imagery in my mind! I. Adore. It.

Also, Razz - I cannot begin to explain how ecstatic I was to see Batson created such a delightful little character! My only wish was that he gave her a little more dialogue - seriously, she was radical :D

The Christian undertones are undeniably there if you look for them. To those people who've implied that Batson's avoiding the gospel, I tell ya'll you're definitely blind. The entire tale is an allegory, most cleverly wrought. *quirks eyebrow* I was most impressed. Perhaps the implied statements pass over the minds of younger individuals, but they're clear as an exploding supernova to me. So huzzah to Batson! He did a great job!

Now, I do have one disagreement to make (a disagreement hedged by several very important points). Amazon advertises an age range of 8-12yrs for the recommended readers. While the writing style is definitely geared towards young children, the content is more suiting 16+. My personal opinion? I would never let a 12 yo read this book, even though I absolutely love Wayne Thomas Batson. Why? Let me explain.

First there are some scenes that are unfitting for an 8 year old's eyes. To avoid writing a spoiler, I will simply say - the nightmarish properties of the novel are quite nightmarish. It brought to mind the underwater island scene in Isle of Fire, involving the Merchant (for any of you who've read the book); however, it's not even close to the intenseness we read in Ghost. Still, it's not what I'd consider kid material. Now in my opinion, this quality would bump up the age rating to 13+... but there's one more hitch.

Batson goes into a light discussion of lucid dreaming. Let it be said now - this is not a topic to play around with. Lucid dreaming is very much so a practice of some individuals today, and getting wrapped up into it is terribly dangerous. I didn't learn about this concept until I was hmm, 16 or 17; without much moral guidance I found myself rather enchanted by the idea of being able to control ones dreams. The problem - it leads to a lot of scary, cult-y stuff. Needless to say, I'm a strong supporter of bringing awareness to the dangers of lucid dreaming. In part, this is because of my own beliefs.

Why is this a hitch if Batson deals with it in a way that say "No, this is bad, don't do it - see the dangers here"? Well, children are insatiably curious creatures. Opening their eyes to a danger in the current age we live in (e.g. access to powerful search engines, forums, and so on and so forth) is a recipe for disaster. Now there are exceptions - I know several 12 year olds that have the minds of 16 year olds simply because of the situations they've been through in life. However, speaking of children as a whole, I personally wouldn't subject their minds to potentially dangerous material.

Therefore, I feel that by the age of 16, an individual will be mature enough to determine right from wrong and have the aptitude to steer clear from the temptations of that which is morally unsound.

That being said, Dreamtreaders is a wonderfully exciting book with superb scenery and humour (yes, I repeat myself - it's true). I heartily recommend the adventure to anyone 16+! While the reading level might be aimed at younger individuals, I still feel the tale is delightful and enjoyable and I look forward to the next book :)

Signed with leaves and fruit,

Squeaks.

May 7, 2014

Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson



Hallo Folks!

It's been a while since I've posted anything book-related - alas, I'm a day belated on the newest release from one of my favourite authors, however that will not prevent me from urging you today to go and pick up his book. 

Isn't that absolutely GLORIOUS cover art? I feel pain in my soul every time I look at it, because I cannot get my hands on a solid copy yet (I have acquired the kindle version - voila insta-book!). 

Now, I encourage you to read below as to why you should invest, with haste, into this book. 


***

Book #1 in a trilogy from fantasy author Wayne Thomas Batson explores the concept of dreams and their effects on us.
People are fascinated by dreams, and the Bible has a great deal to say about them. From Jacob’s dream of the heavenly stairway in Genesis 28 to angels visiting Joseph during dreams in Matthew 1 to the Apostle John’s “waking dream” from which he obtained the book of Revelation—dreams have been powerful ingredients of God’s plan as revealed through Scripture.
Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.
Rigby Thames, the new kid from England, builds a suspicious rock star-like following at Dresden High School a little too quickly. Even Archer’s best friend and confidant, Kara Windchil, seems taken in by the cool guy with the wild blond hair, which definitely rubs Archer the wrong way. Archer must face two foes in two worlds, but he cannot succeed alone. Archer sets off to find other dreamtreaders in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy terrorizing his friends and family.
Features & Benefits:
  • New fantasy trilogy from bestselling author Wayne Thomas Batson
  • Batson’s previous epic fantasy trilogy, The Door Within, has sold more than 250,000 copies
  • Brings epic fantasy with a biblical base to middle grade readers
  • Epic fantasy is popular in movies and TV shows, and this is a spiritual epic fantasy


***

Are you convinced yet? I certainly was! I have always been fascinated with the concept of dreams - I was even more so intrigued after reading Bryan Davis' series Echoes from the Edge (that's a link to Book 1 of 3), which also discusses the idea of dream-walking. The fact that WTB, one of my favourite authors in the entire world, is writing a series on this very topic instantly makes this book a must-read. 

So what are you waiting for? The kindle version of Dreamtreaders is super easy to attain! You can read it on your computer or ebook device (if you don't know how, feel free to email me - just click the Contact Me tab). I'd love to know if this post was the final straw for your decision to read WTB's latest book - post a comment if you decided to buy it :) 

Signed with utmost excitement, 

Squeaks.

April 7, 2014

Life Update

Hey ya'll, here's a weird life update to read :)

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My days usually consist of some kind of work + tea
Yellow is not my favourite colour

Lots of my friends are getting married/are married/will be married soon
Igloos are pretty radical but they'd all be melting right about now.
Fridays I help out with youth group
Everyone I know in university is just about stressed to maximum right now (finals starting :P)

Ice is all gone; so's most of the snow (there's a lil bit left!)
Silence holds a new appreciation in my heart :) and so does sleep, come to think of it.

A is a great letter!

Let's all listen to country music ;) I've been doing that a lot. Country & Ed Sheeran.
I'm waiting to hear back about my MSc application...really praying about it!
Too much music can be a bad thing (especially if it's junky music)
Too little music can also be a bad thing (music is awesome; that is, if it's good)
Learning new things every day is a great way to live life!
Every time you think everything is perfect, it'll bounce in your face and splat everywhere :P

Brace yourselves for spring weather posts on FB / oh immature middle aged adults!
Oh! I found out you can eat kiwis without peeling them; they're super tasty that way!
Really, bandaids are amazing; I skinned myself this last week so they've come in handy
Indeed, growing up is a life changing experience >.<
New books are the best, especially if you can actually smell them, haha
God is everything.

Babies that cry are probably the most annoying ever (no offence, babies)
Under every face is a person with a real life, so treat them like they're special :)
Tinkerbell was actually very wicked.

I've already been swimming in our creek
Tomatoes are yucky
'Sunshine is wonderful & I love it; also, t-shirts!

Aww yeah! Learning new things about zapping people in a neuromuscular lab Woohoo
Wendy's is really bad for your health :| eat healthy, folks!
Everyone doubts themselves at some point in life.
So, your parents are very special people...might want to remind them about it ;)
Oh dance with me!
My finger nails are man nails, because I work outside. Take that!
Eating gluten free has become a reality in the last 6 months

New friends are cool friends
Exercise is nasty (sometimes), but necessary
Variety in everything is a good thing :)
Except when it comes to milk...then it's skim milk all the way
Reading has been something I'm not doing a ton of lately
The best orchestral music has been written by Howard Shore (no joke)
Helping out with church stuff is satisfying, generally
Existential crisis - it can happen to anyone at any time and you should expect it at least once
Love. It's everything. 1James4!
Endless amounts of farm work.
Saturdays & Sundays & Singing <3
Sharing your mind; I sometimes do it too much :P

--

Well that's pretty much what's on my mind. Also, if you're savvy enough to have discovered my other public blog (*cough* Minstrel Warrior *cough*), then you'll know I just posted a pointless update to it as well :)

Signed with an arrow feather,

Squeaks.

February 28, 2014

My Promise - A Poem

Sometimes it's in our weakest moments that we are truly the strongest we've ever been. Broken hearts shatter lies; when we fall apart we come alive. 



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---

My Promise


Rivers rush over rocks and tumble down cliffs,
They race the mountainside
Frothing and foaming to the base of tranquility.
I want that tranquility for you.
Despite the tumult and jagged edges,
I want the peaceful valleys and soft meadows.
I look for the fluffy clouds and gentle lakes,
The comfort of a warm heart
A heart that truly cares.

I really care about a lot of things.
I see hurt and pain,
Missing bones and shattered personas,
And I want to be there.
Where’s my cape?
Am I not a superhero?
But as I lift this cracked and broken glass,
As I raise my eyes to the blackened sky,
I know I’ll never be good enough,
I’ll never be strong enough
Or brave enough
I’ll never be enough.
But I give what I have, and I have all of me.
And I will help when the storm is rough
When the lightning flashes all around,
And it’s pouring rain
And you don’t think you can endure.
I may not be a superhero,
But I’ll be here for you.

My heart is torn for the trials of others,
And I look over a sea of my own tears
And I whisper, “God how can I endure?
Is it not too much?”
But it is never too much,
And I can endure.
I will endure.
No burden is too heavy,
No task too much,
Not when I have the Lord of All
And He guides and helps,
Like the channel for this raging stream,
He is always there, even if you cannot feel.
And as He is there, I will strive to be.
We fall apart to come alive,
And in these broken pieces, we are stronger,
We are refined through the fire.

---

Signed with star dust, 

Squeaks.

January 15, 2014

Of Grub & Drink -- A Small Tale

The Adventures of My Meal:

I was scrounging around the cupboards looking for something that would satisfy my growing hunger...and really, I came up dry. There was nothing except for left-over this and that. I wanted something other than the shepherds pie I'd been having for the last three days. So...I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich (with gluten free bread). Then I sat down at the island armed with a bottle of ketchup, a tall glass, and a 4L jug of milk (I had a bit more than 4 tall glasses of milk! deeelightful!). And this... :P this was the scene that played out in my head (I love my imagination some days).

---

The door to the tavern swished and shut with a clunk, and a cold draft of air swept through the room. The newcomer was tall and broad-chested. He wore an axe at his side and his clothing was of rough fur adorned with bone. He gave a pull at his beard and shoved his way through the regular crowd, making for a free table near the fire.

The regulars whispered and shot him furtive glances as he passed. It was mostly his broad back that drew their attention; across it was firmly stretched a hauberk of toughened leather. Gouges criss-crossed upon it, indicating previous melees.

He sat himself in the far corner, with his back to the wall and his roguish face to the regulars. A barmaid swept up by his side and gave him a cheerful grin,

"How can I serve you, sir?" she asked.
"Give me whatever is fresh. And mead. Give me mead."
"For certain," she made to leave but then swung back and questioned, "Whereabouts? It's not often we get such men as you at this crossroad. Most are chicken farmers and shepherds from the south-east, and I'm certain you would rather eat a chicken raw than muck out its coop."
The man grunted and tugged his beard, "It wouldn't concern you. The lands I hail from are unknown in these parts."
"Really."
"Give me my food and maybe I'll share one tale."
The barmaid tossed her long braid over her shoulder and hurried off.
The man looked back at the regulars, his left thumb hitching against the grooves in his axe handle.
**
It was a delicious meal most certainly, and for it he told the girl of how he had travelled from the far western sea to meet the King of the Eastern Valley - what news he bore, he could not say. He was, however, a stormwarden and he had nearly fought one skirmish too many with bandits and thieves and blackwires before he stumbled upon this little inn. For this, he was entirely grateful.

The stormwarden now sat, brushing the crumbs from his beard with thick, meaty fingers. He grasped his tankard of mead and took a deep draught, after which he stopped only to wipe the foam from his lip.

His gaze softened and the regulars which once seemed dangerous and mysterious now appeared only curious and rather plain.

The fire's soothing heat wrapped tendrils beneath his hauberk and thick animal skins; the continuous background din of the room became melodious and within a few moments, the stormwarden found himself hypnotically lulled to sleep by the tavern's inviting atmosphere.

---

I hope you enjoyed!

Signed with a whistle,

Squeaks.

January 1, 2014

There & Back Again - A Short Tale of Adventures & Disasters

My dash is flooded with posts of "Happy New Year" and "All the best on 2014!" etc, etc. Originally I wasn't going to write anything about this last year or the new year...however, I suppose I succumbed to the inner desire to provide information.

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Looking back, 2013 was a good year and a sad year. I think it's time for a list & plenty of Tolkien quotes (because we always need those in times like these).

The Good Things

  • We did a LOT of hiking together as a family :) great memories
  • The parentals celebrated their 22nd! woop woop! So glad they're together through it all; takes gut to stay together these days & they're strong through everything. My folks are the best. 
  • Got to visit lots of family this year, both mom's side and dad's side. 
  • Spent lots of time out in the sun this summer, working beside my mom, dad, brother, and childhood friend. 
  • Read a ton of books I've been wanting to read!
  • Wrote bits of a new book (which really was just for fun, nothing serious there folks)
  • Went to a medical conference for the first time (and discovered my interest in microbiology and immunology really paid off)
  • Climbed Mt. Begbie straight up to the glacier :D 
  • Went to my best girl friend's wedding!
  • Did a lot of fun activities with the young adults people :P (swimming, hiking, treasure hunting for phones at a local ski hill, etc etc)
  • Got to hold my little baby second cousins in my arms <3
  • Went to see an old friend play piano this summer; he's so dog-gone amazing!!!
  • Skiied successfully for the second time (back in February I think) and didn't get injured :P
  • Saw The Desolation of Smaug (good stuff!)
  • Did super duper good in school this last term (I fulfilled the promise I made to myself)
  • FINISHED MY B.Sc. !!
  • Have nearly all my references for my application to an M.Sc. program. 

The Not Good Things (from my point of view)
  • Our amazing lead pastor passed away
  • Quite a few other people passed away too
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    • My great aunt
    • A neighbour
    • An ex-neighbour
    • A family friend
    • Several more family friends from our church
    • A lil' kid from the town over
    • To be honest I've been to more funerals this last year than I have in my whole life combined.
  • My brother broke his clavicle (funny story, but painful)
  • I got stuck on chemotherapy nearly 3 weeks ago (woopdeedooda)
  • We had quite a number of beloved animals pass away over the last month
    • My brother's horse died from a stroke/seizure
    • Our beautiful black lab died from kidney + pancreatic failure and septic shock just this Sunday
    • My baby, our purebred Akita, Shinzou, died from sudden bloating on Christmas Day
    • A lil' baby calf was slain by coyotes
  • Went gluten free. 
    • Why's this on the "bad" list?? BECAUSE BREAD! TOAST! CRUMPETS! GLUTEN-OUS FLOURY DELICIOUS SUSTENANCE!! Folks, I miss it. It is torment some days, but well worth it others :P 

---
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This last week has been a really tough one. It's supposedly the most wonderful time of the year; I dunno 'bout you but I've done a lot of crying and questioning. Still, through all the trials and whatnot, I recall all the wonderful memories 2013 has brought me. It's really been a good year despite the sledge-hammering of this last month. And despite all of my losses, I have amazing memories to recall in the years to come. Pain doesn't last forever unless you let it. 
Plus, I have a wonderful family that sticks together like family should. Sure, we have our sore spots and the folks get over-parental sometimes and I act like a little brat other times and some days I feel like my brother should be back on baby food and Pampers, but hey! Every family has its ups and downs...afterall, it wouldn't be family if it wasn't like that. But we stick together like glue because we love each other to death. I'm so thankful I've got the family I have right now because I'm not sure how else I'd be able to handle all this stuff that's coming down the pipe. 
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So here's to a new year with new adventures and exciting stories to be written and challenges, dares, and stupid mistakes (because we all know we're going to make a few).

Now, my dears, I have a sliver of delightful gluten-free cheesecake sitting in the fridge. It is my most imminent wish to devour that slice and experience the entire ecstasy and adipose slapping deal it offers (because ya'll know cheesecake is my favourite thing under the sun). However, I have a brother...and he too wishes to consume said last-slice of heaven. So I shall remove this temptation from his eye-view by taking it upon me to exterminate the evidence :D :D




Signed with a wisp of smoke from the fireplace, 

Squeaks.

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