News: My thoughts are clouds I cannot fathom into pastries.

--1 June 2018--

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

August 20, 2016

Five Magic Spindles - A Review

If you like traditional fairytales but get bored of the same story over and over, then buckle in for some wild and massively creative twists on the story of Aurora (otherwise known as the Sleeping Beauty). Five talented young authors were recently selected to be featured in the Rooglewood Press collection Five Magic Spindles - the end prize of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's yearly writing competition held over at Tales of Goldstone Wood.
I received an influencer e-copy of Five Magic Spindles in return for my honest review - let me tell you folks, you're going to love this! Let's get down to business..

As I've read the past two published collections (with Cinderella and Beauty-and-the-Beast themes) and thoroughly enjoyed them, I had high expectations going in to this one. As expected and anticipated, I wasn't disappointed. Each of the stories had a unique take on the tale of Aurora, which must have been hard to get creative with because at first glance, there's not a lot you can say about a princess that sleeps the entire story through! That being said, let's talk detail.

The Man on the Buckskin Horse - by Rachel Kovaciny
Emma, a good-hearted midwife, rushes to warn a neighbor about the hired gunman headed to his ranch but can't prevent the catastrophe in store for his daughter.
As the title implies, this is a western, set in the post-civil war era of the USA (at least that's what I could gather from the context). It gives the vibe of some of the western Christian romances I used to read back in the day (*blushes* - they're still tucked away on my bookshelf, hah!). Don't shirk away though! This is definitely more action packed than a typical romance - we've got pistol-slinging hired gunmen and a crazy spinster lady intent on stealing a man's hard-worked farmland. Siege is laid in the wild west, but if that weren't enough action, the farmer's daughter falls deathly ill with infection and it's up to the machination's of a stalwart midwife-turned-physician to save her life. The story becomes a fast-paced race against the clock as a young girl's life hangs in the balance... 

Favourite excerpt...
I have learned from my dealings with all sorts of sick folks that there are some diseases you can't see: thoughts that eat you up from inside your own head, and you can't admit they're there until they're about to kill you. Some festering sores in your memory need a lot of time to mend. Some only start to heal once you've told someone else they exist. And some can't be cured, no how.
My thoughts? It was a pretty good story and definitely left me with the whimsical taste of morning porridge mixed with brown sugar and butter, the tang of trail dust, and creak of leather (these are all very very good things, in case you doubt me :P ). If you like westerns, you'll enjoy this! Several parts of the plot could use a little smoothing out, but otherwise I thought Rachel did a fantastic job at putting a unique spin on the story of Aurora (and I especially like her detail on old western medicine - *loud applause*). 

Rating: 4/5 STARS

Guardian of Our Beauty - by Katheryn McConaughty
Palli, the prophesied daughter of a king, is fated to rescue her people from the destruction called forth by a vengeful priest.
I did not expect to read a middle-eastern twist on this fairytale, but here it is! Katheryn writes a unique and humourous story with fascinating poetical additions, mystical creatures, pirates, robbers, and awkward princelings. You'll be cringing along with me as you meet Kashap, the evil chief priest with the equivalent position of Maleficent. As a dreadful curse is set upon the entire kingdom, it falls upon the shoulders of an overlooked prince from a distant kingdom to make a dangerous journey to save an entire country.

Favourite excerpts...
"How can I live? I am drowning in daughters!" the king complained to his chief priest.
There are masterless men in the mountains. Robbers. 
My thoughts? I loved the eastern twist; it was very different from the preceding western and had a welcomed twist of humour scattered throughout the character's dialogue (I'm a sucker for humour, especially if a writer can pull it off successfully, which I think Katheryn managed). However, I felt that this plot really needed a lot more time to develop. There was so much information and so many unique components that probably could have used a chapter of their own, rather than several paragraphs. In the end, I found it slightly lacking, but I think the humour saved the day and so, for a short story, it turned out very enjoyable :)

Author Page:
Rating: 3/5 STARS

The Ghost of Briardale - by Grace Mullins
Roselee, a ghost with a faulty memory, flits through the halls of an insane asylum in search of the mortal boy who can help her save the day.
If I could describe this retelling with one word, it would probably be: perfection. Grace writes with a Charles Dickens/R.A. Salvatore voice - so The Ghost of Briardale comes across as a Victorian-esque Pickwick Papers with high fantasy and dark elves... come again?? IT WAS AMAZING. Poor Franz Happernickle gets tossed into an insane asylum because he sees ghosts... or does he? This superbly well-written short story takes you on a wild ride from Victorian politics to the bowels of a dark asylum where Franz keeps company with a curious strongman, a dwarf, and a green ghost. Not to mention the dreaded Slavering Swamp Beast is chained up just down the hall... I honestly cannot explain how unique this retelling is - you simply have to read it to appreciate Grace's ingenuity.

Favourite excerpts...
A True Hero has to have performed one of the Three Great Deeds: save a kingdom, slay a dragon, or move a mountain.
He looked down to see the Slavering Swamp Beast savaging the lace of his shoe.
My thoughts? I 100% loved this story and I adore the Slavering Swamp Beast - definitely on my list of favourite characters. Again, you have to read it to fully appreciate the masterfulness of this story. Grace likely stole my heart with this because of her unique Victorian-esque voice that rings throughout the text; I love Victorian literature and her prose is so musical... yet it's unlike anything I've read before, because it comes across as something akin to Salvatore and his high fantasy. *throws flower petals in air* Mystical magical magnificence - I adored this story 100000%!

Author Page:
Rating: 5/5 STARS

Spindle Cursed - by Michelle Pennington
Arabella, a living spirit trapped in her own comatose body, helplessly watches from the realm of dreams as her usurping cousin plots to destroy her once and for all.
Spindle Cursed is the only traditional fantasy story in this collection, yet it stands out as unique and is very well written. In a world where magic has a severe price, a disregarded prince must avoid the charms of a sneaky lady (who's a LOT older than she looks), fight his way past a dragon, and ensure he doesn't irk the sleeping princess's fairy guardian (lest she turn him into a fish) so that he might save the day. All the while, another prince is on the move... will our hero make it in time? 

Favourite excerpt...
Life and death held hands in this strange green world.
My thoughts? I really liked this story, and it came across quite strongly despite being "traditional fantasy". In particular, I really loved how Michelle wrote the internal struggle that our main character has with the whole true love trope. Here, true love isn't a first sight thing, rather it's something that develops out of relationship and requires, oftentimes, a big leap of faith. If anything, this story felt more realistic than the others, simply because the romance was more believable and honest. Yet it isn't an overpowering part of the story - after all, we're talking high fantasy here and there's a dragon to beat!

Author Page:
Rating: 4/5 STARS

Out of the Tomb - by Ashley Stangl
Tanza, a tomb raider on a distant planet, struggles to make a living and doesn't need a long-lost prince to complicate her difficult life.
It wouldn't be a complete collection without a sci-fi short story! This is like Tomb Raider meets Killjoys meets Star Wars <3 I know I've said all of these stories are unique but OH MY GOODNESS, this one trumps all of them (except maybe The Ghost of Briardale - they tie... :P ). Tanza, a native tephan, is a thief by trade... a tomb raider who makes a living off rich, deceased people. She's an energetic, dangerous individual whose past is sprinkled with all sorts of high-status crimes. Little does she know, her next job is going to produce a lot more than just jewels and collectible medical equipment. The reader is taken on a spell-binding ride with multiple heists, alien politics, and a sacrifice so selfless I legit felt my eyes tear up. This is a one-of-a-kind retelling that was a huge treat to read and makes for the perfect closing piece of the collection. 

Favourite excerpt...
Tanza rolled her eyes, "He insisted on looking up the meaning. The name Arthur means 'bear'."
"A brushbeast with legs!" Auren moaned, as if this proved his entire point.
"Not yet, perhaps," Auren said, his voice gentle, "but virtue names aren't about the virtues you already have. They're about what you can be. The name isn't too heavy for you. ... 
My thoughts? This retelling was fantastic. It had no romance (a nice break, I admit) and was focused more on the purity of the heart and the kindness of the soul. The whole concept of virtue names was a fascinating one ( :P go buy the collection and read it to find out more!) and I admire how smoothly Ashley transitioned her scenes. It felt like reading a full novel, but it didn't come across as jam-packed with information. Not to mention all the sci-fi goodness and the twist on Aurora's spindle (*fangirls*). The underlying message was a very powerful one - no matter who you are or what you've done, there's always a chance for forgiveness and change <3

Author Page:
Rating: 5/5 STARS

So here's my quick overview and I'm pretty much just going to say once again, Stengl and crew picked out some amazing shorts for this compilation and the final product is absolutely magical. In particular, The Ghost of Briardale and Out of the Tomb really shone through as being exceptionally unique, powerful retellings of the classic Sleeping Beauty fairytale. All of the writers did a great job at the task presented and I applaud them for their wonderful tales :) So now, readers, will you be picking up a copy of Five Magic Spindles and joining in the adventure? If I haven't convinced you yet, check out the following links for additional information :)

Signed with pixie dust,

July 13, 2016

Omaha Beach by Adam Young // FIVE STARS TIMES INFINITY!!!

Normally I'm right on the mouse as soon anything new from Owl City/Adam Young comes up, because let's face it... he's amazing. However, I admit I was pretty behind (like over a whole MONTH behind) on picking up Omaha Beach (which is entirely FREE, yo! Just log-in on his Scores website, which I've linked to the album name, and it's yours to download). 

Now I know some folks aren't into the whole "scores" thing, what with it being more orchestral music/documentary type, etc. However, that aside, I think every person who has a love for history and an appreciation for what our soldiers did for us on Omaha Beach will really be touched by this short album. It honestly feels like a story without words - it is amazing

I don't know how he does it, but Adam really came through on this score. In my opinion, he truly managed to capture the emotion of this historical event. I had chills just listening to it. Some of the tracks are especially powerful (for me it was Seasick, On the Beach, and Bloody Omaha). It has a similar vibe to the Edge of Tomorrow soundtrack (which is also fantastic and one of my favourite film scores). 
In 1944, after years of planning, the Allies launched an invasion upon Nazi Germany and converged on the coast of France, beginning the reclamation of occupied Europe. In anticipation, Hitler fortified German defenses in hopes of countering the Allies and driving them back into the sea. What the Allies didn't know as they stepped onto the shores of Europe was that Hitler was waiting for them. The ensuing battle was gruesome. At a place codenamed Omaha Beach, hundreds of Americans fought and died for the freedom of others, and it is the memory of these men that I want to honor with this album. This is my interpretation of what occurred that fateful day in 1944 on Omaha Beach. -- Adam Young
If you haven't had a chance to listen to this score yet, I would highly recommend it - like 5 stars times infinity recommend it. I'm not often one to get chills from music, but this album had my skin crawling (in a good way!). 

If you're not familiar with what happened on Omaha Beach in 1944 (D-Day might ring a bell) then take a gander through the following resources to learn a little more about this historical event where hundreds of men gave their lives for us.

If you'd like to listen to Adam Young's Omaha Beach score, you can do that by visiting his website here (again folks, it's a free download, made possible by Adam's wonderful generosity to us!) or just hit the play button on the youtube box below :) Thanks for reading!!

Signed with Remembrance,


May 27, 2016

Hard-Core Science & Bookish Fantasy - How Two Very Different Worlds Can Exist Together

Salutations to my loyal readers! I'm going to talk about something today that is very dear to my heart (wot with being a scientist who's simultaneously obsessed with books and writing and high fantasy realms). Before I get started, though, let me just quickly bring up the small wonder that prompted me to write this post :)


Cait over at Paper Fury (yes, that's her pretty button above; also, go wish her a very happy 5th blogversary!! & she has giveaways running!! [how jolly-well kind of her!]) recently wrote a post entitled "10 DREADFUL THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU READ TOO MUCH". It is wonderful, witty, and sassy - I think you'll enjoy reading it. In any case, after digesting her words myself, I got around to thinking about how a lot of people say that it is seemingly (and I use 'seemingly' with much salt here) antithetical to love both literature (of the fictional, dragons-ate-my-pet-moose kind) and science.

So first I'll point out that, as Cait says in her blog post, the average number of books read by one person of the General Public is purportedly 6 per year, and a large number of people that have voiced such aforementioned statements to me tend to fall on the shadowed side of that 6. Therefore, such voiced opinions really are inadequately supported by experience or even (might I go so far to say) understanding.

I am a wide reading individual. I love science, I love a wide variety of literature, I rather enjoy driving down dirt roads, swimming in creeks, and applying warpaint in preparation for a violent game of paintball. Perhaps I'm an enigma (although I really don't think so - I often see myself as a rather boring slump of neural tissue that regularly squawks for peanut butter). In any case, let me introduce you to some of the reading material I enjoy - let's have two examples.

First we've got the science-y side of things. I can often be found devouring (or slowly chewing through) primary research articles. These are the ones chock-full of puzzling terminology and mind-numbing instructions on how to elicit, say, a Hoffman's reflex in the tibialis anterior muscle. Let me just show you.

Lévénez et al. (2008) J. Neurophysiol
Ah yes, Lévénez here gives us the low-down on how they went about recording electromyographic activity for their study entitled, "Cortical and spinal modulation of antagonist coactivation during a submaximal fatiguing contraction in humans". How riveting. I might be pressed to make some sassy remark about the boring nature of most, if not all, primary research papers. HOWEVER, let me be 10000% straight with you - if it weren't for the glorious detail, time, and effort put into writing these often-times dry articles, I would be utterly lost and my research would have like a 10% chance of actually making a difference in the community. It's the dry, boring bits (like EVERY methodology section EVER written in the ENTIRE universe) that makes it possible for people like me to come along, fresh out of the Dante's Inferno that is undergrad, and run a research project. I can't tell you how many times I've rushed to read the methodology section of papers to find out what the anatomical landmarks are for basing electrode placement off of, or what pulse-width I need to set my electrical stimulator at - etc. These dry, boring bits that I thought people could do without are actually really really really important!

Ok, so I've ranted a bit (but oh I could go on for an age and a half) on research articles, now let me turn to my FAVOURITE pastime in the history of all hobbies. Fiction. Ah yes, here's another example:

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind - prologue excerpt
My darlings, let me introduce you to one of the best fantasy writers since Tolkien *sighs*. Whenever I'm not science-ing or running after shrieking chickens (literal chickens, I promise), I'm usually immersing myself in some realm or other where magic exists and dragons plague the northern reaches and eggs talk. Death, destruction, dystopia, giant talking trees, never-ending cupcakes, plot twists, etc. What a relief and what a contrast. When one is so strictly adhering to ethically approved research methodology and writing papers with the most succinct, professional English one can muster out of their brain, it is sometimes a breath of fresh air to read a little logical-defying fiction.

This is one of the reasons I keep my literary diet approximately half and half - sensible, factual literature paired with nonsensical, fictitious literature makes for a healthy heart (ok, I don't know if it's healthy but I have a very very deep love for reading all things and so let's just say it's healthy for me).

I suppose what I'm getting at is that no matter what your occupation is, it is 100% entirely fine to be a book-fanatic. Just because I do research doesn't mean I'm some white-coated scientist with the intense desire to cure cancer (I could be.... but I'm not - I wear jeans to work, haven't worn a lab coat since 2nd yr undergrad, and spend most of my days reading papers and writing ethics applications). And just because I love books doesn't mean I can't try my hand at solving a couple neuromuscular physiology puzzles in my lifetime. I love what I do and I do what I love; I'm a bookwyrm and a scientist and it. is. awesome.

In conclusion, I bring you the novel (or not-so-novel) idea that hard-core science and bookish fantasy can both exist together in your life - very happily I tell you. If you want to do research for NASA or become a physician or study the mechanisms of Ebola's effects on the human body - do it! If that's something you've always dreamed of then pursue it! because books are always going to be around when you need some downtime or want reprieve from the crazy push and pull of everyday living. Science and fantasy can exist hand-in-hand; go forth and conquer!

Signed with banana chips,


April 28, 2016

Life Update: Squeaks' brain + my gorgeous (fat) horse + greedy cows

Dear reader (if there are any of you left at this point),

I promise I didn't leave again for good! My brain has been tied down for the last few months as I wrapped up and defended my Master of Science (MSc) thesis. I present to you the newest, latest Squeaks :)

So I've got my MSc now and life continues to advance at a horrifically fast pace. I'm officially (as of today) a PhD student. Why do I put myself through all this stress - honestly I don't know, but I really love science :P so it's not for nothing! I just rather dislike the whole let's-pump-out-the-projects-as-fast-as-your-scrawny-fingers-can-type aspect of things. Not to mention I really really really miss working on the farm in the spring/summer. There's something unnatural about being indoors, stuck at a desk, reading incredibly dry papers from the early 2000s on some far-removed electrical stimulation technique that you just might need to know about in the future :| I'd rather zap myself at this point than read another line of this dreadful material.

Speaking of the farm, I'm hoping this weekend I get to actually do some work around the place. The irrigation and fences need fixing, not to mention random bits of gardening and such. Plus the animals. I've started up an exercise routine with my (fat) horse - can't say whether he's enjoying it yet, but I love having the opportunity to be out in the fresh air for an hour or two.

Additionally, let's talk cows. We're hoping to send off a bunch of steers and bull calves to auction over the next month (probably). I haven't really seen much of our herd these last few months, usually because I've had my nose stuck in the folds of my computer, smashing out my thesis (which no one is every going to read front-to-back; sometimes I wonder if it was really worth all the tears and sweat and headaches, lol). In any case, our herd is up on the range at the moment; sometimes I see a bulbous eyeball or two when I drive in from work, but I haven't actually checked for new calves (or overly-pregnant cows).

So, that's on the checklist for this weekend: do a little bushwhacking and count the herd. I know our bull is still alive and healthy, because when I was coming home the other day he was standing there fat as a king, with his head draped over the barbed-wire fence eating grass from the neighbour's property :| and our grass is much nicer looking, so I think he's a little bit deluded.

I'm so looking forward to haying season this year. I can't wait to get out on the tractor for hours at a time. Trust me, it's a lot different from sitting at a desk. There's nothing like the hot sun soaking into your skin, the smell of fresh hay, the sound of the engine rumbling, that screech you make when you realize you broke the shear pin again :| (the bailer and I have a very rocky relationship at this point in our history; I think we've gone through 3 shear pins together over the years). Not to mention the joy of bouncing around on the scalding hot seat, gearing down around the corners, and trying to squelch the desire to race your sibling who's on the other tractor doing rounds in the opposite direction.

Ugh. I crave haying season so badly right now. I'll have to try and satisfy myself this weekend with fixing fences and picking rocks. Nothing like a good bit of back-breaking work while blasting Florida Georgia Line or Brad Paisley through your earbuds.

I think I've gone on a long enough rant about farm life (but I didn't even mention baby calves and bottle feeding and foamy milk beards!! *sniffles* there isn't enough time in the day for everything I want to talk about). My drab read titled, "Cortical and segmental excitability during fatiguing contractions of the soleus muscle in humans" is still awaiting my attentive gaze (I haven't even gotten through the methodology section yet *falls off theoretical cliff into an ocean of despair*).

If you read all of this, give yourself a small pat on the back and leave me a comment about your deepest summer wishes and dreams so we can both daydream about the perfect lives we'll never live :P Cheers to you, benevolent reader!

Signed with white-out,


February 14, 2016

Lovely Books // couples

I'm back with another of Tracey Dyck's installments of Lovely Books, this time it's a couples edition. I'm a big fan of in-tale romances working out the way you expect them to, perhaps with a little angst and turmoil mixed into the whole mess. In my link-up to Tracey's post, I'm going to give you 5 exemplary couples (ie. they are a true in-book pair, not an off-page ship). This is definitely not a be-all-end-all list so don't forget to check out the other link-ups as well as Tracey's original post! Enjoy :)

5 Exemplary Couples

Percy Jackson & Annabeth Chase (from Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan)
Let's begin with the most PERFECT couple ever. Their romance started very slowly (just the way I like romances) over a huge series of books and I never once found it to be unbelievable or sappy (despite the fact that they were surrounded by a fantastical mythological world of creatures). I particularly love how Annabeth is a strong female character, but what's even more impressive than that is she's written by a male author. I can't count how many times I've read books by male authors where the female characters are one-dimensional weaklings, so Riordan's writing was a welcome reprieve in that aspect. Also, Percy and Annabeth are just simply adorable together; I actually think I have a crush on the guy - he's pretty impressive. 

Chris Buckley & Jocelyn Evans (from Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher)
I honestly don't know what to classify this style of writing (paranormal thriller? deep theological existential fiction??); whatever it is, it is stunningly fantastic. In fact, all of Thrasher's teen-based series (Solitary Tales and Tales of Marvella) are absolutely mind-blowingly amazing. The romance between Chris & Jocelyn is one that will leave your heart shredded to elegant ribbons. It is beautiful, wild, and dangerous. They're one of my favourite couples *fangirls* and I must ever so strongly recommend you read the Solitary Tales. I first picked it up when I was 18 and I think I'll remain a huge fan of Thrasher's works for many years to come. Be forewarned though :) that's all I'll say on the matter.

Amy Fleming & Ty Borden (from Heartland by Lauren Brooke) 

Amy and Ty are a fantastic couple from the series Heartland. I was a little obsessed over these books at the age of 8; I still remember tugging my mom into the back of our local bookstore to see if any new additions had come out (scrutinizing the book spines for that magic sequential number). Perhaps the romance is a little trite (after all, it is a kids/pre-teen series) but I think I'm still enchanted by Ty; probably because he's a hard working farm boy (and if you know me, I admire all things country :P ).

Bracken & Rebecca (from Duncton Wood by William Horwood)
Animal romances <3 Bracken and Rebecca are both moles and they're a perfect match. The book is pretty much about life in English countryside as a mole; there are many dangers, but amidst tyranny and numerous plots to tear them apart, they still manage to end up back together. I don't know what's with me and heart-wrenching relationships; perhaps the more trials a character goes through the more believable their situation seems (after all, life isn't all cookies and warm cats, although we might wish it were). 

Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy (from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Everyone loves a good Victorian romance (especially me! I'm a huge Victorian era-anything fan after all), and Austen gives us the cream of the crop with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I've read Pride & Prejudice who knows how many times and seen all of the movie versions. Mr. Darcy is my absolute favourite male lead for Victorian lit. He's mysterious and yet still manages to be passionate in the end. If you haven't read the original Pride & Prejudice (no zombies here folks) then you're really missing out on a whole realm of literary experience.

That's all I have folks! Don't forget to link up over at Tracey's blog, Adventure Awaits :)

Signed with cloud fluff, 


February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Illustrious Quotes from Books

It's Top Ten Tuesday and this time the topic is Valentine's Day Freebies, hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. While there are a wide arrangement of themes to choose from, I'm going to stick with "Top Ten Illustrious Quotes from Books" - recall, if you may, I'm a sucker for a good romance but I left the romance genre behind with my teenage years [Along with my dreams of a perfect real-world romance; let's get with the times ladies and gents, there's no such thing as a perfect romance. The one exception, obviously, being Christ and His Church]. That being said, my definition of illustrious could also be read as "heart-warming" or "touching" or "sentimental" and it more so corresponds with ethereal prose or statements that speak to my heart; I'll leave the gushy, romantic material for another time. Hear! hear! to a celebration of quotes that touch my soul (in one way or another).

  1. "You'll never solve your mysteries, Scharr. Not as long as we live in this. This world's a whore, all soaked in perfumes, and you're so easily seduced." He tapped his skull. "Break the eggshell. Time to fly."  -- The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffery Overstreet
  2. Men were such strange creatures. Perhaps getting shot at and defending a woman against wild animals and evil archers was his idea of enjoyment. -- The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
  3. “Tell me, cat-man, why can I understand her?"
    "First," said Eanrin with a glower, "you will not call me 'cat-man' again. I am a knight, a poet, and a gentleman, and you will address me as sir or not address me at all.”  -- Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
  4. Odd's fish, m'dear! The man can't even tie his own cravat!  -- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  5. “Tr...ooooo...luv...'
    Fezzik grabbed onto Inigo in panic and they both pivoted, staring at the man in black, who was silent again. '"True love," he said,' Inigo cried. 'You heard him - true love is what he wants to come back for. That's certainly worthwhile.'
    'Sonny, don't you tell me what's worthwhile - true love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. Everybody knows that.”  -- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  6. Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too.  -- Horseradish by Lemony Snicket
  7. The snow lay deep and undisturbed beneath the silver light of a dawning sky. Overhead, a raven surveyed a silent landscape as its black wings feathered the cold, thin air. The birdès rasping call was the only sound to be heard for miles, breaking the frozen solitude in irregular staccato. All around, the land lay asleep in the depths of winter.  -- In the Hall of the Dragon King by Stephen Lawhead
  8. There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.  -- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  9. I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.  -- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  10. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.  -- The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien

Now for a brief explication of what these quotes mean to me. Quote 1 is by far my favourite bookish quote in the universe of quotable things. I don't quite know what it is, but it speaks to me on a deep level. Quote 2 is simply cute. Quote 3 showcases my favourite Stengl character during one of his many sassy moments *sighs*. I truly adore Eanrin. Quote 4 ... how can you even resist the charms of the Pimpernel? I must admit, however, the youtube version (I can't recall the year of its release, given that there are several out there) is much better than the book itself. 

Everyone loves (or at least most everyone should love) The Princess Bride, so hence...Quote 5. Quote 6 is one of many fabulous Lemony Snicket snippets - I have always loved his writing style. Quote 7 is the very first couple sentences from In the Hall of the Dragon King, and these are the words that first inspired me to try my hand at writing an honest-to-goodness novel (which I shlumped at and I think it's probably buried somewhere in my trove of forgotten treasures). Quote 8 is P&P as you can tell; I don't even need to explain this one. Austen is a given swoon for me. Of course, this is followed on the tail by Quote 9 - sassy Jane Eyre. I must have a thing for sassy characters. I adore them. 

Finally, my favourite book of all wraps it up with a melancholic Frodo. Some days I feel like Frodo; I think we must be kindred souls [Except for the fact that he's a Hobbit-man from Middle-Earth who does hobbity things and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, while I'm a woman from regular-Earth who studies in the sciences and leads an otherwise unnotable life. Heavens, I must be the embodiment of Bilbo Baggins before he left the Shire!].

Thanks for joining me this fine Tuesday! Don't forget to link-up at The Broke & the Bookish!

Signed with sapphires, 


February 8, 2016

Lovely Books // covers & titles

My foray back into the world of blogging comes at an opportune time, given the excess of link-ups and such that one can join. I decided (after very little thinking) to jump in immediately with a brand new series called Lovely Books, hosted by Tracey Dyck over at her blog Adventure Awaits. The first installment of this series focuses on book titles and cover art which, according to the opinion of this writer, constitute all loveliness and beauty. That being said, I had a difficult time of choosing (for there are so many wonderful books in the great beyond) and, for sake of brevity, decided to select only three works for each section. Do keep in mind, dear reader, that these choices are not the end of the line, nor the beginning for that matter, and represent only a small drop in the greater ocean of fantastic literature our world has to offer.

Lovely Covers

The Paper Magician is a relatively new addition to my electronic library [Let me interject a moment here; I am not an advocate for ebooks, however the rate at which I consume novels outdoes the manner of my being able to afford hard copies. Therefore, I am ever thankful for the ease with which one can acquire new literature as given by companies such as Amazon]. This is a very quaint tale set toward the end of the Victorian era (for those of you who know, and now those who didn't before, that is my favourite period to read). There is a beauty about the simple type of magic Charlie introduces the reader to - and the cover art reflects that simplicity in a lovely, refreshing manner. This is the first book in the trilogy and I can attest to the fact that the remaining two are also wonderful reads and equally appealing to the eye.

Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag is bold, mysterious, and undeniably one of my favourites; its ethereal beauty is only surpassed by that of the language upon its pages. If this isn't already on your to-read or have-read list then I strongly encourage you to look into it right away. Jenny scripts prose with the delicacy of lioness - there is an underlying current of strength and boldness that threatens to break through at any moment. Yet, each sentence is delivered with an eloquent composure befitting a queen. I don't just condone her writing style, in fact I would recommend her blog as well, where she shares snippets of her latest WIPs (linked above).

I would gyp my readers if I did not also include JRR Tolkien's The Return of the King (which is my absolute favourite Tolkien book in the history of all Tolkienish things). The cover art in this 1986 edition is what I first laid eyes on before I continued my adventures with Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, and the rest of the Middle-Earth characters I'd come to dearly love. The barrenness depicted foretells the anguish every reader must endure in the Tower of Cirith Ungol and across the wastelands to Mount Doom - the horrors of Osgiliath and the torment of Faramir nearly succumbing to the scythe of death. In the conclusion to his trilogy, Tolkien shines ever so brightly as a master storyteller. I would think it a very sad thing indeed if you, dear reader, have not yet delved into the world of Tolkien - if this is your plight, make all haste and get yourself a copy! (and while you're at it, check out all the old 60-80s cover art versions for Tolkien's books - they're simply fantastic)

Lovely Titles

A Swiftly Tilting Planet was one of several L'Éngle books I picked up as a preteen. The cover art is fascinating (it could probably fit into the previous section, but I did say I'd limit myself to three each) and the title is captivating. It has a lilting cadence that seems to mimic the very sway of the universe - and what a universe indeed, for within these pages a fast-paced adventure awaits alongside main character Charles Wallace Murray, who must avert global disaster by stepping back in time to change what Might-Have-Been.

The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet is his series finale and, in my humble opinion, was better than its three predecessors. The title captivated me from the start (literally, before I even started the series - I saw this title and found my curiosity piqued) and the prose held me for the rest of the journey. There's something about the way Overstreet phrases his lines that draws me in - or perhaps its the characters themselves and their earthy personalities that are, at the same time, extraordinary and believable.

Andrew Peterson has proven himself a fantastic storyteller - I've collected his entire Wingfeather Saga and the adventures I've enjoyed all began with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. How perfect is that title? In fact, all of his titles are amazing. There's North! or Be Eaten, The Monster in the Hollows, and The Warden and the Wolf King. How fantastical are those? and if you think the titles of the first two books are a little outrageous, wait till you meet the character cast - be prepared for adventure with this series (I highly recommend it to one and all).

That concludes my contribution to the Lovely Books link-up this week. If you are a blogger and want to participate, don't hesitate to visit Tracey's blog and add your two-cents (although really it's more like five-cents now because Canada got rid of the penny *sad-face*). Just click the link above! Thank-you all for joining me today :)

Signed with mint leaves,


February 4, 2016

In Which Exhaustion Prompts a Briefing

Dear readers,
I've had what appears to be the longest two days of the new year - I'm trying to read some review article on motoneurone recruitement and Henneman's "size principle" but my eyes keep glazing over. At this point, even coffee isn't helping. I can practically feel my muscles shaking with fatigue; perhaps I should have stayed home, but unfortunately I have to help run some labs this afternoon.

I've been keeping ridiculously busy, what with trying to publish a research article, finish writing my thesis, and prepare for a poster presentation at a conference. In addition I've also been trying to get involved with the new church we're attending. There's so much stuff going on and the children/youth ministry is bursting at the seams.

I think I've been running off pure adrenaline this week, which is starting to wear a little thin (I can tell because I've already corrected four easily-avoided spelling mistakes in the last two paragraphs). In any case, this is a perfunctory update and I assure you all I am very much alive still.

Before I depart (and I really shall try to avoid another long-winded disappearing act) I do have good news - I can't recall if I've already mentioned it though. I'm officially an author (albeit the seventh author on the list); who knew my first publication contribution would be scientific? I always did think I'd manage to hammer out a book or two before my research consumed the majority of my neural synapses. Now it looks like I'll have my first official publication (written chiefly by myself and my supervisor - and edited profusely for more than 6 months) within the next half-year.

In any case, I don't think I can manage another competent sentence right now, so I'll stop whilst my good standing can be maintained. Please don't hesitate to point out if I've missed a spelling error :)

Signed with coffee stains,

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