Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge: Day 2

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The rules for the challenge are the following:

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day”.

Today, I challenge The Book-Loving Pharmacist!

(Of course you are not obligated to do this challenge! And on the other hand, if you haven’t been directly challenged but want to give this a try, absolutely go for it!)

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Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge: Day 1

Hello everyone!

Darren @ The Artsy Plantsman participated in the Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge a while back. It looked like a lot of fun so I thought I’d give it a try!

Basic rules are the following:

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day”.

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I am already finding it very hard to not explain the photos I post. However, hopefully by looking at these pictures, you will get a sense of my everyday life and the city that I life in. As they say, pictures speak a thousand words, right?

Today, I challenge When I Reach You!

(Of course you are not obligated to do this challenge! And on the other hand, if you haven’t been directly challenged but want to give this a try, absolutely go for it!)

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What is a fun blog challenge that you participated in? Do you like taking photos? What do you use to take photos? (A camera, or a phone?)

Mini-Reviews: Gone Girl, Sharp Objects & Dark Places // Edge-of-the-seat thrillers by Gillian Flynn

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Hello everyone!

I think I fell back in love with writing reviews. The secret? Mini-reviews! The truth is, I never have that much to write about a book, even one that I love very, very much. After seeing some bloggers nail this approach (such as Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books, and The Orangutan Librarian), I couldn’t help but give this a try.

Gillian Flynn is one of my favourite authors. After reading Gone Girl on my plane ride to China, I couldn’t help but devour Dark Places and Sharp Objects as well. I am amazed by her writing style and her mastery at psychological suspense.

Gone Girl

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From the back cover

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

What I liked

  • Humorous and witty writing that makes you smile and wince at all the right places
  • Plot twists that keep you guessing
  • Main characters (Nick and Amy) who are flawed, messed-up, and very fascinating to get into the heads of
  • Sharp, quick pacing that will have you turning the pages

What I didn’t like

  • Without spoiling the story: The antagonist of this story is very thorough, methodical, and calculating in their ways, making it difficult to relate to this character

Overall: 4/5

Gone Girl is a roller-coaster ride without a single dull moment. It must-read for anyone who is a fan of the mystery and thriller genre.

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Dark Places

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From the back cover

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

What I liked

  • The plot twists!! There is never a dull moment
  • Libby and her family. Even though Libby’s mother and sisters are dead in present day, we get to learn about their personality and quirks through Libby’s memory
  • The disturbing details of the backstory

What I didn’t like

  • Libby’s character isn’t immediately likeable – she is bitter and calculating. However, I feel that this is the intention of the author, and Libby grew on me over time

Overall: 4/5

Yet another amazing novel by Gillian Flynn. As much as this is a murder mystery about Satanic rituals, Dark Places is also a story about the love that underlies a family. I absolutely loved this novel, maybe even more so than Gone Girl.

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Sharp Objects

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From the back cover

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows, a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

What I liked

  • Amazing prose and dialogue
  • A well-developed main character (Camille) who has depth and flaws
  • An intricately woven story line with plot twists that will keep you guessing

What I didn’t like

  • For a thriller, the pacing was incredibly slow. Nothing much happens for the first 80% (and then it is like %&$*#?!)
  • Repeated use of certain phrases, like “she is the type of woman who holds your hair back when you vomit”, and “smell like sex”

Overall: 3/5

If you can put up with the slow pacing, Sharp Objects tells a haunting tale about dead (and very, very sick) people that will raise the hairs at the back of your neck.

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PS.

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Are you a fan of the thriller/suspense genre? Have you watched the Gone Girl movie? What do you like writing better: full-length reviews or mini-reviews?

The Liebster Award!

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Hello everyone!

Thank you Darren @ The Arty Plantsman for this award! Darren is a talented artist who has an amazing green thumb. Make sure to check out his blog!

The instructions for accepting the award and passing it on are as follows.

  • Create a new blog post on your blog thanking the person that nominated you, link to their blog, and put in a graphic of the award.
  • Answer the questions that were provided, and then share some facts about yourself.
  • Create a new set of your own questions for others to answer.
  • Nominate others (around ten) and share your blog post with them so they can accept their award! This award is for bloggers with 200 followers or less.

If you could be one fictional character for a day, and actually live their life, – who would it be and why?

Do you guys remember this guy?

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Before I knew about Hogwarts or Sailor Scouts, I wanted to be Ash Ketchum and spend all day catching Pokemon.

Can you play a musical instrument? If so, which? If not – which would you most like to learn or like to listen to?

I can play the piano, clarinet, and guitar. However, it has been a while, and I am probably rusty :’) When I was small, I also had a brief stint with pipa lessons (pipa is a four-stringed Chinese instrument which is similar to a lute.)

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Are your friends (partners excluded) mostly of your own (biological) sex?

Yes, although my fiance is the bestest friend a girl can have :’)

If magic could make it possible, would you be interested in changing sex for a few days to see the world from another perspective? Do you think it would be a good idea if we all did this at least once in our life?

Absolutely!

Vampire movies/shows – do you prefer scary ones or romantic ones, and which? 

I am easily terrified. I mean, doesn’t this GIF give you the chills?

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As for romantic vampire shows: there was a phase when I binge-watched Vampire Diaries. I also binge-read the Vampire Academy series the summer after graduating from university.

Think of something good about yourself. Talk about it if you want, but I just wanted you to feel nice. 

Aw hahaha! Thank you Darren :’)

Now – provide some random facts about yourself.

  1. I hate socks but wear them for the sake of social conformity.
  2. I drink tea like an addict, the Chinese way (loose leaf, no sugar, no cream, no nothing.)
  3. But otherwise, friends say I am a banana (banana = yellow on the outside, white on the inside.)
  4. I try to smile all the time, because if I don’t, people think I look angry :’)
  5. My parents were born on the same day of the same year (no worries, they are not twins.)

I nominate these awesome folks for this award:

Stella @ Stella’s Journey

JW Martin @ Storeys of Stories

When I Reach You

The Readers Bay

The Book-Loving Pharmacist

Hope @ The Reader Addict

Here are my questions for you guys:

  1. What is your favourite hobby, other than reading or blogging?
  2. Would you rather be rich or famous, and why? (Choose one, not both)
  3. If you win the lottery today, what would you do with all that money?
  4. If you were a muffin, what muffin flavour would you be? (This was an interview question that my university professor got when she interviewed for her MBA program.)
  5. If you are on a deserted island and can only choose one non-essential item, what would it be?
  6. And of course, some interesting facts about yourself!

December Goals, TBR, & Life Updates

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Happy December, and hope everyone is doing well!

There are things that I love about December: Because it is holiday season, I will be getting together with family and friends. And there is a festive air everywhere, even at work! And online!

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That being said, this particularly December is terribly stressful for me. I haven’t told you guys about this yet, but I am preparing to move across the country. And when we are talking Canada, this is a big move. So, these days I’ve been juggling flight bookings, apartment rentals, job applications, Christmas shopping, and my day job. Now I wish that I had started Christmas shopping in July :’) Oh, hindsight!

On another note, I am so thankful for blogging because it is keeping me sane. No matter how busy the day is, you guys always put a smile on my face. Thank you, everyone. You guys are really lovely 🙂

To be honest, I don’t think I can get much reading done this month, but let’s be ambitious and we will see!

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Carry On and Our Dark Duet are two books that has been on my TBR since forever. I am always VERY excited to read these books but for some reason keep putting it off (I am serious! It is possible to feel both emotions at the same time!)

 

When I mentioned that I am writing a novel about genetic engineering and space exploration, these two books were recommended to me because they also cover similar themes:

Brave New World tells of an ideal society where everyone is happy because of genetic engineering, recreational drugs, and brainwashing… or are they? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the basis for the Blade Runner movie) tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world and a bounty hunter who is given the task of retiring escaped androids.

I am excited to be learning more about the sci-fi and dystopian genre. On the other hand I am nervous- What if one of these books is EXACTLY what I wanted to write for my novel!? :’)

 

These are two books that I’m carrying over from my November TBR:

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet talks about the chaotic lives of Rosemary and her crew aboard the Wayfarer spaceship. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a political novel about what might happen if fascism takes hold in America.

 

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Reading

I will aim for 6 books (as above), and see how it goes! I might be on another small trip (work-related) this month, in which case I would be able to binge-read during my flight. By the way, binge-reading is my favourite way to read books!

Writing

As you may know, I am in the plotting and researching stage of my current WIP. Right now, I am working on an outline* so that when I start writing, I will kind of know what I am doing :’) My goal for this month is to finish the outline.

*Usually I am not too big on outlining (or I will write an outline but then deviate drastically from it), so this is new for me. I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

Life

I’m………. just going to try and survive this month :’)

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Do you like December? How early do you start Christmas shopping? What books are you hoping to read this month? Do you binge-read or do you read a bit each time? For writers out there, do you make outlines before writing?

November Wrap-Up!

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Happy Friday! Can you believe that it is December the 1st?! What is this craziness!?

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When I try to recall what exactly I did in the past 4 weeks, I always draw a blank (goldfish memory here!) Here is what I am finally able to come up with:

  1. Read 6 books
  2. Went to China (ate great food and visited some of my amazing relatives)
  3. Started plotting my new WIP
  4. Kind of got started on this adulting thing called job-hunting

Ah, so I did get a few things accomplished after all. Phew :’)

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I am proud to have been able to read 6 books this week. All of this happened while I was preparing for, on the flight to, and in China. It was one of those trips where I had plenty of time to kick back, relax, and curl up with a book. Also, the plane is one of my favourite places to read a book (that’s why I love flying!)

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

This is a sweet romance about Jamie, the quiet daughter of a minister, and Landon, one of the popular teens at school. I remembered loving the movie when I watched it in high school, and it was great to relive this experience by reading the book.

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

I was taken by surprise by this book, because it is both a romance and a thriller. The first part of the book is where Maria and Colin get to know each other, and the second half is where someone is out to get them and they try to figure out who. This novel gave me chills (in a good way).

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Have you watched Gone Girls and is it not a mind-bending tornado of a movie? Well, the novel is the same way. It’s just so, so amazing. I absolutely loved Gillian Flynn’s writing, which made the characters seem so real. I loved how Nick and Amy are both so flawed yet I was fascinated about how their minds worked.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

After reading Gone Girl, I just had to read Dark Places, which is an older novel written by the same author. This novel is as much of a psychological thriller as Gone Girl, if not more so. If you love Gone Girl and other thrillers, this one is a must read.

Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt

This is a self-published novel about Lydia Hawkins, an officer of the Christian Fellowship, who learns to reconcile her sexual identity with her religious beliefs. It is a coming out and coming of age story, and it is an interesting exploration of how sexuality and Christianity intersect. Although I feel that the secondary characters could be more developed in this story, I enjoyed the novel overall.

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

After reading and loving My Heart and Other Black Holes, my expectations for this next Jasmine Warga book was WAY up there. However, Here We Are Now did not disappoint. Check out my review here.

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For the writers out there, I absolutely recommend checking out Ryan Lanz‘s blog, which offers very useful writing advice: The Value of Forgetting is a guest post by Richard Risemberg about a crucial part in the editing process. Jacqui Murray talks about a few things that she’s learned from marketing her first novel.

Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm gives valuable tips about how to succeed as a blogger! One of my favourite tips is to schedule posts rather than writing them on the fly. This is already making my life easier!

Beth @ Reading Every Night tells us more about the novel that she is writing!!! Be sure to read about her story and see her beautiful character aesthetics!

Want to know the secret to finding books that you will love? Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books got your back!

If you are in the mood for something funny and political, Phil Taylor will make you laugh with his post about what Donald Trump could do with the new 280-character limit on Twitter.

Jackie @ Too Much of A Booknerd will make you want to add Dear Martin and Juliet Takes a Breath to your TBR with her awesome reviews!

Asha Seth @ The Musing Quills breaks down how to write an irresistible blog title!

Did you know that Dani @ Perspective of a Writer is a graphic designer? That’s why her graphics are amazing. Check out this post about one of her favourite book covers!

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How was your November? What books did you read? How is adulting going? Do you love flights or do you hate them? Where is your favourite place to read?

My WIP aesthetics (and blurb!)

Happy Wednesday!

Have you ever played pranks on a telemarketer? Recently, when a telemarketer called, I couldn’t resist. It’s kind of a funny story:

Telemarketer: Hello, my name is Susan. I am calling you from The Organization that Do Surveys about Cereal Products.* Do you have a few minutes to participate in a survey?

Me: Sure.

Susan: You can only participate in this survey if you are 18 years of age or older. Are you over 18 years of age?

Me: Yes, but is there a maximum age for this study?

Susan: No, we have various age brackets.

Me: I am 120 years old. Do you have an age bracket for that?

Susan: …

Susan: All right, ma’am. Have a good day.

Me: But-but the survey-

I couldn’t help but burst into laughter when the phone call ended :’) I am 26 but I have the maturity of a 6-year-old.

*To protect the confidentiality of the telemarketer and the telemarketing company, names have been replaced with fictional ones. It’s also because, well, I forgot the actual names.

My WIP Aesthetics

Anyhow, today I am hoping to tell you guys a bit more about the WIP that I’ve been working on. Children of the Sun is a science fiction novel that takes place in present day. (Is there such a thing as an “alternate present” novel?)

This is the blurb:

Since the discovery of DNA in the 1950s, there has been tremendous interest in the potential of modifying the human genome. How soon can genetic diseases be eradicated? Can we push the boundaries of human fitness and intelligence? Now, in the year 2018, genetic modification of human embryos for medically necessary purposes is endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, there are rumours of a new genetic disease, one that can give rise to spontaneous combustion and allow its host to breathe underwater. Those that carry these mutations, Deviants, must be medicated and controlled. It is the job of the Deviant Investigation Unit to track these people down.

Fifteen-year-old Meredith doesn’t have a last name or a passport. The only family she knows is Rio, Edene, and the other detectives in the Unit. When Edene, her best friend and guardian disappears, Meredith investigates the unexplained deaths of three young women, and uncovers her own past and the darkest secret in the history of genetic modification.

Meredith

Meredith

Rio Matsui

Rio

Edene Adams

Edene

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Do you ever prank telemarketers? What are your thoughts about human genetic engineering / genomic editing / genetic modification? Should it be allowed, or are the consequences too great?