An Unexpected Adventure by Kandi J. Wyatt - Cover Reveal

An Unexpected Adventure by Kandi J. Wyatt

Protect their community or protect their discovery?

For eighth graders Chace, Harley, Will, and Cherise, that’s a life-changing question after they find a dragon’s egg while hunting for thundereggs on the beach. Toss in summer jobs, family struggles, and a National Security Agent, and their summer vacation just became complicated.

Can they find a solution that won’t leave their hearts broken or their community in flames?

Pre-order "An Unexpected Adventure" here!

Release date: Tuesday, Sept 25th

Blogger's note:

I have been sent an eARC of "An Unexpected Adventure" for review, but I have not read it yet. It looks like a very promising middle-grade novel, quoted to be a mashup of "E.T. meets How to Train Your Dragon". HTTYD is one of my favourite animated movies, and I can not wait to read this book!

Author Bio:

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school, Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Links:

Website: http://kandijwyatt.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kandijwyatt/
Google: http://plus.google.com/u/0/+KandiWyatt/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kandijwyatt
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kandijwyatt
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10/

More of my book reviews

Blog: TIFF 2018 is here - do you need to be a member to get the best out of it?

TIFF sign on King Street West

Six years ago, when I moved to Toronto, one of my dreams was to go to Toronto International Film Festival. Since I arrived in late summer of 2012 and was starting school, it was too late for me to get tickets for any galas, but I still managed to see one movie.

It was “Laurence Anyways” by a French Canadian director Xavier Dolan. The movie screening was very low-key compared to my later experiences at TIFF, but nevertheless, I found it very exciting. The screening was at Scotiabank Theatre, but we still got to meet with the director and the cast. To watch the movie and then have a chance to be at the Q&As with the cast inspired me so much. I couldn’t wait for 2013.

During the summer of 2013, I purchased TIFF membership, and I did not regret it to this day. There was an orientation for new members, which I went to and even wrote a post on Tumblr about it. I am going to insert a part of my blog post here:

Today was the orientation tour for new members at Bell Lightbox, and of course, I went there. There was a pretty big group of people (bigger than I expected), and we were split into two smaller groups. First, we had a tour around the building and were told about the architecture of the building - the concept of light and shadow and boxes within boxes. I have been to Lightbox before - both times during the festival, this and last year. I was only on the second floor and inside cinema 2. Today we had a tour, and we were able to go inside halls 1 and 5. We also went inside the Bell Blue Room which is for TIFF members only.

The best thing about membership is that you can come over to the Lounge (on the second floor - Luma restaurant/bar) or to the Bell Blue Room (which is open only on Thur-Fri afternoons and all throughout Sat-Sun). You can just hang out there. Have a snack. They also conduct workshops, screenings, exhibitions. Some things (like special exhibitions or TV shows season finale/premiere screenings) are free, others are available at a discounted price. (They also used to organize the Oscar ceremony screening in the members’ lounge for a couple of years. It was a lot of fun!)

They also have a Book club, and film discussions. They also have a film reference library, and you can watch any title there on the spot for free.*

I went a bit crazy with TIFF in 2013-2015. I watched a lot of movies in those years, some of them I rushed, others I was lucky to get tickets for in advance.

All movies I watched at TIFF in 2014

With years, TIFF membership benefits and the process of obtaining tickets for TIFF have changed. This is the information that I got from TIFF website as of today in regards of festival benefits.

Members 365

At the Toronto International Film Festival:

  • Exclusive ticket package pre-sale
  • Exclusive advance-package ticket selection
  • Exclusive individual ticket pre-sale
  • No service fees on exchanges via your TIFF Account Manager
  • Priority service through the Box Office

If you are reading this during the festival, it is already too late to get any festival packages. For those, you have to sign up for TIFF newsletter and watch your email months ahead. However, if you plan to buy individual tickets, getting a TIFF membership would still be beneficial as it gives you priority at the box office.

Naturally, you can purchase tickets online or over the phone, but if you have vouchers, you need to exchange them for movie tickets. The lines at the festival are unbelievable!

TIFF

If you have a ticket for a movie, arrive about 1 hour before the screening as there will be a line for ticket holders and everyone would be admitted about 10 mins before the screening. The seating is usually not assigned, and once all ticket holders are inside, the volunteers would count empty seats and let in the rush line.

TIFF

Rush Line is a great way to get tickets for screenings that are sold out. There are usually at least 10% of seats are being saved for that purpose. Sometimes extra tickets might be released on the day of the screening. Checking the TIFF website every day of the festival is a great tip!

TIFF Rush ticket

If you want to rush a ticket, then arrive 3-4 hours before screen time. Bring a chair, an umbrella, snacks and a book, and make friends with people around you. I have experience standing for 5-6 hours in rush lines, in the sun or under the rain, reading books, talking to people, taking breaks to run to a nearby Starbucks or Tim Hortons, and cheering every time the line moves one foot ahead.

It is hard to describe the feel of the festival. You need to experience it on your own. See mobs of fans crowd every entrance and exit waiting for Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. Watch a fan ask Benedict Cumberbatch a very inappropriate question. You get so used to being around people who talk about festival movies and discuss spotted celebs almost 24/7 that later being outside of that orange bubble feels less real.

TIFF 2013 - fans are waiting for Benedict Cumberbatch in front of Princess of Wales theatre

Unfortunately, I missed a year or two of the festival due to being away on vacation, but every time when I had an opportunity, I would see at least a couple of movies.

TIFF 2017

Would having a TIFF membership help you get the best out of the festival? In my opinion, yes. It definitely helped me get early access to tickets packages and priority in Ticket Office. Not to mention discounts in some local restaurants. Members’ Lounge is pretty cool too, although it is usually not available during festival days.

Yours truly at TIFF

Check out my movies tag to see the reviews and my past experiences.

*Please refer to the official TIFF page for membership benefits, prices and festival tickets. As the details might change without my knowledge.

Links:

https://www.tiff.net/membership/

Blog: ARC August TBR

ARC August Guess what I am doing in August? ?

A book blogger friend at Read.Sleep.Repeat is hosting an annual ARC August challenge, and I decided to participate! This means that in the month of August I have to try and read as many ARCs as I can. It is a great way to tackle some of those books that have been sitting on my shelf.

There will be a readathon on August 4-5, which I doubt I would be able to participate in since I will be in NYC, but I will try. There is also going to be a bookish bingo, that I am very excited about! And the best part - you can potentially win some bookish prizes!! ?

Use hashtag #ARCAugust on social media to track your progress and see how others are doing. (You can follow me @foxcloudsblog on Twitter and Instagram.)

Now, onto my ARC August TBR.

My main goal is to read a bunch of eARCs that I have sitting on my Kindle - and I have a lot of them. Some of them have been waiting to be read for months. (It is making me rather anxious.) But of course, I have physical ARCs on my TBR too.

My top priorities are "City of Ghosts" by Victoria Schwab, "The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein" by Kiersten White, and "Seafire" by Natalie C. Parker. The rest I will read if I have time. (I hope I will as I am very excited about all of these!)

*"The Unbinding of Mary Reade" is actually not an ARC. This is the final copy from the library, but I was sent an eARC of this book, I just didn't read it on time in June. ?

ARC August TBR

Aren't they all wonderful books? ?? Can't wait to start ARC August!

I will have an ARC August TBR video on my channel next week.

Cheers!

N.

My book reviews

AGO Exhibit: Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Mirrors YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY MIRRORS March 3 – May 27, 2018

Information about the artist and the exhibit are taken from Art Gallery of Ontario website. All photos and opinions are mine.

Guided by her unique vision and unparalleled creativity, critically acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama has been breaking new ground for more than six decades. In 1993, she became the first woman to have a solo presentation at the Venice Biennale’s Japanese Pavilion, and in 2016, Time magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people.

Infinity Mirrors

 

Born in 1929, Kusama grew up near her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. At nineteen, following World War II, she went to Kyoto to study the traditional Japanese style of painting known as Nihonga. During this time, she began experimenting with abstraction, but it was not until she arrived in the United States, in 1957, that her career took off. Living in New York from 1958 to 1973, Kusama moved in avant-garde circles with such figures as Andy Warhol and Allan Kaprow while honing her signature dot and net motifs, developing soft sculpture, creating installation-based works, and staging Happenings (performance-based events). She first used the mirror as a multi-reflective device in Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, transforming the intense repetition that marked some of her earlier works into an immersive experience. Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 but has continued to develop her mirrored installations, and over the years, she has attained cult status, not only as an artist, but as a novelist.

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

Experience infinity: From her immersive infinity rooms to mesmerizing paintings and playful sculptures, Yayoi Kusama welcomes you to participate in her extraordinary and innovative explorations of time and space.

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

Infinity may be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is easy to contemplate when you step inside one of artist Yayoi Kusama’s iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms in the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. Rich with key works from the contemporary Japanese artist’s significant 65-year career, this major exhibition also shows the evolution of her immersive, multi-reflective installations, in which she invites you to share in her unique vision.

 

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

Immerse yourself in six of these kaleidoscopic environments where you will be endlessly reflected within fantastic landscapes. You’ll also see Kusama’s mesmerizing and intimate drawings, her early Infinity Net paintings in which nets organically expand along the surface of a canvas like cell formations, and her surreal sculptural objects. These key works join more than 90 works on view, including large and vibrant paintings, sculptures, works on paper, as well as rare archival materials.

 

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

The 88-year-old artist continues to work at a brisk pace in her Tokyo studio. The exhibition features the North American debut of numerous new works. Her most recent painting series, My Eternal Soul (2009–present), may be the greatest surprise. Exuberant in colour and paired with sculptures that bear titles such as My Adolescence in Bloom, they mark a striking progression in the use of Kusama’s signature symbol of the polka dot. Also on view in North America for the first time is the recently realized Infinity Mirror Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 , a field of yellow, dotted pumpkins spreading into infinity.

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

In addition to the paintings, sculptures, drawings and environments, viewers will encounter posters, letters, cards, and invitations that relate to Kusama’s early exhibitions and events—including her first solo show, which took place in Seattle—a slideshow of Kusama’s performances as well as an interview with the artist filmed on the occasion of this exhibition.

 

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

Thoughts

 

I do not consider myself to be an expert in any art, but Infinity Mirrors by Kusama made me think about how the art has evolved over the years with the world. Lights, mirrors, stuffed tubers, lanterns, and big polka dot balls wouldn't seem to be such appealing art objects were they not presented in small rooms, in which only few people are admitted at a time, and what a short time it is! Twenty to thirty seconds with an art installation is barely enough to make an impression of it, less so to take a selfie. And this is what it's been, really - people rushing to see Infinity Mirrors only to post their moving and still photos on Snapchat and Instagram, feeding to the popularity of the exhibit.

 

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

The lack of supply increases the value of the product. People, myself included, are willing to stand in lines to each little room for the sake of spending less than a minute inside a kaleidoscopic environment. It is crazy when you think about it.

One of my favourites was the only room where we were not allowed to take pictures. And that was "All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins" - those pumpkins were gorgeous. And now I want a nightlamp shaped as one.

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

The last installation was a simple white room that invites the audience to deface it - it was fun but did not feel new or original enough. Although seeing how high up some visitors were willing to go was fun on its own.

My dots are hiding somewhere here, invisible among all others.

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

"Infinity Mirrors" really stretched my depth perception. One room had flashing lights. The polka dots hurt my eyes when I was trying to edit the photos. This exhibit was a sensory overload - so, I suggest you proceed with caution if you do not do well with that. My constant fear was - since in every room except for the last one, we were either in the dark or on a narrow catwalk - that I might lose balance and fall into the art.

Would I have become a part of the exhibit?

 

May 17, 2018

More photos by me

Cover Reveal: "Bring Me Their Hearts" by Sara Wolf

In a new series Publishers Weekly has listed as “one of the most anticipated YA's of 2018”, we're excited to share the cover for Bring Me Their Hearts! NYT bestselling author Sara Wolf delivers a fast-paced, gritty fantasy sure to thrill fans of Holly Black, Sabaa Tahir, and Sarah J. Maas.  

ARE YOU READY??

 

 

Bring Me Their Hearts

 

About the book

 

Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him—every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him—until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

 

About Sara Wolf:

 

Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

 

***

Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/bring-me-their-hearts.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07232WZBF

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bring-me-their-hearts-sara-wolf/1126358416

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bring-me-their-hearts/id1237042410

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/bring-me-their-hearts

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35144326-bring-me-their-hearts

 

Release Date: June 5th, 2018

 

#SHReads18 - In Which Order to Read Sherlock Holmes Stories?

When I started thinking of writing this post, I didn’t even suspect that there might be different ways of reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Naturally, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was rather prolific, in spite of his developed frustration with the character that brought him fame, but it never occured to me that somebody could read the stores not in the publicated order - because it was the way I read them as a child.

I don’t remember how I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes stories. They seem, just like The Three Musketeers (although with that book I do remember the first time I read it), to always have been in my life. I think that it might have been my grandfather who introduced me to Sherlock Holmes. Or perhaps, I watched the tv show first. I honestly can not recall.

However, I do remember always reading the stories by starting with A Study in Scarlet.

Here is the list of all stories in chronological order by the publication date (taken from Baker Street Wiki):

  • 1887: A Study in Scarlet
  • 1890: The Sign of the Four
  • July 1891 to December 1892: Stories that would make up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand magazine
  • December 1892 to November 1893: Stories that would make up The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand
  • 1901-2 (serial): The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • October 1903 to January 1905: Stories that would make up The Return of Sherlock Holmes published in The Strand
  • 1908–1913, 1917: Stories that would make up His Last Bow (short stories) published.
  • 1914-15: The Valley of Fear
  • 1921–1927: Stories that would become The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes published.

After looking into some forums and discussions and thinking about it, I was surprised to see that many people suggest skipping A Study in Scarlet, as it is the first story written by Doyle and therefore not as polished and a bit too long, and just dive into The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and then The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Well, personally, I would not skip A Study in Scarlet, no matter how boring it is, as it introduces the main characters to us and just like the first episode of many Sherlock Holmes adaptations - you don’t want to miss that.

So, in honour of January being a Sherlock Holmes reading month and the read-a-long #SHReads18, I decided to introduce you to my favourite reading order of all Sherlock Holmes stories. I am participating in this January event, however, I have a bigger goal in mind. One of my reading challenges for 2018 is to re-read all of Sherlock Holmes stories and for that I am listening to them as audiobooks - the complete collection of stories read by Stephen Fry (one of my most favourite narrators)! The complete collection is an exclusive production by Audible and was released last year.

As I am writing this, I have already listened to A Study in Scarlet and started on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Follow me on GoodReads, if you want to follow me on my epic re-read :)

There is no right or wrong way to read the stories - besides Doyle himself sometimes messed up facts and dates. However, The Final Problem and The Empty House have to be read together as they are tied in plot. Save The Hound of the Baskervilles for the last, as it is pretty good.

Here is my reading order, in which I will be doing this:

I. A Study in Scarlet (novel, 1887)
II. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Red-headed League, 1891
  • A Case of Identity, 1891
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891
  • The Five Orange Pips, 1891
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891
  • The Blue Carbuncle, 1892
  • The Speckled Band, 1892
  • The Engineer's Thumb, 1892
  • The Noble Bachelor, 1892
  • The Beryl Coronet, 1892
  • The Copper Beeches, 1892
  • A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891 (I plan to read this story the last in the book)
III. The Sign of the Four (novel, 1890)

IV. The Valley of Fear (novel, 1914-15)

(or read this novel between the stories from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but before The Final Problem)

V. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • Silver Blaze, 1892
  • The Yellow Face, 1893
  • The Stock-broker's Clerk, 1893
  • The 'Gloria Scott', 1893
  • The Musgrave Ritual, 1893
  • The Reigate Squires, 1893
  • The Crooked Man, 1893
  • The Resident Patient, 1893
  • The Greek Interpreter, 1893
  • The Naval Treaty, 1893
  • The Final Problem, 1893
VI. The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Empty House, 1903
  • The Norwood Builder, 1903
  • The Dancing Men, 1903
  • The Solitary Cyclist, 1903
  • The Priory School, 1904
  • Black Peter, 1904
  • Charles Augustus Milverton, 1904
  • The Six Napoleons, 1904
  • The Three Students, 1904
  • The Golden Pince-Nez, 1904
  • The Missing Three-Quarter, 1904
  • The Abbey Grange, 1904
  • The Second Stain, 1904
VII. The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel, 1901-02)
VIII. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Illustrious Client, 1924
  • The Blanched Soldier, 1926
  • The Mazarin Stone, 1921
  • The Three Gables, 1926
  • The Sussex Vampire, 1924
  • The Three Garridebs, 1924
  • Thor Bridge, 1922
  • The Creeping Man, 1923
  • The Lion's Mane, 1926
  • The Veiled Lodger, 1927
  • Shoscombe Old Place, 1927
  • The Retired Colourman, 1926
 IX. His Last Bow
  • Wisteria Lodge, 1908
  • The Cardboard Box, 1893
  • The Red Circle, 1911
  • The Bruce-Partington Plans, 1908
  • The Dying Detective, 1913
  • Lady Frances Carfax, 1911
  • The Devil's Foot, 1910
  • His Last Bow, 1917

It is not, by any means, a strict reading order. I might mix things as I go, but if you are new to Sherlock Holmes stories or haven’t had a chance to read them all - I hope you find my little guide handy.

My book reviews

Sources:

My 2018 Reading & Blogging Goals

Book Shelf  

December came and went in such a quick flash that it took me by surprise. I, unsurprisingly, failed at Blogmas. But now I am ready to revive my blog once again. And what can be better but reading & blogging goals?

 

In 2017, my reading/theatre goals were simple:

 

  • read 100 books (GoodReads challenge) - which I did
  • watch 10 theatre plays - I watched 24 and will talk about them later
  • listen to 20 audiobooks - I came close but didn’t hit 20

 

I also wanted to read one book in French and one book in German, and I didn’t even come close to doing that. So, I am going to try again in 2018.

I am mostly satisfied with 2017 as my reading year, although I read a lot of short fiction but not enough solid novels, and most of them were Young Adult. Plus, I purchased way more books than I read, so in 2018 I decided to additionally challenge myself.

 

My reading goals:

 

  • read 100 books (GoodReads challenge)
  • listen to 20 audiobooks
  • read 20 plays/scripts
  • read 1 book in German
  • read 1 book in French
  • read 30 adult books
  • participate in 1 read-a-thon

 

I set additional reading challenges for myself as my goal this year to seriously dig into the books I own and either read them and unhaul them or donate them.

 

Reading challenges:

 

  • Read 5 books owned for 1 new book purchased
  • Read 1 Kindle book for 1 Kindle book purchased
  • Read all plays owned
  • Listen to 10 audiobooks in my Audible library
  • Reduce “to be read” on GR
  • Reduce “on hold” on GR
  • Reduce holds at the library
  • Unhaul minimum 50 books
  • Read 10 book released in 2017
  • Read 10 books released in 2018
  • Finish 5 trilogies/series
  • Read all manga/graphic novels owned
  • Re-read all of Sherlock Holmes stories
  • Re-read The Three Musketeers
  • Re-read Katherine Kurtz books (at least the first trilogy)
  • Re-read Lynn Flewelling books (at least the first duology)

 

Additionally, I aim to:

  • watch 20 plays
  • watch movies at TIFF 2018

 

Blogging goals:

 

  • review every book I read (blog and/or GR)
  • review all plays I watch on my blog
  • review all movies I watch at TIFF
  • post on my blog every Tuesday & Friday
  • post videos every Wednesday & Sunday on my YT
  • reach 500 subscribers on YT
  • participate in 1 vlog-a-thon (like Vlogmas)
  • post more art journal and planner related post on my blog

 

I am very satisfied with my goals. I feel that they all I fairly achievable. I struggle the most with maintaining my schedule as my work and life sometimes get in the way of blogging, but I am willing to make a conscientious effort to get better at it. I am making this post for the record and to keep myself accountable ?

 

Cheers!

 

My book reviews
My Instagram

Le 25e Salon du Livre de Toronto | Blogmas Day 2

(Let's pretend it is still December 2 and my French doesn't suck. ??) Aujourd’hui je suis allé a le 25e salon du livre de Toronto. C’est arrivé dans la bibliothèque de référence. Je étudie françaises c’est pourquoi notre professor a invitée nous là-bas. Nous avons regarde une présentation du livres pour enfants. Quelques livres est sur la famille et enfants. Quelques livres est sur adventure et science-fiction pour adolescents.

Il y avait un loterie et j'ai gagné un livre! La title est « Mica, fille de Transyl ». Très cool.

Voilà, voici les photos.

BLOGMAS 2017 ANNOUNCEMENT

Blogmas 2017 While filming NaNoWriMo vlogs (and failing at it), I had an idea to do Vlogmas. But then I realized that I simply had no time to accomplish something like that. While googling vlogmas ideas, I came across the term blogmas. Which essentially means the same thing but posting on a text blog, not YouTube channel.

Bingo!

Writing and scheduling blogs ahead is way easier and more doable with my fulltime job than vlogging every single day. Plus, this will give me an opportunity to catch up with some of my long overdue reviews and do wrap-ups for this year and recommendations.

I have already written down approximately 25 topic ideas. My Blogmas will be mostly book related, but I will also do some theatre and stationery posts.

I am excited, are you? Anyone else doing it?

(The image was doodled by me in Procreate app on iPad using Apple Pencil. I can't draw.)

Blog: What the heck is FODMAP diet and why do I need it?

Okay, let’s get a bit real here. My blog is my safe space filled with books, theatre reviews, and cute stationery related things, but my health, in particular, my digestive system, has been a bit rocky recently, so, I thought it would be only fair to share it here.  

This is going to be a bit TMI. Beware. And a little disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a dietician, so if I get something wrong - please, do not blame me.

I have been experiencing chronic digestive issues since I was very little. At the age of four, I contracted dysentery at the kindergarten. In case if you don’t know what dysentery, it is a contagious, inflammatory disease that affects the intestine, especially in the colon. I was very little to remember much of it, but I do remember lots of tummy ache, being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and demanding that my grandma brought me all of my favourite books along. (My favourite books came with me everywhere. I used to take up to 10 books with me on vacations.)

 

I, obviously, recovered, but as a result of being treated with antibiotics and the virus itself (not sure if it was viral or bacterial infection, to be honest, but let’s just roll with it) I developed a condition called dysbiosis (or dysbacteriosis), which is a microbial imbalance in gut flora. It is not a disease and basically means that I lack certain healthy bacteria that help with digestion.

 

I used to take a lot of probiotics when I was a child. On a daily basis. Since my grandparents were doctors (as well as my mother), I am pretty sure that I have been given everything that was available back then (we are talking about more than 20 years ago). But the probiotics didn’t fix things for me. Mostly, I was taking Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria probiotics as those two bacteria types were the ones I was missing the most. Can’t say I did not benefit from probiotics at all but I continued to experience issues with my digestion. At times it was better, at times, it was worse. Tummy ache used to be my most common excuse for missing classes at school.

 

Fun fact, during one of my flares, I got tested on those two bacteria types again, and I had zero bifidobacterium. ZERO. The doctor who run the tests - our family’s close friend - said that she had never seen anything like this in her life. I felt almost proud of myself.

 

I used to have way more digestive issues that I do now. As a kid, it was way more difficult to restrain myself from eating certain foods. I vividly remember devouring handfuls of dry apricots in secret and then having horrible cramps in my abdomen. Or drinking a milkshake and then getting a bout of diarrhea. Sometimes those things would happen regardless of what I ate. I took probiotics from time to time during my teen and 20s. But mostly I was - and still am - taking digestive enzymes. Those are my lifesavers. I take so many of them that I should be investing in the stocks of the companies that produce them.

 

I am not going to bore you with more details, but let’s just say that till this day my digestive system is so touchy that I experience one type of discomfort or another on a daily basis. It is something that I am used to by now, as I don’t remember not having any digestive issues. I mainly manage it by eating only certain types of food. Although, sometimes I give in even in spite of a potential discomfort. (I use the word “discomfort” very loosely here as it can be anything from gas and bloating to severe abdominal pain and diarrhea and nausea for a couple of days.)

 

I spoke about it with my family doctor here, when I moved, and I was told that my symptoms right now are very similar to Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is no real cure for IBS, but it is possible to manage symptoms with diet and exercise.

 

I was referred to a dietician upon my request to help me manage my symptoms better. (Because I can eat a perfectly healthy meal and be in terrible pain for two days after that. And it is very annoying.)

 

I did a lot of googling ever since the term of IBS was brought up and came across FODMAP elimination diet even before it was mentioned to me by the dietician. The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from "Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols". A low-FODMAP diet avoids foods containing certain sugars and certain fibers capable of causing diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and abdominal pain in people with IBS.

 

Examples of FODMAPs include:

 

  • Lactose (also known as milk sugar; found in milk, yogurt and ice cream)
  • Fructose (also known as fruit sugar; found in fruit, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and agave syrup)
  • Sorbitol, mannitol, and other “-ol” sweeteners (also known as sugar alcohols; found in certain fruits and vegetables as well as some types of sugar-free gums and candies)
  • Fructans (a type of fiber found in wheat, onions, garlic and chicory root)
  • GOS (a type of fiber found in beans, hummus and soy milk)

 

I went through certain phases in my diet, when I would switch to gluten-free bread and lactose-free milk, but I have never eliminated fructose or sugar or all of those together.

 

Perhaps, starting a diet so close to my birthday and holiday season is a bit crazy, but I was not ready to wait any longer and agreed to try the elimination diet for the next 6-7 weeks.

 

There is no guarantee that it would remove all of my symptoms. There is not a forever diet as later I will start adding those FODMAPs back into my diet to see what is causing bad reactions.

 

I was given the list of good and bad foods and was relieved to see that many of my personal staples are there. E.g., eggs, butter, hard cheeses (thank goodness), bananas, blueberries, and tomatoes. If I can eat those together with gluten-free bread, other proteins, and lactose-free dairy products, it won’t be as bad.

 

Here is the full list if you are curious - https://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/ (there are plenty of lists online).

 

For whatever reason, I am excited. This is the first time in years that I am actively doing something to deal with this issue. I am ready for some change!

 

I love cooking, and I am looking forward to exploring new recipes. I have already stocked up with some staples, and I am ready to roll! (As I am writing this, I am on the second day of the diet, and all I am craving is chocolate, but I can’t have it!)

 

Since my blog is not related to food and cooking at all, I decided to create a new Instagram to post what I eat within those weeks. Perhaps, somebody else would find my recipes helpful.

 

Follow me at @foxcooks.

 

Let me know what you think!

 

My other blog posts

Blog: "Fancy a cuppa?" (Adagio teas review)

If somebody asked me about five years ago, whether I prefer coffee or tea, the answer would have been wholeheartedly tea. I did develop a certain addiction to coffee, and even invested in some of the coffee making paraphernalia.  

But my love for tea has stayed strong. It got someone dampened by the fact that I struggle to find a good quality tea in Toronto. Especially, loose leaf. I tried grocery stores, Homesense stories, and speciality tea stores. I am yet to find what I like.

 

One of the online stores that I like is Whittard of Chelsea, but, sadly, they are a UK company, so shipping to Canada can be a bit pricey. Although the quality is great.

 

I have heard of fandom teas before. I spent at least 6 years being very active in several fandoms on tumblr, so I was familiar with the concept. I was, however, always wary of self-made blends as I thought that it was difficult to guess the correct (or tasty) blend of ingredients, although I have several online friends who enjoy creating custom blends.

And, of course, I have heard of Adagio teas before.

 

I was approached by Adagio with an offer to review some of their teas, in particular Fandom Blends. I was very intrigued and jumped at this opportunity, as it had been awhile since I had any good teas.

 

Adagio fandom teas

 

Here is the list of all the samples that I ordered and the review for each will follow. I went through all of my favourite fandoms but eventually ended up going with Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter fandoms.

 

Reviews

 

Adagio Sherlock fandom blend
Shot In the Dark [His Last Vow]

created by Bran Mydwynter

Fandom: Sherlock

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=107533

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea, Pu Erh Dante, Lapsang Souchong, Natural Caramel Flavor, Cocoa Nibs, Natural Chocolate Flavor, Natural Vanilla Flavor

Teas: Tiger Eye, Pu Erh Dante, Lapsang Souchong

Accented With Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa Nibs And Red Peppercorn

Rating: 2 (of 5) stars

Comment: I liked the description of the tea ingredients (and the title - let's be honest), but I didn’t take into account peppercorn, which was way too strong for me in this tea. If you are ok with peppercorn - then you will enjoy this tea way more than I did.

 

Adagio Sherlock Fandom blend

 

Earl Greg [Greg Lestrade]

created by Bran Mydwynter

Fandom: Sherlock

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=78894

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea, Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Apple Pieces, Natural Blueberry Flavor, Orange Peels, Blueberries, Natural Bergamot Flavor, Blue Cornflowers,

Teas: Earl Grey Bravo, Berry Blues

Accented With Cornflowers

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

Comment: This tea works great, but I love everything with bergamot. The flavour of berries and flowers only adds to it. Will definitely order again.

 

Adagio Sherlock fandom blend

 

John

created by Katy B

Fandom: Sherlock

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=103514

Ingredients Blended With Green Tea, Gunpowder, Orange Peels, Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Natural Spice Flavor, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Root, Natural Orange Flavor   Teas: Spiced Green, Gunpowder, Blood Orange

Rating: 3 (of 5) stars

Comment: I am a bit on the fence with this tea. I like Gunpowder, and ginger, and hibiscus, but added blood orange was just not for me. I felt as if it dominated the flavour too much.

 

Adagio Sherlock Holmes fandom blend

 

Worth A Wound [johnlock]

created by Bran Mydwynter

Fandom: Sherlock

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=91273

Ingredients

Blended With Green Tea, Black Tea, Orange Peels, Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Natural Orange Flavor, Ginger Root, Natural Ginger Flavor, Marigold Flowers, Natural Lemon Flavor  

Teas: Blood Orange, Citron Green, Ginger

Accented With Hibiscus, Orange Peels And Ginger

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

Comments: I loved this tea! I was so disheartened by some other samples, that I was taken by surprise after tasting this one. It has the same blood orange that I didn’t like in another sample, but it works perfectly well in this one! Will definitely order more.

 

Adagio Harry Potter fandom blend

 

House of the Loyal

created by Mallory Walker

Fandom: Harry Potter

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=68297

Ingridients

Blended With Oolong Tea, Chamomile, Black Tea, Natural Peach Flavor, Apple Pieces, Natural Forest Berries Flavor, Marigold Flowers, Raspberry Leaves, Apricots, Raspberries, Strawberries

Teas: Forest Berries, Peach Oolong, Chamomile

Accented With Marigold Flowers And Orange Peels

Rating: 3 (of 5) stars

Comment: I felt really ‘meh’ about this tea. I think chamomile didn’t really go well for me with other berries. Although I liked the tones of other fruit in it.

 

Adagio Zodiac sign blend

Sagittarius

created by Kali Levon

Fandom: Zodiac signs

Link: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=116131

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea, Assam Melody Tea, Ceylon Sonata Tea, Orange Peels, Natural Coconut Flavor, Blue Cornflowers, Dried Coconut, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Natural Bergamot Flavor, Natural Creme Flavor  

Teas: Earl Grey Moonlight, Irish Breakfast, Coconut

Accented With Cinnamon, Coconut And Lavender

Rating: 3.5 (of 5) stars

Comment: I found this tea rather pleasant - fruity and nice. However, it reminded me of many other teas I had in the past. I might order it again, if I am in the mood.

 

Adagio Zodiac sign blend

Sagittarius

I also got a free Sagittarius sample based on my birthday month. Not sure if they changed the size of a sample or something, but it is not the same as the one I got sent (same blend though).

Link : https://www.adagio.com/gifts/sagittarius.html

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea, Raspberries, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Natural Creme Flavor, Safflower, Natural Raspberry Flavor And Natural Bergamot Flavor

Rating: 2 (of 5) stars

Comment: This tea was too bland. It tasted like English Breakfast tea and I barely tasted any particular flavour. Might do well with milk, but I drank it black and was disappointed.

 

I also got 2 other freebies with my order.

Adagio tea blends samples

 

Cherry (a sachet)

Link: https://www.adagio.com/flavors/cherry.html

Ingredients

Blended With Black Tea, Natural Wild Cherry Flavor, Rose Petals And Dried Cherries

Rating: 2 (of 5) stars

Comments: Very disappointed with this tea. Mostly because the flavour of cherry (that I love) wasn’t that strong and I am not a huge fan of black teas in the first place. This blend is too caffeinated for me. Might be okay with milk, but I definitely oversteeped it when I made it for the first time. I will try it again, but I was not impressed by overall flavour.

 

Cocomint green (a sachet)

Link: https://www.adagio.com/green/cocomint_green.html

Ingredients

Blended With Green Tea, Cocoa Nibs, Natural Chocolate Mint Flavor And Peppermint Leaves

Rating: 1 (of 5) stars

Comments: I tried two sips of this tea and had to pour it down the drain. No, just no. I am okay with peppermint chocolate but not in my tea, apparently. This was a huge mistake. I want to forget I have ever tried it.

 

Conclusion

 

I deeply thankful to Adagio for providing me with a coupon to taste their teas. However, I found that I am a rather picky tea drinker and I need an option of smelling a tea before purchasing it. Some of the blends sounded very good in description but turned unpalatable for my taste. Which is absolutely fair as tastes differ.

 

There is also a small matter of shipping. Since I live in Canada, the shipping costed me almost $15 CAD, which is a bit steep for a couple of tea samplers.

 

Still, I consider my experience with fandom teas a success as I did find some that I liked. I heard of Sherlock blends by Bran Mydwynter for awhile and always wanted to try them. Even though I didn’t love all of them, I feel like I might return to Adagio to sample some more.

 

My book reviews

Blog: John le Carre - An Evening with George Smiley

There is nothing like reading a well-written book by an intelligent and knowledgeable author. Through into the mix lots of espionage, cultural references and a subtle British humour, and you get an incredible reading experience. And that is John le Carré’s books in the nutshell.  

John le Carre

 

John le Carré is a British author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and '60s, he worked for both the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), became an international best-seller and remains one of his best-known works. Following the success of this novel, he left MI6 to become a full-time author. In 2011, he was awarded the Goethe Medal.

I didn’t know that John le Carre did any public appearance, as he is of a rather advanced age, but the moment I heard of this presentation, I knew I had to go and see it. It was broadcasted live by Cineplex on October 25, 2017.

Trailer

 

Synopsis

 

Captured live from London's Royal Festival Hall, join us for a celebration of one of the world’s greatest writers as he shares the secrets behind the creation of his most beloved character. From his extraordinary Cold War novels – such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – to his powerful descriptions of the arms trade in The Night Manager, and the War on Terror in A Most Wanted Man, the writing of John le Carre has come to define the last half century. In this one-off event, the author discusses the full breadth of his career, and reflects on the continuing story of his most famous creation, the tubby, bespectacled spy, George Smiley. Coinciding with the publication date of his new novel, A Legacy of Spies, the event will include readings from the book by the author. The novel sees the return of some of le Carre’s most iconic Cold War characters, including George Smiley and his trusted lieutenant, Peter Guillam, as their past comes back to claim them in the present. With a rare question and answer session, this will be an unmissable opportunity to experience one of the foremost chroniclers of our age, direct and in his own words. In support of MSF, the leading emergency medical humanitarian aid organisation, John le Carre is donating his speaker’s fee, and the producers of the live cinema broadcast, The Ink Factory, are donating their share of the profits to the charity.

 

My experience

 

The theatre was only half full with, predictably, people far older than me (I find it rather refreshing to be the youngest in the room). Right before the start, a Cineplex representative came into the auditorium and announced a one-question quiz. The prize was the new George Smiley book, “A Legacy of Spies”.

 

The question asked was “What is the latest book by John le Carre?”. I did a double take, as I am sure many in the audience, as nobody expected to be asked a question with such an obvious answer, so I didn’t say a thing. Someone in the audience yelled out the title of the book, and we had our winner.

 

Except, that person already had a copy of “A Legacy of Spies”.

 

The Cineplex rep was stuck - he had to do the giveaway but he ran out of questions - so a gentleman in the audience voiced the question for him.

 

Somebody answered it, and the Cineplex rep was ready to hand over the price. Except - that person also already owned a copy.

 

Can you guess what happened next?

The helpful gentleman asked the audience another question.

It was also answered by someone who already had the book.

 

We all were starting to giggle hysterically, because it was just too good. There were, perhaps, only about 50 people in the audience, and most of them have already purchased and read the book that was being given as a price. But since there were more than one people who didn’t have a copy, the rep couldn’t just give it to somebody.

 

To be honest, I didn’t even try to participate. I am not good with quizes and the questions concerned the George Smiley books that I haven’t read yet (I also have a feeling that I was spoiled certain things from the Karla trilogy), but I was enjoying the show a lot!

 

The fourth question came up, and finally an elderly lady next to me answered it with a help of her friend. The game was over. The Cineplex rep thanked everyone for an incredible entertainment and especially the person who stepped in with his questions (his questions were so deep, that they reminded me of my late professor of XX Century World Literature).

 

Finally, the show began.

 

The first part had John le Carre talk in extensive detail of his writing journey, how he came up with the character of George Smiley, as well as his own experience in intelligent service in UK and his work abroad. He also read small bits from “A Legacy of Spies” and talked about certain characters in detail. He mentioned several actors who portrayed George Smiley and Peter Guillam in various adaptations. (He even mentioned Benedict Cumberbatch in 2011 movie version of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and how his movie character was different from the book - which is something that I am still on the fence about.)

 

His hour long presentation is interrupted by interviews with several actors and producers: Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, 2016), Simon Russell Beale (who narrated The Complete George Smiley Radio Dramas: BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatization), Michael Jayston (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (miniseries)), and some others whom I, unfortunately, did not remember by the name.

The second part of the broadcast was a Q&A session with John, which was run by Jon Snow.

 

It was a delightful evening overall. I left Cineplex itching to read the first novel about George Smiley, “Call for the Dead”, as soon as possible. So far, I have only read “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Night Manager”. But I can’t wait to get my hands on more of le Carre’s books. If anything, this broadcast got me even more into the spy novels set during the Cold War.

 

Buy the latest book

A Legacy Of Spies

 

My book reviews

 

Links

 

  • https://www.johnlecarre.com/
  • https://www.cineplex.com/Movie/john-le-carre-an-evening-with-george-smiley

 

Random Photo Challenge: Wrap-Up

I was so close, but Anya won fair and square as I missed the last day challenge. As a matter of fact, I only took pictures for the last challenge today. Eep. ? So here are all of my photos in descending order. Check out Anya's Instagram and blog for her photos.

I happened to purchase a new phone mid-challenge, so half of those pictures are taken by two different iPhones.



Challenge: Make a slideshow about old building
Title: "Old being swallowed by the new"
Date: October 7
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

 

   

 

Challenge: Photograph two contrasting images (e.g. black and white in one photo, but not filter)
Title: "Tracks and art; reflection and ghosts"
Date: September 30
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

Photo challenge

 

Challenge: Using maximum depth of field make an image of something in your house
Date: September 29
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

 

Challenge: Make an image about colour with nothing straight
Title: Recent purchase
Date: September 28
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

 

Challenge: A close-up image
Date: September 27
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

 

Challenge: Using a red filter make an image of leaves/trees/nature
Date: September 26
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

 

 

Challenge: Photograph a distorted image
Date: September 25
Camera: iPhone 8 Plus

(it was the very first photo I took with a new phone, and I still can't figure out how I did it.)

 

 

Challenge: Take a picture while using candlelight
Date: September 24
Camera: iPhone 6S

(I have a review of this book on my blog!)

 

 

Challenge: Photograph a small image about earth and mud
Date: September 23
Camera: iPhone 6S

 

 

Challenge: Make a vintage photograph
Date: September 22
Camera: iPhone 6S

 

 

Challenge: Create a peaceful image in a cafe or restaurant
Date: September 21
Camera: iPhone 6S

 

Reading in Starbucks

 

Challenge: Shoot a picture that says something about feeling happy
Date: September 20
Camera: iPhone 6S

 

 

Challenge: Photograph a picture about music
Date: September 19
Camera: iPhone 6S

 

Challenge: Photograph an image based on the title “Finding Life”
Date: September 18
Camera: iPhone 6S

Sadly, this plant is dead after a month of taking this photo. I am very sad ?

 

Finding life

 

Photo Challenge blog announcement

More of my photos

BLOG: Audible Canada Launch - Info & FREE Audiobook

You know, sometimes you find yourself thinking, “how the heck did I miss this?”. This was exactly my thought today, when I realized that Audible launched a separate Canadian website. I am a Amazon Prime member and I was fooling around on Amazon Canada a couple of days ago (aka binge shopping), when I saw that a new button appeared next to a cart. I clicked it, logged in to Audible with my Amazon login, and completely missed the fact that I was logging into audible.ca and not audible.com as I had been doing for years.  

Half an hour ago, I thought of checking Audible for new releases and then I remembered Audible.ca, and then it hit me.

 

Audible launched a dedicated Canadian marketplace.

A dedicated Canadian marketplace.

 

OMG THIS IS AMAZING!

 

I did a double take. I looked at Audible.ca, saw a letter from the founder and CEO of Audible, and finally believed what I saw. Moreso, turns out I am two weeks late as it was launched in mid-September. (In my defence, I was just coming back from my vacation and was very jetlagged.)

 

After a decade of using American Audible, I can switch to Canadian membership. This sounds like a dream.

 

I have been using Audible.com for over 10 years. No even kidding (see the screenshot). I registered in 2006, back in a day when Audible was an independent company, because I learned that my favourite fantasy series, The Nightrunner by Lynn Flewelling, was available in audiobook format.

 

My Audible US page

 

A lot of things have changed since 2006. I switched from downloading Audible files to my computer and uploading them to my iPod to using a very new and glitching Audible app on iPod Touch then to upgrading to an iPhone, etc. For years I used Audible login separately from Amazon. In fact, I even had (and still do) several Audible logins (another US one registered during a special promo, and two UK ones). I only ever linked Audible with my Amazon account this summer (which resulted in all of my earned statistics & badges being annulled for some reason). And now it seems like there is an option to migrate to Canadian website with my old login.

 

I have not explored this option yet, as I accidentally logged into to Audible.ca with my Audible.com login (which is the same as my Canadian Amazon, which makes it all very confusing). Perhaps, I should be able to see my full library from 2006 on Audible.ca but it is not the case. The article that I read on the new marketplace made it sound very easy, but as it shows I am too old-school for any changes (although the thought of using just one login/password combo for Audible and Amazon and being charged in Canadian dollars is very appealing). I will need some time to explore and adjust.

 

As it stands right now, I somehow have US and Canadian Audible accounts. And I use the same logins/passwords. Perhaps, I would need to get in touch with tech support for that.

 

For years, I have been paying 14.95 USD for my monthly membership. I am looking forward for being charged 14.95 CANADIAN dollars, as the exchange rate is not in our favour.

 

Audible Canada membership for Prime users

 

If you have Amazon Prime, you are eligible for a special promotion at Audible which is giving you 90 days of free trial that includes 1 credit per month. You can purchase any price audiobook for 1 credit. Meaning you are getting 3 audiobooks for free!

 

As an additional incentive to sign up with Audible.ca, you can get a FREE copy of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. This is a all new version by Audible, which is narrated by the full cast and is unabridged, and includes an afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin. This promotion is available for Canadian residents only.

 

FREE on Audible Canada

 

Am I excited about this new change? - Heck yeah!

Am I also confused about how to migrate my account from US to Canadian marketplace? - Same answer.

My confusion aside, I am very excited about this change, even though it comes hot on the heels of Kobo launching their audiobooks service. I am all for supporting Canadian companies and I do have a soft spot for Indigo (the former owning company of Kobo), I still prefer Audible for my audiobooks. It has been over 10 years, folks. This type of commitment is hard to break.

 

Go and register with Audible.ca today!

 

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Audible. I am just a fan. :)

 

Links:

 

BLOG: Preview of The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake

The Uncrossing  

As you know, I love LGBT+ books and I always support indie or emerging authors. I was very lucky to receive an e-ARC of The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake from Entangled Teen. This is a debut, YA fantasy novel that I am currently reading and quite enjoying. The novel is coming out on October 2, and I will have the review on my blog by or on that date. However, today I have an exclusive preview from The Uncrossing! So, thank you so much to Melissa for giving me this opportunity to share it with you.

Synopsis

The Uncrossing is a Rapunzel-esque romance between two boys who have grown up in the magic mafia. Luke can break almost any curse—they unravel for him like no one else. Working for the Kovrovs is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break…

Excerpt

Luke always seemed busy and independent for a teenager, very…was glamorous the word? Mature. Intense.   Like the rest of his family, he wore formal clothes, but he carried them nicely. The top button of his white shirt was undone, a V of skin peeking under the knot of his tie.   What Instagram had taught Jeremy about Luke: He liked cats, purple Gatorade, and street art. He liked his parents’ cooking better than restaurants, unless it was okra or beets, and he worked a lot but he enjoyed it. He liked math and science better than English and history, which Jeremy could hardly even imagine.   Also, one of his friends posted weekly Thursday thirst traps of models and celebrities, all across the gender spectrum, but Luke only ever commented on the pictures of guys. Once, the friend had posted a picture of a wan model, all cheekbones and legs, and Luke had replied, “Drag me.”   Jeremy could second-guess the blue of the sky, but the evidence was pretty solid that Luke liked boys.   Jeremy snapped his eyes back to his empty plate, but Alexei’s attention was hot enough to burn his cheeks. This was the treat, or the test: just say something. Luke also liked the kind of flashy action movies no one in Jeremy’s family ever wanted to watch, so all Jeremy had to do was bring up The Fast and the Furious. “It sounds great on the new sound system at home…” Something like that. Something cool.   “We have a little business to discuss.” Alexei nodded to Yuri and Helene. “And there is a task I would like our witch doctor’s help with.”   The Melnyks all straightened in their chairs, their attention sizzling as Jeremy grabbed his messenger bag from the floor and pulled out two burlap witch bags.   Luke winced, and Camille leaned forward. “Oooh.”   “Quite,” Alexei said. “A client found these in their home, luckily before they managed to hurt anybody. I’d like an inventory of the contents and a swift execution.”   Luke nodded. “Yes, sir.”   “Wonderful. Jeremy will stay with you until that’s done—call me if there are any problems.” He turned to Jeremy. “I won’t need long, but take your time. Call me when you’re done, and we’ll come pick you up.”   Sure he would. He’d want a debrief on everything Jeremy had said to Luke, and there would be nothing to tell him. “I’ll take the subway.”   Alexei arched one sly eyebrow but didn’t answer. He followed Helene and Yuri downstairs and left Jeremy alone with the twins.

Links

More of my book reviews

Random Photo Challenge: September 18 - October 1

Just because I love to overbook myself (and because my darling Anya needs some inspiration for her blog), we are doing a photo challenge for the rest of September. I am posting this to make us both accountable. Plus, if anyone wants to join or get inspired by the topics - please be our guest! I came up with the random rules and topics to make it easy and fun. The goal is to inspire us both to take more creative photos.

Photo Challenge Rules:

  • Post 1 photo a day on Blog/Instagram
  • ANY interpretation - just has to be taken with an iPhone
  • No skipping, you have to do all 14 challenges
  • Can be completed in ANY order
  • If you skip - you lose and buy the other person an ice-cream
  • If we both win, we go out for the ice-cream together

 

Simple, eh? XD

 

Here is the list of the challenges:

  1. Photograph an image based on the title "Finding Life"
  2. Shoot a picture that says something about feeling happy
  3. Photograph a picture about music
  4. Using a red filter make an image of leaves/trees/nature
  5. A close-up image
  6. Make an image about colour with nothing straight
  7. Make a vintage photograph
  8. Photograph a distorted image
  9. Make a slideshow about old buildings
  10. Create a peaceful image in a cafe or restaurant
  11. Take a picture while using candlelight
  12. Photograph a small image about earth and mud
  13. Using maximum depth of field make an image of something in your house
  14. Photograph two contrasting images (e.g. black and white in one photo, but not filter)

 

I have a feeling, we will probably fail but it is still fun to try! XD

 

Follow us on Instagram!

Me: @foxcloudsblog

Anya: @arwy

 

More of my photos

THEATRE BLOG: The Day of Open Doors at Wiener Staatsoper (Der Tag der offenen Tür)

Wiener Staatsoper  

For most people, who visit Vienna, Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) is the first attraction that they are introduced to. It is a prominent landmark, from which the most sightseeing tours around the city start and end. I have met with people numerous times around Opera. I have had an Apfelstrudel in Opera Cafe. I have used Opera as a starting point of my walks in the city, and this is where I always come back.

 

History

 

The structure of the Wiener Staatsoper was planned by the Viennese architect August Sicard von Sicardsburg, while the inside was designed by interior decorator Eduard van der Nüll. Neither of the architects survived to see the opening of the opera house: the sensitive van der Nüll committed suicide, and his friend Sicardsburg died of a stroke soon afterwards. The building was majorly damaged during the WWII. Only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer had been spared from the bombs. It was reconstructed after the war, and in 1955, the Vienna State Opera reopened with a new auditorium and modernized technology.

 

Wiener Staatsoper

Wiener Staatsoper is one of the leading opera houses in the world. Each season, the schedule features 350 performances of more than 60 different operas and ballets. It is said to have one of the largest repertoires in the world.

Wiener Staatsoper

 

Open Doors Day

 

Every year, before the official start of the season, Wiener Staatsoper holds the Open Door Day. This event is free of charge, but the tickets have to be picked up beforehand in the theatre’s ticket office (Bundestheaterkassen). I learned about this event only this year, even though it was far from my first (or my second) visit to Vienna. Years ago I was even lucky to score a ticket for the performance. But I didn’t know that the opera house hosted Open Doors Day. This year, it took place on September 3rd, Sunday. I knew that I would be in the city on that day but all the traveling, and scheduling, and meeting my parents and friends, the fact that I had to acquire the tickets beforehand had totally slipped my mind.

Wiener Staatsoper

So, when we were leisurely strolling past Staatsoper after 1pm and saw lines of people in the middle of the day, something clicked in my mind. It was the Open Doors Day. The event took place twice during the day: first session - 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm; and second session - 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm. We lined up at first for 2pm, but when I rushed into the ticket office, I was informed that they only had four tickets left for 5:30pm session. I couldn’t believe my luck! Of course, I snatched three of those, even though it sort of upset our evening plans.

 

But it was so worth it.

 

Experience

 

The doors of Wiener Staatsoper opened at 5:30pm, and everybody rushed in. We were allowed to walk everywhere, or almost everywhere, including backstage, on stage, up to the rehearsal rooms. Small orchestra was playing on one of the balconies. In one of the halls, the costume department brought out various costumes and hats for the public to try on. On the stage itself, we were introduced to various technical departments and the effects they can produce: foam, smoke, lights - it was so much fun for both adults and kids. The staff were there to explain what parts of the stage equipment was used for what.

 

As a theatre geek, I was in heaven. I couldn’t take enough selfies next to a smoke machine too.

Behind the scenes

At 7:30pm everybody was called to their seats for the Technical Show. (And this is why it is important to keep your ticket till the very end, as those ticket ladies can be very strict.) The Technical show had bits of ballet and opera repertoire, but intercepted with talks and introductions by the technical director of the opera house. Every change of stage was done with curtains up, which allowed the audience to see how it all happens. The decorations went up and down (the stage goes down 11.5 meters!), there was smoke, lights, and fire!

 

Both my parents and I were stunned. It was one of the best technical shows ever. It was fully conducted in German, though, which made it a bit difficult to follow the jokes (as my German is far from good), but it was just a small part of the performance.

 

Trying on costumes

Even if you are not a theatre or opera fan, do not miss out on this opportunity next year. It is a free and fun event for all. Definitely, something that I would love to experience again.

Resources:
My other theatre related posts.