Disaster! Part Two | Flashback Friday

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For today’s Flashback Friday, we’re continuing with the story about the Christchurch earthquake. If you haven’t read the first installment, you can find that here.

When we stopped last week, Crystal had just discovered that her house had collapsed, and she had no idea where her family was. She had just seen someone out of the corner of her eye, bending over…

Disaster!

“Lizzie!” I throw my arms around my best friend, forgetting my grief for a moment. “Have you found your family?” I ask.

“Yes. We weren’t too badly affected. Just a bit of a mess. What about you?”

I remember my sadness. “Take a look for yourself,” I say, starting to sob. She stares down the street and sees the house, the house that holds our memories. We messed it up as toddlers, chased each other through it as preschoolers, played in it together as primary kids, and fixed extravagant snacks in it as intermediates. But now, it was all gone, destroyed in a matter of seconds.

Lizzie looks at me and bursts into tears. “I’m so sorry for you,” she sobs, holding me tight. We cry and cry and cry, not letting go of each other. At the same time, I am hoping and praying. Hoping that my family is alive, and praying that they’ll find me soon.

I pull away from Lizzie, and hold her at arms length. Trying to choke back my tears, I say to her, “Lizzie, I need your help. You are my best friend, and I’ve helped you many times. Now it’s your turn to help me. I only want one thing – my family. Please help me find them. I won’t ask you to do anything ever again.” I start to sob again.

Lizzie pulls away from me, and starts laughing and crying at the same time, as she says, “Of course I’ll help you. You would do the same thing if the situation was reversed. What friend would I be if I didn’t help you? Not a very good one, I’ll tell you that.” She hugs me, and I start pouring out tears again, but this time they are happy ones.

We start searching right away. We go through all the rubble of the house. I see some of it moving…

“Sunshine!” My darling little puppy is alright! I hug her tight. “Oh Sunshine, I was so worried about you.” She licks my cheek, and then jumps down. “No! Sunshine! Come back!” I cry, but she has her nose down. After a minute, she gives a joyful bark. I run over to her, only to see Missy, trapped under the remains of our dining room table.

“Missy!” I cry, shifting the wood so that she can run free. She doesn’t move, so I pick her up and listen for a heartbeat. I can’t hear one. I cry into her fur, when suddenly, “Meow?” Her back leg is at a funny angle. “Come look at this, Lizzie,” I call. I show her Missy’s leg. “Your mum’s a vet. Could you take Missy to her?” I ask.

“Yeah, sure,” Lizzie answers, taking Missy. She starts walking to her house.

I cuddle Sunshine. “Oh, Sunshine. What are we going to do?” I bury my face in her soft golden fur and cry myself to sleep.

~~~

Come back next week to find out what happens to Crystal? Will she find her family? Does it all end happily? You’ll have to wait and see!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Reviews: An Abundance Of Katherines & Looking For Alaska | Wordy Wednesday

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Apologies for not posting on Monday. A family member of mine passed away on Sunday night. He had been very sick, so it wasn’t at all a shock, but I was not at all in the right frame of mind to post anything. Which is probably understandable.

Today I’ll be reviewing two John Green books that I read on Sunday. I’m reviewing them both together because a) it’s easier, b) there are a lot of similarities, and c) I’m getting a bit of a backlog of books to review, so doing two at a time makes sense.

For both of these books, I had higher expectations than I did for Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars, because I hadn’t heard any of the hype for these two than I did for those two. That makes absolutely no sense. Basically, I had extremely high expectations for TFIOS and PT because of all the hype, but I was also pretty certain that they wouldn’t live up to my expectations. For AAOK and LFA, I hadn’t heard any of the hype, so my expectations were based purely off of the opinions my friends had shared with me and my own opinion based on the blurbs etc.

I really butchered that.

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Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

This book lived up to my expectations more than the first two John Green books I read. To me, it had a bit more to it than those other two. I liked the quirks about it – the anagrams and the footnotes. I liked the maths, and how that was all incorporated. Although I really don’t think that coming up with a formula like that would be possible, but it’s a nice idea. And despite the unbelievability of the dating-19-Katherines thing (because the chance of one person knowing that many Katherines with their names spelt that same way isn’t very high), I actually kind of loved it. Especially when it is all explained. But maybe I’m just a romantic.

I enjoyed reading about all of the different characters, and how they developed and changed. There were things about them that I didn’t appreciate, but I’ll talk about those later. Right now, let’s just say that they were good characters, in my opinion.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that predicting the endings of books is a big issue for me. Did that happen? Partially. There was one aspect in particular that I definitely saw coming, but there were others that surprised me, which was nice.

Sounds like I’m giving a pretty good review, right? Mmm, not quite the case. But, as my issues with this one and Looking For Alaska were basically the same, I’ll talk about that after this next review.

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Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Alrighty. What’d I like? Same as with the other one, I preferred it to the first two. Not sure why, really. Maybe I just have something engrained in me to dislike the thing that is cool at that time. I don’t know. Anyways, so I enjoyed it. Maybe not quite as much as the other one, but at the same time, slightly more. I think the Katherines one was lighter, which was nice and I enjoyed, while this one was slightly deeper, which was also good.

Again, I quite liked the characters. There were a couple in particular that I really liked reading about, although I’m not entirely sure why. It’s the same way that we gravitate towards certain types of people. Some characters we just like without reason.

As for predictability, I had an inkling about what was going to happen. I think it was kind of floating at the back of my mind, although I wasn’t too certain about it or too focused on it. I didn’t really find myself thinking about it while I was reading. So there was still a bit of an element of surprise.

BUT

Here comes the negatives.

The language, the drinking, and the nature of some of the scenes and conversations repulsed me.

COME ON, PEOPLES! NOT EVERY BOOK NEEDS TO HAVE SWEARING AND SEX!

I’m sick and tired of reading books containing that kind of thing. It makes the book less enjoyable on a huge scale. And John Green, even if you change the spelling, we still know exactly what you are saying when you use that word twice in every sentence. It still has the exact same effect.

I have this mental rating scale in my mind. I enjoy a book a lot more if I’d feel comfortable recommending it to my brother.

Confused?

I have a younger brother, who is 14. I still think of him as much younger, and a lot more innocent than me, meaning that he hasn’t been exposed to the kind of thing that I was talking about before. I’m sure that’s probably not true, but in my mind it is. So when I’m reading a book, I will enjoy it a lot more if I knew that I’d be comfortable with him reading it. If the idea of that repulses me; if the image of my brother reading a certain scene makes me want to snatch the book off him and give him a teddy bear, then I won’t enjoy it very much.

Where do these fall on that scale? If I see him reading these books anytime soon, I’ll be taking them from him and setting him down in front of a nice cartoon. Probably Blue’s Clues or something along those lines.

Actually, that’s something to keep in mind when you write, I think. Would you be comfortable with someone younger than you (but old enough to read that book/genre) reading the things you are writing about? It could be a younger sibling or cousin or something. I don’t know. But that’s something to keep in mind.

There’s my somewhat random thoughts on An Abundance Of Katherines and Looking For Alaska. Basically, both were very good, plot wise and character wise, in my opinion, but I’d only recommend them if you are comfortable with lots of foul language, drinking, and somewhat descriptive sex scenes. Read at your own discretion.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Glorious | Song Of The Week

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It’s been a while since I’ve done this, because I’ve decided to limit myself to four posts a week, and this is the one that gets cut if I do a tag or Top Ten Tuesday.

Anyway. I mentioned this song in the tag I did last week, but I wanted to do a post about it, because it’s my musical obsession at the moment.

A few weeks ago, my music teacher played a song that she wanted us to possibly do for choir in the future, and it brought tears to my eyes. I’m not kidding. Since then, I’ve listened to as many songs by this children’s choir as I can find, because they are amazing.

The song is Glorious, performed by One Voice Children’s Choir. I also recommend their cover of Kiss The Girl, because it is adorable.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Disaster! Part One | Flashback Friday

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Today, I shall be posting the first part of a story I wrote when I was 12, based on the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It’s a bit long to go in one post, so I’m going to split it up into two, possibly three posts. Hope you enjoy!

Disaster!

I look at my watch. 12:25pm. Five minutes until Mr Boring will stop his boring speech about the history of ballpoint pens. My mind wanders off. I can’t wait until 3:00. I will dash home to celebrate my dad’s 40th birthday. And then we get to go on holiday for a whole month! Me (Crystal), my mum, my dad, my four year old brother Sammy, and my one year old sister Lily-Rose are going on a cruise around the Bahamas. My dad got a new job, and it’s a birthday/new job present from my mum.

I glance back at my watch. Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Bring bring! I race out of class, dashing for the tennis courts. David bet that I couldn’t beat him in a round of tennis. So I said, “I bet I can!” Now is the time. I scoff down my sandwiches and homemade choc brownie. Then I grab a racket and a ball. “Come on,” I yell to David. We stand either side of the net. I check my watch. 12:51. Just enough time. I get ready to serve. Suddenly, the ground starts shaking. I drop my racket and ball. David does the same. We crouch down and cover our heads.

When it’s over, we walk towards the field. I am saying to David that it was just another small aftershock, but in my head, I know it’s not.

As we sit down on the field, I notice cracks in the ground. For some reason, my family pops into my head.

“They’ll be okay. Don’t worry Crystal,” I whisper to myself. I try to assure myself, but I can’t. I’m too worried. We all watch as the school building starts to crumble. The teachers are panicking, even Mr Boring, who would not get excited if a herd of elephants came into class. They are all frantically calling out the names of students. I hear my name.

“Crystal Jeffreys?”

“Here,” I call. My body is there, but my brain isn’t. Then the principal says that we can try find our families, but I’m already off. I dash home, as fast as my legs will carry me. But as soon as I reach our cul-de-sac, I have to stop. I pant on the footpath, looking at the devastation. Our house, our beautiful house, is in ruins. I burst into tears, right there on the footpath. Where are my family? They can’t have survived. Am I left to fend for myself? No! Not Lily-Rose and Sammy! I weep and weep. People stare at me, some sympathetic, others not. But I don’t care. I am just too sad to care. I cry and cry and cry. The ground beneath me and my clothes are sopping wet, but there is nothing I can do about it. I cry even more when I think about Missy, my beautiful tortoiseshell kitten. And Sunshine, my adorable Golden retriever puppy. I am like a plane wreck – a complete mess. My tears are spilling everywhere. I can’t stop crying. But then I see someone looking at me, bending over…

~~~

That seems like an appropriate place to stop it. Come back next week to find out what happens to Crystal! Who is the mysterious person bending over? Is her family okay? Will her life ever be the same? These questions and more will be answered next week!

This may be a work of fiction, and a somewhat terrible one at that, but the Christchurch earthquake was a real event that happened. Many people died, and those who survived are still affected to this day, especially those still living in Christchurch. I saw some of the damage about two months after the earthquake, and it was awful. Just keep that in mind.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Review: Red Queen | Wordy Wednesday

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I’m currently really happy because I just finished a maths test and I just found I got excellence on it which means I’ve passed the year with excellence and that makes me happy!

What a sentence that was.

Today I’ll be reviewing Red Queen, which I finished on Monday night. Actually, very early Tuesday morning.

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This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

This one was recommended by Rachel. She absolutely loved it, and so I decided to read it. She did warn me that I might not enjoy it, because it isn’t the kind of book that I’d normally enjoy. However, I’ve been trying to branch out with what I’ve been reading, so I thought I’d give it a crack and maybe surprise myself.

So. Did I surprise myself? I’m not sure.

I have extremely mixed emotions about this book. Part of me is telling me that I loved it, that it was better than I thought. And that’s true. But the other part of me is telling me that it was horrible because of the brutality of it. Which is also true.

I have no idea how I’m going to review this book.

There were definitely aspects that I did enjoy. It was different to other books I’ve read. The concept was something entirely new to me, and I liked that. The brutality was awful, but it was realistic and heart wrenching. It made me feel things. Which is good. I was surprised by things that happened, which is extremely unusual, since I can generally predict most things that happen in books. I liked that too, not knowing what was going to happen next or how it was going to end. Although I might have had a little inkling on occasion.

However, I found bits and pieces of it very difficult to understand. I’d read a chapter and have to think for a minute or two about what actually happened in the chapter, because it was written in a way that I didn’t quite understand. Probably because I don’t have much experience reading this genre, and also because I was reading late at night. It just took a bit longer to process than I’m used to.

And as much as I appreciated the reality of the brutality, it was horrible as well. I remembered why I prefer contemporary books to dystopian ones. I like a happy ending, and I know dystopians can have them too, but I’d rather get there with most of the characters alive, thank you very much. Maybe that makes me a wimp or something, but that’s what I prefer.

There are other things that I could mention, but that would spoil things, so I won’t.

One final thing that I have to bring up is the romance. There’s literally a love square. And it frustrated me. Although I’m not sure if that’s because I couldn’t decide who I’d ship, or if I was bugged by the fact that there was romance again. As always.

Would I recommend this book? If you don’t mind a bit of brutality, then go for it. If you’re like me and prefer slightly nicer books, then maybe not. I don’t regret reading it, though, and I will probably get my hands on the sequel when it comes out.

Wouldn’t it be funny if I had used the word brutality all wrong?

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Beautiful Books #1: Introduce Your Novel | Motley Monday

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Before I begin, I have an extremely exciting announcement. Some of you may have seen my post back in August about my inability to comment on blogs.

Well. Yesterday, I finally sorted it out! So be prepared for comments from meee!

Can you tell I’m excited?

So last week I posted about NaNoWriMo. I listed a whole heap of reasons that I had for doing it or not doing it. After a lot of thought and contemplation and arguing with myself, I have decided to participate. I’m so flipping stoked. Also stressed. But mainly stoked.

To celebrate, I decided to do this month’s Beautiful Books linkup run by Cait from Paper Fury, and Sky from Further Up And Further In. I haven’t participated in this linkup before, although I have thought about it a few times. This one is different to normal, though. Rather than the questions being about characters, the questions are about the novel you are planning on writing for NaNo.

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1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I came up with the idea sometime last year. A friend of mine (also with ptosis) sent me her story about a girl with ptosis, and it gave me inspiration to write one of my own.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
Because it’s about a girl with ptosis, which I’ve never read about before (other than the one my friend sent me, of course). Also because it’s going to be set in New Zealand, and hopefully not be strange like all of the other novels set here. And I’m also just really excited to have an idea for something that could potentially become a novel.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
The title is Face The Facts, and it’s about a girl called Sarah who has ptosis. It’s about the affect that bullying can have on a person’s character and personality, and it’s about finding hope after darkness.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)
I wrote a detailed post about the characters a few months ago (although, the way things are going, it won’t quite be the same as this). I have a very hard time describing them with one word, so I’ll just leave you with a link to that post. Which does have pictures.

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!
Well the whole thing is told from Sarah’s first person perspective, and I really cannot wait to write that, but the one I’m most excited about is Devlin, who isn’t actually on that post I linked. I’m excited about him, coz he’s my baby and I love him. He’s amazing. And that’s all I’m going to say about him.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
Sarah’s main goal is probably just to be happy, and her past is what stands in her way.

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)
My novel is set in modern day New Zealand, and I am so, so excited about it!

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This cute little place.

I’ve narrowed it down to two cities to have it set in:

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This one…

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Or this one…

When I say cities, I mean one has a population of around 80,000, and is the seventh largest (population wise) city in New Zealand, and the other is smaller. So they are not huge.

Honestly, though, why aren’t more books set in this beautiful place?

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
Probably the most life-changing would be Sarah’s relationships with Bella and Will, her close friends. Or Devlin. Always Devlin. Actually, I’m not sure. They’re all important.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Isn’t that kind of spoiling it? But I think Sarah becomes less extreme in her studious ways. Ah I don’t know how to say this. I know exactly what I mean, but I can’t explain it. She goes from being stiff and mostly emotionless to being someone who actually lives her life. I’m botching this up, aren’t I?

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
Hmm. Mainly that there is hope. I want people to feel a multitude of both positive and negative emotions. If someone told me after reading it that they had the feels, or that they had cried, then I would have succeeded.

NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
I have absolutely no idea. Give up on the world for a month and hibernate in a cave with chocolate and a laptop.

Woo! That was fun! I’m getting so excited for November!

Oh, and for those of you also doing NaNo, please add me as a buddy! My username is Tessa Ann.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

One Lovely Tag Of Happiness Award

That was a mess of a title.

Liz from Out Of Coffee, Out Of Mind tagged me for twooo tags/awards! Thanks Liz!

The first is The Tag Of Happiness, which I’d been eyeing up for ages in the hopes that I’d be tagged.

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Rules:
Take the banner and put it in your post.
List as many things as you want in each category.
Come up with more categories if you wish.
Tag as many people as you want.

Some songs that make you happy:
Basically anything from the Les Miserables soundtrack.
• Anything by One Voice Children’s Choir, especially Glorious and Kiss The Girl (because it’s so freaking adorable!)
• The 200ish songs on this playlist that I made.

So basically, a lot of songs make me happy.

Some books that make you happy:
• Wonder by R.J. Palacio, because it’s beautiful.
• Kilmeny Of The Orchard by L.M. Montgomery, because it’s also beautiful.
• Argh I can’t choose. Too many good books.

Some movies that make you happy:
• The Princess Bride. I watched this last night with my mum, and I forgot how awesome it was.
• Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It’s an amazing musical, and I really love it.
• Les Miserables, of course.
• Pride & Prejudice, obviously.
• Ever After. Because books and beautiful clothes.

Some foods that make you happy:
• Pizza. Which I had for lunch.
• Chocolate, because chocolate.
• Chicken. Absolutely delicious. I’m pretty sure we’re having it for dinner.
• Cereal. I really, really like cereal for some reason. Especially soggy cereal. I love it.
• Most carbs. Bread, pasta, potatoes…

Some words that make you happy:
• Colloquially, because it rolls off the tongue in such a lovely way.
• Bookkeeper, because of the double letters thing.
• Library, when it is pronounced properly.
• Pronunciation, because no one ever says it right so it makes me happy to correct them. There’s something wrong with me.

Some scents that make you happy:
• Yeast/bread, because om nom nom.
• Our set of four Golden Book Collections. They smell like childhood.
• Meatballs and risoni. It’s this dish that my mum makes, and the smell is divine.
• Herb and garlic chicken. The smell of that stuff is the greatest thing in the world.

Some random things that make you happy:
• Giggling over pictures of adorable/funny cats with my mum.
• Being able to just sit and read.
• Not having any homework or assignments.
• Playing with kids.

That was fun. A lot of things make me happy, apparently.

Next is the One Lovely Blog Award! I’m pretty sure I did this once upon a time a few months ago, but it has a different picture, so I’m doing it again.

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Rules:
Link back to the blogger who nominated you
Post seven facts about yourself
Nominate fifteen bloggers of your own

Alrighty. Seven facts that I haven’t already shared.

1. I have a very strange obsession with the number eight at the moment. Seriously. If I’m walking somewhere, I’ll count my steps in groups of eight. If I’m in an uncomfortable situation, I’ll count to eight multiple times to fill the silence and uncomfortableness in my mind. I had a mini mental breakdown thing over something random the other day, and I calmed myself down by counting to eight. It’s strange, I tell you. Very strange.

2. I despise cold weather. I feel like I’m supposed to love it, but our cold weather doesn’t come with snow, only rain, and it makes me miserable. I was so excited when it was warm enough to wear shorts the other week.

3. I love movies and books aimed at an age category way younger than me. Face it, I’m young at heart. I don’t want to grow up.

4. I hate rugby and the world cup and the fact that everyone is crazy about it, but for someone who hates it, I know quite a lot about it. I can’t escape it, I swear.

5. I’m lactose intolerant. Which is not fun when you love chocolate and milk.

6. I have seen 21ish of Disney’s 50 something Animated Classics, but I know a lot about most of the ones I haven’t seen. Because that’s normal.

7. I have had a grand total of seven surgeries, which could one day soon be going up to nine. Fun times.

There you go! Seven random and slightly strange things about me that you didn’t know or want to know.

I tag whoever wants to do them. Because I have no idea who has or hasn’t done these. Sooo anyone who wants to do one or both, feel free to steal it from me. I won’t be upset if you do. Stealing is okay in these circumstances.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann