Books, Recountings

recountings: ten thousand thorns

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TEN THOUSAND THORNS 

by Suzannah Rowntree

Princess Morning Light meditates in a hidden temple surrounded by ten thousand thorns. Guardian of a long-lost sword skill, the princess is destined to wake after a hundred years to return justice to the world.

Or so legend says.

As the Vastly Martial Emperor extends his brutal domination, rebel leader Clouded Sky flees the capital for the safety of his martial sect at Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, a renegade martial artist seeks a hero to awaken Morning Light. As bounty hunters and imperial guards close in, Clouded Sky must determine who he can trust – and who may be planning to betray him.

An action-packed retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the style of a Chinese martial arts epic!

Ah, I really enjoyed this one.

THE WRITING

The writing is clear and crisp, and it truly draws you in; almost as if you are watching a movie – seeing the shadows, hearing the clash of weapons, and watching the cast interact.

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Some of the descriptions were quite perfect:

‘she moved as lightly as a dandelion seed blowing on the wind’

THE CAST

The characters are delightful, Iron Maiden in particular. Sometimes heroines can really get on my nerves (you know what I mean … ‘I AM A STRONG, POWERFUL WOMAN WHO CAN FIGHT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. I ALSO HAVE AS MUCH CHARACTER AS A CARDBOARD CUTOUT. NO! LESS!) but thankfully, such was not the case in this book.

What really was nice, was the way that Rowntree wrote her – skilled, but not flaunting it. Feminine, but more than capable of handling herself in a fight. The balance was right, and so I was really able to enjoy reading about her.

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Everyone was saying Very Wise And Poetic Sayings, which gives me life goals because I would very much like to drift around and say things like ‘truly, one happiness scatters a thousand sorrows’ (…and then crack out some ‘Awkward-Octopus-Strikes-Thrice-And-Falls’ martial arts move, afterwards, of course.)

THE PLOT

At first, I was a little overwhelmed (gee, doesn’t that make me like a swooning heroine!) with the amount of names, details etc there were – but that could be because my brain has the retention skills of a colander.

But once I caught the gist of the story and memorised names and who was who and what was what … it was clear sailing.

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There were some PLOT TWIST! moments that I enjoyed, and I found the way that the fairy tale was retold to be unique and quite clever.

TO SUM UP …

Altogether, I found this story to be an action filled martial arts adventure, garnished with the perfect touch of swashbuckling charm.

And also, my word, it felt like Rowntree had throughly researched the setting for her book – so hats off and kudos to her for that.

amazon // goodreads

DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge in return for an honest review. I would have happily written a review in return for a dragon, but I wasn’t offered any.

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I think I just rambled, Life, Story Time

hair dyeing adventures [Story Time]

*warning: excessively long post ahead. before + after pictures that are in no way professional and display a love of bathrooms/mirrors/ipads. moulting hair fears. bad humour*

THE BACKGROUND

When I was a little girl, I wanted to have black hair – as black as Aquila’s sister in The Lantern Bearers, which was so black she could almost comb sparks from it. (Or that’s how I remember the description going. I can’t look it up because my beloved books are an ocean away right now.)

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But I’ve never yet had black hair, always brown. I loved the stories where the heroine had plain brown hair. I could sympathise. I thought my hair was … a nothing. A sort of bland, brown, and boring mixture that simply existed.

It took me many years to appreciate my hair for what it was: beautiful. When the sun shone, different strands looked like spun gold. In the summer, it would lighten – if I went outside, of course. Which didn’t always happen. I am a bookworm after all.

But I’ve pondered dyeing my hair (mostly blue because it’s so THERE and shockingly so) for years now. Not because I didn’t like it, but because … I could. And suddenly, quite by chance and entirely by impulse – I had a hair appointment booked.

… and still no idea what kind of colour I wanted it.

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THE ELIMINATION PROCESS:

  • Blonde was ruled out because I couldn’t envision myself as a blonde. Like, the image didn’t compute in my mind.
  • Black was discarded because I couldn’t quite picture anything that didn’t look terrible on me (I’m still saving this for another day … dun dun dunnn.)
  • Blue was thrust aside because a) I’d only feel like having blue hair on Thursdays and not every day is a Thursday and b) I’m a bit quirky but I don’t think I could live up to having blue hair all. the. time.
  • Highlights were tossed because I wanted a CHANGE OF COLOUR dang it! And a big one.

So I was left with either a dark brown (NOOOOO!!!!) or red. I went with the red.

THE ACTUAL DYEING THING-Y

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I bussed, and arrived five minutes late (I accidentally went past my stop and had to ride the bus until it came back. Yes. You may laugh.) I’d call the saloon I went to ‘boho chic’. It was actually in the hair dresser’s home and it. was. fabulous.

Was I nervous? Not really. I was excited because I was going to be a red-head. 

The colour was mixed and applied. It felt a little odd at first, but I really liked the smell. (Wut? It smelled like change and adventure.)

And then it was cut.

And then I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror.

AFTERMATH

I have a semi-permanent red dye in my hair – which means that slowly the colour has been fading (I quite like that about it; new shades of the same colour), the first few showers looked like a blood bath and my towel looked very disturbing.

It’s been four weeks now, and my roots are beginning to peek through – but I quite like the effect.

Do I like my hair? Heck yeah! It’s awesome. I look back on my brunette pictures and I don’t have a smidgen of regret.

A WARNING

At work, some colleagues thought I was a new recruit. So, if you’ve committed a heinous crime of say – putting the milk in first before adding the boiling water to a cup of tea, you could dye your hair afterwards and no one would know you! 

(But I would. You utter heathen.)

ALSO: Don’t go into this red hair business expecting to develop either the bare rudiments of Gaelic or a Scottish accent because guess what? It doesn’t work.

I am, of course, immensely disappointed.

ALSO: Maybe don’t go about telling people that you’ve dyed your hair in the blood of your enemies. You’ll get some strange looks.

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

I know, I know – I’m being hysterical and dramatic but I’ve just showered and my hair literally MOULTS after a shower. It’s been doing this before I dyed it so I can’t create a clickbait horror story (‘I dyed my hair and what happened next is horrific!’). But it could be because:

  • my diet has changed
  • I am more stressed than I think I am (I am?)
  • TWIST! My hair always sheds like this and I’m only noticing it now because the house has wood/laminated floors.

If it’s my imagination, I’m going to sue it and tweet angrily about it. And if it’s my reality, I am going to rock some killer wigs. (I’m thinking pastels. ALL THE PASTELS!)

Thank you. I just wanted to get that off my chest and out of my hair … literally. (Too much?)

… and thus is the transformation of my hair completed. On the left – me, in the beginning, before I paid someone to lop my hair off. On the right – me, after I paid someone to soak my hair in blood!! Muhahaha! 

Have you dyed your hair? Did you like it? Do you have difficulty with died/dyed because THE STRUGGLE IS REAL MY FRIEND!

Life

bloggers, blogging

I’ve been blogging for a while now (‘a while’ because I’d rather not think about how long I have been blogging on various blogs. It makes me feel old.) and I have favourite blogs that I’ve followed over the years. Here are some of them …

THE DAY DREAM

This blog was born from that wonderful time when the Scarlet Pimpernel was all the rage in the blogging community [that I stalked]. It seems to have slowly faded away, alas. But sometimes these things do ‘appen. (Yes. That is a Phantom reference.)

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BLOG STATUS: a faded dream …

EDIT: It comes to my blushing attention, that I’ve actually managed to make a general kerfuffle of things – whilst I originally put ‘SINK ME! ‘where humorous nonsense meets period drama’ as the blog name and link here … I actually meant The Day Dream. Sink Me! is still an active blog. And my extremely humble apologies goes out to the author. Absent mindedness, thy name is Ness.

GO TEEN WRITERS

I read and even participated in some (or rather, one) events on this blog. But I am no longer a teen and feel:

a) discriminated against

b) left out

Like, Go ‘Teen’ Writers? C’mon. I just feel like, so offended. Ageism is CLEARLY at play here.

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BLOG STATUS: still going but I don’t read it as much because I am now a grumpy old codger.

[DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT RESENT THE TEEN WRITERS. NAY. I WISH THEM WELL AND ALL THE BEST. I RESENT TIME AND THE WAY ONE FALLS OUT OF DEMOGRAPHICS AND INTO HORRIBLE THINGS LIKE BILLS AND TAXES]

YET ANOTHER PERIOD DRAMA BLOG

I read this one and the blog belonging to Miss Dashwood’s sister. But I think the sister’s blog is no more and Yet Another Period Drama has slowly had less and less postings.

Now, I know – it’s easy to suspect foul play here; to think that if a blogger doesn’t post they have been killed by resentful otters, but one hopes that the reason the blogger is not blogging is because they are living fulfilling and busy lives.

Which I think is Miss Dashwood’s case; she has – it appears – either gone into ring/hand modelling or has gotten engaged. (In which case, I wish her a hearty congratulations and all the very, very best.)

BLOG STATUS: posting far, far less.

THE INKPEN AUTHORESS

Rachel Heffington has evolved into a food writer and recipe developer but I was there in her novel writing days (HIPSTER ALERT) and my word, did Anon, Sir, Anon come out in 2014?!! Where has the time flown?!!

I remember when her very first book came out – I bought a copy and took it up into the Peak District to take pictures of, because I wanted Heffington to have sort of visited England, if only by proxy.

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one of my favourite places in the world
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#prebookstagramdays

Her author blog was quirky and witty and I loved to read it. Occasionally, I hold a moment of silence over the blog’s silence. (I kid.)

I think it was Rachel Heffington who first introduced me to Wodehouse – at the time I didn’t quite ‘get it’ – it would be a while before the penny dropped – but … now I have and for that, I am ever in your debt, Rachel Heffington.

BLOG STATUS: author has moved on to bigger, brighter, and more edible things

VINTAGE NOVELS

If I ever want to feel intellectually stimulated, I head over to Suzannah Rowntree’s blog. She writes delicious reviews and if ever I spot she’s reviewed one of my previous reads, you can be sure I put aside everything I’m doing to devour it.

I may not be enamoured with everything she says (she did not take to the characters in Behold, Here Is Poison by my beloved Heyer which I *cough* slightly resent because Randall Matthews is the cat’s meow and I defy everyone who says otherwise. NO I AM NOT BIASED) but her reviews are always terribly interesting.

BLOG STATUS: posting on

THERE ARE MORE …

… there are so many questions to answer – who is a fellow Sutcliff reader? Who addressed the importance of red shoes? Who had the grabbiest post titles? Who LIKES K-DRAMAS TOO?!!! Who reads and writes far, far too fast? And – and this is the most important one – who introduced me to the wonders of Georgette Heyer?

This warrants another blog post. (Which will not be as tardy as this one. Probably.)

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Happy reading!

I think I just rambled, Life

tales from a future icicle: boots, buses and THE PHANTOM!!!

Well, it’s been over a month now. I’m still here. I’m still alive.

WINTER PREPERATIONS

In my head I’ve been keeping a ‘clothesometer’; if it’s ten degrees outside, I wear this. If it’s zero degrees with a wind chill factor, I wear that. I think I’m going to write a book containing my Vast and Very Wise Knowledge.

So far I’ve acquired:

  • Winter boots – expensive but oh so comfy
  • One of those sleeveless jacket down things (I excel at technical terms. Clearly)
  • A hoodie
  • An under jacket thing.
  • Two winter coats

I bought some winter wear with me, so I think – with a few more additions – I just might survive. Ha. Probably.

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Future me. But without the beard.

BUSES

There is nothing quite like the feeling of watching your bus disappear into the distance. Or arriving at the bus stop to have someone tell you that your bus has been and come and gone.

I’ve run after buses, I’ve waited for buses, I’ve missed a bus because I was reading, looked up and ‘oh that’s my bus, whizzing past like a sprinting ostrich.’

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All in all, buses and I have a complex and codependent relationship. On my part. They don’t care whether I come or go. It’s a harsh and cruel, cold (heh) truth.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Dun. Dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnn … I can cross ‘Watching the Phantom of The Opera’ off my to-do list. I SAW IT FOLKS!! I saw it. That moment when the music thunders and the lights flash and the chandelier bursts into life? Shivers. Genuine shivers.

I grew slightly irritated with the younglings who were chatter-whispering behind me for did they not know how important and incredible this show was!!

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Like, for real. I’m glad you are here and seeing this wondrous thing but honestly. Shush.

My tears wanted to roll at the Phantom’s last sung words; all that longing, and all that heartache. Even though I was seated in the second from last seats (32Z, instead of 32ZZ. There’s a difference) it was wondrous.

They did some sound wizardry at one point AND THE PHANTOM’S VOICE CAME FROM BEHIND MY HEAD. (Please add squealing and a multitude of exclamation marks after that.)

I could probably ramble on and on about my theories regarding Erik and how he was never taught regular human behaviours and how Christine isn’t right for him (well, as she is in the book and play) and how he needs some real help and professional therapy etc etc etc. But that’s for another time and another day.

phantom cry

For years, I have been a Phan. (Aw gee, that sounds cheesy. But I stand by it. So. Pfft.) And now I’ve revisited the story, the movie, the music, the play, and the phanfiction (seriously! there is some great phanfiction out there.). The only things lacking are:

  • a reread of Gaston Leroux’s book
  • watching some of the older movies

And now I’ve seen the play. Live. As in right there. In front of me. 

… and now I need to go back and watch it again. But a) the play has left Montreal and b) I have a budget to stick to (HAHAHA. I mean. Yes. Yes, I do) and so I will make do with a movie.

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Preferably the anniversary edition
Books, Recountings

recountings: LET THERE BE BLOOD!

Red Rising is like Jane Eyre but without:

  • Mr. Rochester
  • Jane Eyre
  • Wives In Attics
  • St. John Rivers (THANK GOODNESS.)

(So basically … it’s nothing like it … but still … )

It does, however, feature a character who decides upon a course of action … and keeps to it. Darrow has a plan, and my word, does he carry through with it.

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I am rereading the book series because a) it is one of my favourites and b) Iron Gold is soon to be released.

THE WORLD 

I adore the world building that Brown has put into his work – there’s a colour coded class system, heavy Roman influences, and an utter ruthlessness that permeates through the upper levels of society.

It’s fascinating. And maddening. (The Reds. Oh the poor Reds. That particular plot twist was ruined before I first opened the book – it was written on the back cover. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. I WOULD HAVE ENJOYED THAT TWIST.)

THE CHARACTERS

Occasionally, I grow frustrated with myself; I have this desire to write insightful, intellectual posts analysing books in an interesting fashion. To say: THE MAIN CHARACTER WAS AWESOME!! rather puts a halt to this urge.

Oh well.

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But it is true – I find the main character, Darrow, to be quite something. The bee’s knees, so to speak.

Why?

  • He isn’t a wimp
  • Much like Jane Eyre (an analogy that I refuse to regret) he sticks to his guns. To put it more bluntly – he is like a rocket of justice that WILL NOT be swayed by the winds of opposition and peasant feelings. He’s got his mission and by golly, he’s going to do it.
  • He is like a legend of old; the whole business of ‘The Reaper’ sends shivers down my spine. (Okay, that is a tad dramatic. But to put in my mindspeak: THIS. IS. AWESOME!!!!!)
  • He has a conscious. A heart.

Sevro … is still a creepy, lovable character. The bromance is strong and it does me weathered heart good to see it.

‘I killed their pack leader,’ Sevro says when I ask why the wolves follow him. He looks me up and down and flashes me an impish grin from beneath the wolf pelt. ‘Don’t worry, I wouldn’t fit in your skin.’

As for the others? I’ve read the trilogy, I know what happens and I’m bracing for impact.

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I am, however, secretly hoping that some things will change with this reread. But don’t tell anyone that.

THE PLOT

With this second read, I think I burned myself out a little, fried zee little grey cells. I binged this book in one day.  I looked at its sequel – Golden Son – and left it on its shelf (I know, le gasp, how could I not continue?!) my brain was that fried.

I tried to appreciate Eo (Darrow’s wife); I understood her a little more but … her *spoiler* still seemed somewhat flimsy. But I could feel Darrow’s motivation so much the better for it.

Some people have compared Red Rising to The Hunger Games. I’ve never read The Hunger Games (HEATHEN!) so I wouldn’t know. I can tell you, however, that this entire book is brutal, ruthless, bloody, and unforgiving.

And I love it.

“Tactics win battles. Strategy wins wars,” I say.
“Oooo. I am Reaper. God of wolves. King of strategy.” Mustang pinches my cheek. “You are just too adorable.”

goodreads // kindle


PS. Suzannah Rowntree, from Vintage Novels, has a Proper Review right here. I always find her reviews on books that we’ve both read to be thought provoking; here she puts her finger on some of the issues in the book that I appreciate. (And expresses them in a far more lucid style.)