Well Loved Tatty Book

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Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdom’s Trilogy is one I could read again and again. And again.

There’s so much to the series, the characters, the kingdoms, the worlds, the cultures, the abilities, the histories, even the animals.

Cashore’s descriptive style really brings the world to life, not to mention the characters. I’ve wept and rejoiced with them on numerous occasions, even knowing what’s going to happen.

I’ve picked Graceling as it’s first in the series. And so this is the one I’ve read the most (although Fire and Bitterblue have had their share of re-reads too).

I love my books, it’s a running joke in my circle of friends that I’m precious about my books. I like to encourage them to read, but I won’t lend them mine, I’d rather buy them their own…ever since that horrible incident involving a first edition Harry Potter and a swimming pool.

Basically I’m careful. Don’t break the spine, you can read the book without hyperflexing. Don’t turn up the pages, there’s a whole world of beautiful bookmarks out there, or you know one of those leaflets that was shoved through your door that you’ve inexplicably kept hold of. If you are borrowing a book from a friend, don’t read it while lying in a giant doughnut in a pool where the water reaches over your head, the day after you pushed your brother in fully clothed…but I digress…

As careful as I am with my books, wear and tear cannot be avoided with the most beloved of books. They’ll get dog eared from being pulled in and out of your bag on various bus/train/car journeys. Wrinkles from endless page turnings. The occasional coffee ring from when you’ve put it down and someone confused it with a coaster.

This is what has happened to my copy of Graceling. It is very much tatty loved.

I return to it probably once every six months. Having forgotten just enough of the vividness and the detail to fall in love with it all over again. I feel like I learn something new of the seven kingdom’s each time I read it. Some little detail that will open up the world just that little bit more, or give a little bit more insight into a character and the way they behave.

The characters are both wonderfully complex and straightforward at times. The world is beautiful, and there is so much to explore, so much to learn, and so many feelings to feel. You get to go on an adventure, be there as the characters learn and grow.

As I said I read it often so I’m sure I’ll post a review at some point.

My love of this book is all in the details.

 

Second Time Around

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Rebellion Stirs, Are You Silver or Red?

~*~

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Published: 2nd July 2015 by Orion

Pages: 383

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia

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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 seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

But Mare possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. 

Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hide Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside.

Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies. 

This is Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

~*~

Red Queen has been on my to read list for a while now, I kept picking it up in my local book shop, putting it on the list for when pay day came around. Sadly uni work took over and I left this book on my to read pile far too long because…oh my wow!

From the first chapter I was swept away into the world Victoria Aveyard had created. I devoured this story in two days. 

Red Queen opens with Mare, a young Red girl from the Stilts, she introduces us to her family, her friends (or friend), and life as a Red. She also introduces us to the Silvers and the traditions they enforce, Mare believes, to keep the Reds in their place. 

Right from the beginning Mare draws us into her world, from the hardships and small mercies of the Stilts, to the wonders of the Silvers abilities, and their wasteful ways in a fantastical world so different from her own. 

We follow Mare through a whirlwind of emotions as a chance encounter briefly gives her hope for the future, then snatches it cruelly from her clutches. When an accident reveals Mare to contain power never before seen in a Red, she is elevated to Silver princess, thrust into a world she knows next to nothing about, and left feeling more powerless than she did back in the Stilts. 

Mare finds herself mixing with the Silver royals and high houses at a precarious time. Rebellion stirs, and the god-like Silvers’ cracks are showing. With the help of the royal princes, their trainers and educators, Mare learns the ways of the aristocrats, but what about her Red roots?

The threat of rebellion draws ever closer, a game is afoot, and Mare has to choose. Player or pawn? Red or Silver? Her heart or her head? Or are they one and the same?

Mare draws us to her almost instantaneously, she’s a little rough around the edges but her heart is in the right place. She is a natural protector, looking after her family and friends as best she can, even if they don’t always approve. And in her new role as Silver princess, it seems as though everything and everyone needs her protection. Most of all herself.

I loved seeing the other characters through Mare’s eyes, her love for her friends and family being one of her most endearing qualities. All of Aveyard’s characters are beautifully crafted individuals, despite them giving you some serious trust issues, and I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite. Cal’s never ending strength, even within his vulnerabilities, Maven’s quick and clever mind, Julian’s wisdom, Kilorn’s loyalty, Farley’s courage, even Evangaline and her sass. They’re so realistic and relate-able, even though they live in a world of god-like abilities, you’re right there with them as they struggle though a whole host of very human emotions. 

They live in a world in turmoil, and you’re submerged into this world from the very first page. Aveyard really knows how to set the scene, you feel for the Reds in their slums, you find yourself judging the Silvers for their discrimination, while being in awe of their lifestyle, riches and buildings you’ve never before imagined. But most of all you find yourself just as confused as Mare trying to decide right from wrong. 

The story flows page by page and honestly you cannot wait to pick this book back up to return to the world Aveyard has so masterfully created, that’s if you can put it down in the first place! With each passing chapter, you’re left wanting more and equally not wanting the story to end. You wonder what’s going to happen next, how can the characters possibly escape the inevitability of their fates?

Red Queen is one of the best books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it enough, it is phenomenal. You’ll be living in this beautifully created world in mere pages, feeling everything the characters feel. It has a truly fantastic and brilliantly twisting plot. 

While I feel I have missed out having not read this masterpiece sooner, I am grateful I only have a couple of days to wait before returning once more to the wonderful, terrible world of Reds and Silvers. 

~*~

Five out of Five

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How Far Would You Go for a Cure?

downloadThe Death Cure (Book #3 The Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner

Published: 11th October 2011

Pages: 325

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

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Purchase here: Amazon UK, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Wordery

The Trials are over. WICKED have collected all the information they can. Now it’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. But something has happened that no one at WICKED has foreseen: Thomas has remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted… The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than anyone could have imagined. With the Gladers divided, can they all make it?

Following on from The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, I was eager to get stuck in to book three of The Maze Runner Series. As with the previous two, I was sucked in to James Dashner’s dystopian world within the first few pages of The Death Cure, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store for Thomas and the Gladers next.

The Death Cure begins where The Scorch Trials left off. The Gladers, having been rescued once more by WICKED, find themselves securely tucked away in a WICKED facility. Only this time things are different, WICKED don’t want to keep them in the dark, they need their help to complete the blueprint, the blueprint that is humanities only hope in a search for a cure to the Flare.

After everything they’ve been through Thomas isn’t convinced that WICKED can be trusted, and he’s still not sure about Teresa for that matter, but can he convince the other Gladers? Especially with what WICKED is offering them…Can WICKED be trusted this time? And what of Brenda and Jorge who haven’t been seen since the were rescued?

With the Gladers divided the final test begins…

Following the news that the death sentence has been lifted, for most of them at least, Thomas and the Gladers have a decision to make, at least that’s what they’re told. It’s from here that the action begins and continues right through to its heart racing conclusion.

Thomas and the Gladers experience triumph and turmoil, from start to finish. When things seem to be too good to be true, they ususally are. The Death Cure contains scenes that are both heart wrenching and uplifting as the Gladers face their most difficult decisions yet, both personally and for the sake of the human race.

After everything they’ve been through it’s understandable that Thomas, Newt, Minho and the rest of the Gladers would have trust issues, and what I really loved about The Death Cure is how their individual personalities really shine through as once again they face hardship after hardship. The relationship between Thomas, Newt, and Minho will make your heart hurt at times, but it is wonderful to read.

 We are submerged into the ever expanding world of the Gladers as they travel to ‘safe’ zones and crank infested zones alike, finally experiencing society since the outbreak of the Flare. I love that Dashner gives you the full scope of what’s going on in his world, from the big wigs at the top to the common folk, how society has been split, with not just the infected losing their humanity.

The twists and turns are none stop throughout this latest installment. Thomas and his companions have some big decisions to make. With the fate of humanity lying squarely on their shoulders, and with the help of some like-minded individuals, they discover the best way to move forward is sometimes to go back.

The Death Cure has characters old and new, and true to style they derive from you a whole host of emotions. Your feelings toward Rat Man will evolve far beyond disdain, while the Gladers will take you on a rollercoaster tour of your emotions. You’ll find yourself right there with them deciding who to trust.

While the relationship dynamic between Thomas, Newt, and Minho remains my favourite, I mean honestly at times it was hard to hold back the tears, the one between Thomas and Brenda is a pretty close second. As in The Scorch Trials she keeps him on his toes, I love how in tune they are, even though Thomas finds her unreadable at times. I would have liked to have seen more of Thomas and Teresa, their difficulties out in the scorch carry over into this final test, and for me they need a solid resolution, tensions rise and fall throughout but the underlying issues remain.

Fast paced and action paced the story flows from page to page, chapter to chapter. As with the previous installments of The Maze Runner series, the twist and turns will make you dizzy, with the final twist being the best so far.

I loved this series, and the final pages will have you on the edge of your seat, you will not see it coming. Although it does come to a highly satisfying conclusion it terms of what has happen, I did find myself wondering what’s next for the Gladers, where do they go from here? The ending seemed just seemed a bit sudden after all that action.

The Maze Runner Series is a fantastic read, with brilliantly crafted characters and endless plot twists, that will always leave you wanting more. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, you could not ask for much more, and I highly recommend submerging yourself in this quest to cure the Flare.

 4 out of 5

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So You’ve Escaped the Maze, But Can You Handle the Heat?

book_2141The Scorch Trials (Book #2 The Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner

Published: 12th October 2010

Pages: 368

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

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Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back…but no one knew what sort of life they were going back to. The earth is a wasteland. Government and order have disintegrated and now Cranks, people driven to murderous insanity by the infections disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim…and meal. Thomas can only wonder – does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

Second in the fantastic The Maze Runner series, The Scorch Trials does not disappoint. After successfully escaping the Maze, the Gladers find themselves under the care of WICKED. But as they find out, the trials are far from over. 

As with its predecessor The Scorch Trials is packed with twists and turns with every page turn. I have to admit, I watched the film before I read this book, and I went into it firstly thinking I’d ruined it for myself and secondly expecting it to be much slower paced than the first one. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Returning to the dystopian landscape of the previous book, the Gladers find themselves ‘safe’ inside a WICKED base. From there the film and the book have fewer and fewer similarities, and I have to tell you I have absolutely no idea why they steered away from the original story. I know everyone always says “The book is so much better than the film” and to be honest, I am one of those people, however it is completely true for The Scorch Trials. Having seen the film will not ruin this book for you at all. 

 

Plot

Thomas and the Gladers find themselves ‘safe’ in the confines of a WICKED base. They awake comfortable, clean, and well rested in their very own dormitory, but full of questions following their action packed escape from the Maze and the Glade within. It isn’t long before the Gladers once again find themselves in the thick of it, Thomas in particular. The one plus side of the WICKED base is they finally get some answers. 

Sun flares have decimated the planet, while humanity has been ravaged by a disease called the Flare. A disease that drives people crazy. WICKED has been tasked with finding a cure, with the conclusion of the Maze Trials they believe they are one step closer, now to commence the Scorch Trials. Only this time they have given the Gladers a bit of an incentive to get through it. 

The Gladers set off into the wasteland that is the Scorch. Encountering many increasingly difficult challenges along the way, challenges that will test not only their physical and mental endurance, but the strength of their relationships. The have their first contact with the Cranks, people infected with the insanity inducing Flare disease, then their second, with things going from bad to worse each time. 

The Gladers lose and gain accomplices along the way, and they certainly make some enemies, but they have a destination, and Thomas and the Gladers will stop at nothing to get there. Can WICKED be trusted? Will the Trials finally be over? Can they even trust each other? 

Dashner has done it again, with each answer he give you more questions spring up. The endless plot twists will leave your head spinning, just when you think nothing else can possibly happen BAM! Plot twist! Once again, while this chapter of the story is fittingly concluded, with many of your original questions answered, Dashner leaves you wanting more!

Characters

With new challenges to face, Thomas, and the other Gladers have to adapt. It is interesting to see how they accept and disregard the assigned roles in different situations. Thomas at times is easily led, and once again goes through a cycle of unsure, indecisive, confused, to following his instincts with confidence (except for that one time when he lets his heart get the better of his head) and taking control. He’s strong when he needs to be, without being controlling, and mature beyond his years. After all he is just a boy, and despite wanting to have his own agenda at times, the good of the group always comes first. 

The Scorch Trials offers more in the way of character development of the side characters, and we get to see so much more of Newt and Minho’s individual personalities. Unlike in The Maze Runner, their roles are decided for them in this book, and aptly so. Minho keeps the Gladers focused, with Newt taking on a calming advisory role. There isn’t much in terms of development for Teresa, her interactions are brief and appear to be lacking in emotion, although that may be intentional as the tone of the tale changer. 

Dashner has also introduced some new characters. The Rat Man becomes the face of WICKED for Thomas and the Gladers, his clinical indifference giving the characters and reader alike somewhere to focus their anger and disdain. The Cranks, showcasing the stages of the flare. Jorge is almost immediately endearing with his wit and charisma oozing off the page. And then there’s Brenda. 

Brenda has to be my favourite addition to the cast of The Maze Runner series. She’s fiery, she’s sassy, she knows what she wants, even if she doesn’t quite know how to express herself at times. And the conflicts she creates for Thomas make for an entertaining read.

Personally I enjoyed the character development throughout the book. Thomas goes from an unsure, timid at times, follower, to a quick think, logical yet impulsive, leader, who is not afraid to follow his gut instincts. You feel for Thomas throughout his journey, the story focuses on him so you’re more aware of his plight, and the extra weight on his mind. 

 

World Building

The Scorch Trials offers a lot more in terms of world building that the first in the series. Outside of the confines of the Maze, they finally find out what is going on in the world outside, and it’s not good news. Once again, the information they get is limited. Sun flares have caused the land to become barren wasteland, and this is where the Gladers are headed. As the story unfolds they learn that the sun flares inflicted more damage in some areas than others.

We are also introduced to the Flare, the pandemic that has swept through population causing people to lose their sanity. The panic as it spreads and humanities attempts at a solution. In an attempt to reduce the spread of infection, the population of Cranks are left to fend for themselves in the worse affected areas of the planet, The Scorch. 

Writing and Atmosphere

Humanity is at risk. You don’t forget that from the first page to the last page. Once again Dashner has mastered the art of suspense building. Your heart will race as situations, that are dire to begin with, become inescapable. At times you cannot foresee how they can get around the challenges they face.

Dashner expertly uses his characters emotions to set the scene, their actions and reactions building appropriate atmosphere throughout. And his descriptions of his characters and their landscapes, invoke detailed images. The wit and banter between the characters flowing seamlessly from one book to the next.  

Overall

I adored this book, and as I mentioned earlier have no idea why the film deviated from Dashner’s originally telling. The endless plot twists had me hooked and I devoured this book in a day. I pretty much only stopped reading to tell my film buddies that they need to read it, well that, and you know…food breaks. The only downside I found was Teresa, for me she lacked depth, but I feel that may have been intentional to earn favour for some of the other characters.

Dashner kept me guessing and I like that in a book. The Maze Runner was a bit predictable and convenient at times, but I didn’t find that with The Scorch Trial, the futuristic details were well placed and didn’t appear to be thrown in the push the story along. The characters expand and grow with each shocking twist and revelation, and the new additions bring so much more to the experience. If you enjoyed The Maze Runner, I guarantee The Scorch Trials with have you hooked!

fourandahalf

4.5 out of 5

 

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Would You Survive The Maze?

9781909489400The Maze Runner (Book #1 in The Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner

Published: 6th October 2009

Pages: 384

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

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When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the center of a terrible maze.

The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. And following the arrival of a girl with a message, they must find a way out – or die. 

The Maze Runner is a dystopian science fiction novel. It’s about a group of boys, and a girl, that have absolutely no idea what is going on, but deal with it anyway.

Imagine waking up one day with no memories, in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by unfamiliar faces staring down at you. Knowing the names of things, but no recollection of how you came to know the names of these things, this is what happened to Thomas and the Gladers. 

The Maze Runner is a great read, a real page turner. James Dashner keeps you guessing from start to finish, you really live the story with the characters, you can feel their frustration at times…the memory is right there! Then it isn’t, you think you might know where it’s going next, but you don’t. 

Plot

Thomas wakes up to find himself in the dark. Literally and figuratively, who is he? Why is he here? What is here? He finds himself in a place called the Glade, with a bunch of guys that call themselves Gladers, and they’re all in the same boat. All the know are their names, the Glade, that there’s a huge layrinth like maze surrounding the Glade, and that you just have to ‘shuck it’ and get stuck in. 

The Glade itself, sounds almost picturesque at times, beautiful in its simplicity, only to be tainted with ominous touches of futuristic technology. There are no adults in the Glade, but there is everything they need to survive, and they’ve successfully made the Glade their home. Until Thomas, he doesn’t grasp the rules, or the dangers, as well as they’d like, running on instinct most of time, causing trouble for the other Gladers but making some friends and maybe some enemies along the way. Not that you can blame the guy, he does literally only know his name after all. 

Then a girl arrives, unconscious, with a note for the Gladers, and everything changes. Some of the boys blame Thomas. Is it his fault? Obviously some people think it is, others don’t see how it could be, and Thomas himself is not so sure. And what is going on in his head?

Thomas and the Gladers have a decision to make and time is ticking, the story follows their decisions through to the consequences. The Gladers are torn, the maze has never been solved, is it even supposed to be? 

Can they escape the maze? Should they? 

I’ll have to leave the plot there any more information and I’ll be giving away the story. The Maze Runner takes you through as many twists and turns as a maze would! It’s fairly fast paced, and ever changing, there’s so much to learn, and you learn along with Thomas and the Gladers as you read. I enjoy a good puzzle and The Maze Runner did not disappoint, filling you with questions: why all boys? what is the maze there for? how and why were they put there? Then drip feeding you clues from beginning to end. 

Then finally you get to the end! Dashner successfully leaves you feeling satisfied that this chapter of the story has concluded, while still leaving you with enough of a puzzle that you’ll eagerly be racing to your local book shop for the next installment the very next morning. Of course the next morning, you couldn’t go immediately, being unable to put the book down, you’ll read through your bedtime to it’s conclusion (which ends up being about 2am – or at least it was for me).

Characters

Personally I enjoyed the character development throughout the book. Thomas goes from an unsure, timid at times, follower, to a quick think, logical yet impulsive, leader, who is not afraid to follow his gut instincts. You feel for Thomas throughout his journey, the story focuses on him so you’re more aware of his plight, and the extra weight on his mind. 

What strikes me most about the Gladers is their maturity. Their ability to cope with what must be a relatively traumatic experience, yet still build a well functioning community for themselves within the confines of the Glade. They’ve built themselves living quarters, there’s a slaughter house and kitchen, gardens for farming, assigned roles for each and every Glader, they’ve developed rules and penalties for breaking them, up to and including short term custodial sentences, there’s even a graveyard. A whole little community all within the Glade. 

The side characters were just as interesting, each having been assigned their own role. Alby, the leader, a role he didn’t appear to have much choice in assuming. Minho and Newt, who’s natures balanced each other out well, headstrong and progressive with logical and forward thinking. Gally, who kept the Gladers on their toes with his questions, accusations and counter-arguments. Theresa, the bearer of bad news and no end of confusion. And then there’s little Chuck. I really enjoyed Thomas’ relationship with Chuck, he kept him grounded, gave him a real sense of humanity and responsibility in a situation where you could quite easily lose all that. Seeing their relationship grow and adapt, as they learned from each other and the situation altered, was one of my favourite parts of the story. 

World Building

As far as world building goes, there isn’t too much. One of the key plot points is all they know if the Glade and the maze. It’s not until the very end that they learn much about the world outside, and even then. That is where the intrigue comes in, you really want to know what happens next, their knowledge has expanded, what are they going to do?

Within the confines of what little we know of Thomas and the Gladers ‘world’, Dashner really does bring it to life, he gives you just enough. I could picture the Glade in my head, see Frypan cooking in his kitchen, Alby in his bed in the Homestead, see the Gladers in their groups having dinner, working in the gardens, sprinting around the maze. 

Writing and Atmosphere

The writing style for The Maze Runner really draws you in. Dashner is descriptive without being excessive with the details, he really manages to set the mood for each of the chapters. The way in which he brings to life the maze and the secrets within gets your adrenaline going, and the pages turning quicker and quicker (like that’ll help them escape). 

The characters even have their own slang terms, which makes sense, slang does vary from region to region, throughout countries nevermind continents. So why wouldn’t these boys that have been isolated from society come up with their own language? It’s the details like that that really make the Glade it’s own little world for me.

Overall

I loved The Maze Runner, there was a lot more to it than I originally thought there would be. It wasn’t perfect, there were a few times in the book when something would happen just a bit too conveniently to move the plot along, and some of the minor character lacked depth or reasoning for their actions at times, but this didn’t hinder the pleasure of reading it. 

If you enjoy dystopian fiction, trying to work out what’s going to happen, and plots with more twists and turns than a helter skelter, then I really recommend giving this a read. Full of mystery and intrigue, and an ending that leaves you wanting more, I for one am looking forward to reading the sequel. 

So go read and answer me this: Would you survive the maze?

four
4 out of 5

 

 

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A Laugh is a Smile that Bursts

images

What was the last thing that gave you a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? Why was it so funny?

A few years ago my friend showed me an article, I assume it was supposed to encourage the reader to buy all sorts of miracle creams, but what stood out for me were the ‘problem areas’. One in particular, Crows Feet.

The article was clear that these canyon like crevices are one of the worst things that can happen to your face. How could you been seen with them? You might be able to hide them with sunglasses, but what if it’s winter? Or you’re inside? What then?! Cue the miracle creams, bargain face lifts, and botox remedies.

Looking at the before and after photos, what really struck me, even though they were just photos of eyes, is that the people looked as though they’d lost their smiles.

Sure, some of the people photographed looked younger, but for me wrinkles are a fact of life. We’ll all grow old and we’ll all get them, preventative measures are important…but maybe not for the ‘crows feet’, laughter lines are a much nicer and more accurate description. Why not own your wrinkles? I’d much rather prevent those frown lines and live a life full of laughter and smiles.

So I do. I laugh a lot, I smile a lot, I’d be quite happy to have eyes that are smiling all the time.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, the point I was trying to make was, in my quest for laughter lines there’s been a fair few giggles, so how to decide which was the most authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh…

I was travelling back to the UK from Australia. There were four of us and it was New Years Day, we’d just arrived in Hong Kong for a three day stay to break up the trip. Being New Years Day, we’d celebrated the night before, then sat in the confinement of an airline seat for what felt like forever, we were feeling a bit worse for wear and the jet lag wasn’t doing anyone any favours. Nor was the travel from airport to hotel, Hong Kong is very warm and our taxi was seriously lacking in the air conditioning department. We’d booked two rooms in a hotel, but when we checked in only one was ready, nevertheless we decided a nap was in order and top and tailed – two in each of the single beds. 

As far as naps go, it wasn’t the best, so sleepy headed off we went to explore Hong Kong. It was amazing but wow is that place HOT! We took a guided tour, a ride on the peak tram, explored a fishing village, a pearl museum, huge malls and tiny market places, ferry rides and much more, it was an amazing and jam packed day. Worn out from our adventures and melting from the heat we retreated to the hotel for our evening meal.

The service is Hong Kong is impeccable and the staff unparalleled in their professionalism. We were given wet flannels to freshen up and cool ourselves, did I mention that place is hot? Drinks and appetisers, followed by the soup. Naturally with the soup there was bread, and the staff were very apologetic to have forgotten to bring out the butter. A waitress rushed it to our table, before we’d even noticed there wasn’t any really, manager in tow to offer a formal apology. 

While we all tried to reassure them it really was no problem at all, one of our party decided to begin to butter his bread. The butter provided was the type that comes in those mini plastic tubs with a foil top. The guy was also offering his reassurances that all was well, but it had been a long day, so I guess he just wanted to get stuck in. Anyway, he reached for the butter, picked it up, didn’t even get a chance to peel back the foil lid before it exploded…mid-reassurance I might add.

It went everywhere, I mean you wouldn’t have thought such a tiny packet could hold so much butter! Straight into his mouth, causing him to splutter, there was a spot on the wall next to him a good 15 foot into the air, across the restaurant and into the lobby at least 30 foot away, and all over his t-shirt and face. He didn’t know what had hit him, we didn’t know what had hit him, and the poor staff in the restaurant didn’t know what to do. 

Naturally we all laughed, and I do mean really laughed. Whether it was really funny or our sleep deprived minds just couldn’t cope I don’t know, but I was a genuine tears streaming, cheeks burning, belly aching laugh. The staff attempted an apology, “it must be the heat”, tried to hide their smirks and maintain their professionalism, but the sight of us laughing so hard and uncontrollably at our butter covered companion got to them in the end. They laughed too. Not that we minded of course.

Throughout the remainder of our meal we’d spot another spot of the exploded butter across the restaurant, on the back of someone’s t-shirt, the light fitting. Even on the way out, like I said it made it out into the lobby! And so the giggles would start up again and again. 

Why was that incident so funny? I honestly don’t know, but we still talk about it now and it never fails to give me the giggles. Maybe you had to be there…

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Roaring Laughter

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Quote Me

“Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?”

Knowing that I read, this is a question that people ask me regularly, so you’d think, having had time to contemplate the answer, that I’d have one. An answer. I don’t really.

There are so many great and inspiring quotes in the world how could anyone possibly choose? Nevermind just within literature, there’s the great and inspiring people, role models across industries, I mean pick an industry, I bet you can find someone who’s said something that would send shivers down your spine, inspired you to do or be better.

Then there’s closer to home, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, extended families, friends, who doesn’t have someone that inspires you on an individual level, maybe they have their own mantra? Maybe they have something they always said when you were growing up that always stuck with you…my grandma always told me “he has his hands round his sausage and then round yours…don’t buy hot dogs from those stalls”. Now I wouldn’t say that moved me, but clearly it stuck with me and I do return to it whenever I stumble across those stalls…

While my grandma’s words of wisdom have proven to be very useful throughout my life so far (it wasn’t all hygiene related), I am going to choose mine from literature. I maintain that there are too many to actually choose a favourite, so in answer to the question “do you have a favourite…?”, no. However, when looking for inspiration, motivation, or even just a bit of a lift I do have one author I will return to again and again. Terry Pratchett.

I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett for as long as I can remember. Initially, as a child, I enjoyed the the adventures of the characters throughout Discworld, their silly quirks would keep me amused for hours on end, and as I grew and with each re-read I began to appreciate the details: the wit; the characters and their flaws; the relationships; the meanings; and the lessons. The man was a master of language, there’s no getting away from it, but in addition to that his outlook on life and his insight into the nature of humans is something to be admired. It would be a challenge to read an interview piece, or an anecdote from someone who knew him well, without finding a gem of a life lesson, and then you have all of the stories he had to tell…

So like I was saying, so much to choose from! Where to start? DEATH has some corkers, Vetinari, Vimes, Nanny Ogg, von Lipwig, maybe even (or especially) the Librarian…to name but a few.

In terms of life lessons it doesn’t get much simpler and to the point that this:

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We are all writing our own stories. This reminds me that the big, important decisions in life are up to me,  within my control. Life is a story, sometimes it can be overwhelming, but each challenge is a single paragraph, and if a few paragraphs don’t go to plan, there’s always the next chapter.

 

Quote Me

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