Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Fictioneers - The Next Step

There's a spiritual belief that states you sign a sort of cosmic contract before you're born into your next life. It contains challenges you'll face throughout that life, which you chose to help you move to the next spiritual level or achieve perfect, depending on who you ask.

I don't know if I believe that, but it is an interesting concept. I've always found afterlife theories interesting, and applying them to fiction just makes sense.

So, that's the story behind the story for this week's Friday Fictioneers. Thanks, as always, to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting!

PHOTO PROMPT – © Claire Fuller
Genre: Fantasy (...maybe? Could be Urban Fantasy)
Word Count: 100

The Next Step

            “Before you start your next life, you must pick your inborn challenges,” the glowing being at my side commented.
            We drifted down a corridor lined with doorways with cranks in their centers. “Challenges?”
            “Chronic illness, social challenges, disability. That sort of thing.”
            We paused by one door. The crank began turning, and it slowly shifted to the side, exposing another corridor framed by shelves laden with luminescent vials.
            “I thought the afterlife would be different.”
            My guide laughed. “You get used to it after the first few times.”
            “Oh. I guess practice makes perfect.”
            “Well, that’s what the Buddhists say.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Today's Workout

Not sure which I should be more impressed with.

The fact I carried all of this right around 2 miles without a cart/bike or car or that this all stayed under $71. (Should have grabbed another reusable bag. There's a huge blue bag behind the plastic and paper bags.)

Probably the first one, because if I'd have planned a little more efficiently, the grocery bill would be lower. Still, we're set for a while, at least.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Product Review: Life & Food Omega-3 Supreme

I don't know if it's glow-in-the-dark zombie approved, but the undead on that broken mug seem to like it.
Earlier this month, the fine folks at Life & Food sent me the pictured bottle of Omega-3 to review at no cost to me. (I'm not being paid for this review, by the way.)

Since I have a seafood allergy, I can't get enough omega-3s in my diet without loading up on more flax seed than I care to think about, so I've been taking fish oil for a few years after being advised to do so by a medical professional. After checking their Amazon listing and company out, I decided to go ahead and give this brand a try.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the bottle was how small the capsules are. For whatever reason, most omega-3 supplements I've tried, including flax seed oil, are huge in comparison.

Here's how the other brand I'd been taking at the time compares.

Since I don't usually have trouble swallowing pills, it didn't bother me. However, I still had a much easier time with Life & Food's supplement.

I've been taking them for just shy of two weeks, now. They seem to be working as well as the other brands I've tried in that I feel clear headed and my moods are more stable than when I don't take the supplements.

The shape does make a huge difference, though. I think the coating may also be a bit easier to digest, too, because when I have a light breakfast with them, I haven't experienced the same kind of nausea as with other brands.

There's also been no after taste or, as is so delicately stated in product descriptions, "fish burps" later on. I've noticed that many brands that advertise lack of after-taste and those fish-burps don't usually do the trick. This one seems to be true to that claim.

In the end, this has been one of the better supplements I've tried, and I might just end up sticking with them.

* Please realize that this is only my personal experience, and nothing I say is intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medications.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - My Weather App is Terrifying

First, I see this ad:


Then I see this headline:

I reiterate, AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then I look out the window:


Call me if the Glow Cloud appears. Right now, I'm staving off a nap.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: War of Rain

Disclaimer: I was provided this e-book for free, and am being paid a small sum for my review.

War of Rain, by H.W. Vivian, is about a 15 year old girl who was born and raised in the distant future. There had been a great environmental upheaval which had killed off a good part of the human race, and those who were left were still trying to rebuild.

The area in which the main character, Miri, grew up was composed of different villages. Most of people were peaceful, but one, called the Barbarians, was not. Miri came from a center of spirituality, the people from her village were called Rain Gatherers.

The story followed her over the course of a year or so after she kills a Barbarian in defense of one of her fellow villagers.

I enjoyed a lot about this book.

The story was fun, and the concept interesting. There were also quite a few good plot twists.

I was impressed with how Vivian built the world. The religious beliefs and practices were well thought out, as were the Rain Gatherers' every day lives. The way she figured out how to incorporate rudimentary materials into creating 20th century technology was ingenious.

Writing-wise, the flow was generally rather nice, and there were a few areas of beautiful wording.

I don't know if it was intentional, but she also touched on a form of racism in the whole Rain Gatherer versus Barbarian dynamic. It may have been a bit clumsy in places, but the fact she used village origin instead of skin color to differentiate peoples was a realistic way of separating groups that isn't often seen in modern literature.

It opens the door to questions of what exactly what race is, how it's determined in different times and places and questions of identity. Race is a hot topic here in the US, but it's important to remember it goes far beyond skin color, especially in the wider world.

For instance, ask an antisemite what "white" is, and the answer will most certainly exclude Jewish people, despite the fact they may share skin color, hair texture and maybe even national origin with thousands of Jewish people.

When books like this one touch on this particular nuance, it brings some of the complexities surrounding the issue to light that are generally ignored otherwise.

As much as I liked the above aspects of the book, there were a few things I didn't care for.

The characters in general were pretty flat. The Barbarians, with the exception of Philippe, were poorly done, with little depth or interest. They were basically bad for the sake of being bad, which doesn't make the story all that compelling.

I had a hard time with Miri about halfway through the book, too. She went from being an intriguing character to unbelievable and somewhat boring, because she was too 'perfect'.

For instance, she went from accidentally killing an attacker to demolishing a group of 70 highly trained fighters over the span of something like one or two fights. She mastered the English language in 2 months, mastered math in weeks and went from not knowing what science was to engineering killer microbes in under a month.

When it comes to fanfiction, I can understand why authors write original characters as being too perfect, but when you're selling a book, the characters should be interesting enough for the readers to feel engaged with throughout the story.

Unfortunately, the more perfect Miri became, and the more admiring the other characters became of her, the less I wanted to continue reading.

There were also several scenes that should have been cut and some poor writing that could have been fixed, despite the beautiful bits. I had a hard time understanding what the author was trying to convey in a number of places, and found a few words that weren't used properly.

I also have problems when mental illness is improperly addressed. In the beginning of the book, Miri heard a voice in her head and further on in the book, another character diagnosed her as schizophrenic for that reason alone.

Schizophrenia is far more than simply hearing voices, and that symptom can also indicate other disorders. If authors want to realistically include mental illness or disability with their characters, they must do a lot of research before they start writing.

If I were to rate this on a five star system, I'd give it a solid three out of five. It's not a terrible book by any means, but it could use some improvement.

Overall, it's a fun, unique read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Guess What I Learned How To Make

Dragon toes!!

If I can get the eyes made correctly and limbs placed in a way that makes sense, this will be an uber-cute, coy dragon.

(Also shared to Create with Joy and Oh My Heartsie Girl)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The value of handmade gifts

You can find this adorable pattern here.
Ok, let's see if I can post this on the CORRECT blog. I'd accidentally posted it over on Alternative Wiring, at first. Woops.

Making your own gifts for others is something of a double edged sword.

On the one hand, few things are more satisfying than making something with your own hands and knowing it brings joy to the recipient.

On the other hand, it takes time to make. This can get in the way when you have as many time management issues as I do. Fortunately, my loved ones understand I have a hard time with dates and times when it comes to gifts or cards.

There's a relatively common Pagan belief stating handmade objects have more power than mass produced things. The idea is that the creativity, time and effort put into the thing's creation creates something of a "soul" and enhances the naturally occurring magic in the materials.

If you don't prescribe to those beliefs, there is still something uniquely special about handmade things. Tiny mistakes or alterations in the pattern/materials makes the object completely unique. Choices made during the creation and preparation add a personal touch mass produced things simply don't have.

There is beauty in handmade.