Making It Up http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup as we go along Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:57:51 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 The Leavers by Lisa Ko http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/23/the-leavers-by-lisa-ko/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/23/the-leavers-by-lisa-ko/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:57:51 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21943

Today I’m pleased to be helping kick off the blog tour for the award winning The Leavers by Lisa Ko.

Blurb:

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon – and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

Given the state of the world around us at the moment, this is a timely read. On belonging and not belonging, the stories of Deming/Daniel and Peilan/Polly his mother are tangled in past and present, knitting together families, cultures and countries.

The narratives switch between Daniel and Polly, and with a less talented writer, the switch in perspective would be a harsh interruption. But this flows despite the harsh content, in the way that a stream finds its way around rocks and tree roots. There’s a depth to the characters that draws you in to their story, making unfamiliar words and relationships welcoming and understandable. And discovering Daniel’s music linked him to my family, with a teen son playing guitar and a daughter writing songs.

I’ve set myself a challenge recently to read outside of my culture, to broaden my understanding of the world around me. (It feels like the only way to get to grips with the way our own country is dividing around us. Perhaps if I explore the reasons behind the divisions I can see a way to heal them?) The Leavers is a book with a wealth of areas to understand, America, China, adoptive families and homes broken by bureaucracy. (Like I said, timely.) I can see I’m going to be recommending it over and over, and reading it more than once myself. There are so many layers to the story that I know I’ll get more from it every time.

A beautiful, powerful, and important book.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

This post contains affiliate links.

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The Imaginary by A F Harrold illustrated by Emily Gravett http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/03/the-imaginary-by-a-f-harold-illustrated-by-emily-gravett/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/03/the-imaginary-by-a-f-harold-illustrated-by-emily-gravett/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2018 23:00:41 +0000 https://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21939 Cover of the imaginary - two children hanging by their hands from a tree

Ages and ages ago I started reading The Imaginary as a bedtime story. Turned out it was far too scary to be an end of day book, so we moved it to lunchtimes. Although the children loved the language and the characters, some parts were very upsetting so we kept having breaks.

(Fortunately, you can renew library books online. And there are several copies of this in our library, so no one else requested it. )

Today though, we cuddled up on the sofa together and finally powered through the last 4 chapters. Although I did have to take a break for a happy sob at one part. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with that kind of problem. )

It makes a great read aloud though if your kids are at all nervous/sensitive I strongly advise pre reading. I very much take issue with the cover quote describing the book as a delight from start to finish – it is delightful, but there are also some very much less than delightful moments, even downright scary. My younger kids are 8 and 6 and we had a few issues at times (hence moving it from evening to daytime) though the fabulous pictures did make up for some of it too.

Emily Gravett does wonderful drawings. Tigerboy would appreciate more of them being in colour but that was his only complaint.

Good book, basically. I’ve got A Song from Elsewhere out of the library too, but I’m reading that for myself first.

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For world autism awareness/acceptance day, read autistic writers! http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/02/for-world-autism-awareness-acceptance-day-read-autistic-writers/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/02/for-world-autism-awareness-acceptance-day-read-autistic-writers/#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 14:37:10 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21931 If you want to learn about autism, the best way is to read the people who are autistic. Not people imagining what it’s like and writing about it. So for world autism awareness/acceptance day, a list of autistic authors/artists/writers/bloggers. This will obviously not be comprehensive, please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments.

(Note, amazon links are affiliate links.)

proof copy of the state of grace by rachael lucas next to a cup of coffee I read and reviewed Rachael Lucas’ The State of Grace last year and loved it. I highly recommend it for getting an insight into life as an autistic teenage girl. Buy at amazon.

M is for autism (review) and the sequel, M in the middle were written by a group of girls at Limpsfield Grange School, assisted by their teacher. More good titles for the teenage insight. Amazon here and here.

Corinne Duyvis, On the Edge of Gone is fantastic YA SF with a thoroughly believable autistic character in a very tough situation. Again reviewed last year, and available at amazon here.

Last fiction book I’ve read is Colin Fischer by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. I didn’t like this one so much, which is probably why I’ve failed to review it so far, I found it a bit too stereotyped/ cliched in its portrayal of the main character Colin. But it’s the only fiction book by an autistic author I’ve come across so far featuring a male lead, so needs including I think. Amazon.

You can find reviews of other books with autistic characters on Disability in Kid Lit, a site well worth bookmarking.

Titles I haven’t read but would like to: Jen Wilde, Queens of Geek. (Amazon.) I’m very much excited by the idea of Stim:an autism anthology edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones, currently crowd funding on Unbound Also hoping that I’ll get some new suggestions from this!

On memoirs, I’m waiting on Katherine May’s The Electricity of Every Living Thing, which is out in a couple of weeks time. It sounds fascinating, and right up my coastal path 😉 Check it out on Amazon. Also Laura James’ Odd Girl Out is now available in paperback (I *will* review this soon!). Amazon, and there’s Fingers in the Sparkle Jar from Chris Packham (another one awaiting review). Amazon.

I’ve also read and reviewed a number of other memoir books, some of which include helpful tips – here are links to my reviews (which have their own Amazon links within). Nerdy Shy and Socially Inappropriateby Cynthia Kim, Pretending to be Normal by Liane Holliday Willey and A Pony in the Bedroom by Susan Dunne. A slightly different focus in From here to Maternity: Pregnancy and Motherhood on the Autistic Spectrum is very helpful on how to manage your encounters with medical personnel through pregnancy.

Yet to be reviewed The Reason I jump by Naoki Higashida (99p on kindle today) and the sequel, Fall down 7 times, get up 8. (Amazon)

On slightly more academic rather than personal texts, there are some excellent titles available from Sarah Hendrickx (link to Amazon author page who is also an excellent trainer and speaker. Another well respected author is Dr Luke Beardon (slightly embarrassed to admit I haven’t read any of his yet, must rectify) with a good range of titles. Author page

If autistic artists or bloggers are more your thing, I recommend checking out Sonia Boue and Jon Adams (soundcube) via twitter in the first instance. For gems like this.

Twitter is a great place to find autistic writers and bloggers. We tend to use #ActuallyAutistic when we’re sharing our own work (please don’t use that to talk about people who are autistic though. It’s for self identification) so that’s a good place to start looking. There’s also a massive list of autistic bloggers here, I’ve no idea how current it is though.

I’ve no doubt left out lots of useful links and titles, and for that I apologise (I didn’t realise when I started how long compiling a list like this would take!). Please do feel free to suggest extra resources/ titles in the comments – if you’re a first time commenter your comment will be moderated, but I’ll keep checking so that I can release them into the wild 🙂

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Autism is http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/01/autism-is/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/04/01/autism-is/#comments Sun, 01 Apr 2018 18:00:09 +0000 https://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21928 A question? An answer. Often argument or debate.

An explanation. A reason. But not an excuse.

The shared love of time contemplating a dust mote in light. Another perspective on a complex world.

Finally friends found who just get it, through a lifetime of not quite there, and confused mixed messages.

Passion and love and righteous anger at injustice. Overwhelming emotions, a small boat in a stormy sea.

Sound. Every sound. All the time.

Velvet-hair-on-end shudders.

Being over looked and talked about but rarely listened to.

Diving into a new thing and the pleasure of losing yourself to it until it is understood, absorbed, encompassed and complete.

Understanding myself. Finally.

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Dreams and Regrets by Emily Williams, author of Rafferty Lincoln loves. http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/03/13/dreams-and-regrets-by-emily-williams-author-of-rafferty-lincoln-loves/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/03/13/dreams-and-regrets-by-emily-williams-author-of-rafferty-lincoln-loves/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 18:03:12 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21919 You may or may not be aware that I have an occasional series of posts on the theme of Dreams and Regrets. (If not, follow the link.) Today I’m happy to add to that series as part of the Rafferty Lincoln loves blog tour, with a guest post from author Emily Williams.

Emily Williams

Dreams…

When Jax first talked to me about her dreams and regrets series for her blog, I was very excited. There are so many dreams in my head and I think I could talk forever about them! My dreams have evolved over the years but the central core – writing – has always been there.

My dreams during childhood were mainly pony-related. I spent hours fantasising that I owned a horse, buying all the equipment and saving my pocket money for the horse that never was. I read and saved every horse magazine going and grew a good collection of pony related non-fiction books and hundreds of pony stories, which to this day I still have. I guess the pony dream always stuck with me. Despite, in my early twenties, finally getting that pony the dream of horses and ponies is always there and still makes me smile.

I wrote endless pony stories and developed the dream of becoming a writer from an early age. This would be as early as primary school, when I first learnt to write. The stories always had animals in them, and mainly ponies or dogs. It was during secondary school that the dream became more concrete. Another child had had a story published in a magazine and I was jealous. I realised that it was writing that I wanted to do and wanted to become good at. The teachers were a great encouragement.

I continued to write stories, for my eyes only, right up until college, when I knew that I wanted to find an audience for my stories. University and boys took over for a while, but in my head, there were still stories. The dream never went away until the idea for Letters to Eloise (Amazon affiliate link) arrived. Never before had I a whole novel in my head bursting to get out. For once, I planned and developed a strict timeline. I always thought the dream was possible, I just didn’t think I’d ever have the motivation to finish.

When a publisher friend of mine printed me the first proof copy of Letters to Eloise, I knew I’d found my niche in life and the childhood dream of writing had begun.

Regrets…

I don’t have many regrets in life but I do regret not starting to pursue my dream earlier. I regret those wasted years and years spent unhappy at what I was doing with my life. I wasted my twenties. Although Letters to Eloise was already in my head, I didn’t sit down to write the novel until my late twenties/early thirties. I dabbled with short stories, occasionally sending them off to be rejected. But I didn’t properly give writing my full concentration.

I had a full-time job, a career that I was good at. However, the writing dream was always there, always niggling in the background waiting to be heard. I just wish I’d listened sooner and started writing those ideas in my twenties and not my thirties. But who knows, maybe I just wasn’t ready then.

A word from the author…

I wrote Rafferty Lincoln Loves… as I have always wanted to write a horse involving horses. I read many pony stories as a child, but have found that there are very few to read as a young adult/adult so I wanted to fill this void. I have been around horses from a very early age and spent many years saving to afford my own horse. Sadly, due to a road accident and then a fall of a horse, I can no longer ride. However, my passion and love for equines hasn’t diminished. Due to arm injuries from the accidents, I have had to dictate the novel, Rafferty Lincoln Loves… and am donating the proceeds of the novel to the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre – a charity I have supported since childhood.

Many thanks for supporting the novel and I do hope you enjoy it!
Emily x

Find Rafferty Lincoln loves on Amazon (affiliate link)

The blurb of Rafferty Lincoln Loves…

Rafferty Lincoln doesn’t like horses. Not one bit. But when the popular high school girl of his dreams, Liberty Ashburn, pulls him into a world of lead ropes and horse brushes, who is he to say no?

Except this isn’t any old horse. This is the missing racehorse, Profits Red Ridge. The horse Rafferty and three of his friends are hiding from the world. And Liberty Ashburn isn’t just any ordinary high school girl. How far will Rafferty go to win her over?

An intense, witty and powerful coming of age story with startling consequences.

The proceeds from the novel ‘Rafferty Lincoln Loves…’ will be donated to The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre.

BTRC is dedicated to improving and promoting the welfare of retired race horses through education, retraining and suitable rehoming in order to ensure that our Thoroughbreds have a rewarding and valuable life after their racing careers have ended.

Each year thousands of horses leave racing, some because they reach the natural end of their career and others through injury or lack of ability. Established in 1991, The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre was the UK’s first charity dedicated to ex-racehorse welfare, retraining, rehoming and protection for life.

‘It is fantastic to see a contemporary novel for young adults embracing passion and love for horses, as well as advocating for their welfare. Emily’s fast-paced novel not only explores the relationship and incredible bond between horse and rider but also delves into darker aspects relevant to today’s challenging world of growing up. Rafferty Lincoln Loves… deserves to be celebrated for bringing an important cause to the forefront of today’s young adults.’ Frankie Dettori MBE

‘I am thrilled to have written this novel for the BTRC and to be donating the proceeds to such an important and dedicated charity for the welfare of retired racehorses.’ Emily Williams

Book cover - Rafferty Lincoln loves

Author Bio

Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a menagerie of small pets, including her own horse Bella, and welsh mountain pony, Lucy. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school.

Rafferty Lincoln Loves… is her first YA novel after the success of her debut adult novel, Letters to Eloise, released in 2017.

You can follow Emily on twitter
Find out more about Emily’s other books on Amazon
Read reviews and find out more on her blog

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On hold. http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/03/09/on-hold/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/03/09/on-hold/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 18:21:27 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21914 It feels like most of my posts recently, even those that have been reviews have also included a whole lot of whinging about my state of health, so I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to it, and then do the reviews that are outstanding without quite so much negativity leaking in. Might work anyway.

So, recap. Back in November I realised that I was sinking into what I thought at the time was a pit of depression, so I hauled myself off to the doctors’ for some help.

I was prescribed anti depressants, given a battery of blood tests to check that there wasn’t anything else going on after last year’s vitamin D fun and games, and handed a sheaf of links to online CBT services.

Within a not very long time, I started developing what I assumed were side effects. A tremor, particularly when trying to do things like take photographs, draw or type. (In other words, all the things I do for fun or for work.) And rather than getting less tired, I got more. The anxiety dropped off a bit, which was good. So did my appetite and weight, not quite so good.

I checked in with the pharmacist who agreed that the tremor could well be a side effect and advised to hang in there. And then on a med check I talked to the GP who didn’t think it was, and ordered yet more blood tests, worried that my thyroid could be poisoning me.

Time for a surprise. My thyroid is very much not poisoning me – it’s doing a whole lot of not very much, as it’s under auto immune attack from my own body. That’s called Hashimoto’s apparently, and the good news, said the doctor cheerfully over the phone, is that it’s very treatable with thyroxine and what’s more if you’re prescribed that, you get free prescriptions.

I’m going to want a little bit more from the next silver lining in life I’m afraid!

So since January, I’ve been waiting for the thyroxine to take effect. I’m still waiting. I’ve got my first blood test next week, but if symptoms are anything to go on, I’m going to need an increase, because I’m still exhausted all the time, regardless of how much time I’ve spend in bed, I’ve still got a tremor, and I’m getting all sorts of odd aches and pains if I do anything like carrying a shopping bag back from town. I’m so tired all the time that it’s actually made me tearful a few times, not least when I had to cancel the photowalk I was going to go on with Three, to test out one of their lovely new S9 phones. (Fortunately for me, the PR involved has heard of Hashimotos and was incredibly understanding and I might get to go on another walk soon.)

Right at the moment, it feels like I’m on hold, waiting for things to get better. Hard, but it could be a whole lot worse I guess.

rain drop

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One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/14/one-small-act-of-kindness-by-lucy-dillon/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/14/one-small-act-of-kindness-by-lucy-dillon/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:34 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21904

(Note, Kindle was showing 0.99 yesterday – I think the book is currently in the Amazon valentine sale 🙂 )

I am a sucker for a hard done by book. It’s one of (many) reasons why our house is filled with books – I rescue them from charity shops, adopt them from boxes outside houses (seriously, a house round the corner from us sometimes leaves books outside with a sign saying free) and liberate them from library sale shelves.

That’s where I found my somewhat battered copy of One Small Act of Kindness. I haven’t read a lot of Lucy Dillon books, which is a bit bizarre quite frankly, given how much I enjoyed A Hundred Pieces of Me. (review here) It was because of how much I enjoyed it that I picked this one up, and unusually, started reading it within a couple of days of acquisition, and even more unusually, I’m reviewing it the same day I’ve finished reading it.

You’re bewildered aren’t you? Not nearly as much as I am.

That’s partly because when I posted up on my new book club facebook page (you’ve not seen it? over here…. I share my bookstagram pics and facebook book related giveaways I’ve found, as well as book related posts from here ) that I’d just finished reading it Candi from Oftencalledcathy pointed out it being in the sale. So I thought that getting a review live quickly might mean a few more people would find it while it was cheap.

I daresay it may well be shelved as a romance novel – there’s romance as a thread running through it. But there’s also a much stronger thread of self discovery, identity, friendship and growth. And of course dogs. It wouldn’t be a Lucy Dillon book without dogs really, would it? The most interesting people in it for me are the two main female characters – Libby who has just moved to Longhampton from London to help do up and run her mother in law’s hotel, and the mystery woman she names Pippa who she discovers knocked down in the road outside the hotel. That’s a good starting point for any novel I’d have thought, and this doesn’t disappoint at all. A growing friendship, a couple of relationship mysteries to solve, and a family in dire need of therapy are all untangled gradually over the course of the book, and while I wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down, I would point out I read it over two guitar school sessions on consecutive days and then finished it at my earliest opportunity the next morning.

Which is pretty close to couldn’t put down, it’s just I have this complicated thing called a family to manage as well.

I also love the centre idea of an act of kindness wall where people leave post its with kindnesses they’ve done. If you’ve any acts of kindness you’d like to bob in the comments I’d love to hear them 🙂 Or if you’ve any great book recommendations to share, I think I might finally be in a reading mood again!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Winter Storm (The Inventory 4) by Andy Briggs http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/13/winter-storm-the-inventory-4-by-andy-briggs/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/13/winter-storm-the-inventory-4-by-andy-briggs/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:47:11 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21897 We’ve been reading and enjoying the Inventory series by Andy Briggs since Small reviewed book 1 (read that review here). It seems only fitting that we are taking part in the blog tour for book 4, Winter Storm which finishes the series, and I’m very happy to give you a taster of the book by hosting an extract – read on to enjoy Chapter 1.

Book cover - Inventory 4 Winter Storm showing repeated stylised green figures with circuit board details

“Revolutions start with the tiniest of moments.” Onslow Winter stopped pacing the stage, extended his arms then slowly drew them together until his index fingers were touching. It was a touch of showmanship the technological genius had brought to every presentation over many years. “And we have the most awesome small there is!”

The thousand-strong crowd of technology journalists leaned forward in rapt anticipation like the star-struck fans they were. From the moment Winter had become a telecoms billionaire with the launch of his revolutionary mobile phone, he had been a technology superhero, and fan devotion to him had only grown over the decades. Even his wrinkles and saggy jowls had become trendy.Every event at Winter Tech was like a pop concert, and secrecy about each new project launch was absolute.

“With our revolutionary nanotechnology, we will reinvent how we invent!”

The lights in the auditorium dimmed. A single spotlight stabbed down centre stage as Winter gestured to a box on the floor, one that the audience had assumed was a speaker. It started to change shape, extending into a vertical column like a hundred years’ tree growth in time-lapse. As it stretched two metres tall, the audience oohed in appreciation, then burst into applause. Winter waved his hand to encourage them to keep going.

“Nanobots. You’ve all heard of them before. Some of you have seen them. Tiny mechanical robots that can work together for a greater task. But these. . .” He paused for a moment to admire the black monolith that had formed onstage. It was so matt black that it seemed to suck the illumination from the spotlights pointed at it. “These are something else. They are not tiny robots. No. What you are looking at are the first bio-bots. Like you, like me, this column is built of living components, each a millimetre long, that have been engineered into a
programmable living swarm.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as the assembled crowd tried to work out what he meant. That was the trouble with being Onslow Winter: his mind worked far ahead of most people’s. The corners of his mouth twisted into a smile as gasps of astonishment slowly rippled through the crowd as the audience began to understand.

“It’s something more than a robot or a cyborg. Capable of adapting to its environment and shaping itself with almost limitless possibilities! It’s a living bioborg. I call it Winter Storm.”

With that, the smooth monolith suddenly whirled like a tornado, with a sound like a billion marbles clattering together, before finally taking the shape of a towering arm that pivoted and waved at the crowd. By now the applause was deafening. People had taken to stomping their feet on the floor in admiration.

Still the whirlwind turned – and the resulting construction made everybody freeze in silence. It was a seven-foot-tall humanoid. A matt-black robot formed of smooth contours. The head was in the shape of a sleek futuristic biker’s helmet. Although it was featureless, people felt their skin prickle as the head turned side to side to study them. The lack of eyes didn’t mean they couldn’t feel the living machine’s gaze bore into them.

With a soft clump that sounded like it was walking on bubble wrap, the humanoid stepped forward – then raised its fist in triumph.

On cue, the crowd went wild with cheers and thunderous clapping. The applause was so loud that it almost drowned out the explosion above them.

A circular section of ceiling blew away in a shower of smoke and plaster dust. People began scrambling for the exits, only to find them blocked by menacing thugs wearing body armour, their faces concealed behind black plastic shields like hockey masks. They wielded peculiar rifles with a white central chamber from which a faint mist steadily poured. With a twitch of the trigger, one of the men shot a blast of frigid air across those nearest him, immediately encasing them in ice.

“Do not panic,” boomed a voice from above, and a figure slowly descended from the hole in the roof. There was a faint whirl from the antigravity boots he wore as they carried him to the stage, where a shocked Winter stood. “You will not be harmed.”

The frozen people suddenly shattered into countless ice shards. The villain sighed and gestured to the broken pieces.

“Correction. Nobody else will be harmed if you just cooperate.”

Onslow Winter was nothing if not a performer. With the frightened eyes of hundreds of people on him, he raised himself to his full height and approached the newcomer. Behind him, the Winter Storm humanoid mirrored his stance, acting as a towering bodyguard. Winter stared at the figure’s eyes, which were white, with no pupils. They were unnerving, to say the least.

“Onslow Winter, I am here for your wonderful Winter Storm.” The newcomer gestured to the humanoid. “Hand it over, or I will freeze your adoring fans, one by one.” He gestured to the audience.

Winter licked his dry lips and finally found his voice. “Wh-who are you?”

“I am your biggest fan.” The figure’s smile was absent of humour. “But you may call me the Collector.”

***

You’re hooked aren’t you? Just in case you want a tiny bit more, here’s the blurb:

In the fourth and final book of this gripping series, all the Inventory’s secrets are revealed.

Having learned a troubling truth about himself in the Black Zone of the Inventory, Dev is called back into action to defend the world’s greatest store of futuristic tech – and he’ll need all the help he can get from his friends. The Collector is back and as menacing as ever, and now he’s stolen Winter Storm, a swarm of powerful biobots, which he is using to infect and control people. Who can be trusted now?

Now I’ve got you 🙂 I guess you’ll want to know a little more about the practicalities. The book came out on 1st February, and is available from Amazon here (affiliate link) as well as other bookshops. The cover (up top) fits beautifully into the rest of the series, which shiny green writing and a futuristic picture (they really look great together on a shelf).

And don’t forget to check out the other posts on the blog tour. blog tour banner listing stops

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Force of Nature by Jane Harper http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/05/force-of-nature-by-jane-harper/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/02/05/force-of-nature-by-jane-harper/#respond Mon, 05 Feb 2018 09:00:28 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21882

Buy at Amazon I absolutely loved The Dry by Jane Harper when I read it last year (review here ) so I was thrilled to be offered Force of Nature to read as well.

There is always a moment of trepidation when you face up to reading a sequel to a well loved book, particularly when said book was a debut. Can the author really keep the flow, will the sequel be a let down, should you just stick with reading the one?

However, I’m happy to report that book two is absolutely as good as book one. Just as immersive, although a little different in style. Again there are multiple time lines, but the past time line is only a few days ago, and takes you slowly through Alice Russell’s disappearance. The present line rides with Aaron Falk again – if you haven’t read The Dry and made his acquaintance, while it’s not necessary to understand this book, I’d highly recommend you give yourself that treat as well.

Falk is a great character. He’s not your classic criminal detective, but instead a Federal Agent in the financial investigative unit. It appears that financial investigation doesn’t necessarily stay in the office the way you might expect. In this case they end up out in the bush as Alice disappeared on a team building exercise right in the middle of the territory of a serial killer from 25 years back.

The tag line on my proof copy says “Where did Alice Russell go?” It’s a good question.

I’m not going to go any further into the story – what I’ve shared so far is spoiler free. But there’s a lot going on in all these people’s lives, and you are going to find out all about them, and their offspring. You’re also going to get to spend a fair bit of time stumbling around the bush, and discovering what happens when a group of people sent out to build a team are up against the force of nature.

Force of Nature is available now on kindle and publishes in hardback on the 8th of February. The Dry is currently (4/02/18) 2.99 on Kindle, which is an absolute bargain to be honest. Enjoy! (And don’t forget to check out the other bloggers taking part in the blog tour.)

What happened to Alice?  Force of Nature blog tour banner

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Dixit – a family card/board game reviewed http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/01/29/dixit-a-family-card-board-game-reviewed/ http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2018/01/29/dixit-a-family-card-board-game-reviewed/#comments Mon, 29 Jan 2018 18:43:23 +0000 http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/?p=21877

Cover of board game Dixit - square gold box with fantasy style pictures

Buy at Amazon

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we were sent Dixit for our Blogger board game club review last month. (Apologies for the delay in getting this review live, I think I should pop a health update on but basically, long story short, it probably isn’t depression causing my issues, but an underactive thyroid, and along with depression symptom I’ve got shaky hands, which makes typing somewhat hit and miss…) The box is quite luscious, and the pictures on it would not be out of place in a fantastical picture book, which isn’t usually how board games go.

Open the box up and the surreal continues.

Dixit cards and pieces

You have a set of 84 cards with the wonderful wordless fantasy images on, some wooden rabbit playing pieces, and a set of voting cards per player.

Each player starts with a hand of cards. The first to play chooses a card to describe and lays it on the table, with a story in a sentence. This should describe the card, but not too precisely, as each other player has to choose one of their cards that could illustrate what was said, and pass it face down to the storyteller. The cards are shuffled, and then laid face up on the table. Then the players who didn’t tell the story place a counter facedown to vote for the story. Points are then given depending on how many votes the storyteller got – if everyone votes for their picture, they don’t get any points. Otherwise they get a certain number, and each player whose card was voted for gets points as well. The rabbits hop around the course on the board in the box to keep track and that’s the game.

Sorry, it sounds ridiculously complicated, it did take us a couple of hands to get used to, but the fun of this game isn’t in the competition. It’s in thinking up ways to describe the cards, and I know I’m not going to be able to get across to you how utterly gorgeous they really are. They are also quite gloriously bizarre and a little bit spooky, and very very lovely.

The game was a huge hit here, and then Tim took it round to his family on Christmas day and it was loved there too. You don’t have to worry that you might get to know the cards too well – you can buy different sets if you feel like that is happening. I’m kind of tempted to do that anyway.

We were sent a puzzle for review as well, but I haven’t taken pictures of that yet (taking pictures is another problem with shaking hands) so I’ll hope to be back with that later in the week.

Now I’m going to finish this review with something I don’t often do, which is ask for your help. Because of the somewhat complicated health issues I’ve got at the moment, I’m not managing to put much time or effort into blogging, or sharing and it is affecting my blog visibility horribly, so if you can see your way to help me out with a share or a comment, I would be incredibly grateful. Thank you!

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