Sunday, 12 January 2020

Book Review : Speak No Evil

Please note: this book was provided for me to read and review by Library Thing's Early Reviewer programme. You can rest assured however, that this is (as always) an honest review!

We first meet Melody as a 16-year-old, being dragged to an appointment by her exasperated foster carer. Clearly she has been through some terrible trauma, as she does not speak and is seeing a psychiatrist to try to bring her out of her shell. The only way she can communicate is through music. Melody's story gradually unfolds between the present and various times in her past, beginning as a happy 5-year-old spending time with her loving parents. Where are her parents now, and what are the terrible events that led to her silence?

Melody's story is a harrowing one. There are themes that some would find distressing, including myself. Often content notices are also spoilers, so I've added them in white text (highlight to read):
[snakes, animal cruelty, sexual assault, rape, physical violence, bullying]

To be honest, it's not the kind of book I would normally read. I prefer fiction with lighter themes. The author has added an end note explaining why she chose to write about such themes, and I understand that it's important that these voices are heard. Putting my squeamishness aside, Gardner has woven a compelling tale that kept me reading. I sympathised with Melody and wanted to know her story, and of course, if she finally finds a place she can call home. The way that Melody's emotions and thoughts are expressed through song lyrics was evocative, and not something I've seen before. Both Melody and the supporting characters are well-rounded and diverse. The only reservation I have is that about two-thirds of the way into the book, several new characters are introduced, in both the present and the past, and I had trouble keeping track of who was who and when. I gradually overcame this, though, as the past and present were knitted together harmoniously.

Would I read more by this author?
(for the subject matter) Maybe! (for the writing style) Yes!

Thursday, 9 January 2020

My 2020 Planner

In 2019 I made a big change to how I use my planner. I shifted it online and started using Trello after I saw how it works at my old job. While Trello is excellent for managing projects, daily planning and to-do lists, I found it wasn't very good for future events, appointments, etc, so I decided to keep going with a paper diary for these things. I downsized from an A5 to A6 size diary because I don't need the extra space for to-dos and tracking anymore. I'm only using it for yearly holidays/festivals, birthdays, appointments, moon phases and similar things.

I purchased my planner from Typo this year, and the set-up isn't perfect, but it'll do. I wasn't as fussy about the set-up as in previous years as the planner will have more limited use. To be honest, I just bought the first one I saw with a cover that I even vaguely liked! It has the usual week-to-a-spread that I prefer. I don't really like the grey bands across the pages, and there were some other features I didn't like as well, but I ripped out some pages and glued other ones together until it suited me a bit better.

I decided not to decorate it as heavily with stickers and washi tapes, just adding a few accents. I stole re-purposed some of my favourite stickers from last year's diary (ones that I could lift up without ruining!), and used them to decorate it. I'll probably add more as the year goes on and if I feel like it.

I added a few inspirational quotes and thoughts I've had into the front, as I usually like to do:

Also the Indigenous seasonal calendar (though I accidentally pasted it in sideways, oops):

The mail order tracker I created a few years ago fits in just fine, thankfully. I only needed to chop off the bottom to make it fit the A6 size.

I did order a vinyl sticker to decorate the front but it hasn't arrived in the mail yet. I managed to peel the sticker off last year's diary and stick it to the back though. I like this sticker a lot; it's from Fox and Cactus.

Here's a page from last year's planner as a reminder. I still track most of these things, but on my Trello now.