The Bone Clocks: A Book Review

Title: The Bone Clocks

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Sceptre

Copyright Date: 2014

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One thing I look forward to every summer when we visit England is stopping in Waterstones Bookstore and looking to see what is current in British fiction. Two summers ago, The Bone Clocks, was at the top of every list. I don’t tend to choose science fiction for myself, so I decided to buy this book for my sister with the intent to borrow.

It took two years, but I followed through with that plan.

The Bone Clocks is one of the longest books I have ever read. At 613 pages, this book is nearly twice as long as my usual reads. The text is divided into six chapters. Each chapter is a different POV during a different decade, but all are connected.

From the onset, the reader meets Holly Sykes, a British teenager in 1984. After arguments with her parents about her inappropriate relationship with an older man, Holly decides to runaway. She finds herself on a road to self-discovery during the time on her own. On the night of her escape, Holly encounters a strange elderly woman, meets her partner, and finds out that her younger brother has gone missing.

Hugo Lamb has always had the world handed to him on a silver platter. His parents are some of the wealthiest in England, and it has always been expected that he will carry out their legacy at an ivy league school. Over Christmas break in 1991, Hugo meets Holly while on a ski adventure with friends.

In 2004, Holly’s sister, Sharon, is getting married and her daughter’s father has flown in from Iraq to be a part of the big day. Ed Brubeck has spent much of their daughter, Aioffe’s, life overseas reporting on the wars of the Middle East. Some days Ed dreams of being married to Holly and having the family he always dreamed of, but his addiction to the thrill of battle keeps him from making that commitment.

Since she was a young girl, Holly has suffered from inexplicable dreams. Haunted by the apparent death of her younger brother, she finds herself communicating with the same elderly woman in her dreams. These strange encounters lead to Holly writing an novel, which eventually lands her amongst the greatest modern writers. While at a speaking engagement in Spain in 2014, Holly meets the acclaimed Crispin Hershey and begins to form a relationship with the author.

All of Holly’s strange dreams begin to make sense in 2025 when she is introduced to Horology, a group of souls that have survived death several times over. She meets Marinus who teaches her about the Great War between Anchorites and Horologists, and she becomes a pawn in the fight for Horology.

In 2043, after the collapse of the world-as-we-know-it, Holly finds herself taking in two orphans in her old age. Having survived so much heartache and terror in her own life, Holly tries to teach the orphans the most important things, and she learns to sacrifice herself for those she loves.

From its first page all the way through page 613, I was drawn into Holly’s life and those she meets along the way. Most of the story follows the rules of realistic fiction, but every so often Mitchell lays breadcrumbs for the reader leading up to the climax–a war between two entities beyond this world. In the end, the reader is left thinking about the difference that each decision can make and the chain reactions that they begin.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Days 161-170

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Day 161: April 24, 2017

I wore a Perfect T from Lula Roe and olive green jeggings.

 

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Day 162: April 25, 2017

I wore a purple tunic and cardigan from Primark in England. I also wore black Lula Roe leggings.

 

Day 163: April 26, 2017

I had to miss school today for an appointment 😦

 

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Day 164: April 27, 2017

I wore an Irma from Lula Roe and khaki jeggings.

 

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Day 165: April 28, 2017

I missed my opportunity to do a classroom photograph today as I spent my morning proctoring tests. I wore an Irma from Lula Roe and OS leggings.

 

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Day 166: May 1, 2017

I wore a spring dress from Old Navy and paired it with a Lindsay Kimono by Lula Roe.

 

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Day 167-My daughter had a pre-school field trip to a children’s museum today. My husband and I were both able to come along. It was a wonderful day full of smiles and gratitude.

 

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Day 168: May 3, 2017

I wore a Carly dress from Lula Roe with OS leggings underneath.

 

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Day 169: May 4, 2017

This purple and gray tunic came from Stitch Fix. I paired it with black OS leggings from Lula Roe.

 

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Day 170: May 5, 2017

I wore a navy tunic and jeggings today.

Which look was your favorite?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Lesson From an Aspiring Author: ONE Question

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You may be wondering where I’ve run off to. My posting schedule has been on hiatus and it’s been weeks since I last talked writing with you. Don’t fear–I haven’t given up on my blog and its readers, however, it has been a struggle to balance blogging with intensive personal projects. Since the last time I provided a lesson I have started a new  manuscript, been accepted to write published book reviews, met non-fiction picture book writer Linda Stanek, and had the first two chapters of my first book critiqued by a free-lance editor.

The writing life is a busy life.

One thing I strive to do despite the high demands for my time is to continue to educate myself on craft. Before plot and characters can impact readers I have to be sure that my craft is on-point. I love running into great books on craft at the bookstore. While some of you may think books about writing sound about as dry as the Sahara, I find joy and passion in studying writing.

Lately, I’ve been reading through the Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Writing Fiction. It is a practical guide from New York’s acclaimed writing school. As I read through the book it helps with my character descriptions and plot development. One thing that I’ve focused on in my second manuscript is the idea of one major dramatic question.

Each work of fiction should be written to answer ONE pressing question. The answer to that question is what drives your reader through the pages of the book. Their hunt to know how the question will be resolved should guide the author’s writing. Stepping outside of the information pertinent the question bores readers, and concluding your story without answering the question reader’s asked throughout will leave them confused by what the book was really about.

I started to think about some of my favorite books and how the one question is revealed and answered in each work.

In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, the question is: Will Liesel survive the war in Molching? This question arises early on as the narrator for the novel is Death and from its onset, the reader knows someone is about to die. Each page turn is a step closer to the impending Death promised in the first pages.

In The Selection by Kiera Cass, the question is: Will America be the next Queen of Illea? This question transcends the first three books of the series. At times, it seems the answer is clear, but other times the unpredictable nature of the protagonist leaves the reader wondering.

In Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, the question is: Can Lynn survive on her own in a world without water? From its earliest pages this book describes life in a post-apocalyptic world where people are dying in a war for water. Lynn’s mother has been her rock and helped her to defend their pond from the thirsty. When Lynn’s mother is killed Lynn is faced with the challenge of survival on her own. This conflict-packed story finds its roots in the major dramatic question and all of the plot returns back to the essence of that question.

What are you writing? What’s your ONE question?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Should

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Should. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:should-600x600

April was a busy month. From Spring break, Easter, and testing at school, and soccer I felt that I rarely saw an opportunity to sit down and write. Most days I woke up before the sun and went to bed after its descent. The time in between was such a blur.

When I look back over the past few weeks I can’t help but feel regret.

I should have taken more time for me. I should have written and worked on my blog. I should have worried less about things that don’t matter much.

Now, I’m running on empty trying to polish off a long school year. I’m feeling the effects of a month gone wild, and I’m wishing I would have hit pause at least once. I feel like I’m sinking in a sea of personal projects, grading for school, and end-of-the-year activities.

At the time, I didn’t realize how I was running myself ragged.

I fixed myself in survival mode and went through life on overdrive.

After this first week of May I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Only a few short weeks of school remain. Mother’s Day is right around the corner. All major assignments and projects at school are coming to an end. And my daughter is finally coming out of her rough fight with separation anxiety.

I should be feeling like myself in no time.

I should finish the school year strong.

I should save my energy for the things that matter most.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Catch Up Edition

This post is a catch up edition to the days I’ve missed since taking my short vacation from the blog. Since I have so many outfits to describe I will be brief.

Day 147: April 3, 2017

I wore a Cassie skirt and Classic T from Lula Roe. I like the peek-a-boo tank look with a knotted tee.

 

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Day 148: April 4, 2017

I wore a pair of OS leggings by Lula Roe and a navy tunic from The Limited.

 

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Day 149: April 5, 2017

I wore my Kebede Mixed Material top by Skies Are Blue from Stitch Fix # 7 and Ellaine Open Cardigan by PaperMoon from Stitch Fix # 4 and coral jeggings.

 

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Day 150: April 6, 2017

I wore a brand new outfit from Lula Roe. I went to a pop-up party the night before and scored these OS leggings and this Irma.

 

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Day 151: April 7, 2017

I wore spirit-gear and jeans today.

 

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Day 152: April 10, 2017

I kicked off Holy Week with a blue and red striped Carly dress from Lula Roe.

 

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Day 153: April 11, 2017

I wore my Rinald Front Pocket Blouse by Fun2Fun from Stitch Fix #6 and  Abrianna Knit Cardigan by 41Hawthorn from Stitch Fix #1 and navy cargo pants from Old Navy.

 

Day 154: April 12, 2017

I proctored the state AIR tests today for the entire school day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to capture my attire for the day.

 

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Day 155: April 13, 2017

I wore OS leggings from Lula Roe and a navy tunic from the Limited. I added flair to this outfit with a long open-front vest.

 

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Day 156: April 17, 2017

I wore a maxi dress from Old Navy with a Classic T from Lula Roe knotted over top of the dress. This is my first time ever wearing a tee over a dress and I really liked this look!

 

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Day 157: April 18, 2017

I wore red OS leggings from Lula Roe and a long sleeved striped tunic.

 

Day 158: April 19, 2017

As part of my district’s improvement plan I spent today in curriculum meetings with the other World History teachers creating maps for our units of study. I did not get a photo of my outfit today.

 

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Day 159: April 20, 2017

I wore OS leggings and an Irma top from Lula Roe.

 

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Day 160: April 21, 2017

I wore this spring top from Charming Charlies and a pair of jeans. Students had a half-day today as it was the mid-term. Teachers had afternoon meetings and professional development. We focused on making a difference in the lives of our students.

 

Which looks were your favorite?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

**This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation as a result of this post.

LipSense Review

I’ve always wanted to be one of those women who wears lipstick. My goal was always to have that put-together, naturally beautiful look, but a combination of the way it dried out my lips and the ease at which products rubbed off as I ate and talked kept me from wearing it regularly. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of products, but none have proven satisfactory. For months, I’ve noticed several of my friends on social media posting about LipSense. It is a lipstick that promises longevity and moisture for dry lips. I was skeptical after my experience with almost every other company, but when I was invited to a live party I decided to try it out.

At the party, I chose several shades to try on myself. I ended up loving Precious Topaz.

The way you apply LipSense is different than any other I’ve worn. It’s a thin, alcohol-based formula that you apply in layers using long swipes in one direction. Each layer dries within ten seconds. Ideally, you should have three layers of the product on your lips, but I’ll admit I’ve cheated and done some applications with only a single layer and it was fine. After the layers are in place you finish the look with a generous amount of gloss. The gloss locks in the color and hydrates your lips.

Once you have finished with application the color should last 10-18 hours depending on the pH of your skin. Mine usually only lasts about 8 hours, but during that time it doesn’t transfer or rub off.

Because I’ve been a Chapstick fanatic for years, the first application was painful. My lips tingled and cracked as the LipSense formula worked to reverse the effects of wax buildup from Chapstick.

In my experience, the more I used the products the healthier my lips felt. Wearing it daily helps keep my lips hydrated. Glossy gloss has been a great replacement to Chapstick. I like to wear the gloss on its own and also while I sleep.

The first time you order LipSense you need to be sure to get the whole kit. The kit includes lip color, gloss, and Oops Remover. Oops Remover is absolutely necessary for removing the color at the end of the day.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with my experience. I get countless compliments each day that I wear LipSense. My advice for anyone who has naturally dry lips is to give it a week to achieve desired results. The first few days were painful for me, but as time wore on the pain went away. Before LipSense I was damaging my lips using products that contained wax and GMOs. I’m thankful for a product I can feel confident in while also knowing it is advancing my lip health.

If you are interested in giving LipSense a try check out the contact information below. Rachel is my consultant. She has some really good tutorial videos on her social media sites.

Facebook: Make up and Chill with Rachel

Instagram: make_up_and_chill

Email: makeupandchillwithrachel@gmail.com

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Short Story: Allegations

This short story was submitted to a contest through The Short Fiction Break. It is written according to contest guidelines and following a prompt provided by judges. It is a YA piece.

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Allegations

by: Lauren Sisley

Everyone else in the room decided I was guilty. I wondered if trying to persuade them otherwise was even worth the effort. Mom sat in the corner picking at her nail polish while Dad nodded along as the principal explained the situation. Neither of my parents looked me in the eyes.

“Mr. and Mrs. Konkel, this is a very serious allegation that has been made against your son. If charges are pressed we will have to turn this case over to the local police.”

The sound of my mother’s gasp distracted me from the dialogue. Dad asked questions like a detective. Mom continued in silence letting her heavy breaths do her talking.

“All I can say at this time, Mr. Konkel, is that it matches up. I can’t say for sure that Jordan is at fault, but he is our only suspect.” Principal Wallis placed his hands on his desk and looked my direction. He was the only brave soul in the room.

“And if charges aren’t pressed?” Dad questioned.

“Then, suspension is not off the table. This is still very serious and the school has a zero tolerance policy for this kind of thing.”

I found it ironic that no one asked me if I did it. They just assumed because I was Wilson’s little brother that I had to be guilty. While I was a captive to Principal Wallis’ office I tried to put the pieces together in my mind.

Seventh period I was in English. Miss Thorne was going over poetic devices and I was nodding along like I had any clue who William Shakespeare was. The bell rang and somewhere between my seat in English and the bathroom floor I lost all recollection.

I awoke to the smell of urine. A hand tapped my backside as I realized my face was soaking up the wet floor. My head felt as though it had taken the brunt of the fall. I could feel a bruise already forming under the skin, but other than that I felt fine.

“Better get yourself to the nurse, Kid.” The janitor spoke to me while returning to his mopping. It’s weird how you can go to the same school for three years and never once speak to the janitor. I wondered if he knew my name. Standing to my feet I walked right past the man without a word and made my way out of the bathroom.

When I turned to the hallway I heard the cries.

A girl from my history class was talking to Principal Wallis and pointing toward the bathroom. My vision was blurry, but I could see her busted lip and ripped clothes from where I stood. Fear masked her face almost as well as her smeared makeup.

Principal Wallis turned just as I crossed the hall. “Young man, I think you ought to turn around and head toward my office. You have some explaining to do.”

Then the questions started.

“What were you doing in the bathroom in the middle of eighth period? Do you know Amira Paulson? Why are you covered in urine? Did you flood the bathroom? Why is your head bleeding? Please answer me!” Principal Wallis was getting frustrated.

As hard as I tried I couldn’t come up with a response. There was seventh period and there was the bathroom floor. I couldn’t be sure of anything else.

Watching my parents as they each dealt with the conflict knotted my stomach. I could tell that they were struggling with how they could have raised another monster. They never thought I’d turn out like Wilson. Dad was pacing and finally worked up the courage to address me.

“Well, Son, do you have anything to say for yourself? After all we’ve been through as a family these past few months do they mean anything to you? Did you learn anything from your brother’s mistakes?” It was my first opportunity to speak since they arrived, but the death of my brother was still too raw to touch.

I wanted to be able to give them an answer that would satisfy them. I wanted to remember what happened so I could get myself out of this. I wanted to tell them I’m not like he was, but I couldn’t bring that up. Not now.  I just shrugged my shoulders and continued to avoid eye contact like the other three people in the room.

“Jordan, I suggest that if you are innocent you say so.”

“I need my bag.” My words were involuntary.

“Excuse me?” Dad’s voice jumped several decibels.

“I need my book bag. I think I left it in the bathroom.”

“No, it’s been confiscated.” Principal Wallis pointed to a bag behind his desk that I couldn’t have possibly seen from my chair.

“Well, I need it back.”

“Listen here, Jordan. You will get your bag when you cooperate. You’ve gotten yourself into a whole heap of trouble. You don’t get to make requests. Right now your only concern is the truth. Tell us what happened.” I could see a vein popping out of Dad’s neck as he spoke.

“The bag first.” I tried to barter information for the safe return of my belongings.

“What’s so important in this bag anyway?”

In a quick motion Dad bent down and grabbed the bag off the floor. I felt my stomach wrench as he unzipped the front compartment and shook the bag upside down. I couldn’t watch, but I heard the sound of many objects as they hit the desk.

I knew they had found it the moment Mom began to wail.

I could hear him pick the bag up off of his desk. “Is this why you did it?” I balled my fists as I waited for a lecture. It didn’t come. Instead I was punished by the return of silence to the room.

“You’re just like him, Jordan! And I can’t go through this again.” Mom broke the silence as she stood up and left.

All of this was too much for her. I wasn’t the first of her children to carry around a bag of crank. I always promised that I wouldn’t get caught up in this stuff like Wilson did.

“Mr. Konkel, I have no choice but to involve the authorities now.” I heard Principal Wallis pick up the phone and dial.

“How could you do this to your mother?” Dad barked before he joined my mother in the hallway.

I was done for. Not only had they found my stash, but there was a girl in the next room crying rape. Both my parents were furious. The authorities were on their way. I wasn’t sure how I would ever get myself out of this one.

I continued to answer all of Principal Wallis’ questions with silence until there was a knock on the door.

The janitor entered the room. He was a large man, and his face was lined with wrinkles. He wasn’t someone to be crossed.

“Mr. Wallis,” He muttered. He had a student by the collar as he shoved him into the office. “Caught this one in the hall talking about that little girl who was in here crying.” He let go of the student and looked over at me. “Oh, hey, how’s that head doing? You took quite the fall on the floor. I was coming in to mop it all up when I seen you laid out. Stupid seniors always making my job tough. Clogging toilets and all.”

It was a relief to know I hadn’t done it.

I have a week’s suspension from school to figure out how to tell Mom and Dad that I carry Wilson’s bag to remind me who I don’t want to be. It’s all he left me in this world.

I would never hurt them the way that he did, which is why I was so terrified that I had.

It is unlawful to plagiarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. No permission is given to reuse this text or ideas without written consent.