The Sudden Appearance of Hope

So, I just broke a copyright. I stole the title of the book for my post, but only because it is such a well-rounded title—just like the book. *wink*

Backstory: About a young woman named Hope Arden, she finds herself unable to be remembered. Once someone sees her face, within about one minute after they look away, she finds herself forgotten. First it happens to her teachers, then her friends, then her family. And without a place to call home, she falls back to what she does best:

Be forgotten.

Hope turns into a thief, an easy career when no one can remember her face, and although there are computers and cameras, the people who run them can’t bear to remember to add her to the system and forget between one moment and the next.

And while the book sounds interesting at just this bare minimum, there is Claire North’s name on the cover, well-known author of Touch and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which if you haven’t read those yet, then you really should.

AND beyond that, there’s Perfection.

But, I don’t want to spoil the book beyond that, even though I will be eternally bound to spoil it while reflecting on some of my most favorite parts, but still. If you haven’t read this book, you should. I think this will trump my best read of this year already.

The feelings, the things I learned, the ideas I have had today, so many ideas, so many feelings, they will die with my memory. I fear that loss. But more, a terror that I must share with my future self. I fear what this means for me. If you forget the joy of this day, then what joy you give to others will also be forgotten, and your life has no consequence, no meaning, no worth. (74)

There are plenty of these thoughts riddled throughout the book, deep, reflective, and yet applicable to any person reading it. How many times can we relate to this thought? How often do we wonder what mark we can leave behind on this world? I wonder if the only meaning our life holds is how others remember us when we’re gone. What impression do we want to leave behind? Even if only a few relate to this, I love this BIG thought near the beginning of the book. It creates such a real character. #ShowerThought

A woman with Perfection, snubbing the food her partner offered her at the cafe where I ordered breakfast.

A man with Perfection, updating the app on his phone, a sports bag slung over his back, arms bulked up with protein shakes, chest heaving, sweat on the back of his neck.

A teenager with Perfection, looking at the prices for the perfect haircut.

Open your eyes: it is everywhere. (228)

This is the perfect metaphor. I can’t stress it enough, through repetition of the word, the reader creates this picture of what perfect looks like, and yet, the last sentence is what drives it home. “It is everywhere.”

Have you thought of what perfection is? What do you think perfection is? Did you notice who I asked? You. Perfection has no definition. It is only an opinion, a preference, an idea, a trend. Perfection only exists in the eye of the beholder, a common quote, but one maybe people have forgotten to take into consideration. There is no perfection; there is only the idea of what you think it means, and right now society is trying to force-feed you their idea of perfection, through marketing, advertisements, anything to make you the best consumer. Because that’s how this economy sustains itself: Consumption.

This book is riddled with ideas like these, and while I’ve dog-earred many a page, I won’t bore you—or spoil the book—by throwing them all in this post. Just know that this books dives into the metapor of perfection and contemplates what it means in today’s society. It’s one of the reasons I love this book, not only deep and reflective, but then it throws this interesting character with an interesting talent. It leaves me wanting more.

Thank you Claire North.

North, Claire. The Sudden Appearance of Hope. New York, NY: Redhook Books, 2016. Print.

Too many characters to count

I’m up to page 83, and there’s nearly 37 characters in this book so far. So, safe to say that there’s a lot of characters and that this is going to be a complex story, so let me try to keep track with a list—can you tell I’m hyper-organized? It’s especially bad with all the lines of command of the military, and I’ve never been good at keeping track of that.

less power–>Corporal–>Sergeant–>Lieutenant–>Captain–>Colonel–>more power

Kurt Stelling: German Lieutenant Colonel; gay; 6.5 ice Talent; hides Luckenwalde (name for Nazi government Talent facility) with his ice Talent?

Erich von Ritter: German Colonel; SD officer*; tall, dark, and handsome (most characters distracted by his looks); homophobic; an thirty-ish aristocrat from Munich, Germany; cover in England is Pharmaceuticals; SPOILER has a spill Talent; code name “The Chemist”

Kim Tavistock: spill Talent; 33-year old woman; restoring Tavistock estate, or Wrenfall in Uxley, England; journalist; member of Monkton Hall (or Historical Archives and Records Centre—the cover name of the top-secret government research on military uses of Talents); code name “Sparrow”

Mother Tavistock: fifty-nine-years old; remarried for four years; lives in Philadelphia in America

Robert Tavistock: Older brother of Kim; deceased; died at Ypres

Julian Tavistock: Kim’s sixty-two-year old father; SPOILER¬†chief English spy at SIS, whose cover is that he works in the whisky trade; alias Claude Beven

Llewellyn Tavistock: grandparent of Kim

Jane Tavistock: grandparent of Kim

Walter Babbage: father of Rose

Mrs. Babbage: mother of Rose; the cook of Tavistock estate

Rose Babbage: Babbage’s nineteen-year old daughter; SPOILER a supposed ice talent;

Georgiana (Georgi) Aberdare: “a popular and poisonous London hostess” (19); code name “Sunflower”

Hugh Aberdare: Georgi’s brother; also named Lord Daventry

Alice Ward: Kim’s thirty-five-year old friend; owns Dropped Stitch—a knitting store; Trauma view Talent; might marry James?

James Hathway: middle-aged; dotes on Alice; priest of a chapel; also named Vicar (priest); owns used bookstore?

Miss Drummond: fiftyish office manager of Monkton Hall; controls logbook of people’s names and Talents and their correspond levels

Fitzroy Blum: Monkton Hall’s director; large man; natural defender Talent; possible spy for the Germans; used to be Georgi’s lover, but dumped her; confidant of King of England

Emma: Kim’ elementary friend; hyperempathy Talent

Owen Cherwell: caseworker for Hyperpersonal Talents at Monkton Hall, for Kim; previous professor at Cambridge’s Experimental Psychology Department

Stanley Yarrow: “bald and rotund director of Psychokinesis” at Monkton Hall (31);

Sam Reuben: Yarrow’s predecessor at Monkton Hall; small build; his son Michael died; was researching cold cell Talent

Constable Benny: Constable of Uxley

Constable Simkins: ?

Superintendent Oates: from constabulary in Coomsby; short

Dr. Angus Dunn: Doctor at mental hospital (or asylum), Prestwich Home

E (Richard Galbraith): head of the English Secret Intelligence Service (or SIS), also code-named Foxhound; wife has anorexia, who chose E over Drake; being investigated because there’s a information leak; sixty-two years old

Lydia: E’s wife

Wallis Simpson: woman; relationship with Edward VIII; believes in Hitler

Winston Churchill: First Lord of the Admiralty; conceptor Talent

Adolf Hitler: head of Nazi’s; conceptor Talent

Rory: another spy with Julian; code name “Rabbit”

Elsa: another spy with Julian; elderly lady; code name “Egret”

Harry Parslow: eighty-four year old man at Prestwich mental Home; maybe insight Talent?; used to own a Chemist shop

Lieutenant Hass: with Nazi military; Stelling’s adjutant

Field Marshal von Rundstedt: ?

Griffith: Hugh’s butler

Frank: Hugh’s footman?

Peter (Fin): Hugh’s part time footman; SPOILER Julian’s spy; runs two agents in Germany (one being Woodbird & the other Harp?)

Charlotte: Hugh’s maid; blond girl

Sir Edgar Thackeray: guest of Georgi’s

Lady Beatrice (Bea) Thackeray: Edgar’s wife

Sir Simon Harwell: Julian’s lunch companion; provides info for SIS

Heath Millington: Alistair Drake’s right hand man, or undersecretary; with CID (Committee for Imperial Defense); SPOILER replaces E

Alistair Drake: CID; has authority over E; started investigation on E; hates E; sides with the PM, or Prime Minister?

Coporal Breck: Doesn’t look like Stelling

Sergeant Dressler: Looks like Stelling; SPOILER driver for Stelling as he escapes Germany

Andre Francois-Poncet: French ambassador in Berlin; SPOILER help Stelling escape

Andre Marchand: Captain with ambassador

Philippe: Captain Andre’s friend

Dorset Withers: reads the scripture for Vicar James Hathway

Gunter Helmut: Stelling’s second driver during his escape; bland face

Olivia Hennessey: fortyish secretary for E; high security clearance; up-swept hair

Stanley Baldwin: Prime Minister of England; follows the direction of the British people

Woodbird: mole in Abwehr

Reginald Oldstrum: twenty-three years old; trauma view Talent of 3

Theodore Vaughn: Cold-cell Talent of 2

Grace Hull: Cold-cell talent of 4

King Edward: King of England

Theodora: Cousin of Kim

William: Uncle of Kim’s; brother of Julian

Sir Lionel Bowe: owns a house in Mayfair

Harp: British spy in Germany; has a woman mole (named Buttercup) in Luckenwalde

Gordon: Umbrella man; Von Ritter’s driver

Lena Mueller: thin, cross thirty-eight-year old woman; chauffeur; darkening talent at 9.4; accomplice of Von Ritter; alias Helga Osterman or Ines Reinhardt

Oskar: accomplice of Von Ritter

Idina Mae Henslow: ample woman; mistress of E

Mrs. Pengelley: shopper for yarn

Lowry: E’s deputy director

Martin Sempill: Barley and Mow pub owner

Ada: Barley and Mow pub’s cook

John Rennie: administrative officer at CID headquarters; Millington’s assistant

Mr. Vickers: SIS secretary for Millington

Henry Wollaston: admirer of Kim’s mother; gifted a Helbros watch to her mother

Carlisle: Julian’s longtime tobacconist; spy informant with Julian

Bert Doyle: director

Major General Hart: loves fine whisky

*SD: Hitler’s private intelligence service

What have I learned from reading this book? That you don’t have to name every character. I get that it definitely imparts a sense of realism, but it really confused me (as the reader) trying to keep up with who was whom, who was important, and who I had to remember. I would say be patient though. Some names are meant to be forgotten, and as such are only mentioned once. Others, come up frequently, so you get time to learn about them and their role in the story. Then there’s others who come up infrequently, but you should remember them. Like, E’s archenemy. Or, the name of the Prime Minister. The higher up’s that you don’t encounter but should know because they play an indirect role in the story.

That being said, as an after-the-fact, I did like the numerous characters. As a spy book, it makes it kind of cool having a character mentioned once or twice, and all the sudden you find out later in another chapter that the previously mentioned character is actually a spy working undercover with such-and-such agency. So, I think having so many characters actually helped hide some of them in the book.

Kenyon, Kay. At the Table of Wolves. New York, NY: Saga Press, 2017. Print.

PS. I should come back and re-organize this in a chart. It would make it a lot nicer and faster to figure out who’s related to who. First, I have to figure out all the secret organizations…

Distracted Thoughts from Winter Vacation

This is totally unrelated to anything about writing, because, I feel like I should warn you. You being, any person that has unrealistic expectations for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. So let me tell you, you’ve been warned…

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This is from Google, retrieved from YouTube user PsychoTraveller, back in 2016.
…I swear I was never this happy on the hike. Proud when I was done. But not happy. Impressed with the stunning views, but always praying that I survived.

Anyways, in case you have not heard of Tongariro Alpine Crossing, it’s supposed to be one of the best day hikes in the world. First off, it’s supposed to be an accessible hike. Second, it is a challenging hike, so good to mentally and physically stretch yourself. Third, it’s supposed to have beautiful scenery, passing active volcanoes and turquoise green lakes. But, even though their website quotes parts as moderate/difficult. I swear some of these may be under-stressed. (Partially because I think in some deep, deep part of myself, I am a drama queen, and I have to over-exaggerate. That, and I had extreme allergies at the time, and I don’t react well with elevation, and I don’t mix with heights and/or anything that requires balance and stability. So, there’s that.)

So, let me explain with an elevation map.

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I borrowed this from The Laws of Travel, and then edited it a little bit to add sections and letters. Mainly to show you what I thought of the hike.

SECTION A: As you can see in the picture below, part A is slightly uphill, in what I would consider relatively easy hiking. It’s paved, some parts are on steel walkways with anti-slip treds on them, and it’s barely uphill. You may feel slightly winded, but you’ll be fine.

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SECTION B: The Devil’s Staircase. This part is easy…if you’re good with elevation and staircases. I have to admit with the elevation and allergies, I had to stop like every ten steps to remember to breath. It was bad. There were a #%^$-ton of stairs. Remember that you’re gaining something like 300+ meters. It’s hard and annoying work.

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SECTION C: The Tease. This is where you think you’re done with the hard part. You’re walking across basically what looks like a flat desert to see Mt. Doom (from Lord of the Rings), and it looks pretty cool. People are taking a break, and then you look up to see your next series of elevation. Another at least 200+ meters gain. #%@&.

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SECTION D: The 200+ meters gain in elevation. By the way, there aren’t any steps. You’re walking up a series of dirt, loose rocks, and big rocks. Oh, and don’t forget there’s a severe drop-off on either side. At least the path is semi-wide. And there’s a rope to hold onto…for only a section of like 10 feet.

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The tippy-top—I didn’t include a picture. This is a nice place to stop for lunch, which most people did. But there’s not much to see. Imagine a lunar landscape that’s mainly flat without craters. That’s the very top. They did tell us to be careful. If it’s too windy, you can get blown into the Red Crater. Wanna see? Look below.

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SECTION E: Finally! Some downhill. Only, did someone forget to mention how loose the footing is? This section is all loose rocks, like pumice and sand/dirt. Seriously, I lost my footing and fell on my butt nearly 8 times. Not good when the right edge is a cliff into the Red Crater and the left edge is a cliff into a valley. And stupid me, I kept trying to grab onto anything for help, and there was this little ledge for a while, but it was smoking and hot and apparently had its own volcanic activity. AKA don’t touch smoking rocks.

Btw, try to dig in your heels when you walk. And look for the dirt. You have more grip there than on the loose rocks. And be careful, some parts are not as wide.

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SECTION F: By now my legs are tired, and thank god I finally get a break. There’s some more downhill, but it’s much easier. There’s a flat area, which I couldn’t be more thankful for. And, then there’s some uphill, which makes me want to hurt somebody, but it’s nowhere as steep, loose, or dangerous as before. So I grin and bear it.

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Warning: Around Blue Lake, the signage gets bad, so watch out for which path to take. Me and my husband (and multiple others visitors) took the path most traveled, but it ended up being the wrong path, and way more difficult of the two. Apparently, there was an easier path but the signage was missing, and most people did it wrong. Don’t be me.

SECTION G: By now, it’s around 12 kilometers of downhill, which isn’t hard. The paths are rather wide. There are some steep edges, but it’s not a cliff face. More like a gentle roll down a hill if you fell. And, you’d stop pretty quick. I will say though, when you don’t expect it, your knees will start to go. So be patient with your joints. I stopped for regular intervals to give my joints a break. But one of the men in our group of six, he tore his knee and had to be air-lifted out. Don’t over-extend yourself.

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What did I learn? This was one of the best hikes I had ever done. It was also one of the most difficult. My husband and I trained for maybe three months before the hike, running up to 3.5 miles, walking at least 12 miles on the weekend, and we thought we’d be prepared. It’s hilly here in Washington, and we thought we’d be ready for the mountains of New Zealand, at least on the north island.

We were wrong.

This is a difficult hike. I greatly appreciated plenty of snacks, especially my apples and granola bars covered in chocolate. We never had enough water (I blew through three out of the four water bottles we had—my husband was thirsty, and yet I was thirstier by the end. Blame my allergies. And the fact that I’m part fish.) Even though the weather was splendid, the hike was hard on my muscles and joints. Please take into consideration everything before you go on the hike. Don’t be the tourist that wears sandals.

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Btw, did I mention that I now have a permanent callous on my toe because of this hike?