Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: Bioshock Rapture by John Shirley


Hi readers, 

Today, I'm finally bring you my review of the Bioshock novel. Those of you that have read my life up date posts will have noticed I've been playing games one and two for a little while now. I did pick up this book before and I read a little of it then put it down. That was because it wasn't set in the 'Rapture' the games where and I really wanted it to be. I really love the abandoned, dystopia feeling you get from the Rapture in the games and it feels so real to me. I often imagine what it must have actually looked like and the novel does help with that. 

I picked this book up again halfway through playing the first one, just because I felt like giving it another shot and I knew it'd have some interesting background information. It's a very well written and true to the games story. It includes all the main characters from both games and you get to learn a lot about their backgrounds. I know in the games, you learn too, but this goes into more depth. There's also a nice tie in with the use of the voice records and some lines are quoted from the games, which just brings you to thinking about that moment in the game. 

For those of you who haven't heard of Bioshock, you might find this book a bit hard to get into and understand. Even though all the right information and the description of characters and settings are really good, it really is aimed at the players. And whilst, I think most of the players will like it, there are a few that maybe won't, just because if you've played the games well enough and a few times, there's not a lot new to be learnt about the main characters or the creation of Rapture from this novel.

The novel starts with a prologue set in 1945 New York City with Andrew Ryan, a millionaire business man, deciding to began his dream of building an underwater city. The idea behind it is to escape the control of the government but also to provide safety from the growing threat of nuclear war. Ryan wanted the best people from Earth to live in Rapture and able to develop scientifically and creatively with no rules to stop them. Ryan comes across as an interesting character in the novel with a scarred background which drives him. 

The actual main protagonist of the novel isn't actually Ryan, it's his chief engineer Bill McDonagh as the novel focus on his life and development a lot. By chance Bill meets Ryan when he comes to do some plumping and Ryan takes an interested in him. Slowly, Bill is let onto the secret building of Rapture out in the Atlantic Ocean. He then gets to work and live in Rapture and becomes Ryan's left hand man. (On the right is the chief of security).

The rest of the plot reveals how Frank Fontaine got into Rapture and his work with the scientists, Tenenbaum and Suchong to discover and develop ADAM -found in sea slugs-and EVE-which they make. Thus, meaning people could change their DNA and gain super human powers. However, there is an addiction to it and also some side effects so the splicers were born. When the ADAM starts running out, it's discovered that little girls with the implanted slugs can find and gather ADAM. They become Little Sisters, but even though they become immortal due to the slugs, they still need protecting and so the Big Daddies where created. 

Then there's the fall of Rapture and how that all came about. The ending was interesting with Bill trying to escape with his family and not being able to as no one is allowed to leave Rapture. I did find it sad because I'd got attached to Bill! 

I did find this novel a bit hard going due to the science fiction genre and my dyslexic brain. Though in the end, I'm glad I got through it. I'm sure though if I hadn't played through Bioshock and didn't love it then I won't have bothered with the book. But that's just me. I think that people who like science fiction with a utopia and dystopia theme will enjoy it. 

Overall, this novel is really aimed at fans and players of the Bioshock games. I like the writing and the characters, I liked learning more about the different character's backgrounds and the creation of Rapture. But though, I still feel that the games are better! 

Thanks for reading and I'd loved to hear your thoughts. 
I'm off to London tonight, so next week will be kicking off a new month with a life update about that. Till then.      
   

  

Images from: 
Amazon.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock

Monday, 18 April 2016

April Life Update: Being Ill Is Not Much Fun.


Hi readers,

Sorry, I've not posted in two week, but I was ill and so was my mum. In fact, I still am as this cold doesn't seem to want to go. Sometimes I can think of nothing worse then a bad cough that just won't quit! I guess it doesn't help that I've had hardly anytime to rest up. I've had a busy time at work, covering other peoples' shifts and volunteering on reception. Plus, I had an interview for working with the seniors, but I didn't get the job. Didn't get my PhD interview either, which was a shock.

Also, I can't let go of my ex-boyfriend no matter what I tell myself and it's become a complicated issues of us not being together and agreeing we really are not getting back together, but acting as if we are a couple again! So yeah, I'm feeling really low about stuff. And though I hate to admit, I'm wondering if I'm getting depressed again. Though, it's more like my run of bad luck and feeling ill that's giving me those thoughts. But if it does get worse, I'll be going to talk to someone.

I've not been up to anything crafty or arty outside of work. I've still got my felt steggie dinosaur to make and my mum is busy knitting me a werewolf, so maybe next month to show off them? Though got my trip to London first! So, excited about that.

Firstly, I'm currently taking part in the A-Z Challenge on my other blog. Every day, but for Sundays, the post has to be titled and be about a word starting with the next letter of the alphabet. So last week as an example I wrote stories about Anxiety, Bedazzled, Cacti, Dog. I'm finding it lots of fun and a great way to meet other bloggers. Of course, it's also to get you writing and blogging more, but I all ready do that!  

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib


Secondly, I wanted to write about my reading goals for this year, which I had put on my Goodreads page, but forgot. I choice to try and read 30 books this year and so far I've read only 10. Feels more then that though! Last year, I did a reading challenge from Popstar, I think it was and there was around 30 books on that last too. I didn't get to read all of them though. Hopefully, having to do a book review 3-4 times a month will help as I'll need to start reading faster again.

I've got lots of books that I keep meaning to start, like the True Blood ones as I've finished watching all the seasons now. Also, the Vampire Diaries, Anne Rice's wolf books, though I'd love to read Interview with A Vampire again. Then I've got some steampunk ones and some YP ones and just, yeah far far too many! I'm sure I'll get around to them all though.

Here's the link to my Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7400715-hayley-hardman

The only upside to being ill has been that I've spent a lot of time playing Bioshock. This is like my third time playing through it now. I'm way out of practice and found the medium setting a bit hard. I've never been good at shooting games, nor any other game really, but I do still like playing them. I think Bioshock grabs me because of the dystopia setting and the story line. It feels like a different experience to other games and I remember watching my dad playing and getting hooked. I feel like I did a review of it once on here...anyway....

I've finished it again, but I'm going back for some of the achievements I've missed and then I've got to play through it again for two or three more as well. I've moved on to Bioshock 2 now, which is my favorite. I love playing as a Big Daddy and learning more about Rapture! I don't know why I find the second easier to do, maybe its the add strength of being stronger or because I've played it that many times I just know it. My favorite level is Siren Alley. I'm not sure why, but it really sticks with me.

In fact, I started reading the novel that is set before the first game and I'm going to review it next week now.

Love, Heart, Broken, Sad, Unhappy, Cry, Crying

So on Thursday of last week, I was feeling so fed up with everything that I decided to take the plunge I was planing to do at the end of this month or maybe later. I joined two dating websites. Well, it turned out that okcupid still had my profile...don't know why, but it seems I forget to delete it. I also joined plenty of fish, which I was on ages ago, but got rid of after meeting my second ex-boyfriend.  

Writing and talking about all the thoughts and feels I had when I'd set up the accounts and glanced at some photos of possible dates is just impossible. I have the urge to try though, but I guess it'll be hard for people who've not been in this situation to understand. I just felt so guilty and sad and like it was wrong. I was betraying and being unfaithful too. But of course I'm single now, so why would I feel like all that?! I guess the idea of moving on is just too painful still and thinking that I'll never find anyone who's better then him. I just felt worse about everything.

Then the messages started...it's weird I was thinking I'd have to wait hours, days maybe before guys saw my profile, but nope. I'm not playing 'the I'm desperate game' or 'I'm super lonely' ect, I'm just being me, though a lot less flirty then I remember being before. I still don't know if it's what I want, but I know I won't be meeting up with anyone anytime soon. Jumping into another relationship isn't going to help, but seeing that there are other men interest in me will make me feel a bit better. And I never know who'll meet, so I'm going to try and have some fun...though not to much, can't get carried away! 

So, next week I'm going to review the Bioshock book and then hopefully, fit another review in the Monday after and before I go to London. Still really excited about that!

Till next time!  


Images from:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/7670/
https://pixabay.com/en/love-heart-broken-sad-unhappy-cry-1281655/

Monday, 28 March 2016

Book Review: The Mammoth Book Of Haunted Houses Stories

The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories

Hi readers, 

Today I'm reviewing an anthology of short stories that I have half previously read but never finished and once again, I probably won't finish because as much as I love and have raved about The Mammoth Books before, I just enjoy dipping in and out of them instead of reading them cover to cover. This is because I use them as something to read in between novels or when going on trips/holidays (I'm weird and don't actually like reading on holidays, guess because I'd rather be off exploring!) or like this time around, I couldn't make my mind up about what to read next, so I just decided I needed some inspiration for the short novella I've been writing over on my other blog. Thus I choice a collection about haunted houses!  

To make life easy, I've decided to focus on the stories I've read, but first let me say something about this collection as a whole. I have the expanded edition which has the added stories picked by famous horror movie actors as the last section. Unfortunately, I've not read any of those yet! This anthology is divided into different sections so that stories on the similar themes are group together. I've read Haunted Places; Fact or Fiction, Avenging Spirits and Little Terrors. I like the idea of doing this because you can just read a section that takes your fancy and avoid ones that you might find scary. 

Speaking of, I haven't been scared by the stories I've read so far, but that's mostly because they are mega old dating from 1800's and early 1900's. These stories don't really appeal to me due to their old fashioned style and language. Though there's nothing overall wrong with the writing and characters. Each story opens with this 'fact file' of information about the haunted house in question and a bio of the writer. I found these interested and a good introduction to the stories. There's a mixture of British, American and other places setting, which is nice and keeps the interested up. There's also a range of authors, but they all have one thing in common and that's they are well known for writing supernatural stories. Authors included are; Stephan King, James Herbert, Bram Stoker, Ruth Rendell, M. R. James, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Virginia Woolf.

The first story, The Haunted And The Hunters, has the main character and narrator investigating an an haunted house which is based on a true story. The narrator claims the house has been sent up to keep people away and he is proven true. I did like this one because of the twist at the end and that it reflects the tricks the Victorians used to get people to believe in ghosts. 

The next one, Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House, sees a family moved to the coast and stay in a very haunted house. The two daughters see ghostly figures and the father believes them to be burglars. Though it turns out that the remains of a old woman are buried in the back garden and she has been haunting the house. I found this one okay and the descriptions of the ghosts are good.  

A Case of Eavesdropping is set in a New York boardinghouse. A young man gets a room on the top floor and starts hearing a German son and father arguing over marriage and money. He complains about the noise, but nights later he over hears the killing of the son and thus learns that it happened years ago and he's been overhearing these events. I really liked this one because of the tension and the fact that you don't find out the truth till the end. 

Moving on, The Old House in Vauxhall Walk, is the story of a young man who's had an argument with his father and has left home. Luckily he meets an old friend/servant who invites him to stay the night in the house he and has family have just moved out of. There the young man is haunted by a old woman, who turns out hide all her riches and can't rest because of her selfish behavior. I liked the set up to this one and the ending too. 

My favorite has to be No. 252 Rue M. Le Price, which has a group of men stay in a haunted house were dark magic has taken place and the house is now haunted. I liked the creepy feeling to this story and it has a traditional ghost tale about it. It gripped me, though the opening is long, because I really wanted to know what was going to happen!  

The Southwest Chamber is another story set in an America boardinghouse. A teacher comes to stay in a boardinghouse run by two sisters and is put in the room where their aunt died. It turns out she wasn't a good person and there's this whole family saga along side the ghost aunt moving stuff and changing the bedroom around. I liked this story because of the interesting use of the mirror and the ghost making things not as they appear. 

Feet Foremost was one of the last stories I've read. A group of people gather in a house where a young bride was murdered. Her ghost has to be invited into the house and then she kills the person who invited her in. I found this one enjoyable, but the twist at the end just felt it was there as plot device to save the main character's boyfriend.

I've read a few more, but I didn't want to write about them all. I was hoping to have it close to finishing, but I've been busy doing other stuff and like I said at the start I do tend just to dip in and out. I did enjoy reading these, but I do find the age to some of the stories puts me off a bit. I would also say that it wasn't one of my favorite Mammoth collections and I do enjoy the vampire ones more!

Overall, this is a good anthology of short stories with a range of authors and different ghost stories. I'd so recommend this if you are in ghost/haunted house stories. 

Next Monday it's a life update! So, please come from that and also check out my other blog where you can get a story a day. Thanks for reading. 
     

Image from: 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/580933.The_Mammoth_Book_of_Haunted_House_Stories

Monday, 21 March 2016

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

The Reflections of Queen Snow White


Hi readers, 

As some of you might remember from my last post, I was gifted this e-book in exchange for a review. Let me first say it's not what I normally read, but I did find the idea behind it interesting. Though I guess it appealed to the writer side of me more then the reader side! I think this is because, and I've noticed this small issue with reading stories on my kindle before, I'm more aware of mistakes and analyzing the work then just purely reading it for pleasure. Perhaps, the long hours spent sitting at a screen proof-reading and editing mine and other people's works is to blame? Still though, I thought I'd give this go as who says no to a free book? 

That aside, of course everyone knows the story of Snow White. The most famous being Disney's version as a lot of fairy tales are known by and with the cliched ending of  'lived happily ever after.' It seems to me there's been a spur in the re-telling of famous fairy tales, what with a lot of movies focusing on upgrading the stories for adult audiences and I guess authors have been doing the same for years. In this case, Meredith has questioned the 'happily ever after' ending and done away with it to write about what did happen to Snow White and Princes Charming.   

I was a little unsure when I first looked at this e-book. The cover image is really nice, but at no point does Snow White sit at a pond, it merely reflects as -ironic as that sounds!- Snow White looking at her past selfs and reflecting upon many life stages. The story opens with Snow White listening to plans of her daughter's coming wedding, but she seems far too distant and lost in her own thoughts. She deeply misses Charming who has died - he was a lot older then her- and she can't get over how lonely she feels. Also, the fact he use to do everything and was always there for her. 

This deep sense of loss comes over really well and I did feel sad for Snow White because she does get so lost in her grieve that she can't escape from it. However, I thought her having a daughter would give her a greater purpose and something to re-focus on, but Snow White seems to have lost interested in her too. I guess because the daughter is getting married and about to also become 'lost' ? (in a sense). I know the story is about Snow White, but for me the daughter takes too much of a back seat and isn't a good supporting character. Though at the end things do get turned around and Snow White does become a mother figure.  

The plot then goes; desperate to have some peace in her busy castle, Snow White goes to the rooms of her wicked step-mother and discovers the magic mirror. There the mirror shows Snow White moments of her past she has buried and how they prove she is a strong woman. We get a re-telling in parts of the original fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, which is far more horror like then the pretty, flowery Disney version! In this context it works very well though and Meredith goes into detail about the abuse and neglected that the child Snow White faced. 

The other moment that stuck with me was the wedding night sex scene. I accidentally, whilst seeing what other people thought briefly about the e-book, read someone's thoughts on this scene and they described it as being rape. That for whatever reason struck me when I reached that part. I didn't see it that way, but I understand why some women might do. It becomes clear that Snow White knows nothing about sex because no one has ever told her anything. Charming, who clearly does know, doesn't take the time to tell her much and just gets on with it. Though, Snow White does seem to enjoy it. There's not much graphic detail of the sex and what I got out of it was the tradition of it and the fact that a heir was needed. 

After having seen and reflected on these hidden events of her past, Snow White sees that she was wrong about herself and she's not an incapable, weak woman. The abuse and lost she suffered has made her stronger and she was able to move on from them before. This allows her to move on from the death of Charming and grew as a queen. Thus, having a happier old age. 

The plot itself does work well and lots of themes do get explored, including death, loss, depression and love. There was enough interest for me to keep reading and I did want to find out about Snow White's time with Prince Charming. However, it is short. When I first started reading, my Kindle told me it was going to take just over two hours and half to read. For most people, that wouldn't be a bother, but for the writer in me I could see areas that could have been expanded upon. Also and as I've said before, I like my stories to have a linear flow and not be so choppy and jumping to flashbacks. I think having a better and more subtle movements into the flashbacks of the past would have improved the narrative structure. 

My second major issue, and this I know is personal to me more then anything else, is the language that Meredith uses. I get he was really trying to capture the settings and time, which came across to me is medieval style and German (true to the original Snow White), but every few words my dyslexic brain would stumble and I'd be like okay I've no idea what that word means, skip it! And it made it hard going for me. Don't get me wrong though, it is nicely written and there is something poetic and old fashioned romantic about the language, but it might take a few pages to get into. 

I think that many readers will easily be able to connect with the character of Snow White and the themes. Haven't we all lost someone and been in love? She is grieving and doubting herself because of that, though at the end she comes out okay. It does feel realistic to life despite the time setting.  

One of the main things I'm taking away from reading this e-book is that you don't actually need a magic mirror to reflect on your past. Though that'd be very useful! You just need some space and time. For me, reflecting has always come easily, I guess years of writing diaries and sub-consciously thinking in my story writing, then my four uni years of having to review my own work and writing book reviews. I always written when I need to reflect on something, often before I talk to someone about it and that just gives me the chance to gather my thoughts and feelings together. This story just reminded me how important it is to reflect back, because no matter how dark your past there is always some good, even if it's only small. Also, don't let your past hold you back!      

Overall, I did enjoy reading this e-book even though I had a few problems with it, but I think that's more personal to me then actual 'issues' with plot, character and language. I'd recommend this to adults who wonder what happened after 'the happily ever after' because it does give a whole new aspect to the Snow White story which makes her more interesting.  

You can find it here on Amazon;  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reflections-Queen-Snow-White-ebook/dp/B00FLF4JAG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458591579&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Reflections+of+Queen+Snow+White

Thanks for reading and next week I'm returning to a book that past me did read, but present me has no memory of. I wonder what future me is going to think about it? See you next Monday for that. 
            
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Image from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18780192-the-reflections-of-queen-snow-white

Monday, 14 March 2016

Book Review: Millions Of Women Are Waiting To Meet You by Sean Thomas



Hi readers, 

Though I didn't think I was going to do it, here's a book review for you! Firstly, let me say that my mum found this book for sale in a library close to where she was working last week and thought it'd be a laugh. She knew I'd done internet dating in the past - how I met my last two ex-boyfriends and been on some boring dates with a few guys before too- and the fact I'm currently waiting to sign up for it again. I just need to get myself more together and figure out what I want to do for the next few months and years. 

This book is one man's humors memoir about his experiences internet dating and the women he encountered. Sean is asked by the editor of a magazine whom he currently works for to do a piece about internet dating. With all his expenses, including the first few dates, being paid for, he decides to give it a shot and I guess this is the book he ended up writing afterwards! It is also about his past relationships, growing up, his travels, reflections on relationships and women and some psychological stuff. 

I would say that whilst the audience does seem to be middle-aged/older men, women would also find this book useful. It gives some insight into a man's head, but it's not as deep as say Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus and those kind of books. You know those types of books that actually analyse the way and differences between the thoughts and reactions of men and women. This book uses those points more to back up what'd being said. 

The book opens with Sean debating if and how he should propose to his girlfriend. That leads into the whole world of us getting to know him and he being assigned to discover internet dating. To me it felt true to the experience of online dating; the whole looking at profiles and photos, deciding who you like and if you'll match. Then messaging them and waiting ages, but more likely never, to hear back from them and getting messages from random people too. It has changed the way people now meet and date, but as Sean states, it's made it freer. In the past, for me, it's just been so much easier to meet people online. I guess, I might have to write about my experiences in my life up date posts when I decided to give it ago again! 

I really enjoyed the way Sean writes. I guess because he's a journalist and has had novels published, the flow and humor are naturally there. There's one part that's going to stick with me because I was reading it on the bus and I just burst out laughing. He had put his height wrong and made himself one foot nine instead of five foot eleven! I also enjoyed his description of the women's personalities and he does meet some crazy ladies; like the one who stalks him and sends him birthday cards, the one who's living with a bunch of cats and the one who doesn't like soup. Of course, it being a very 'for lads book' there's a heavy focus on women's bodies and sex, but I just overlooked that stuff. 

Actually, I found his past interesting and though it's interwoven between him talking about these relationships, he brings it into make connections between why he thinks like he does. He's also spent a lot of time traveling and just embracing life and though that's not something I can connect to, I could understand his experiences from doing that. I understood his heartbreak a lot more too and that's something I did deeply connect with. 

If there's one thing that bugged me it was that the flashbacks/reflections of past relationships and the thoughts he has come in-between the 'now' relationships/scene, thus making it very non-linear. I get way he does this because he wants you to read on and because it's making reference to things. I guess if this was a linear memoir it might get a bit boring, but I think it was more to do with the fact that these flashbacks are too long. Not that I forgot where he was and who he was with, but I just thought that in real life you might not have so many flashbacks to past girls all the time whilst you're dating a new girl...or maybe men do that? I don't know.    

Overall, at it's core Millions is a man's reflection on love. I think that if you are interested in internet dating or are currently or maybe just you fancy a laugh at someone's struggles with relationships and to met some interesting characters then it's worth reading. But if you want to figure out why your other half behaves the way they do then go for one of the more psychological aimed books. 

Thanks for reading be sure to check out my other blog; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/

Next week: hopefully another book review! I just got gifted an e-book by the author in exchange for a fair review. Something I've not done before and I'm looking forward to it! See you next Monday for that.        



Image from: http://www.popmatters.com/review/millions-of-women-are-waiting-to-meet-you-by-sean-thomas/

Monday, 7 March 2016

March Life Update: Getting Crafty!


Hi readers,

I've been so busy over the last few weeks, so this weekend I thought I'd take the time to have a chill. One of my favorite things to do is sewing. I love making little soft toys, key rings and coin pouches. I decided as Mother's Day was yesterday in the UK, I'd make my mum some of the stuff I'd recently been looking at for making with the young people at the youth center. I had all ready made a white bunny, a pink bunny keyring and I re-did the owl coin pouch from last month. I was so not happy with how it turned out, so I made the pattern bigger and give it another shot. It turned out a lot better!

I wanted to make cute bunnies with kids for Easter, but I need something quick and simple. These 'Giving Bunnies' met all my needs and can be found here: http://www.urbanthreads.com/blog/?p=7487. They are really easy to do, so easy in fact that you might end up with a family of them before you know it! I loved adding the bows and the knitted scarfs because it just finished them off. The love heart one was originally meant to have patchwork strips on her, but it didn't turn out as I wanted, so I cut the hearts out and sewed them on.

My mum really loved her's and now I'm hoping the kids at the youth center will do too! I brought the fabric and I went with micro-fleece instead of felt because it's softer and worked out cheaper to bulk buy. I'll be cutting out the bunnies before hand because it'll be easier and the kids just have to sew them up. I won't be knitting scarfs for them all though! But they could put other things on if they wanted.

The second bunny pattern I picked is super cute and is made up as keyring. though you could always re-size the pattern if you wanted create a soft toy or a pillow. The first one I made, I used the stitches the instructions suggested, but it wasn't neat enough for me and I found it hard to keep things the same. I decided to blanket stitch the second one -I made for my mum- and that turned out so much better. Here's the link: http://www.michaelannmade.com/2012/03/little-peep-pal-diy-with-pdf-pattern.html?utm_campaign=sniply

I think for the kids I'm not going to do the strip/gusset to make them 3D, because I found it tricky and I imagine that they'd find it far too hard and just give up. So, we'll be making them flat then stuffing them to give them a little depth instead. I got pink micro-fleece and shall be cutting them out too. I wanted to get some blue for the boys or those girls who didn't want pink and I was unable to because it wasn't half price like the white and pink and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. (I can claim my money back via the resources department, but as the youth center is a charity I always feel a bit bad about claiming money back from them). I'll offer blue felt instead, I think.



I was going to make an owl coin pouch for my mum like my re-did one, but I found this one and decided it looked a lot better; http://www.dosmallthingswithlove.com/2014/10/felt-owl-coin-purse-hidden-closure.html I love the hidden button and it turned out great. I know I should have used matching thread for the eyes, but I wanted to give it that homemade look. My mum really liked this and said she was going to put £2 coins in which she likes to collect. It also matches the bag and purse I got her at Christmas. I have half fancy making one for myself, but I really don't have need of another coin purse right now! I know I friend who might like one though....

Also, here's the one I re-did! It turned out a lot better and I can actually fit money inside of it. I added some stuffing to the wings and eyes because I didn't like how flat it looked. The pattern can be found on the same website as the other one.



Lastly, I made this felt love heart with a hanger and stitched mum on it. I made these with the kids last Tuesday. I'd actually wanted to make mini no sew heart cushions, but I got the pattern size wrong and it only works with like A4 size, which would have meant using up too much felt at the youth center and then I know some of the kids can't tie knots, so I went for an easier option. We made these and put dried lavender and scented beads, which I had left over from ages ago when they made the scented pouches. The kids really seemed to like them. My mum likes her's too.



Today, I made a felt Pusheen kitty. The pattern has been on my desk since I printed out the other stuff and though I'm not a big fan of cats, it looked like another things to get the kids at the Factory to make. Though I'll have to make the pattern simpler because it is a little complicated. The guy's tutorial video is bad and after I watched it I just made Pusheen up as I would a normal 3D soft toy. I don't get why he cuts off the feet and stitches them and the belly on separately and the space he leaves for turning kitty the right way and stuffing is far too small!

So, if you're going to make this, I'd say watch the video to get understand where all the pieces go, then just make it up how you'd normally do. Here's the links: http://grnmarco.deviantart.com/art/Pusheen-The-Cat-Template-367261676
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gckh0vI-i4

Mine turned out okay. I know I didn't get the mouth right, maybe I might change that later and yeah, I did glue all the black parts on. It was so much easier then sewing due to the fact they are small. I think for the kids, I'd just get them to make it flat or with just the belly gusset. Doesn't the little tail look so cute though?



The second part of update post is that I finally got around to making two pieces of art! I'm no artist, in fact I'm super bad at drawing and art as a whole. I know I do a lot of arty stuff with the kids, but it's normally simple easy stuff. I saw these two projects on Pinterest and decided that I wanted to give them ago even if I didn't do them at the factory.

The first is this sun catcher photo frame where you use food coloring and glue to paint on the glass. I thought it looked very effective and easy for the kids to do. It can be found here: http://www.smartschoolhouse.com/diy-crafts/stained-glass-art#_a5y_p=3565407 I won't be using mine as sun catcher as I've not got any place to really put it at the moment. I just like it in the frame, it looks really pretty, though of course of the sun coming through it'd light up real nice. I also thought it'd be a great way to use up old photo frames - if anyone's got any laying around. I can image the kids getting very hands on with doing this! They love making messes!

Mine was still wet this morning and the red -maybe I used to much? - had really bled into the other colors. I only used red, yellow, orange and blue, but they seemed to have mixed together too much. I've put it on the heater to finish drying now, but I'm thinking maybe I might try again and not add red. Though then I'd have another photo frame that I couldn't really put anywhere! I'm thinking you could do this was glass paints and glitter glue too and that's probably what I'll use with the kids because my fingers are now stained red...



The next thing is my button tree! I've been talking about doing this since last September/November and yesterday, I decided it was time to make it. Unfortunately, the image I'd picked to copy, I can't find anywhere! It was a purple and pink dripping together background with the tree in the center. I had to use this one instead http://craftsbyamanda.com/vibrant-button-tree-on-canvas-a-giveaway, but of course I didn't make mine look like that because it seemed to take on a life of it's own...

I'm okay with how it turned out, but I wish I'd made the tree trunk smaller and got more branches and leaves/buttons at the top. I'm sure it'll look fine on my wall though, which is what I wanted it for. As a DIY art piece it was cheap to make. I got the canvas for £3 as it was on sale, the paint was £1 a bottle, I used four bottles as I added some black glitter paint on top and I used some for the paint before to make the Halloween/Christmas jars. The buttons I paid £4 for 200 grams off Amazon and I've LOT left over! So, it was about £11 all together and it took me about 3 hours to make including paint drying time. The buttons need over night to dry, of course. I might look at making another one or I've seen like four canvas together to make the four seasons and I really like the look of that. I need more wall space first though!



So that's everything I've been up to, but I got one last thing to share for today. A few weekends back now, I saw this knitting pattern for a whale in one of my mum's knitting magazines and I just fell in love with him and had to have him. We got the wool really cheap and he only took a weekend to make up. I love him so much and use him as a body pillow. He's like 3 foot long and takes up a quarter of my single bed! I swear I've been sleeping better with him too. He's got a snugly underside and the top of him is getting softer the more I rest my head on him. This photo doesn't really show how huge he is, but he's taking up two seats on the corner sofa and that was the only place I could find to put him for the photo!



Currently, my mum is knitting me a sparkly purple triceratops. I was hoping she'd be finished in time to write and show today, but mum didn't want to mess up the last of the horns and sewing her together, so I'll have to wait. Though that's okay because I've got a felt stegosaurus to make. I really wanted to make a felt triceratops but couldn't find any free patterns and the cheapest ones to download still seemed expensive to me when I could have a go at making my own. As it turned out, mum got the knitted pattern for free and I decided I liked it so much that it'd do instead.

So that's all for now. Thanks for reading. Next week is meant to be a book review, but I only just finished The End Of Days, so I'm not sure what'll pick up to read tonight. In the mean time please check out my other blog, where a write a short story everyday.

Links:

For the patterns;
http://www.urbanthreads.com/blog/?p=7487
http://www.michaelannmade.com/2012/03/little-peep-pal-diy-with-pdf-pattern.html?utm_campaign=sniply
http://www.dosmallthingswithlove.com/2014/10/felt-owl-coin-purse-hidden-closure.html
 http://grnmarco.deviantart.com/art/Pusheen-The-Cat-Template-367261676
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gckh0vI-i4
http://www.smartschoolhouse.com/diy-crafts/stained-glass-art#_a5y_p=3565407
http://craftsbyamanda.com/vibrant-button-tree-on-canvas-a-giveaway/

Me on Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/hails9/
My other blog, The Story Files: https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/

Photos:
All my own.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Book Review: End Of Days by Susan EE


Hi readers,

I have a confession to make; I've not been able to finish reading this! I'm about halfway and though I'm enjoying it, just I've been super busy doing other things. I've been putting in a lot of extra hours at work covering for people and also I started volunteering on reception. I have been writing stories for my blog like a desperate mad person. But my biggest news of all is that I've been filling out an application form for a new job and it's taken me about two weeks to be almost at completing it. I have also been doing some sewing as practice for activities to run at the youth centre and mother's day presents. That'll all be in my life update post next week now. In addition, I have a cold and a crazy sleep pattern. So yeah, with all that I'm not surprised that I didn't get to finish End Of Days.

I realise that talking about it is going to be much harder, but if I make a start, I can do a part 2 later once I've finished - maybe or else just included my finally thoughts in a life update post. So, it looks like this post is going to be very short!

The plot so far has been that Penryn and Raffe have found Paige. She has made a connection with the locusts and they are like her pets now. Though, she is also attached to Beliel and so they all end up escaping together. Finding safety on a island, Penryn discovers Raffe's worried about an possible attack from her sister - who is slowly staving and struggling to stay herself. Penryn also gets to see how attracted Raffe is to her when they have a soft bedroom scene! Of course then it all goes back to them not being able to be together and trying to keep their growing love inside. I still want to see what happened here!

Penryn then discovers a new power that her sword, Pooky Bear, has and she is able to see Beliel's memories and we learn that he is not who we thought he was and that Raffe's past keeps getting darker. Then they have to flee the island as some demon dog, bat creatures called Hellions escape and set about hunting them. They make it back to the camp and meet the Doc from before, who is very interested in Paige, but could also be Raffe's chance to get his wings back. Of course that doesn't go to plan and Raffe leaves to find an angel doctor. Penryn is then captured and taken to the angels, because they have a bounty on her head for her killing an angel in the previous book. Thankfully, Raffe comes to save her, but now they need to raise support for him to become the Messenger. Currently, they have traveled to The Pit to meet up with Raffe's solider who got sent down for being with human woman.

I can kind of predicated where things might be going but I'm going to read further to see! It's still fast paced, though not as event after event as the first book, but that isn't no longer needed, because the plot is strong enough to carry through without the need for all the then this happened pathways. I still have no idea why the angels started the war on Earth and telling apart the lies and truths is also tricky. But I'm glad of the mystery though!

Penryn hasn't developed that much and the sword is still doing most of the fighting. I feel there's a lot more focus on the angels this time around now since it's coming to the end. Penryn still has moments of acting like a total teenage girl - guess that's understandable, but for me she's never come across like that- but it's nothing wincey. I think I was hoping she'd mature and be able to face things with Raffe. In my head, I'm still trying to read this as an adult novel.

I still really like Raffe, though he's become less sarcastic and funny. Not a bad thing though due to everything he'd got to deal with. I kind of what him to become the messenger and sort things out. But maybe there's going to be a big twist and something else will happen? I so need to go and read more now!

Have you read this trilogy? What did you think? Leave a comment and let me know.
Also don't forget to check out my other blog: https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/


Image from: Goodreads