Monday, 5 February 2018

Book Review; Mostly Void, Partially Stars; Welcome to Night Vale Episodes 1

Mostly Void, Partially Stars (Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, #1)

Hi readers and welcome to Night Vale! 

I've been a fan of the Night Vale podcast for sometime now. I've written about it before but if you don't know about it; Night Vale is a desert town which weird things happen, the normal becomes scary and nothing is ever as it seems. The stories are narrative in the form of a radio show which I think just adds to the mysterious and creepiness! 

About two years ago, I reviewed the first Night Vale novel which I totally enjoyed and have linked below. I read the second novel - It Devours! Last year and loved that too, though I must have missed out reviewing it on here. Today we are looking the third book but not an actual novel from the Night Vale creators because this is actually the first volume of the podcast scripts! 

Unlike with the novels, I strongly recommended listening to Night Vale before reading this book. There is so much more 'weight' to hearing aloud the scripts then reading them. There are events that come across so much better and stir emotions. Plus, the weather is a music piece which of course you can't listen to in the book! 

This book was really brought out of the fans. There are introduction to each podcast which gives a small insight into how that one came about and I always liking learning that kind of stuff. It's not written like a lot of scripts I've read before and I guess that's because it's mainly one character. Though there are some stage directions and other characters do come in. 

Cecil Palmer is the host of the show and I love is almost monotone voice. It's so calming and he just gives this natural feel to everything that's happening - though it's mostly unnatural and often scary! My favorite character is The Faceless Old Woman, maybe it's just because she's voiced by Mara Wilson, but I love the idea of her character - she lives in every home, is everywhere else and watching everyone and all the happenings of Night Vale all the time. She's an interesting, supernatural being.  

Reading the podcasts actually showed me how much I'd not taken in from listening to them the first time around! I think because Night Vale has now developed more, it's strange to look back at the beginning when it wasn't so whole and defied. The little side stories and characters that appear and then don't come back until something bigger happens, it was interesting for me to see the seed of those ideas. The narrative isn't a consent flow and can't really be read in a novel form way. So, it's hard to talk about the plot. There's just a lot of things going on and some of those things become more important and others get lost. 

For me, I did find reading the podcasts easier then listening to them because I have to force myself not to do anything whilst listening because I'm easily distracted by multi-tasking and then I realise that I've missed whatever has just been said. I need to make time to get back into Night Vale and catch up! I have the second volume of scripts to read next, so maybe after that I'll try and set some time aside in the evenings. I might not do a review of that book though, got some other stuff I want to write about, including; a series of manga I've been reading for the last few months, a few novels I read last year that are worth talking about and possibly reviewing the Harry Potter books which I plan to re-read all of for maybe the second or third time. I've re-read some of the book individual but not the whole set.

Overall, if you are a Night Vale fan and fancy seeing how the podcast scripts are created and/or you fancy some nostalgia of the desert town, then this is a good book to flip through. If you've not hear of Night Vale then give it ago. It's surprisingly gripping! 

Thanks for reading, until next week. Goodnight, Night Vale, Goodnight!


Monday, 29 January 2018

January 2018 Life Update; Job Hunting Fail.

Dear readers,

Today's post is going to be brief because I'm not in a writing mood and I'm putting off switching out PCs. - My boyfriend give me his old computer and now the hard drive is full on mine, I've decided the time has come to say goodbye my computer and hello his. Hopefully, it'll all go fine!

On Friday, I had an interview of a job I really wanted - lead receptionist at a soon to be opening youth center. It's 40 minutes drive away and it was 30 hours a week. But the hours were going to be mostly evening and weekend which wasn't what I wanted but still it would have been good for me.

I thought the interview went well and my experience coming from another youth center and being able to train others to do the reception job was a bonus. There was room for improvement of course - firstly, I left my jacket at home and admitted that, when I shouldn't have done and I should've double checked I'd picked up everything before I left home! Secondly, there were some questions I should have answered in more detail and clearer, but sometimes it's hard when you feel on the spot to answer correctly and your brain goes and hides in a corner! Thirdly and this is always hard, I should have created a better impression at the beginning and end of the interview.

I know everyone judges each other all the time and first impressions account for everything but with me, I'm not good at first meetings. I've never been great socially. I love being alone and not having many friends, I guess because I've just had so many problems with friends in the past that for me I'm happy with my own company and realise that I'm better off that way. Saying all that though, I do have a habit of talking to strangers to make comments or suggestions. I think that comes from my mum though. I'm chatty to those I know and even more talkative to those I like. That's why I can pull off being a receptionist.

Appearance is also important and I know for a fact that people always get the wrong idea about me when they see me and mostly acted in a negative way. Only after you've gotten to know me do things get clearer here. And that's something you can't get across in an hour or two of meeting someone / being interviewed. I tried hard to always look good at interview - I never were jeans or trainers, low cut clothes. I wear black or red or blue skirts, with matching jackets, white or cream or blue blouses with black or blue boots. I hear some people just turn up in whatever and don't try to wear a suit! 

Anyway, I got a phone call two hours later and the overall result from my interview was that I didn't have enough experience and they'd had a few people who had more experience and did better at the interview then I did. It was a total blow to hear that because I was a few months back and partly still now, doing the job! So how come there were more experienced people? I get they were better in interview, but I just find it hard to believe that they weren't even going to reflect on things longer. Did I do that badly? They wouldn't tell me - too busy.

This is now the third job interview where I've been told someone with more experience then me has gotten the job. I'm struggling to determine how to change that. Having YEARS of experience will always win over someone who's had months or only a year, that's a fact but how can I get years if no one will give me a chance? The other issue I've got is that my high level of education, so when I apply for level 1 jobs I'm over looked because of that. Which sucks because I still need to start off some place!

I try not to be too picky about applying for jobs but due to a number of things - disabilities, health issues, my pride, I won't apply for just any old job. There's no way I can work in a call center or sales. I tried being a charity street worker and that wasn't me, I've ruled out teaching and not just because I'll have to get the right qualifications, it's not for me. I can do retail but I'd have to find a place that understands my issues and is like a quiet shop to work in. I don't want to do a lot of traveling and I'd like to stay in one place. So, admin, receptionist, office jobs etc, have been my main go to. there's lost of jobs out there like this and lots of people applying, so it's harder. But I don't know what else to do.

If I could go back to college or uni to take a course which would then get me a job, I would do. But I can't offered that. So I'm trapped in a limbo and not sure how to get out. Everyone says to keep on going, you'll find something soon or realise what you could do instead. I guess that's what I have to do but it seems pointless to be chasing around a stick with no carrot on it.

Today is one of those days where I wish things were totally different. I hope that I find something soon.     

Monday, 22 January 2018

Book Review; Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology

Hi readers,

Here's my first book review of the year! When I read that a new Neil Gaiman book was coming out I knew I had to read it. He is one of my favourite authors and I've now read all but three of his books. Then I found out that this book wasn't going to be a normal fiction novel but Gaiman's re-telling of Norse myths. 

That made me more interested to read this book. I like myths and legends though the stories and characters don't often stick correctly with me! In addition to this, I'm into the Marvel superheroes movies and Thor and Loki are two of my favourite heroes. So, learning about their origin stories also applied to me.

Having never really read any Norse myths before and having just a basic knowledge of them means I can't compare this book to other collections. Though I do have another book called Viking Myths and Sagas; retold from ancient Norse texts which was recommended to me at a party, so as soon as I've read that I can look at seeing how good or bad Gaiman's take on Norse myths is. For now, though my feels about this book are pretty positive.

I found the myths easy to read, maybe because of Gaiman's style of writing, but maybe because these myths were originally written in a simplistic way so that they could be remembered and re-told? There wasn't much description of characters or backgrounds and I would have liked a bit more of both of these as I'm sure my little knowledge and imagination got some of the scenes I pictured wrong. The myths were easy to understand with basic plots, mostly the same characters and meaningful endings. Though there was a lot of repetition about magical items, animals, backgrounds of things which did slightly bug me.

The flow of the myths has this overall start, middle and ending feel and it reminded me of Bible stories. Firstly, there is the creation of all things and how things became like they are. Then there's the development of the Gods, other super beings and humans; they go on adventures and learn from their mistakes or get revenge over monsters and enemies. At the end, there is the death of the god Balder, the final punishment of Loki and Ragnarok - The End Of The World. 

The main characters who appear or are mentioned in each myth are Odin - The All Father, Thor - his son, God of Thunder and Loki - The Trickster. (Who is often mistaken for a God but it actual a giant). As I read the stories, I realised that Marvel's impressions of the characters were influencing my overall thoughts about them. Mostly, these characters have been well represented by the comics and movies, though I was surprise to learn that Thor isn't that intelligent and Loki committed a lot of bad things - including killing gods or causing the deaths of others through his 'tricks.'

Some of the myths are about other Gods, giants and dwarfs which helps to give a deeper understanding. Though according to Gaiman, most of the Norse myths have been lost. So though, lesser Gods and Goddess etc appear, we don't know of any of their deeds and adventures. Gaiman attributes this to the growth of Christianity and that fact that many Norse myths were not written down.           

One of the first reviews I saw about this book was questioning the audience because the reader found the text so simply written that they believed this was a children's book. However, the content is older teen and adult due to the violence, murders, sex and drinking that goes on. I don't think that children would enjoy or fully understand some of these myths. I believe this book is aimed at people coming to these myths for the first time and Gaiman does have a simplistic writing style. Also, he seems to have wanted to re-tell the myths as close as possible to their original format which was possibly kept basic.     

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Norse Mythology. I found this a good starting point to the world of the Norse Gods. I was worried that my dyslexic brain might find it too complicated but with Gaiman's simple style of writing, the myths were easy to understand. I'm looking forward to reading more now and learning about some of the other Gods.         

Thanks for reading!

Please check out my other blog;
I write a new short story every day!


Monday, 8 January 2018

January 2018 Life Update; I read 100 books in 2017 BUT I cheated!

Hi readers,

This is my first post of 2018! Happy New Year to you all!

I've been thinking about writing this post since I realised at the start of September 2017 that I wasn't going to reach my goal of reading 100 books in a year. To be honest, it was a lot to ask of myself due to being dyslexic, picky about the books I read and having goal committed issues. I wanted to prove I could do it though but in the end I just put too much pressure on myself and found that it was affecting my reading enjoyment. 

So, I ended up cheating by reading a lot of manga and children's books, plus putting an end date on two books I hadn't finished reading, so that my GoodReads 2017 reading challenge page says 100 books;

I did it because the idea of not reaching what seemed to me an easy goal was frustrating. Plus, I also realised that if I'd just had a little more time I could have achieved 100 books without having to change the dates. The feeling of being disappointed over this would have made me miserable too and I just wanted to say that I could do it.

Some people would say that a book is a book no matter what and I didn't make it an added goal of only reading a certain type. It doesn't matter what I read but the fact that I did read. That's a good thing in the present world as most people say they don't read because of lack of time. Though, books are so much easier to access then ever before and everyone surely has a few minutes at some point in their day to read.

I recall a news report about a man who read 200 books in 2017, but I can't find the actual report now. It was that story that got me thinking about how much time people spend doing other stuff - sometimes meaningless. I wanted to try and change then, to read more instead of scrolling through social media pages which hadn't changed in hours or just watching re-runs of TV shows. 

A quick Google search comes up with things like this;

I have no plans this year to aim for 200 books! Instead, I'm back to 50, though if I read more then that's good too. Really that's what this post is all about it, it doesn't matter what or how much you read as long as you do so and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading and please check out my other blog;

Monday, 18 December 2017

December Life Update; A Week To Go!

Hi readers!

It's only a week to go till Christmas day and I just can't wait. I've been so busy and also ill. I had a cold two weeks ago and barely made it through one of my family's traditions; The Manchester Christmas Markets. Luckily, my boyfriend was able to to join us so that helped to get me through. I only took a few photos too as we saw most of the same things as less time. What made the day even more special was that it snowed and the flakes were so visible you could see the pattern of the snowflake. I don't think I've ever seen that before!

Normally, the markets are very busy but due to the weather and two football matches, it was quieter then last year. It makes it easier to see things and you don't have to deal with large amounts of people. There were lots of stalls selling food and drink; I had some mulled rum and also tried the pizza. Not my normal lunch but since I wasn't feeling good I wanted something easy. We also had strudel which I do love! I didn't buy anything and not just because I'm saving money but because I didn't see anything I wanted. Though my boyfriend did buy me a necklace I liked.

Also this year, I wanted some good photos with my boyfriend for my scrapbook! Think these turned out well. And we also got to kiss under mistletoe! It took awhile to get a good photo though, so we might have to try this again.     

The Christmas Markets always have this magical feeling to them. There's more then just stalls to see as there are decorations everywhere. Most iconic is the giant Santa that sits in front of the city hall. He's super big! 

The reindeer and sled were cute this year and it really attracted the kids. 

There were lots of Xmas trees but my favorite is the one at Spinning fields as its always so big and covered in decoration. I like the Nutcrackers in the background too. 

I always like the wooden villages and the Santas and gnomes in the opening photo. They just had to the whole Christmas feel.

Going to the Markets always puts me in the Christmas mood and it means it's another step closer! So I'm glad to I went. 

Yesterday, I did another Christmas themed thing and went to see a panto! My favorite - Dick Whittington was showing and since my boyfriend had never seen one, I thought it would be great for us to experience together. The story wasn't what I remembered and I get why the panto has been getting bad reviews, but I had fun anyway. 

I can't believe it's nearly Christmas now! I've still got so much to do; mostly, writing stories, making Christmas cards (Still!), helping to wrap presents and getting things ready for Christmas eve family party. I'll get there though and Christmas will happen the same way it always does! This photo shows how I'm doing most of my writing right now;    

And this is my dog Patch. Who's mostly been snuggled up lately. She's not a fan of the cold, rain or snow and likes to be with someone under a blanket. I totally agree with her! 

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

All photos used belong to me. 

Monday, 4 December 2017

December Life Update: Job Hunting and Interviews!

Hi everyone!

So, this blog has slipped again due to me being ill, busy and lazy, the usual things! I had the urge to write today just to fill in the big gap. I've been trying hard to reach my 100 books read target, but I've not done any book reviews as I've mostly been reading Manga. I can get through one of those in one to three days. I'm at 82 books now and just started a complete 20 books manga series, so hopefully, I'll make it!

 I'm still looking for a new job. I've now had four job interviews in the last two months, so my job hunting has clearly been ramped out. I'm happy as it means my new CV is working and so has all my efforts. I was kind of expecting to hear back from more places but the receptionist/admin roles are competitive.

My first interview was two weeks ago and it was for a reception and security role. Things went okay, but before the interview I'd done some research into the role and company and I'd half decided it wasn't for me. During the interview, I learnt I'd have to have army SAS security training and have to deal with threats to the building I'm working in. That could actually be any building as the company hire you out to places like banks and government buildings. The money was £10 a hour and some of the shifts were 10-12 hours long. That's not for me as my health problems wouldn't be able to cope and I don't think all the training in the world could make me confident dealing with a bomb threat!

I didn't do great at the interview anyway. Yes, I answered all the normal questions fine; Why do you want the job? What can you bring to the role? What are your strengths and weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years time? How would you deal with a angry client? Etc. I didn't make myself stand out enough. I think it didn't help that I realised the job wasn't going to be suitable for me. For the record, I never heard back.     

My second interview was over the phone and for a data entry job. I went to what I thought was the face interview but it was actually the paperwork signing! Turns out this job was based in a warehouse and documents needed to be transferred from paper to computer. I signed up for the job after making sure I could get out if needed. I also had to have some background checks and they have all been done now. I do technically have that job now and a starting date. 

Third interview was for a reception job at a small but busy manufacturing company. The interview went well but I was too chatty - my down fall! I thought I was in with a chance, as I answered all the questions well and did the two tasks fine. Though I was a bit wobbly on the phone call but it was different to what I'm use to and the second call I took was about some insurance papers which was scary! I went home feeling good about it but I didn't hear back.

Fourth interview was at my current place of work and they wanted an admin. I met all of the requirements but for one thing which was experience with databases. I do have some but it a lot. I knew the people interviewing me - one is my current manager! Things went well though and it was only 20 mins. Normally they give a building tour and talk about what the youth center does. After there's two tasks to complete as well.

I was really hoping to get this job as it would have meant that I could slot in easy and not have to worry about getting to know people and the company. A few hours after, I got the 'sorry, no' call. It had been a close thing between me and this other person but because they had more database experience then me and that was really needed for the job, they picked them. It wasn't a nice moment, but I took at as a sign that I really need to move on and find something else. 

So job number 2 - warehouse data entry, was meant to start today but then there become a complication. I phoned on Friday to say that I was keeping my current part-time job and I'd need Tuesday afternoons off to go and do that. I'd brought this up twice and been told it was okay. Now though it's not no longer and I'll need to hand my notice in and leave. I bet many people would do that without thinking but for me it's different. This new job is temp for 4 months even though there's chance of more work to follow. My current job is permanent and I do get shifts to cover. New job isn't really what I want and the money is standard, plus there's my health problems and the worry they won't support that or my long times of sick I sometimes have to have. 

It's hard not to take a job when it's offered to you, especially if you need it and the money but you know it wouldn't be suitable to you. I'm super torn and now have a new start day of Thursday and tomorrow to hand in my notice. I don't think I can do it though. To me it's not worth leaving stability for unstable. I'm not giving up nor backing away from the unknown, I'm just trying to decided what's best for me right now. The question really is can I offered not to take this job? And the answer is yes, I can be fine without this job. 

Sounds like I've made my mind up now. I just have to hope that something else comes up and I can start a new job in the new year.      

(Photos from Pixabay)

Monday, 16 October 2017

Book Review; Minecraft, The Island by Max Brooks


Hi readers, 

For those of you who don't know I'm a massive Minecraft fan. So, when I saw that a fiction novel set in the Minecraft world was coming out, I knew I had to read it! It was expecting a fantasy style story but instead The Island is half an introduction/guide on playing the game and half a person's experience of playing the game for the first time. I'm feeling torn about liking it and disappointed that it wasn't what I was hoping for. 

The book is aimed at children and written in a simple way which could mean that older teens and adults might lose interest. I liked the easy style though because the previous book I read was long and heavy (that review coming soon!) There wasn't much of a plot though, it basically was; man wakes up on Island, has to survive, learns lots of lessons then decides to leave the Island to discover more about himself. 

The way it comes across though is good, with the man realising how things are different in the Minecraft world and what he needs to do to 'instantly' make things. I also liked how he made friends with the animals, since there was no one else; a cow called Moo, three sheep called Flint, Cloud and Rainy and some chickens. However, when he's translating the mooing of the cow into conversation it did start to bug me. Kids might find that funny though. The fighting scenes were well described and good too and I enjoyed reading about the battles with the zombies, skeletons and creepers, which for any Minecraft players out there you'll get on board with. 

This book feels like the wisdom of life a way which was something that came to me about 50 pages in when I realised how full the pages were getting with like cliche positive quotes; 'Take life in steps,' 'keep going, never give up,' 'books make the world bigger,' even though these are applied to events that happened with the Minecraft world, they can easily be applied to things in the real world. Which then makes me wonder if that's what Minecraft is a metaphor for? Anyway, I can see these positive messages being good for kids. 

Towards the end of the book, the details of crafting and guide like style do move over for a bit more plot which allows the main character to grow and realise what he must do. I like when he finds the abandoned mine and meets and Enderman! They've always been the scariest monsters for me. He manages to overcome all the problems that face him in the mine, even using some techniques I didn't know about! Afterwards, he reflects he was just using the exploring and fighting as an excuse to put off the one thing he needed to do. So, he leaves the Island to try and figure out even more. The book ends with him saying he's leaving it behind as a guide for the next person. 

Overall, I like this book for what it actually is; a novelized guide to playing Minecraft from a player's point of view but I'm still disappointed because I feel it could have been a lot more. Like the Minecraft Story Mode games which I'm slowly getting into. Will there be any more Fiction Minecraft novels? I don't know but it would be interested to read someone else take on the Minecraft world.          

Thanks for reading and see you next time. 

Please check out my other blog; where I write a short story everyday.