Thursday, 4 September 2014

Life Update #2



Hi readers,

My review of Dust will be up in the next few days, I just need to finish the last novella. Until then, I thought I'd post another life update. This is because I've started a new blog. Well, its been up for three weeks or so now, but its' still early days. I decided that I would like a clean space to post up some of the short stories I've written and others that I want to write. Also I decided to challenge myself and to write/post a story a day. I'd love it if my followers and anyone else who readers my blog would check out it. Here's the address: http://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/

I'll still be writing this one as I only post a few times a month and I do enjoy reviewing books and looked at writing techniques. I just thought having two separate blogs would be easier and also I seem to have more interest on Wordpress then I've ever had using blogger.com. I'm not sure why this is and I don't really have a preference. At least nothing will change on this blog anyway. My new blog so far has a whole range of different themes and genres on it. Also the word count for each story varies a lot. I also have many different ideas of how I want to display my stories too. So, every story is unique!

My second piece of news is that a job I was guaranteed to get as a receptionist and customer service helper,  last week, I didn't get. It went to someone higher up to decided over me and someone else and they give her the job because she had more experience. I've been really upset and frustrated since Monday. I understand there wasn't a lot I could do, but I was looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life and moving on. I've got another interview for a different job tomorrow and though I'm not as guaranteed to get this one as much, I plan to give it my best shot. Tomorrow, I'll also get to see another area of Manchester and I love exploring my city. I'm still hopeful that something is out there for me and I'll find my path soon enough. Though it feels like I've been waiting an age already.

One of my plans this month is get the first chapters of my novel sorted and send it off to a few agents and publishers. It's something people have been bugging me to do for awhile, but I've not felt ready and nor has the novel. The problem is I'm not sure if the right time will ever come if I don't start acting upon it. So, I'm planing this weekend to start editing and getting it in preparation to be sent it. It can be a long process this and doing the research to find places to send it can take up so much time. I've all the tools and knowledge I need to do this though and I'm sure once I make the first step it'll be easier. As everything turns out to be.

Next, I need to start revising again for my theory driving test. I'm taking it the first week of October. I'm sure most of the stuff has stuck with me, I just need to get into practice with it again and remind my mind about some of the stuff. I want to pass first time because then I can try and do the practical and get a car soon after- around Christmas time, if I can sort out the insurance etc. That's my rest of year plan at the minute.

Lastly, I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition at my local gaming shop. I played my 3rd game last night and I'm enjoying it. I've finding it slightly difficult to get the rules in my head as things aren't the same as 4th edition and I've become far too use to have that works. I'm also liking meeting the flurry of new people that have been turning up to play. This is because for the last few months Encounters has just been one table and 5-7 people and I got to know them really well. I actually preferred that, but mostly because I've social and trust issues and it can take me while to get to know people and feel okay to show my true nature, which also seems to be the opposite of my shy front! However, I'm growing use to more people and have started to make friends with some of them.

I think even though I'm a bit bad at playing and remembering things, I still like going to DD for the social aspect of it. Geeks, Nerds and Role Players/ Gamers are some of the nicest people. Granted they do take while to use to new people, but after that they have habit of become your friend for life. Also doing RP gets you a chance to explore different sides of yourself and others. I think for a writer this can be very useful and also the stories that come out from being around a table too! I'm looking forward to every Wednesday evening now.

So, once again I'm really busy and have so many plans! Like I said at the start, Dust review will be up soon and so until then please check out my new blog. Thanks.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Shift Review: “Some Things Are Better Off Back In The Past"


Hi readers,

I managed to finish reading Shift this afternoon and thought since I'd not got around to writing about Batman, that I'd put this one up now. Shift is the second book in the Silo series and contains the novellas six to eight. In away this sort of feels like the middle books in most trilogies and series because it focuses on filling in the gaps and questions raised in the first stories. I really loved reading Wool and was looking forward to reading Shift. However, I felt a bit disappointed at first because I really wasn't interested in how creations of the silos and life within them during the first years.

Then again, I quickly got into it and started to enjoy Howey's writing. He really has a way with words and is able to tell a very fast pace and gripping story. I think also that his writing his this open quality to it, that allows everyone to read it. Also it feels like honest writing, he's clearly enjoying the stories of the characters and wants to share them with others.

I found the characters this time around where just as good as the ones before. They all come across as being realistic and you can connect them to real people you know or did know, because they all have some very clear traits. They all individuals though and you get drawn in to wanting to know more about their lives- even the background characters. The felt the move to focus on more male characters also helped to balance out the female focus in the first book. The dialogues are to the point and care so much emotion, you can really hear them speaking from within the pages.

Opening with Legacy, we are introduced to Donald and his life. He's a young congressman who has connections via his ex-girlfriend and gets involved in creating and building the silos. Of course he doesn't really understand what's going on and he seems even blind to other happens in his live. He doesn't come across as strongly as Jules did and he seems very much like a puppet until the eightieth novella. The story switches between Donald at the beginning of the silos and during his first time living within the silo. He, like the everyone else in silo one goes through a pattern of being cryogenically frozen and then woken up to do some work.

For someone who's not good at keeping up with dates, this can be a bit confusing. Actually, though out the whole book trying to keep up with the time can be a bit tricky and it does take awhile to figure the time lines out.

Order is the seventh book and it follows most of the characters from six as they are awakened from cryogenic sleep. They face new problems and Donald learns a lot more about himself and the ideas/workings behind the silo. This is in between cuts to silo 18 and the story of Mission. He's a teenage boy with a trouble past, working as a porter. His silo is under threat of revolution and has he fights for survival, it becomes clear that his fate is actually being controlled.

Pact rounds everything off and finishes where things begin with Jules in silo 17. Before hand, we get the story of Solo and the fall of that silo. I think this had to be my favorite part because there was a lot of dystopia and a lot more straight forward action happening. There is also an ending that feels a lot more resolved then the first book. I think that for trilogies and series, the ending is still important to get right and it should feel like an actually ending.

Overall, this was another great book. It was nice to feel in the gaps left by the first one, but I still would have liked the focus to have stayed with the present of the first one. I'm really hopeful about the last one now!


Image from;
http://www.barnesandnoble.com

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Life Update #1


Hi readers,

I've been so busy this week and last week I was on holiday, so I've not had a chance to put together a review yet. It'll probably be the first Batman and Dracula comic book that I'll review next week, as I'm currently reading Shift, the second Silo book and I don't think I'll have it finished anytime soon. It's been awhile since I last wrote a diary/life update post. I guess because I've found that people are more interested in reading my reviews then reading what I've been up to. I had the need to post up something though!

It seems I've been really busy over the last few weeks. I was on holiday with my boyfriend last week and we were in the Lake District. It was really nice and the house we stayed in was awesome. The weather was very typical British Summer! The first half of the week was reasonably. There was some sun and it was warm enough, however it was nothing like the heatwave that we'd had the week before. The rest of the week it rained, luckily it wasn't wet all the time, but Friday and Saturday were the worse. We went out on a steamboat ride and got drenched. The river which ran behind the house changed dramatically too. It was low and slow at the start of the week and then became  fast moving, roaring and flooding the bank at the end of the week. As much as I love the Lakes, I was glad to get home!

Whilst I was there I decided to start playing Pokemon Diamond. I younger brother had passed on his DS to me and since I'd not really had a chance to use it, I thought I'd have enough time to play some games whilst I chilled out. Turned out it was useful for the rainy days too! My boyfriend had the Pearl Pokemon which is the companion to mine. So, we spent a lot of time- a lot more then I thought! Playing and battling. I'm now addicted and also determined to finish the game. I'm not doing that badly, as I'm up to the last gym leader now. Though I know there's the Elite Four and other things to do afterwards.

I was into Pokemon when I was younger too. It seems to be one of those things that's still going strong, even if the fame surrounding it has dropped off. For me it was always about capturing the Pokemon and winning the card game battles. My boyfriend and I have played them too and I'm sure he owes me another match! Hopefully, I'll have it finished soon and be able to fill more of my time with reading and writing.


This week, I also finished off my Steampunk cushion (cover photo). I had to wait to get the sewing machine out and for the glue to dry on the felt pieces. I'm really pleased with how it turned out as its my own design. It'll go really nice with my other cushions now, which seem to be multiplying! I still need to make a Bioshock one, though I think I'm going to have to simplify the design. I might have some skills, but they aren't good enough to make a Big Daddy and Little Sister out of felt. The best part of my cushion has to be the cogs and the top hat with goggles. I'm really happy with it.

The same can also be said about my other felt creations (below). I've been planning some activities at the youth center and I use this as examples for the young people. I also get to use them too! Starting from the left is a seahorse, then above is a dragon wrist band and a small zipped purse is below that, then there's the scented square butterfly and a coin purse. My addiction and love to felt just gets growing. I really wish my shop had taken off and I could have spent time making things. I might look at trying again around Christmas time. Till then it's back to making examples and things for myself.

I've got this gold fish to sew and finish tomorrow (second photo below). I made one two weeks ago and now can't find it. So, I'm going to make another and cover him in sequins to give him that shinny scale look. It's going to have awhile, but he'll turn out really nice! After that, I've no idea what I'll make, maybe I'll get start on some Halloween stuff or maybe Christmas presents!





The next big thing I've to get sorted is my driving theory test. Though I don't feel ready, I'm going to try and book the test tomorrow. I've no idea where and when I need to be, so I guess I'll find out. My driving lessons as going really well and I've had about 21 now. I think passing the practical will be a lot harder, but I so need to get the theory out of the way. I probably should spend more time studying, but I've already read the Highway Code twice now and some of the questions they could ask might be in there! I've got to do the hazard test too, though I feel more prepared for that then the questions.

I'll just have to give it a good shot and hopefully booking it will make me study harder. At least I know if I fail it I can take it again and it's not the end of the world. Still though, like with every other test you want to pass first time! Hopefully, I can get there though and going through all these should help.



On Friday, I helped my boyfriend to create the first episode of his new YouTube series using Minecraft. It was really nice and fun to be working on a project together. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of all our hard work too! The idea is to tell a story like Red Vs Blue (if you've not seen that you should check it out.) using the world of a game and Minecraft is actually very suitable for this. I think it's got something to do with the fact that you can create so much and have adventures. I don't want to give to much away about the story, which is due out next week now and can be watched on my boyfriend's YouTube channel. He's currently doing Let's Plays of varies games and making other content. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJWrkwGLBfitfNNMjHR_7tw

Taking part in this experience has given me a greater appreciation for people who make internet reviews and shows. A lot of time and hard work goes into making some of the things people are now watching online. I think that people believe that making these internet shows is easy or else people are just wasting time or its just a hobby, so it doesn't matter. But, a lot of people are now making enough money to class their internet work as a part-time or full-time job. The same can be said for self-published writers! Of course, you've got to stick with it and make a lot of great content to get people interested and watch your show. I guess though if that's what you want to do and you try hard enough, its possible! For me though, I'm not that interested in having my own show, but I love helping others to make their's and it's fun!  

Minecraft


Lastly, I baked these apple crumble cupcakes. They turned out good and they were tasty. Though I think I'll stick to making felt things then baking, I'm much better at that!  



Images: 
All authors own, other then the Minecraft logo. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Wool Review: 'If the lies don't kill you the truth will.'



Hi readers,

As promised, I finally finished reading Wool and I'm reviewing it today. For me, this is my favorite novel of the year and probably will become one of my all time favorite books. When people asked what I was reading, I'd tell them the basic plot in a few minutes and then expended on it for much longer! At the end I'd add that it's the kind of book I wish I'd written. That really just goes to show how this book made me feel. Luckily, there are two more books, so I won't have to say goodbye to it just yet!

If you are currently looking for a good, length book to take away on holiday, then I'd so recommend Wool. I'm taking the second one away with me next week. The minute you start reading, you get gripped into the world and the characters' lives. This carries on through out the novel and at the end it leaves you wanting more. I think what most surprise me about this novel is that though it's genre is dystopia everyone can read and understand it. This is because the force is mostly on the characters and their discovers about the world they live in. The dystopia does come through strongly throughout, but as the action deepens for the characters you just get lost in what's happening to them, more then the background.

My second surprise was that the Silo series is actually nine novellas divided into three books and that the first one was self-publishing on Amazon Kindle. The book become popular and Hugh Howey wrote more and got a publishing deal. He's now also signed the rights to movie. It'll be interesting to see that when it comes out. Once again though, its interesting to see that there is a growing trend of writers being picked up via self-publishing.

The plot of the novel appears simple on the surface: the earth has become inhabitable and people have moved underground. They live in silos which are carefully divided up and go deep down into the earth. They live by strict rules and most of them are fine with that. Those that break the rules get sent outside to clean the cameras the allow the people keep an eye on the outside world. They are also destined to die.

The first novella, Wool, tells the story of sheriff Holston and his wife. They uncover a part of the silo's and the world's past that has been hidden away. They can't really tell this secret and it ends up sending them both outside to clean. This secret is then re-discovered by two other people; Jules and Lukas, whom the second and third novella's follow the stories of.  I'd love to write more about the plot, but I really don't want to give anything away!

The characters are really well written and they are easy to get along with. The background characters also come across as being realistic and they all add a lot to the plot. I really loved all the characters and could connect with each one. Jules was my favorite though and she is an awesome female character. With her being the main character, a lot of time is spent with her, but this works out nicely because of the things she uncovers. The antagonist characters (bad/evil) are understandable too and you do start to see things from their point of view, even though their actions seem wrong. 

The narrative is all third person and switches between a group of characters. This works out well because all the points of the plot get covered and a lot of characters get to share their experiences, (as it were). The characters voices can be heard clearly through the dialogue, which is also really well written. It has a gritty realist feel to it and all the voices come across as being very different from each other. Something else I liked about this novel. The narrative flows well between the different scenes and the words feel like they have a lot of movement. Some jargon and science fiction terms/words are used, but nothing heavy and they are easily explained. That just adds to the world that Howey has created.

Lastly, the imagery that gets created by this novel is big. It feels like there's a lot going on all the time, but because of all the description and details, the images are easy to create in your mind. It's not overburdened with them and just feels right for this kind of work. I can easily see how this would make a good movie and when reading it almost feels like watching one. 

Overall, I would strongly recommend Wool to everyone. The dystopia genre might not appeal to everyone, but this novel is about a lot more then that. It's about family, friends, survival and choosing your own destiny. The novel is wonderfully written, the characters are so realistic and the plot is hard gripping. I'm so looking forward to reading the next books now. 

Image from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wool-Trilogy-1-Hugh-Howey/dp/0099580489

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Up And Coming Posts


Hi readers, I thought I'd put together a list of all the posts I'm planning to do in the next few months/the rest of the year. This is also because I've not finished the book I want to review. The other book I thought about reviewing today, I've not read in a good few years. Even though it's by one of my favorite writers, I realized that I so needed to read it again to get the review right. So, I thought I'd do one of these posts again and make a list of things. Hopefully it'll help you as well as me! Please note these are not in any order, beside from the first one.


Book reviews 

1. Wool by Huge Howey.
2. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite.
3. Shift by Hugh Howey.
4. Dust by Hugh Howey.
5. Batman and Dracula comic book trilogy.
6. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (Japanese Manga)
7. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (The Novel)
8. Rapture by John Shirley (Bioshock Novel)
9. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
10. Soulless by Gail Carriger.
11. Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine.
12. The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
13.Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
14. About a Dragon by G. A. Aiken.
15. Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
16. The King by J .R. Ward.
Other Topics 

1. Has education made us hate literature? (My Opinions)
2. How To: Promote Your book.
3. Editor Jobs.
4. Proofreading Jobs.
5. Ghost Writing Jobs.
6. What other jobs can writers do?
7. Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.
8. Writing Promotes.


Images from:
http://sablegrey.net/home/?page_id=20

Monday, 7 July 2014

Weekend In London




Hi readers,

I just spent the weekend in London with my boyfriend for my birthday. We had a great time and there was a lot to see and do! It was hard to pick out the four things we ended up doing, but I enjoyed them all. We traveled down on Friday and enjoyed being in first class. The two hours flew by and so did some nice countryside. The hotel wasn't that far from Euston, but with all the bags we decided to grab a taxi and it was nice to see London going past the window. We stayed at a Raddison Blu Edwardian hotel which was close to the theaters.

We went to the British Museum and spent a lot of time wondering around looking at all the different displays. My favorite part was the Egyptian room. I also liked the Roman room too. There was information about the archaeologists and explorers that discovered and brought back the items, which was very interesting. The museum was really busy and it was hot too. We didn't actually get to see everything because we only had an hour or so before we had to get ready to go out.


We had a posh Chinese meal and then went to watch Les Mis. It was really good and I enjoyed being a part of it. I didn't do much singing though! Being on stage, brought it more to life and enchanted the experience of watching the musical. They added a couple of songs which just created a flow into the next one, so I didn't mind that. All the actors were really good and the singing was perfect.

I do enjoy going to the theater to see plays and musicals. I'm sure in the future I'll go more often and there's a lot more out there I want to see. My boyfriend wanted to see The Book Of Moran, but we couldn't offered to go this time. Hopefully, it'll come to Manchester as staying in London is expensive!

The hotel bedroom was really nice though and I did get some sleep before we went to breakfast the next morning. I had pancakes which were amazing. We then headed out for a full day of walking and being being on the Underground. We had planned to go to the London Eye and the zoo, luckily they were on the same underground line, so we could easily get to them from and back from the hotel. Also we had pre-booked tickets for both, which provided to be so worth doing.

We arrived at the London eye way early, so got to walk up and down, before we went on it. I enjoyed doing this and I got to stand on the bridge across from Big Ben. There was a great view of the wheel and Westminster from there. It was mega busy though and there were people everywhere. It was also hot, though we did have a sharp shower later on. We went to pick up the tickets for the Eye and it was really busy and even more so when we had to go and queue up to get on! The fast track tickets cut the waiting time in half or even less and we were soon stepping on the wheel.

The view almost straight a way was good and as the wheel went further up, it just got better. You could see so far and get a good view of London. There were screens in the pod and it showed all the important buildings. It did start to rain a little once we reached the top and started coming down again. This meant that the view of the other side of the pod was rain splattered. The rain stopped when we got off, though I would have been happy to have gone around again!


We then caught the underground to London Zoo. I was really excited as I love zoos and seeing all the animals. We had to walk 15-20 minutes when we got off the train. We stopped in a coffee shop for a drink and homemade cake. When we got to the zoo was I starting to get tried. The weather was also starting to turn. We went to the Aquarium and reptile house, before going to see the monkeys and gorillas. They were inside and mostly sleeping or high up in their enclosures. We left and went to see the Pygmy hippo talk. That was interesting and we got to see the hippo eating and laying in the their 'hot tub house.'

Heading back to see the penguin talk we went to the see the fruit bats. I really like bats and find them fascinating to watch. It was too dark in their cave to take any good photos though. We also stopped for ice creams. It felt like we were in the queue for them for awhile. Not because it was busy, but because the staff were slow and they were also making milkshakes. We had just enough time to eat before we went to the penguin area. The talk about them was really good and it was very popular. We got to see the penguins diving for fish and also eating them out of the keeper's hands.

At the end, we went to the butterfly house which was just behind the penguins. I love butterflies and could have spent a lot longer watching them. My camera ran out of battery at this point. I wanted to go and see the big cats and the other animals that were on the other side of the zoo, but my feet were really hurting. We decided to head back in a taxi and get ready to go to an American Diner tea.



  The next morning, I so didn't want to get out of bed. My feet were still hurting and we'd had a really late night. However, we had to go to breakfast, pack and check out by 11am. Having slowly done this, we left our bags at the hotel and went to the National Gallery. It was a few minutes walk away at Trafalgar Square. When we got there, we found that there was an event on for the Tour De France and the place was noisy and packed. The gallery, though quieter was just as busy. Though I did enjoy looking at paintings and galleries, I ended up sweeping through most of the rooms. Sometimes it was hard to see a painting because of a cluster or tour group of people standing in front of it. However, it was good and I left feeling impressed by the art I did get to see.

It was then time to say goodbye to London and ahead back home to Manchester. I had a really good time and I enjoyed the parts of London I did get to see. Next time I go, I'm so going to Highgate Cemetery!


Photos are all authors own. Permission need to use. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

1984 Review -Big Brother Is Watching

1984-for-blog



Hi readers:

This week I've gone back to reading a classic literature novel, I fancied a change from the supernatural and so I decided to look at another of my favorite genres: dystopia. It feels like this genre is also growing and seems popular with young adult fiction. The Hungry Games is a good example of this and my review can be found in the archive section.

For those of you that that don't know, dystopia is the opposite of utopia, most of the time it has happened after a world war, or other large disaster, which means that society has changed. Often there is one ruling power and the people are controlled and restricted by it. Religion, identity and differences are done away with or changed. Also the world has become a darker, less colorful place where people don't live but survive.

Orwell's 1984 has many of these themes and also coined two things, which we use today, though with a slightly different context; Big Brother and Room 101. This novel in a way questions the future of humanity and I want to look at how a novel written in 1949 and set in 1984 could be similar to 2014 now. Whilst reading, I kept coming back to this question and it does seem to be a theme in the novel. So, nearly everyone has heard of Orwell and people will have read his novels in school/college, especially Animal Farm. If you've not read 1984, I would highly recommend it.

The plot of 1984 is centered on Winston Smith who is living in what once was Britain, but has become Oceania after the second World War. He works in an office and his job is to rewrite things so that everything stays in the present and there is no record of the past. However, he slowly starts to give into the rebel voice in his head and starts to question the world he lives in. Of course he gets caught and has to go through a program of rehabilitation. He meets other characters along the way and at first all of them seem to aid him in rebelling against The Party, who are in control of everything throughout the book, and their leader Big Brother, but of course that doesn't last.

The other main character is Julia, who falls in love with Winston. She leads him more into rebelling and thinking about a different life. However, she also leads him to his downfall. Her character symbolizes human freedom and spirit. This is actually what the Party want to get rid of and they want to have complete control over everyone, but strip them down to nothing. Whilst Winston comes across as being completely formed into the perfect party member.Them and the other characters are really well written and feel really realist. The world they live in stands out too and there are a lot of similarities to today's world. For insistence, the idea that you are being continually watched and controlled in your thinking.

The language used doesn't feel dated and I think one of the reasons why this is has to do with Orwell's invention of 'Newspeak'. This is the new form of language that the Party has come up with and is getting the people to use. It isn't heavily used and mostly it just sums up words and shortens them. There are other new terms such as 'doublethink', which has to do with the contradiction of facts and 'thought-police,' so you to control your thoughts. Towards the end of the novel there are also extracts from chapters of a book that Winston is reading. This just reinforces and deeper explains what has already been set up.

Overall, this is a classic novel and it doesn't feel dated at all. The characters and the settings come across as real and it is possible to see a world like this one day. The novel doesn't get stuck down with setting up all the world and giving out information, instead it lets this come through via the characters point of view. As a dystopia novel, it has all the traits and themes, but doesn't dwell or try to force the dystopia genre in the plot.

Images from:
http://mookseandgripes.com/reviews/2009/03/16/george-orwells-nineteen-eighty-four/