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Treading water

5 Jan

I am most likely going to be focusing on my job above all else at least for the next month, after which I’ll hopefully be made permanent and then write more. For now, I’m going to update the games table and my reading list. Because I’m exciting like that.

Kjarl leaps bodily into the lead

Kjarl leaps bodily into the lead

Currently reading:

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch*

The Fire in the Forging by Tamora Pierce

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett*

Completed since 12/3/2014 (67)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Perseus Spur by Julian May
Hunted by Kevin Hearne*
Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*
The Martian by Andy Weir*
Orion Arm by Julian May
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch*
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë*
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*
Sagittarius Whorl by Julian May
A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris*
The Power in the Storm by Tamora Pierce
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch*
Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch*

Placeholder

7 Dec

I have a job! Thanks to this job I am now tired all the time. However, we have just got a car and that will knock two hours of travel time off every day so hopefully soon I shall resume posting on a regular basis.

Books vs Movies

7 Oct

A lot of people get really fixated on how much better books are than the movie adaptations of said books. I’m not really one of them – I tend to try and find things to enjoy in both.

When I was just barely 16, The Fellowship of the Ring came out in cinemas. Whilst I’d read LotR (That’s Lord of the Rings to the less geeky amongst you…I’m not sure you exist, but I’ll explain things anyway) a couple of times by that point, I wasn’t hugely into it – Tolkien’s writing can be pretty difficult work if you’re a kid. I did quickly reread FotR (this one you can probably work out) before going to see it in the cinema, and enjoyed it more that time, but it was seeing the movie that really kindled my love of Tolkien’s works.

I joined the Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza in January 2002 as a direct result of the movie, and the people around me quickly inspired me to read and read again, discovering the lore and poetry of Middle-earth.

So movie adaptations do have their place. The thing is, it’s very hard to make a book into a film. There are lots of elements that work on the page that don’t work on the screen. So I don’t mind that directors cut things out – Tom Bombadil for example *ducks flying rocks from diehard Bombadil fans).

Adding things in…I’m less okay with.

Arwen rescuing Frodo at the ford? Really, Peter Jackson?

But I get why he did a fair bit of it.

Some film adaptations are just wrong. For example, I will never watch The Dark is Rising. It’s such a British book, a very British series, but for some reason they felt the need to have the main character in the movie be an American tourist, not the Anglican choir boy he should be? Weird.

Usually I can find something to enjoy in everything I watch, if I can change the way I watch it. Nobody will ever make an exact adaptation from book to film.

Currently reading:

Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*

Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta by J K Rowling

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë*

The Martian by Andy Weir*
‘”He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” 
   He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.’

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce

Orion Arm by Julian May

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch*

Completed since 12/3/2014 (54)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
“‘You self-righteous cock, I’ll -‘
‘What?’ shouted Jean.
‘- I’ll throw myself at you, and you’ll beat the shit out of me,’ said Locke. ‘And then you’ll feel awful!'”

Perseus Spur by Julian May
Hunted by Kevin Hearne*

*First read

 

Lazy Farmers

8 May Carcasonne

Sunday saw another gathering of my friends for the purpose of playing games. It started out as a plan to play tennis on Monday and somehow became a plan to play board games on Sunday. We made plans with just over an hour to spare, so commenced a spree of showering and getting dressed. My friends are like-minded, hence three of us being in pajamas at 1.30 in the afternoon.

We kicked the afternoon off with cookies, crisps, and a game of Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows is a nifty game because you play together against the game itself. This was only our second game, so we’re still taking it pretty easy on ourselves – we tell each other what cards we’ve got, and we haven’t introduced a traitor into the mix yet.

It took us maybe 20 minutes to go back over the rules. The first time we played it took about 45 minutes to read the rules, and we were still a little confused, so make sure you leave plenty of time the first time you play.

It’s an excellent game – we found the Holy Grail, retrieved Excalibur from Avalon, did…something with Lancelot’s armour, got defeated by the Black Knight, and kicked some Pict butt, all the while fighting the siege engines gathering around the walls of Camelot.

Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot

We then moved on to playing Carcassonne, which is a game where you build the board as you play. On your turn you place a tile, and then use little wooden people, called ‘Meeple’ to collect points.

Knights stand on cities, robbers stand on roads, and Meeple become farmers by lying down in fields. Because that’s what farmers do.

To quote Kjarl, after one of his Meeple fell down: “Can’t stand! Too lazy! Must…become…farmer!”

There’s an odd sort of psychology to how people keep their playing pieces when not in use:

meeple

 

Carcasonne

A very tidy game of Carcasonne

Our first game resulted in a very tidy map, and I won! It was very exciting. I like to win. A little more than I’m proud of.

Pride comes before a fall, as they say, and my fall was in our second game of Carcasonne, where I dramatically came last. Fairlake took the lead by one or two spaces, with Kjarl and Orphen right behind, and Fairy and I way, way back.

We moved onto playing Settlers of Catan, and the game was pretty even most of the way through, then all of a sudden Fairy had a bunch of cities. We carried on battling for some time, but then Fairy built a road, took the longest road card, gained two victory points, and won.

The thing is, she wasn’t actually just trying for the longest road. In her own words: “I want to make it long but also have something come out of it.”

There may have been some giggling. Some very mature giggling.

So, here are the scores on the doors:

Kjarl needs to up his game

Kjarl needs to up his game

The next time I post will be a short story I’ve written with a picture prompt; I’ll link back and stuff at the bottom.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate

The Catan Munchkin Wars

16 Apr

Last Saturday (the 5th) was International Tabletop Day, a movement spearheaded by the folks at Geek and Sundry to get people to play more table top/board games.

My friends apparently didn’t need an excuse, as without thinking about it we organised a dinner and games session on the Sunday. Then we retconned it so it was for Tabletop Day.

It was nice to see other people on my Facebook timeline playing games as well. I really want to give Cards Against Humanity a try sometime. It sounds…wrong. But in a good way.

First, I have decided to start a table! Because I am exciting like that.

Let me introduce the players:Me

Me! It’s pretty clear from this blog who I am, so I’ll just show you my nice image and move on.

 

fairy
Fairy
likes a lot of things, including me and sci-fi/fantasy books and TV shows. She is convinced that dice hate her, and over our many years of friendship I’ve seen little to disprove this.

ORPHEN

 

Orphen is Fairy’s husband. He likes gaming of all sorts, and is my regular Risk opponent as well as the person I am most likely to play video games with.

fairlake

 

Fairlake is my biggest TV show geeksquee companion, and we have spent many a happy hour talking about TV shows such as Buffy, Firefly, and Doctor Who in high pitched voices.

Kjarl

 

Kjarl is Fairlake’s boyfriend and is very smart, which is annoying of him. He too likes many things, some of which are penguins, hence his penguin picture.

We kicked our evening off with a round of Munchkin, which is a card based roleplaying game that’s a parody of more traditional RPGs. You’re prowling through a dungeon, fighting wacky monsters and stealing their treasure. You want to be the first one to reach level 10, which usually involves a lot of being really unkind to your friends until somebody wins because everybody’s used up their helpful cards.

Our first game of Munchkin was weird, in that nothing very interesting happened. I made the foolish mistake of picking up a duck (never pick up a duck in a dungeon) and dropped two levels early on, which effectively took me out of the running. Fairy dramatically failed to draw a monster to fight most of the way through the game, apart from a Level 20 Plutonium Dragon that she had no chance against so tamed it and made it into her steed. This meant that she didn’t level up very much, but since she was riding a dragon she looked way cooler.

The final battle came down to Fairlake, Orphen and Kjarl, and when it came for Fairlake to fight a monster for the victory, nobody had a single helpful card to beat her. This was actually pretty handy because dinner was ready.

After a delicious vegetable curry made by Fairy, we played another game of Munchkin as we hadn’t fulfilled our backstabbing quotient for the evening. This one was more traditional and lasted longer, and while I didn’t do very well for myself, I was able to set two level 20 wandering monsters on Fairy and stop her from winning. I am the best best friend ever.

In Munchkin you have cards that you can use as armour and weapons to boost your basic fight score. In both games I had Bear Feet, which gave me +2 to combat, and any time I drew a curse card trying to take my footwear away I could point down and say ‘But I have bear feet!’ and keep them. This made me happy both times I got to say it. In the end Orphen took the second game.

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan – I was red, Fairlake orange, Fairy green, Orphen brown, Kjarl blue

Next we went to play Settlers of Catan, and we rolled to see who would go first.

Fairlake rolled 4.
I rolled 4.
Orphen rolled 4.
Fairy rolled 4.
Kjarl rolled 4.
Fairlake rolled 4 again.
I rolled 4 again.

We all stared suspiciously at the die. Orphen rolled again, and it came up 5. We still eyed the die. Seven times in a row? Really?

It showed no sign of favouring 4 throughout the actual game, so we just hit some crazy odds.

In the game, Fairlake and Fairy got into The Battle of the Massive Winding Roads, as the longest road is worth 2 victory points. They got in everybody’s way, including each other’s. I did something mean to everybody at the start of the game (not sure what) which meant I got a plentiful supply of bad things for the rest of the game.

I built five settlements to secure my best yet score in Catan, and was very pleased with myself. People kept rolling 7, which means the robber moves and steals stuff. In the words of Wil Wheaton, the robber is a dick.

At the last moment, Fairy wrestled the title of Longest Road from Fairlake, and with it won the game. Even though there were dice involved. It could just be because she didn’t necessarily have to roll the dice herself to get things. Or maybe the dice felt sorry for her this time. Or maybe it was skill. Who knows?

table

I demonstrated my confusion with the world by calling Orphen both my fiance’s and my dog’s names during the course of the evening.

But the other day my Mum called me ‘Bella – No, William!’ which is her cat and my brother, so clearly it’s hereditary.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Persuasion by Jane Austen

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

What I’m Reading 6.2

31 May

We have a dog! He’s the one from the Blue Cross I mentioned before, and he’s a massive softy by the name of Floyd. When we come from work his tail wags so much it’s hard for him to operate his legs, and he staggers across the kitchen towards us.

Isn’t the cover for this one ugly? This is the cover of the copy we had when I was little.

Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper concludes The Dark Is Rising sequence in a big, bittersweet showdown of awesome. The six protagonists, the ‘Six’ who shall turn back the Dark, are thrown together at last in the mountains of Wales to defeat the last and greatest rising of the forces of evil. It’s very bittersweet, this one, and you get the real sense of the children starting to grow up without it being spelled out for you. I always feel wistful at the end of this one.

 

The mouse is called Hamlet von Schnitzel

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson is the first autobiography I have ever read from cover to cover. It’s written by the Bloggess who blogs here and is generally amazing. I first was drawn to her blog for the humour and stayed for the mental illness, because it’s oddly reassuring to find really successful writers who suffer from worse anxiety than me.

Lawson (oh heck, I can’t call her that, I’ve been reading her blog for too long) tells of her childhood growing up in rural Texas with her awesome (plus kinda bonkers) taxidermist father and eternally patient mother, and moves on to her adventures working in HR and her life with her husband Victor, along with her struggles with an impressive array of mental illnesses. I can’t read this book without creasing up laughing, and that’s on my second read through.

There is an extremely sad chapter in the middle where Jenny covers her experience with miscarriages, and my heart pretty much broke for her, so if this is a trigger for you I’d recommend skipping the first half of that chapter (you’ll know which one before it really gets going) but come back halfway through because it’s quite an important part of her life and it’s beautiful and moving. She writes the whole book in a charming rambling dialogue where she merrily wanders off topic, and there is an infinite amount of sadness that I will probably never meet her because I do much the same thing.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – I know right? Get me with the literature! I’ve been making an effort to read the classics lately. I’ve been reading this for quite some time – since the first of April, according to my Kindle. It’s not easy going, and a lot of time I’m not sure what’s real and what’s just the product of the narrator’s mental illness/imagination. Basically so far it’s a struggle for power on a mental ward, only I think the only way to understand this novel is to finish it. It makes you think, and bits have made me laugh. I need to be in the right frame of mind to read it, and it’s not one I’m in all the time. Slow progress!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins doesn’t exactly need any introduction at the moment, what with being a major motion picture and all, but I feel the need to state that I read it before it was cool damnit! Well, before it was a film anyway. To be honest, i read the trilogy along with Mark at http://www.markreads.net a couple of years ago. It’s unputdownable. I don’t care if that’s not a word.

The 12 districts of Panem are ruled by the Capital, where people live in the lap of luxury whilst those in the districts starve. As punishment for a rebellion 74 years previously, each district must offer up one boy and girl as tribute. Tributes are then sent into an arena to battle to the death in a violent and mad reality TV show. 16-year-old Katniss takes her younger sister’s place and is taken to the capital to compete in the Games.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The Games are over, but Katniss still isn’t safe. Having defied the gamemakers and the Capital by daring to survive her games, they’re out for her blood. Everything in District 12 is about to change for the worse.

I’m reading this at the moment, so I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it the first, second and third times (I’m a serial re-reader), but it continues to enthrall me.

Also? This trilogy has a ‘ship called Peeniss. Or possibly KatPee. Writers need to think about these things. In my novel the two ships would be CaSt and McCosta.

There will be a 6.3. I’ve been reading a lot lately.

What I’m Reading 6.1

14 May

Did you know, it’s actually surprisingly hard to find an affordable large dog? There’s one at the Blue Cross in Southampton right now that looks and sounds just like Puffin, so am hoping to put a reserve on him tomorrow – fingers crossed!

I suppose I should state that the first thing I’ve been reading is lots of sites that advertise dogs and puppies. So. Much. Want.

so, anyway, let’s continue on from Saturday’s fandangle:

From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris delves deeper into the revelation that Sookie has fairy blood. She meets her great-grandfather, and gets sucked into both were and vampire wars, and nothing is plain sailing. Meanwhile, Sookie’s brother is cheated on by his pregnant were-panther wife and makes sure Sookie discovers it for herself (we all like to walk in on our in-laws engaged in shenanegins with random people) at the same time as Crystal (the naughty cheating panther)’s uncle, Calvin Norris. Sookie and Calvin stood up for Jason and Crystal at their wedding, so naturally Sookie has to break Calvin’s hand. Were-panthers are just so easy-going.

This novel sees the overhaul of the vampire political system in Louisiana, which was already struggling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the bombing of the covention in Rhodes from the previous book. At this point it would be extremely hard to just jump into the series, so don’t try. Go back to the beginning. Shoo.

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris sees the werewolves and shapeshifters doing whatever the two-natured version of coming out of the coffin is. The vampires kindly lend a protective hand and everybody pretends they like each other for the cameras. In little Bon Temps, the announcement goes almost without a hitch, except for one waitress who quits when she discovers her boss likes to turn into a collie at the full moon.

Sookie is dating the Viking vampire Eric again at this point, only this time he knows who he is, which can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it. Sookie is tugged into vampire politics once again – the King of Nevada has taken power from the (now late) Queen of Louisiana, and sent a douchecanoe (I love that word) called Victor to lord it over Louisiana. Victor has his eyes fixed especially on Eric’s Area Five.

Hate crimes abound across America against the newly revealed weres and shifters, and Sookie is kidnapped by fairies and tortured – this book ain’t for the faint hearted. But if you were faint hearted you probably would have given up amid the general gore of the first book, so hey. Have I mentioned I love these books?

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris. Ah, the family. Throughout most of this series Sookie (who, worryingly, I just called ‘The Sookster’ in my head) has thought she has hardly any living relatives. Now she has fairy cousins, fairy great grandparents, fairy great uncles, and a little telepathic human cousin by the name of Hunter who is the son of Sookie’s cousin Hadley, the one who got herself turned into a vampire because she was in love with the Queen of Louisiana, which frankly happens to me every day. There’s a lot of cuteness in this book, and also a lot of plotting murder.

Sookie’s not the only one with family troubles, however. Eric’s maker comes to town, bringing along with him his younger ‘son’ – Alexei Romanov, the son of the last czar of Russia. The kid’s a bit nuts.

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris – Victor continues to be a douchecanoe, threatening the lives and businesses of people Sookie cares about. He has to go. Sookie, Eric, and Eric’s ‘child’ Pam seek to bring about the downfall of Victor. It’s a rip-roaring tale of cold-blooded murder. Yay!

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris only came out this month, and I only started reading it last night…at 1am…on a worknight…causing me to only get four hours sleep. Sometimes I really get sucked into books, and the Southern Vampire Mysteries are brilliant at this reader black hole thing. I really had to struggle to turn off my Kindle (I love that thing. Its name is Humphrey) and put it down and go to sleep. When I say ‘go to sleep’ I mean ‘lie there for another hour wishing I’d kept reading’. Sookie and Eric are on the rocks, a vampire queen wants to marry Eric, Sookie’s boss’s homicidal werewolf girlfriend thinks Sookie wants to steal Sam off her, the Fae are up to something, and Felipe de Castro, the King of Nevada is in town investigating the mysterious disappearance of Victor (douchecanoe dude). Sookie’s brother is getting married again – here’s hoping this wife doesn’t end up crucified, as this one’s a decent human being. I’m not being supernaturalist – if Crystal had been pure human she would have been a bit of a skank, Michele is just awesome. Anyway, I’ve wondered off track. one and a half books to go for me and then this series is finished . Woe is me.

The Grey King by Susan Cooper is the fourth book in The Dark is Rising sequence. Old One Will, having been desperately sick with pneumonia, is shipped off to stay with relatives in Wales, where he meets a mysterious young boy called Bran, and sets out on a mission to defeat the Grey King of the valley and retrieve a magical harp for the Light. The most sinister thing in this story is a man – an ordinary man – by the name of Caradog Pritchard, who bares an old grudge against Bran and his father, and directs it at the local sheepdogs, especially Bran’s beloved Cafall.

This is probably my second least-favourite of the series, but it’s still really cool.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got time for now – dinner time! There’s a delicious asparagus soup that’s about to happen to me. I’ll put up 6.2 in a couple of days.

Catchup and What I’m Reading 6.0

12 May

Howdy folks. It’s been a hectic few months but I figured I was well overdue for an update – I actually went through a phase of getting a lot of writing done, and now I’m going through a phase of getting none done. I’m also going through a phase of not remembering how to spell phase even though I’ve written it four times in two sentences.

My fiancé Chris was found to be too ill to work full-time about five weeks ago, which sucked. He got lowered a couple of pay bands and moved to a part-time position. It did, however, open the door to us having a dog! My life never feels complete without a dog, so we were super-duper excited. We went to the Dogs Trust in Salisbury and over the next two weeks, we became owners of the lovely Puffin.

Not The Best Picture Ever

Puffin is loving, funny, sweet, and beautiful. Unfortunately, due to some insurmountable problems, we had to take him back to the shelter on Thursday after three weeks, so I’m pretty heartbroken right now.

We’re back to the dog hunt, so if anyone sees any medium-large mixed breed dogs available in Hampshire (England) please let me know!

So, that’s where I’ve been.

Anyway, I’ll do my reading in a few separate posts I think.

Finished books as of 26/2/12:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff
The Dark is Rising
Dead Until Dark
Moon Child
Looking for Alaska
Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
Traitor
Destiny’s Way
Force Heretic I: Remnant
Force Heretic II: Refugee
Plague
The Fellowship of the Ring
Catalyst
Dragon’s Time
Emma
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Force Heretic III: Reunion
War Horse
The Two Towers
The Final Prophecy
Dead as a Doornail
The Secret Life of Bees

Star Wars books to start with, methinks.

Dark Nest I: The Joiner King by Troy Denning – Truth to tell, I didn’t much like this trilogy the first time around, but on the second read I’m quite enjoying the humour of it. All the young Jedi who were on the mission to Myrkr where Anakin Solo died feel a mental summons, calling them to a colony of sentient insects who are having trouble with their neighbours, the Chiss. Back on the Myrkr mission, one of the Jedi, Raynar Thul, had been kidnapped by some Dark Jedi who were being held captive by the Yuuzhan Vong. Now it turns out he has been hideously scarred by the crash of the ship he was on when kidnapped, and healed by the Killiks, the bug people, and he’s kind of their king. It gets quite complicated. There’s also the issue of whether or not the Dark Jedi who were with Raynar at the time of the crash are still alive.

Some of the young Jedi start to become absorbed by the nest, and become mentally entwined with the Killiks, including Jaina Solo and her friend Zekk, and more sinisterly (shut up spell check, I know it’s not a real word), Alema Rar. There’s a lot of weird touching and people not being able to tell where they end and their friends begin. The best bits in the book come from a scene where Jaina and Zekk are flirting with Jaina’s old boyfriend Jag.

This trilogy is confusing.

Ok, the bits I’ve missed are that Alema falls under the influence of the Dark Nest, the Gorogs, who are under the sway of the two Dark Jedi, Lomi Plo and Welk, and falls to the Dark Side. Leia almost dies in a fight with Alema, and decides that it is time to become a proper Jedi, so starts training with the Barabel Jedi master, Saba Sebatyne.

Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen by Troy Denning – More of the above. lots of confusingness and some good humour. The most important thing that happens in this book is that Jacen Solo travels to the Hapes Consortium with his little cousin Ben Skywalker, where he discovers that as a result of a night with his old friend Tenel Ka in the previous book, he now has a baby daughter. This leads to some shaky and dangerous decisions by Jacen, and it really becomes clear that Jacen is redefining morality to suit himself. He leads his friends in an attack on the Chiss in order to provoke them into destroying the Killiks, who he feels will drag the galaxy into a never-ending war. He tells lies in order to get his friends to do this, and when they find out that he lied, his sister Jaina swears never to fly with him again. Jaina and Zekk also catch him wiping the memory of little Ben so he doesn’t remember going to Hapes.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – This was not an easy read. This isn’t to say that the writing was difficult; it wasn’t. The writing generally is like that of a young reader’s book – it was simple and clear, and I actually thought this was a children’s book. Written from the perspective of an innocent nine-year-old boy called Bruno in Nazi Germany, it charts the move of Bruno’s family from Berlin to an unknown location in the countryside that Bruno calls Out-With that is actually Auschwitz. Bruno is homesick and misses his friends and grandparents, and is endlessly curious about the people who live on the other side of the barbed wire fence and only ever wear striped pajamas. One day he goes for a long walk and meets a little boy on the other side of the fence. Shmuel is serious and thin and always hungry, and he tells stories that Bruno doesn’t quite believe, until one day, Bruno crawls under the fence.

The only real problem I have with this book is that there is just no way a nine-year-old child in Nazi Germany would be THAT innocent – Bruno knows nothing about the war, or Jews, or why Jews are Bad. His father is the Commandant of Auschwitz, but Bruno knows nothing of Nazi philosophy. There was extensive propaganda in place aimed at children to make sure that this wouldn’t happen, so I did find this quite a stretch.

I cried myself to sleep after reading this book, but there are some things you should read even though they hurt, and this is one of them.

‘What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?’

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris sees Sookie accompanying Sophie-Anne, the queen of Louisiana, to Rhodes in order to attend a summit of vampires. Sookie’s still seeing her boyfriend Quinn, whose company is doing a lot of the organising for the summit, so he’s there too. Also present are ex-boyfriends Bill and Eric. Always fun to have all your guys in one basket. This is possibly one of my favourite of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, as it has so much action, humour, and character development. Also? Lots and lots of bombs. Big badaboom! It’s hard to separate out the bad guys and the good guys, and what makes you which. something interesting that this book does is make the fictional universe run truly parallel to ours – although vampires have been out of the coffin for a couple of years, Hurricane Katrina has just happened, vampires are missing, and Louisiana finds itself in a much weaker stance than it would have been had the summit happened before Katrina.

k, I’m going to stop there, because my back hurts. I’ll do a 6.1 soon!

What I’m Reading 5.0

26 Feb

Time for another What I’m Reading extravaganza. It won’t be as excruciatingly long this time!

Finished books as of 5/2/12:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff
The Dark is Rising
Dead Until Dark
Moon Child
Looking for Alaska
Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
Traitor
Destiny’s Way
Force Heretic I: Remnant
Force Heretic II: Refugee
Plague
The Fellowship of the Ring
Catalyst
Dragon’s Time
Emma
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World

As ever, we shall begin with the Star Wars novels:

The Final Prophecy by Greg Keyes – Tahiri, now united as a combined Jedi and Yuuzhan Vong, is sent with older Jedi Corran Horn to deliver a message to the Prophet of the Yuuzhan Vong Shamed Ones. What nobody knows is that the Prophet is actually Nom Anor, possibly the most self-centred individual in the known universe, who has been stirring up a revolt among the Shamed Ones for his own ends. They agree to take the Prophet to the living world of Zonoma Sekot, and are surprised by having to take priest Harrar and shaper Nen Yim along too. Harrar seems to be just curious and concerned about what the living planet means for the Yuuzhan Vong, whereas Nen Yim thinks the planet needs to be destroyed and carried the means to do so.

In a conversation between Nen Yim and Tahiri, it comes to light that the Yuuzhan Vong whose memories were implanted into Tahiri during her failed Shaping were actually those of Nen Yim, bringing the Jedi and the Yuuzhan Vong closer together. Nen Yim then realises what the secret of the planet is, and asks to be left alone to contemplate it. Nom Anor confronts and murders her, and then runs off to kill the planet. Despite the combined efforts of Corran, Tahiri and Harrar, he manages to infect the planet with a disease, and the planet blindly jumps to hyperspace.

The Unifying Force by James Luceno is the last of The New Jedi Order series and sees the resolution of the whole thing. I forget how this happens, and I’m only about three chapters in – so far Threepio and Han have been playing a game of Dejarik (the ‘let the wookiee win’ one) and that’s about all I remember. I remember it being good though!

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris continues The Southern Vampire Mysteries – the Shreveport pack of werewolves are having a contest to see who the new packmaster will be. In the running are Sookie’s friend Alcide’s father, and a complete slimeball. Sookie is recruited to keep things honest. Meanwhile, Eric is trying to work out what happened when he lost his memory, and Sookie’s friend Tara is taken captive as a sort of slave by a violent thug of a vampire named Mickey.

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris sees Sookie going to New Orleans to wrap up the affairs of her late cousin Hadley (on a random aside, I really like that name but now it shall forever be associated with a vampire who was a bit of a bitch when she was alive), the former girlfriend of the vampire Queen of Louisiana.  Matters are complicated when a new vampire rises from one of Hadley’s apartment closets and attacks Sookie and her new friend Amelia. It turns out that the new vampire is an employee of Sookie’s new boyfriend Quinn (there are a lot of Quinns in vampire fiction at the moment) who used to be a werewolf. Since vampires and werewolves really don’t like each other, this is a bit politically controversial. Also, there’s a lot of tension between the Queen and her new husband, and somebody killed a demon in Sookie’s garden.Oh, and somebody’s trying to kill Sookie, as usual.

Although it just gets darker and darker, I really do like these books. There’s such a sense of humour to them.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – All Lily knows about her mother is that, when she was four, she killed her.

This isn’t my usual type of book, but it was in the bathroom, so I read it and enjoyed it. Perhaps ‘enjoyed’ isn’t the right word – I feel like I’m a better person for having read it.

It discusses childhood and racism and bees, honey and mental illness and what it can lead you to do. Definitely worth a read.

The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien is the final installment of the Lord of the Rings, and still doesn’t need any introduction. I’m still reading along with Mark at http://www.markreads.net.

Ok, that’s it for now!

Rounding up:

Finished books as of 26/2/12:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff
The Dark is Rising
Dead Until Dark
Moon Child
Looking for Alaska
Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
Traitor
Destiny’s Way
Force Heretic I: Remnant
Force Heretic II: Refugee
Plague
The Fellowship of the Ring
Catalyst
Dragon’s Time
Emma
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Force Heretic III: Reunion
War Horse
The Two Towers
The Final Prophecy
Dead as a Doornail
The Secret Life of Bees

So that’s 39 books, 133 days – one book per 3.4 days – up a bit from last time!

Currently still reading:

Greenwitch
Return of the King
Definitely Dead

Novel Progress

Words0
Words100,000

Get a progress bar at DollarTimes.com

Phase One Complete – Prepare for Phase Two!

22 Feb

Before I begin, I feel the need to question teh Interwebz – HOW is it that most viewers of this blog find it by searching for a variation of ‘sick lolcat’ on Google?! My friend Jenni and I just spent around 20 minutes trying to find my blog by searching using various terms for humourous felines in ill health, but found nothing. Maybe these people are seriously dedicated to finding funny but unhealthy kitties, and are willing to search beyond the first ten pages to do so.

So, anyway, my novel is split into four distinct parts with a different narrator for each section, and the first part of the first draft is COMPLETE! Yippee!

See how I tempt in more readers with lolcats?

So I am enormously pleased with myself. 23600 words in, pretty damn high  body count, and a man with his hands buried in the sand waiting for the sun to return.

My whole novel is based on a short story I wrote for my fifth assignment in the creative writing course I did a couple a years ago towards my degree, and now I’m actually moving towards the section in the narrative that the short story actually covered, which is quite exciting. The Unknown was my favourite of the pieces I wrote for the course, and probably the most publishable as a short story, but I really didn’t want to leave it as one – it only really created one rounded character and didn’t give me a chance to develop him much. I have my four that link up, and I plan to write them as well as I can. The real challenge will be separating them from each other in terms of style.

So. Eek. I’ve gotten so used to my little squad of soldiers, and now I don’t get to write them any more for a while. Military HQ it is, for the next 25000 words or so!

Unrelated News (or ‘A Series of Unfortunate Excuses’ for why I’m not writing faster)

Work is hard
I is poor penniless writer
I’m directing a play! Well, co-directing. It’s a fun little one-act comedy called Curses! Foiled Again (not ‘oiled again’, which I just wrote and sounds like porn) by Evelyn Hood, and we’re having a blast with it so far

Also, today I wrote a riddle so that I could tell a colleague who played a practical joke on her without actually telling her who played a practical joke on her – it doesn’t count if she has to work it out for herself! She now thinks I should write case notes in riddles, which would a) not be very easy to do while on the phone to customers, and b) drive at least one of my colleagues completely up the wall. The practical joke involved a flying pig. Good times were had by all, especially the pig who now has a better view.

I stole this picture from a distinctly unpleasant right wing blog. At least that blog is good for something.

Pigs Fly in customer services department