Friday, 28 June 2013

Cephalopod Coffeehouse - book club!

The Armchair Squid has gathered together a little group of bloggers who have signed up to share monthly their favourite book read within the last month. This little haphazard book club of sorts "meets" on the last Friday of every month, and today is the last Friday of June, so here I am!

Not very long ago I posted a list of books I'd read lately, along with some mini-reviews, and my choice for today's book club post is Open Minds, book 1 in Susan Kaye Quinn's Mindjack series. Here is the blurb from GoodReads:

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

To paraphrase my rather "succinct" GoodReads review, what I liked about this book was a) the setting (I'm definitely a fan of sci-fi and this book was set far in the future, even if it was a world much like ours in many ways), b) the characters - I cared about their fate, including the ones I didn't like at all, and c) SKQ's writing style. So I guess there wasn't much (or anything) I didn't like. I'll definitely be reading more of Susan's stuff in future!

With all that said, I'm currently reading two books that I'm absolutely loving, though one has some formatting issues (free e-book). The books are:

  • Riversong by Tess Thompson
  • War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

So you can definitely expect more book reviews next month. :) More than likely in mini-format though, as I quite like doing things that way.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Travel Series: SWITZERLAND

Aaand the travel saga continues...

From London, Dad and I headed to Basel, Switzerland, via bus. We got a ferry from Dover across the English Channel to Calais, where we re-boarded our bus and trekked across France. This was my first time stepping foot in France, and was naturally exciting. We didn't see much of France at this point, though (that was to come later). I did manage to admire French magazines like Vogue, and gaze up at a very blue French sky. At this point I was pretty excited, despite the fact that frustrations were increasing between Dad and I at this point.

In Switzerland, I immediately started noticing things, like that people said "twenty thirty" instead of "eight-thirty", in terms of times on the clock. Also, I noticed lots of cyclists. And lots of roadworks! By the time we got to Basel, I was getting more and more homesick, as evidenced by this travel journal entry:

I must be entirely honest, I want to go home. I wouldn't care if we missed India & Seoul & stuff. I hate the idea of heading for a country where I'm homeless & vulnerable & don't speak the language. I miss my mummy.

Doc Martens and some Alps.

A rainy suburban street - with bikes! 

Switzerland gives good lake.

That was actually quite mild compared to some of what I was ranting about. ;) Suffice it to say I was having more and more 'irate' moments in the company of my infamous father, and stress was high also because I had by this point spent all my money. I also ranted to Mum in a letter about how everywhere in Europe, smoking was still allowed in public places. I speculated that I probably already had lung cancer from all the second-hand smoke.

Gorgeous Switzerland.
One of many beautiful Swiss views.

The night we reached Basel, we got to the airport and slept there overnight so we could get our hire car in the morning. But when I say "slept there", I mean that we spent the night out on the grass, by some bushes. When I awoke in the morning, the first thing I noticed was a plane roaring by overhead. The second was the people at the airport windows, staring out. They were probably watching planes come and go, but seventeen-year-old me was convinced there could only be one spectacle out on the grass that morning - the two homeless bums camped out there.

A view I got from sitting on top of a massive rock
(next to the glacier).
Love this pic, 'cause you can see Dad
heading down onto the glacier - no
safety gear or ANYTHING. Yep, he's nuts.

That morning we finally got our hire car, and headed back out on the road. From Basel we drove through Switzerland and saw some truly beautiful landscapes. We spent a night in the Italian region of Switzerland in a tiny little town, which I believe was called Gordela. Here we hung out with Dad's girlfriend's extended family, and in town saw a beautiful old castle. From here we drove on, down into Italy, but I'll talk about that next time.

P.S. I hit 50k with my BuNo novel! Now to finish it...

Friday, 21 June 2013

[O&AM] I might be a mad cow [but I AM a songwriter!]

I was born in 1980 in a building outside a little almost-town in England (I shared a photo of the building itself back in May in this post). I do think it's cooler to say I was born in a field, but still, technically, only the building was in the field, and my parents and I were in the building. Because I spent the first eighteen months of my life in the UK, there's potential I've got mad cow's disease. Or, rather, that I'm a carrier. Even though I was only there until the end of 1981, I'm still banned from giving blood today. And of course mad cow disease (the human form) is still an issue today (as indicated by this article).

I find it hard to believe I'm really, truly a mad cow, and yet I could be that one in four thousand that (allegedly, possibly, maybe) really does carry it around in her bloodstream all day long! I would dearly love to give blood, and I always feel deflated when those blood drives are going on and everyone who doesn't donate is made to feel guilty for being such a selfish loser. But on the upside, I get to say "I can't give blood 'cause I could be a mad cow."

Naturally my friends all say, "So that's what the hell's up with you, you crazy biatch!" but strangers generally just nod politely and move on their way. ;) So, there you go. You learned something more about me today (even if you already had an inkling that I was potentially a mad cow!).

In other news, this:

This is actually a poster advertising ... my upcoming album release. I shouldn't really say "my", because this is very much a joint effort, and in fact much of the effort has been on the other person's part (Billy Bedard is a legend and he knows a lot more about how to create an actual album than I do by now!). But they are my songs, and it's my voice, and it's got my artwork in it. So it's all pretty exciting.

Soon enough there will be a little promo video to release that just has a bit more artwork and a few snippets of sound from the album. As soon as I have that, I will share it here!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

SMALL TOWN, house move & a kitty video

is 61% complete

30644 / 50000 words written

Hi folks! This is where I'm at with my BuNo novel. Pretty happy with my slow and steady progress, though I'd like to have actually hit 50k by now so I could fixate on other stuff (see the two paragraphs below). I'm pretty happy with how the story's going, even though I did find a stash of early notes I had written many months ago and realised I haven't done some stuff I'd planned on in them. So I have started incorporating some of those plot points, but other stuff might have to wait until revision time.

In cat news, the little guy is doing well and tomorrow afternoon I can take him to get his sutures out. At last!! No more bucket hat for the kitty! Still, he needs to be confined for another 2+ weeks, so the saga is not anywhere near an end. But he's getting better at not sprinting through doors he's not allowed to go through when I open them. Guess he's adapting, a little bit. Even if he still hates being as confined as he as (and so does his mummy!).

Here's a little kitty video from when he was a baby, just for fun:

And in house moving news, I did an inspection on Sunday and basically all I had to note down was nitpicky type stuff. Pretty soon I will be able to start moving some stuff over to the new place - hopefully sometime this week! I will be a very happy person when that time comes.

Hope you are all doing well!

What are you working on?
Are you moving house, or have you recently?
Do you have needy pets?

Friday, 14 June 2013

Latest reads [more mini reviews]

Since last time, I've read the following:

  • A Shade of Vampire (A Shade of Vampire, #1) - Bella Forrest
    • Although it might be said that I'm a bit over vampires nowadays (that "I'm a dead, cold corpse" thing really doesn't turn me on), I did enjoy this read, and would even go so far as to buy subsequent books in the series to find out what happens next.
  • Broken Promises (Broken, #1) - Dawn Pendleton
    • This was sort of okay - I did want to read on and find out what happened, but I really couldn't stand the main character at times. Even if I could understand why she was the way she was. She was just a bit of a drama queen who made everyone else run around after her.
  • muted: a short story in verse - Jessica Bell
    • This story blew my mind - a mixture of pure ugliness and pure beauty, sort of like that Japanese novel I read a few years back, GROTESQUE (also one of my fave reads ever). Jessica is very talented!
  • Open Minds (Mindjack, #1) - Susan Kaye Quinn
    • Love this woman's writing, though this is the only book of hers I've read so far! I hear great things about her other series as well, and have some of that ready to read on my ... wait for it ... Kindle! Yes, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite recently.

And I'm currently reading:

  • The Complete Fairy Tales - The Brothers Grimm
  • Become (Desolation, #1) - Ali Cross
  • The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

Now, what I want to know is, is anyone surprised that I'm still reading Grimm over two years later?
. . . Or that this is my first time reading War of the Worlds?
. . . . . . Or that it took me this long to get around to reading Ali's book?

Monday, 10 June 2013

A BuNo update and some kitty pics.

is 34% complete

17266 / 50000 words written

That's where I'm at with BuNoWriMo. I'm basically plodding along this year, though I got a bit extra done tonight. Not much extra, but a bit. I do love my idea, but this time around I actually look forward to this whole thing being over. See, I am actually supposed to be sorting through a house full of 'stuff' right now, to prepare for moving. But truthfully, even if I weren't doing BuNo, I wouldn't be getting much done. See, my cat injured himself recently and had to have a rather serious shoulder operation. And he's always been a rather needy, sooky cat. Now that he's cooped up inside the house and no longer free to roam the neighbourhood as he wishes, he's even more needy than usual, and is quite frankly driving me nuts! Luckily for him, he's totally cute:

Photo © Amanda Shannon.
Somebody called this a "postcard shot".

Photo © Amanda Shannon.
You can see his shoulder injury -
and gigantic paw he got to
keep due to the surgery - here.

So yeah, when I'm home I basically have to sit with the cat at all times, or else he gets up to mischief that could risk his shoulder - and result in the amputation we've managed thus far to avoid! He's a terrible patient, and he's really wearing on my patience. But like I said, he's cute - so he gets away with it. ;) Meanwhile, my house is a bit chaotic and I'm sleeping on a foam mattress instead of in my real bed, to keep my cat company. No, really, this is what I've resorted to in order to ensure I do actually get sleep. Otherwise he's in his room and I'm in mine and he's meowing all night and I'm not sleeping.

Anyway, that's an update for now. I'm enjoying my little BuNo story as it unfolds, and also looking forward to hitting 50k so I can let it lie for a little while. At least until I've moved house. Part of me is scared to lose momentum, but I know I can always go back later and finish it - I've done so before, I can do it again!

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Aberration Blog Hop

Lisa Regan is hosting this blog hop in celebration of yesterday's release of her second novel, Aberration - congratulations Lisa!!

The details of the blog hop are as follows:

Definition of ABERRATION
1 : the fact or an instance of deviating or being aberrant especially from a moral standard or normal state
2 : unsoundness or disorder of the mind
3 : an aberrant individual
— ab·er·ra·tion·al  adjective
From the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary 
What:  The Aberration Blog Hop: Finding the Most Aberrant Characters
Where:  Sign up here
When:  June 6 & 7, 2013
What to do:  All you have to do is list your top 5 choices for the most aberrant characters in fiction, television or movies.  Also, if you're a writer, you can then include a short paragraph about who you think is the most aberrant character from your own work.

So, without further ado, these are just a few of the characters I can think of off the top of my head that definitely fit the term "aberrant" (and please note that if you've never seen the legal drama The Practice, there is a rather big spoiler in the bullet points below):

Aberrant characters

  • Sylar from Heroes
    • the guy is just plain evil, and from what I've seen of the series so far, he's got no hope of any sort of redemption
  • Max Guevara from Dark Angel
    • she's not evil but she's definitely not natural. And even amongst her own "aberrant" kind, she's special. Love this show!
  • Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs
    • this was the first character I thought of when I thought about moral aberration. Definitely one of the creepiest, most memorable characters ever!
  • The reavers from Firefly
    • these dudes are also plain evil, and plaaaaain gross.
  • George Vogelman from The Practice
    • OH GOD! I am still not over this. I still remember the shock and horror I felt when the truth was revealed.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

DISQUS is annoying!

I participated in two blogfests back on 31/5, and encountered two different blogs that required you to post via Disqus comments. Well, I have to say these are becoming my new pet hate in the blogisphere. For one thing, when I'm at home I can't even get these comments to load, so can't leave a comment! Then, on a PC at work where I can get them to load, only one of them let me post as a guest. With the other one I tried signing in with Google+ and Twitter, but they still required me to have a Disqus account. To me, this is just too much hard work, so sadly one blog missed out on a comment from me...and I really wanted to leave a comment there, too! I even have it still cut, ready to paste.

That's really all I wanted to say for today - but I may as well give an update on my BuNoWriMo writing while I'm here:

is 13% complete

6746 / 50000 words written

And yeah, I am now calling it SMALL TOWN (formerly ELLA), but that is still a non-permanent title. I'm enjoying the story though I am having that familiar "this is crap...isn't it? maybe it's not" feeling as I write. But that's perfectly normal. ;)