Monday, 30 April 2012

New Layout!

I decided to change the blog layout because as much as I loved the old version (which I have saved in case I want to revert to it at some point) I felt that it was time for something new. If you get any issues with the new layout then let me know.

What do you think?

Listen To This: Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine - No Light, No Light

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday Catch Up

So, this week saw the Writes of Passage anthologies arrive! My two copies are sitting on the manga/comic bookshelf. One copy is going to my mum and the other is for me.

A baby Storm and her (now deceased) sister Brave
I also had to take one of our pet rats to the vet on Monday because she had a mammary tumour. She had an operation on Friday to remove it and is now recuperating in the spare cage. She's being very good and not fussing with her stitches but I don't trust her sisters to be so well behaved, which is why she's being kept separate for now.

I just threw Dr Pepper all down the sofa arm and my leg...great.

Anyway, I also finished Skyrim this week! Finally! The final battle was not as awesome as it should have been and I was only level 28 so I thought it would be much harder. It was over in a few minutes. I still love Skyrim and think that it's a great game, I just wish that it had been a bit more challenging in places. I'm also not entirely sure what to do with my game-self now.

It's been proper pirate pillaging weather all week so I haven't gone out very much. We went out for breakfast yesterday and luckily it didn't start raining again until we got back home. There is a café near us that does delicious veggie breakfasts that are also pretty affordable. It's a huge portion and it comes with tea or coffee. Delicious. I also love that their kid's menu includes jam sandwiches.

I've been playing The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap this week too. I started the game a while ago and then completely forgot about it. It's so much fun, possibly one of my favourite Zelda games and it hasn't made me rage too much. The only thing I hate about Zelda games is how easily I can get lost on a quest, for example I spent a good half an hour wandering round and round a dungeon because I had missed one tiny thing and therefore couldn't progress. I did figure it out in the end but it was a really boring half and hour.

I've also been playing Animal Crossing again. I lost my original copy a few years ago which was pretty devastating, I then bought another copy but it's not quite the same. I miss my old villagers and I miss my big shop with the hairdressing poodle and I miss my big house! But my new village is okay. I like that I have Hopper the Penguin these days, but I still miss Peanut. I also have City Folk/Let's Go To The City on the Wii which I do really like but I just haven't played it very much. I might have to return to that town at some point and see who is still around. I will also be getting the 3DS Animal Crossing game, and yes I've watched the Animal Crossing film. Animal Crossing is one of my favourite franchises, if you hadn't already figured that out.

I am still reading Dearly Departed and it's actually pretty cool to read it when it's so rainy and windy outside. Intense!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Something For The Weekend

Something to eat:
I plan on making Vegetable Charlotte tomorrow because it looks delicious, and easy. Veggies and cheese, win/win!

Something to do:
Happy (belated) Birthday Kirby! The little pink blob was 20 years old yesterday so why not spend the weekend playing some of these much loved games?

Start a personal revolution with five manifestos for the creative life!

Something to read:
Okay so I'm turning 24 this year (September 18th, mark it on your calenders!) but I think that this advice still applies no matter how old you are, so what do you wish you had known at 22?

Gala wrote a very brave and insightful post about self-harm, the stigma and the aftermath which is definitely worth a read. Although please remember that this is a potentially triggering article.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Feature Friday: Writes of Passage

I'm a little late in updating today because I had to take one of our pet rats to the vet, she's having an operation so keep your fingers crossed for her!

The Writes of Passage anthology is done! I have two copies sitting on my bookshelf right now and it's just so lovely to have the actual, solid, real copy right there! I can touch it and everything! It's not a dream!

This photo was taken by our editor-in-chief
Isn't it pretty? 

It isn't available to the public but of course if you do fancy being nosy you can always check out the website.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday Thought: Audiobooks

Reading books versus listening to them. I've been thinking about this for a little while because I love audio books, I always have, but I do know that not everyone views them in the same way I do. Some people just don't get along with them, so don't bother with them, but others will quite adamantly say that it doesn't count as reading and is worth less.

Obviously listening and reading are two different skills and I don't think they can really be compared. But that doesn't mean that one is better than the other either. If I was blind I wouldn't be able to read so I would have to listen to all of my books, and I don't think anyone would dare tell me that I was missing out. Listening to stories is also the oldest way of communicating stories. Before we learnt how to write things down and preserve them, people told each other stories and simply had to remember them. As children we are read to and then we learn to read to others. Personally, I think that listening to a story connects to a different part of you. Reading is solitary, but being read to or listening to an audio book can be more social. As a kid my mum and I would listen to audio books in the car on the way to school, when we went away on holiday my Dad had to suffer through audio book versions of Animal Ark books until I got my own personal cassette player. Nowadays I listen to audio books as I work or when I'm in the bath. Audio books can be solitary too of course, but I do think that having a story read out loud is already more social than reading to yourself.

Most people seem to argue that you get more out of a book by reading it yourself, and maybe that is true for some but not everyone. Not everyone enjoys the act of reading. My fiancé does not like reading books, he finds it boring. He'd rather be doing something interactive. Although I do also think that he was simply given boring books to read as a kid and not encouraged enough to stick with it. I think that for people like him an audio book can be very appealing. Yes, reading is very important because it teaches us key skills such as spelling, grammar, how to use language and how to think critically, so I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't encourage people to read. Of course we should, but there's also no harm in listening to books too.

I wonder if this reaction is because these people love books and feel that they are somehow threatened, similar to when people argue that TV, film and video games are causing less kids to read, which I think is a bit silly. I do believe that there will always be people wanting to read as long as there are good books to read, but they do need to be accessible and that's why I actually think eBook readers, Kindles etc are a good thing. I also believe that the only way to get kids to read is to set a good example, encourage them and buy them good books.

A few years ago The New York Times did an article about audio books and some of the authors they interviewed expressed that they don't want people to listen to their books, they would prefer them to read them. I honestly don't care if people read or listen to my writing. For all I know you could have someone reading this to you right now. It doesn't matter to me. Who am I to tell you how to enjoy something?

The most important aspect to me when it comes to audio books is how it's read. Some audio books are pretty dire and the reader is terrible boring, whereas others breathe life into the writing and make it a wonderful experience. As I said the other day, I have been listening to audio book version of Terry Pratchett's books which are read by Tony Robinson and they are fantastic, possibly the best audio books I've listened to. Robinson is one of those readers who seem to be enjoying the story too, he also likes to do voices for the characters which would fail for many books but is perfect for Terry Pratchett's writing. I think that a lot of that comes from him also being an actor, but I do wish that all audio book readers were as enthusiastic as him.

I just think it's important for us all to enjoy and experience stories. I love stories and I want to be surrounded by them, whether I am reading them for myself or having them read to me. To say that audio books are not as good as reading for yourself smacks of elitism and that doesn't sit well with me. We are all different and we don't all enjoy the same things.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Coveted Cover: The Fifth Elephant

Illustration by Josh Kirby
Illustration by Paul Kidby
An oldie but a goodie, I love pretty much all of the covers for Terry Pratchett's Discworld series but I do prefer Paul Kidby and Josh Kirby's illustrations overall. I love these versions of the covers compared to the more simplified editions such as this:

 Although I do think it's very pretty, it doesn't scream "exciting but silly fantasy" at me like the others do. I would like the cover of my book to be as good as either cover, but I'd really love for it to scream at passing shoppers so they'll stop and peruse it, and then buy it.

By the way, I'm currently listening to a cassette audiobook version of The Fifth Elephant read by Tony Robinson (Baldric/Time Team presenter) from 1999 that I found at the charity shop. After a bit of fiddling, the ribbon had become twisted and I'm guessing that why it ended up in the charity shop in the first place, it's working and it's marvellous. I listen to audiobooks as I work.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Page Turners: Dearly Departed

I am currently reading:
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
I feel like I'm the only person who doesn't like the cover. I think it's clever but it still wouldn't make me pick it up off the shelf, but then I don't tend to like covers with people on, especially people staring at me. I also still find it kind of confusing to have a steampunk theme set in the future with digital technology, but I am coming to terms with that and I think the history is very interesting. So, we'll see how it goes!

From Goodreads:
Love can never die.
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?
In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunday Catch Up

Well, my last update was on Tuesday and not a lot has happened since then. Since our friends returned to Bath I have mostly been getting on with work and reading through the next three chapters of my novel so I can start editing them.

Therefore, because I have so little to share with you today, enjoy watching this:

WTF? Mouth Stretchers!

Eat Your Kimchi is a website run by Simon and Martina, a Canadian couple who live in Korea, they upload videos talking about what it's like to live in Korea, videos of their adventures and also silly things like this. I think they're hilarious so I thought I would share!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Something For The Weekend

Something to do
If like me you're not a fan of crown braids then this reverse crown braid might be just what you want. It's so cute and simple. I just hope my hair is long enough to pull it off well.

If you are constantly trying to get decent photos of your pets but always end up with furry blurs, like I do, then check out these tips on photographing your pets!

Something to eat
I am dying to try this strawberries and maple cream recipe, it sounds so summery!

Something to read
I am neither married or have kids, yet, but quite a few of my friends are living in marital bliss and/or popping out babies. So, if you are worried that your friends are all going off and getting married and/or having kids, leaving you with no one to hang out with on a Friday night. here are some reassuring words.

Something to watch
If you don't already watch Game of Thrones then where have you been? Under a rock? Go and catch up with it right now and join me in my fangirly-ness! Also, read the books.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: The Demon's Watch

Read my review of The Demon's Watch at Mostly Reading YA
 My rating: 5/5
The Demon’s Watch is fantasy at its best. Sure, we’ve heard the concept a hundred times before. There’s a mysterious magical object that everyone wants and an anti-hero who’s going to save the day, but there is so much more to The Demon’s Watch than just that, and that is what makes it so great. Joseph Grubb is your unsuspecting hero. Usually goblins are ugly, horrid little beasts but Grubb is actually quite an endearing half-goblin who has been stuck with the short end of the stick for most of his life. That is, until he accidentally comes across a mysterious object on the floor of the tavern where he lives, runs away and is thrown into the adventure of his life!

Friday Feature: My Favourite Female Characters

I thought that I would feature just a few of my favourite female characters from books, both novels and manga. These are in no particular order

Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Brienne of Tarth (A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)

Sakaki (Azumanga Daioh)

Meiko (Solanin)

As you can probably tell, I like my female characters to be independent, intelligent, willing to take risks for what they believe in but also kind, sensitive and loyal.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday Thought

'Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.' - Ben Franklin 

'Fuck this, I've had enough of writing.  I don't like the book world.  I don't like most books, even.  I don't like sitting on my own in a room for hours on end.' - Alex Garland

'Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.' - Virginia Woolf

'And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.' - Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Coveted Cover: The Arrival

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
This book contains no words, just pictures, and it doesn't need any. It's amazing and if you haven't read it, go out and buy it right now. I love the art because it's a mixture of realism and surreal and I think the cover is gorgeous.

From Goodreads:
In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.
Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Page Turners: A Clash of Kings

I am currently reading:
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
From Goodreads:
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders--Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon--who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Catch Up

And...I'm back! We went to Bath but then we came back and had two of our friends staying with us for a few days so we've been busy! Hope you didn't miss me too much.

We were just outside Bath for a few days, which is why I was away, staying with my fiancé's mum in her lovely pub. Her husband and her decided to try their hand at being pub landlords and are doing really well with it so far. She does all the cooking and kitchen related things and he serves behind the bar, talks to customers etc. Their daughter turned thirteen on Monday so we went down to give her some presents and spend a few days hanging out with her, while also seeing a few of our friends from university. She's a pretty cool teenager and wants to get into nerdy things like comics and such.

The Fleur De Lys on the right:
Image from Panoramio
Isn't is gorgeous? My fiancé's mum is a fantastic cook and she tries really hard to make sure that there is something for everyone on the menu. She tends to have at least two vegetarian options as well as a vegan option and even a gluten free option too! Why can't everywhere be like that?

While in Bath we went to Velo Lounge:
Image from Bath Restaurants
This is the place we always used to hangout at as students, we always lived only a short walk away. We've never managed to find somewhere as good as here, it just has the best atmosphere.

My second favourite place to hangout at in Bath is Jika Jika:
Image from Bath Heritage Watchdog
I sat in here for an hour reading A Clash of Kings while my fiancé played mini-golf with his sister and a friend. It's another great place with a great atmosphere and awesome coffee. I love having a chai latte and Thoughtful Bread Box.

When we returned back home we went out for an Indian with our friends on the first night, which was yummy as usual.

Sunday we played mini golf at the mini golf opposite our house, went for a walk down to the jetty and ate  ice-cream, well I didn't because I didn't want any and one of our friends had sorbet because she's vegan, but still, and ate at Prezzo.

Monday we went to Canterbury.
Image by me
I returned home with Azumanga Daioh volume four, Gitaroo Man for PS2 (I already own the PSP version), a big bottle of Aloe Vera King, George of the Jungle on VHS, Rocky Horror on VHS, Basil the Great Mouse Detective on VHS, Okami PS2 guide (it's one of my favourite games and the guide has pretty artwork in it) and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe audiobook tape.

Tuesday our friends returned home, but before they left we went out for breakfast at Beaches which is a really cool café that does yummy all day breakfasts amongst other things.

Here's a weird picture of the inside:
Image from Let's Visit
We wandered around the few charity shops on the high-street and I got The Emporer's New Groove on VHS, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, an awesome panda mug and Jingo, The Fifth Elephant and Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett audiobooks all on cassette tape and read by Tony Robinson, two of which have never been opened. I love charity shops, if you didn't know that already. Then we just hung out at home playing games until our friends had to leave.

So yes, that was what I did last week and this week, so far!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Coveted Cover: The Lord of The Rings

The Lord of the Rings
Here's a hit of pure nostalgia! I adore this cover of The Lord of the Rings. It's the cover that both my copy and my Dad's copy has. I first read my Dad's copy of The Lord of the Rings when I was 10 and I was super proud of myself for finishing a grown up book all on my own for the first time ever. A family friend then bought me a boxset of the trilogy and The Hobbit but I've never actually read them, my sister borrowed then and read The Fellowship of the Ring, so now one of the books is creased while the others aren't, which makes me a little grumpy. As a teenager I invested in my own copy of The Lord of the Rings and specifically chose to track down the same version as my Dad's. 

I own three version of The Hobbit with different covers, The Lord of the Rings in two different versions (this one and the boxset) and I have The Simarillion too which is also a 90s version with the cover art by John Howe. I love his style and I love Middle-earth.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Page Turners: Catching Fire

I am currently reading:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I'm going to Bath today so I'll be reading this on the train as well as The Demon's Watch!

From Goodreads:
Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before... and surprising readers at every turn.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Listen To This: Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

Another song from my current novel playlist.
I adore Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova/The Swell Season. This whole album reminds me of summer and my fiancé. It's just stunning and I love how the songs are just achingly beautiful and touching.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sunday Catch Up

Happy Easter!

My fiancé set up an Easter egg hunt for me this morning and these are all the eggs I found! There was over 30 all together. We gave the bunnies to his Dad and Granny to eat though, they don't have any Easter eggs of their own.

Chicks everywhere! I have a slight obsession with the little guys, I find them both adorable and hilarious. My niece loves them too, she and my fiancé were playing with some last year. The game consisted pretty much of the chicks screaming all the time...I'm not sure why. We also like to have our Easter related toys come and sit on the table and join in the festivities. Some of those toys are very old and from my fiancé's childhood and others are pretty new. The little grey bunny is called Teacup and was a charity shop rescue, his friend is a bright pink, surreal looking cat called Monsieur Teapot, I'll have to post of picture of them together at some point, that was also rescued from a charity shop.

My fiancé took the above photos of the table decorations.

I really, really wanted a Muppets egg this year with the mug but when we went to buy our eggs the shop had sold out. Luckily my fiancé tracked one down for me so I now have a lovely Muppets mug! This is just one of the reasons why I'm marrying him. The chocolate egg itself was cheap and kinda gross (but I ate it anyway) because it wasn't Cadbury but the mug is awesome.

This week I got another writing job for another blog and I'm still editing my novel. I've rewritten a large chunk of chapter one and I'm moving onto chapter two now. I'm also off to Bath on Tuesday so updates might be less frequent next week.

Enjoy your Sunday!
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