Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) – Susan Ee

I thought I would take a break from my knitting in this extremely hot weather and spend a little time reading instead…

Synopsis:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

In total it took me about six hours to read this book [a trip to London and back, and a little reading session after work yesterday… not long at all].

In “Angelfall” we are dropped in a post-apocalyptic world wherein Angels have come and conquered the Earth and it’s people, for no apparent reason. Most of the world is either dead or surviving in gangs and factions. We met Penryn, a late teen [from what I gather], who’s trying to look after her disabled little sister and her schizophrenic mother and survive in this new world, known as “World After” the angel invasion. Penryn makes the desicision to move the family to a safer location, but early into the journey the family come across a fight between angels, where we meet Raffe, who has had his wings brutally cut. This is where the story really begins, so I won’t go further into the plot, except to say this: Penryn’s little sister is kidnapped, and her mother disappeared, so it’s down to Penryn to get her sister back. Even if it means allying herself with an angel to do so.

This story had me gripped from the start. I can’t tell if it’s because of the way it’s written – in the first person, and not overly complicated, I didn’t even notice when a scene seemed to go on for too long or feel that it was over done. What we have is a novel about a girl fighting to survive – and doing alright at it for a time. She connects with the angel Raffe, and although forming an unlikely duo, her focus is always on getting her little sister back. There isn’t the whole forbidden, love at first sight, sickening novel – although Penryn does start changing her opinion of the angel, I like that it’s not in your face and a novel about that romance rather than a novel about the post-apocalypse.

We’re introduced to a range of characters all struggling to survive this brave new world of being hunted and killed, and not always from humans or angels, but something altogether more terrifying. There have been comments made about the wet t-shirt fight with a one dimensional female about half way through, but when I was reading I didn’t get that impression; yeah, the character involved was a bit cliche, but to be honest it could have been a lot worse.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series, and will do once I’ve made a dent [ha!] in my GoodReads “to-read” list which never seems to decrease…

Have you read this book? What did you think?

That’s all for now folks so take it easy!

Kialtho

Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness

This is the sequel to “A Discovery of Witches” so beware potential spoilers.

Synopsis:

IT BEGAN WITH A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

I’m not too sure what I made of this book. I enjoyed being back in the world that Harkness has created, but at the same time, I don’t really feel as though a lot happened – more like a lot of running away and pretending to be on holiday in the sixteenth century – with no regard to the consequences in the future.

Some of the niggles I had with the first book were resolved in this book; all that Mary-Sue powers were actually to do with a gift called “weaving” – which is naturally a power that other witches murder because they don’t like it. So I suppose the Mary-Sue elements still remain, as do some of the other problems I had… but it’s all offset by the fact that I enjoyed being back in this world.

There were far too many new characters for my liking. Too many historical characters that Matthew just happened to know, two much court intrigue, spying and being involved in a Scottish witch hunt as well, and it was all over the top. Perhaps if there had been a little less of the historical characters and simply more of original, irrelevant to historical characters, and I think I would have been able to keep up with it more. As it stands I glazed over the history side of this; surprising considering I did my degree in history.

One of my major problems with this one, as with the previous book, was that the relationship between the two main characters is supposedly forbidden by everything and everyone known to exist… yet when it’s revealed it’s okay. Everyone just accepts it. Whether it’s in the present or in the past, it’s not questioned, the Congregation is never called to investigate, yet it’s supposed to be obvious that a witch and a vampire are together by weird glowing skin or something. All the vampires are supposed to be able to smell Diana on Matthew, and all the witches are supposed to be abject to it – so why doesn’t anyone involve the Congregation, the police of the supernatural world? It just doesn’t make enough sense to be.

The glimpses into the future were refreshing, even though they seemed to be some form of rehash of past events or objects.

The next book was released yesterday I think, so I am sure that I will read this soon enough and getting an ending to what it all means, however, it needs to be something really special in order to make the series have been worth reading.

There is more to talk about with this book, but for now I shall leave it there as I need to get ready to go out…

Keep well folks!

Kialtho

Brighton Unwind

Brighton Unwind

Yesterday Alex and I went to Brighton Unwind, the inaugural yarn fair held at the Brighton Dome. This was the first time I have ever been to anything like this, so I totally had no idea what to expect, except the gushing reviews on Ravelry. I took Alex with me for two reasons: I didn’t want to go on my own, because I wasn’t sure if I would have gone in on my own [just lately I seem to get anxious about doing anything like that], and two, it was nice to spend the time with him… even if he isn’t a knitter.

Alex enjoyed touching up a lot of the yarn for sure though, so it’s not like I made him into a knitting widower or anything like that.

There was so much to chose from, and so many indie dyers from the UK – it was lovely to see them in the flesh. I certainly discovered new companies yesterday, and will no doubt use them again in the future.

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I didn’t actually spend/buy all that much stuff though, and I think had I spent more time there I would certainly have spent more money. As it is I only walked away with a five skeins of yarn [I say “only”, you know what I mean]. I bought three skeins from easyknits.co.uk, and two from Sparkle Ducks, and joined both their groups on Ravelry as well – because that’s what it’s there for!

We didn’t stay all that long in the marketplace only because of how hot it was. I didn’t feel so well, and feeling the sweat running down my back wasn’t all that pleasant, so we went back out into the fresh air.

I would definitely go again, and would certainly by *more*… but perhaps I need to use up some of my stash first – which to be fair I have a lot of stuff planned for what I already have so it’s all good.

Of the stuff pictured, the red and blue easy knits is destined to be a pair of socks – and actually should make *two* pairs of socks. The light blue/green is lace weight, and may become a Mermaid’s Song shawl from the HP Knits magazine – if there’s enough – but then I could always order more from the website. This feels so soft, and beautiful… and actually has seaweed fibre in it!

The other two I’m not sure what I‘m going to make yet, but they are beautiful. I bought the variegated one from easy knits because of the name.

Anyways, that’s all for now folks,

Kialtho

Trilobite Socks: Complete!

I’ve finished my first ever pair of toe up socks:

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This took a little longer than I anticipated as I took a break to start a new book, and then went to Scotland for a few days [which I keep meaning to write about and then forgetting…] despite this, it feels as though these socks were certainly quicker to knit than the previous socks that I have knit [TARDIS socks, I am looking at you…]. This is actually the third pair of socks that I have made, but in reality, I think they are the first pair that I am likely to wear. I haven’t worn the TARDIS socks at all, and the aran weight ones I made I tend to use in the winter in a slipper sort of fashion to keep me warm and toasty.

This yarn is “Just. Perfect.” from Black Market Wool, and I won it during the HeliopathKAL for finishing on time, and it was time to use it.

This project has taught me two main techniques: Judy’s Magic Cast on, and short row heel shaping – which I am not convinced I got right, but a heel appeared, and a sock was made!

I have already wound my “Animal” skein for my next project [another Hitchhiker, this one for Alex].

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Sorry that this is short, I am struggling to concentrate today!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

Welcome to the M40

This post will be a little short in text as I am currently sitting in the (passenger) seat of the car as my boyfriend drives. We’ve been sitting on the same part of the motorway for a good couple of hours… M40, between junctions 11 and 12 I think. There was a car fire earlier that’s caused really, really long delays. I hope that nobody was hurt for sure but it seems like it’s been pretty bad as we’ve been here for a long time. Luckily we had a bit of warning and were able to get a few supplies like drinks and snacks to keep us occupied. Alex started watching Despicable Me whilst I knitted a bit on my current project. I’ve also been reading a bit of my book.

I often wonder what other people get up to in this situation. We’ve got each other to talk to, which passes the time, but what about the people that don’t have that? It must be extremely boring, and long. For us it doesn’t feel as though we’ve been on here for that length of time, although the full bladder and draining fuel tank suggest otherwise.

As I write this we are making our way closer, and slightly faster than before. In the distance there is smoke, but I assume that’s more a farm fire because of the colour of the smoke (white, not black).

I was going to talk about Scotland as that was pretty cool, but I’ll leave that for my next entry as it’s quite difficult to get everything across, that and my battery is dying… Until next time.

Also, that smoke is still the fire… We’ve just made it to the diversion. Hope nobody has been injured!!!!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

Yarnie Goodness!

In the week I went to visit my best friend, for whom I knitted a few things a while back, and was finally able to give them to her for her birthday – even though our meet up was a little belated. She’s awesome, and I hope that she likes her stuff. I made a little Golden Snitch that she already has plans on making into a mascot for her Harry Potter Walking Tours. She also loved the Heliopath.

Before meeting up, I took some time to go to Loop, a famous yarn shop near Angel tube station. Even though I’ve been knitting for about three years now, I have only recently been looking for independent yarn shops; my interest in Indie yarns has peaked, as shown by my obsession with GnomeAcres, which I also have two shiny new skeins/hanks to show off:

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My purchases from Loop:

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I’m looking forwards to finding a pattern to match all these awesome yarns!

This is my current project:

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I’m really excited about this, and feel as though magic is happening. This is a toe up sock, and although it looks a little on the small side in the picture, it actually fits perfectly; I am hoping the shaping will sort itself once they’ve been washed. The yarn is Black Market Wool, my winnings from the HeliopathKAL back in March. It’s knitting up lovely, and the amount of colours in there is astounding for sure! I look forward to finishing this as a whole [i.e. not get second sock syndrome], and being able to show them off as a pair. Knitting socks toe up appears to be much quicker than toe down for sure!

I already have my next few projects lined up as well, which makes me determined to ensure that I finish my projects. The one after this will be another Hitchhiker in the Animal yarn above, which will be a present for Alex as it’s his birthday next week – although he won’t get that on his birthday as I won’t have it done in time!

I’m off to Scotland for a few days next week to see the Pandas [this is quite literally the only reason that we’re going] so I’m hoping to have a look around Edinburgh and see some of the yarn shops, along side the Pandas and the Castle. It will be a busy couple of days, especially considering we’re driving [from Kent…]. I’m looking forward to this little road trip though as it’s something that we’ve never done before!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

Robot God/ Hybrid Brain

Robot God/ Hybrid Brain – Matt Payne

I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway at the end of May 2014, so thought I would bump it up the list to read/review after finishing “Mirror Sight”.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Mind-Bending Short Fiction

-A robot-god experiences time backwards and proselytizes the universe in reverse.

-A magical dog writes mind-destroying fiction.

-A man obsessed with numbers discovers a stream of data from the stars.

-A genetic experiment falls in love with works of art and tries to make love to them.

-Three mysterious figures join together for mutual success… or mutual destruction.

-A brave man travels through a world of perpetual war.

Tales of psychedelic horror, bravery, solidarity, and insanity. Characters who travel to the fringe of experience and dangle you over the edge. Will they pull you back in? Or let you fall… ?

With just 138 pages this is indeed a short story book, which only took a short time to read. There are quite a few stories packed into this little book, all of them a little off the cuff, and indeed “mind-binding” describes some of the stories well.

I have to say that it’s been a while since I read any short story collection; in fact I believe that the last time I did so was in year nine at school, about 10 years ago it would work out to be. Because of this I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and being as though I hadn’t heard of the author, Matt Payne, before it made it both uncertain and refreshing at the same time.

So, onwards and upwards with the book itself.

There are running themes throughout the book of technology, destruction, science and experiments and a touch of religion too. That’s quite a bit for a series of short stories! Some of it, I would suggest, is better executed and thought out than others – for instance, the story that the book is named after “Robot God/ Hybrid Brain,” which also happened to be one of the longest of the stories as well, another was “Ghost Dog Writer” and “Demon Numbers”, all of these I thought would serve well as fleshed out stories as they were definitely unique, and would certainly be something that I would be interested in reading.

The relation between technology and destruction was interesting especially how the author portrays the different ways that it brought the downfall of the characters. “War as a Machine” carries the stark warning of mixing technology in war; robots killing everything in their way, the dehumanisation of people in that sort of situation, the futility of Colonel Gasp as his mission to deliver a letter.

It’s worth talking about the endings of some of the stories – I did think a few of them were a bit abrupt, or a little like “All was well” and we’ll forget the murderous tendencies the characters showed just a few paragraphs previous [Real Hector, Flocking Shrouds], and others that ended perfectly [Ghost Dog Writer, Trolling Racoons (a little over two pages), Banana Egg Dihydroxybenzene (perfect allegory to how we see out mobile phones, actually).
There are some dark themes throughout this book, and also a lot of mention of drugs which wasn’t all that relevant – like the stories would have been just as good without the mention/ use of drugs.

In all, I think if you’re in need of a quick break, and want to take a “mind-bending” trip into the author’s brain/story then give this short story collection a read. It’s utterly strange, sometimes a little awkwardly written, but actually, it’s one of those books that has made me think about reality, and about how we see ourselves, and everything around us.

Thank you to GoodReads/ Matt Payne for choosing me as the winner and allowing me to experience this novel!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho