Epica – Tour Dates Announced

Epica have announced the first leg of their European tour [wahoo!]. It was announced on Facebook whilst I was at work, so naturally the first thing I did when I got home, after falling down the stairs (because I am an idiot. [This was in a rush to answer the door, after having a shower, clothed in nothing but a towel. Not a good look!]) I decided to look into booking tickets.

I have been to see Epica twice before, once at the Scala, and the last time at The Electric Ballroom [both London]. [I don't like the Electric Ballroom, at all, but if my favourite band is playing there then I'm going to go]. The last time was a VIP session, and you know… nothing beats doing it again.

Queue TicketMaster, hurriedly creating an account and booking tickets to make sure that I had tickets for this event. To be honest I am not sure how popular this band is in this country, but I know that I will go to see them as often as I can. There is nothing better than being able to go and see the band that you love. I’ll be taking my boyfriend again as well, who got his iPod signed the last time he was there. VIP tickets are the way to go for this sort of thing for sure!

Who else is looking forward to “The Quantum Enigma”? I know that I also have the 3 CD “ear book” edition on pre-order from Record Store UK

 

The two songs that I have heard from this album so far are just awesome – and they set such a precedent for the album. I am particularly looking forward to the title track of the album as well – if only because of some of the lyrics/spoken parts in “The Kingdom of Heaven” and some of the hilarity that surrounded the bit that goes “back! back! You’ve still got work to do!!!!” or something to that effect. [Degree/dissertation/friends... 'nuff said].

Any thoughts? Anyone else going to try and get out to this awesome band? What other bands have you been to see?

Kialtho

Is It Just Me? Miranda Hart

Is It Just Me? – Miranda Hart

GoodReads Description:

Well hello to you dear browser. Now I have your attention it would be rude if I didn’t tell you a little about my literary feast. So, here is the thing: is it just me or does anyone else find that adulthood offers no refuge from the unexpected horrors, peculiar lack of physical coordination and sometimes unexplained nudity, that accompanied childhood and adolescence?

Does everybody struggle with the hazards that accompany, say, sitting elegantly on a bar stool; using chopsticks; pretending to understand the bank crisis; pedicures – surely it’s plain wrong for a stranger to fondle your feet? Or is it just me?

I am proud to say I have a wealth of awkward experiences – from school days to life as an office temp – and here I offer my 18-year-old self (and I hope you too dear reader) some much needed caution and guidance on how to navigate life’s rocky path.

Because frankly where is the manual? The much needed manual to life. Well, fret not, for this is my attempt at one and let’s call it, because it’s fun, a Miran-ual. I thank you.

So before I begin writing about “Is It Just Me?” there are a couple of things to note – this is a non-fiction book. I don’t typically read non-fiction, in fact, the last non-fiction book I read was Michael McIntyre’s book about his life.

Miranda is a British comedian, if you weren’t aware, appearing in “Not Going Out”, her own show “Miranda”, and more recently she’s starred in “Call the Midwife”. Aside from this I must confess that I didn’t know all that much about her, her upbringing or anything like that.

The book itself is written in a way that you simply can’t read it without hearing Miranda’s own voice in place of your own, and as you read away you can certainly imagine the anecdotes alongside her, and even though I don’t know much about her…. it suits down to a T.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this book – I wasn’t sure if it was going to be auto-biographical [it is a little bit, but I wouldn’t say overwhelmingly so], I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the book was – but it becomes clear as you read away. Miranda employs the use of her “18 year old self” to impart her knowledge and wisdom of her own life to her younger self – essentially the “what would you tell your younger self, knowing what you know now” kind of scenario. She does this well, I would say, as she covers a plethora of topics from diets [eat less, move more], beauty [no one ever likes sitting in front of the hairdressers mirror], holidays [wahoo, holiday!], Christmas [SUCH FUN!] and so on. Each topic is a tale of Miranda induced wisdom that essentially reads at the end of it all: Be true to yourself, don’t be afraid to be yourself, and always follow your dreams.

I really liked this – the whole book wasn’t like I expected at all, and I am pleased that I took the time to read it for sure. I seem to have Miranda’s voice stuck in my head at the moment though! I gave this book 4 stars on GoodReads [I have to say I don’t really know what the stars means though...] simply because it comes down to this: I enjoyed reading it, and it made me laugh out loud, quite literally. If you need a laugh and to be nodding your head along in agreement to some of the things that suggests that there are things that really we aren’t alone in, this is the book for you.

Upon finishing this particular book it apparently brings the total books read this year up to 7. I thought I had read more than that, and it certainly looks disappointingly low considering my GoodReads target for the year is 40 [which is also low in comparison to some of my friends as well as they span into the 100’s – I do have full time work to contend with, and also my knitting, the gym, and trying to maintain my blog... so maybe I can justify it]. With a total of 7 books read it puts me 4 books behind target.

Each year I taken part in the GoodReads challenge I have failed, so this year I would really like to reach that target of 40. The next book on my list is “Dreams of Gods and Monsters” by Laini Taylor as I pre-ordered in the week and it turned up on Friday. It looks huge. It is also signed by the author!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

Allegiant – Veronica Roth

Before I even post the synopsis from GoodReads I warn anyone reading this post that I very much doubt that I will be able to write about “Allegiant” without including SPOILERS. I emphasise this point as I was reading a blog about something completely unrelated and the author just happened to throw one of the major revelations from this book. If you haven’t read this book, and you intend too, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG AS I CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL BE SPOILER FREE.

Understood?

Synopsis via GoodReads:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Before I started considering what to put in my review I did happen to glance over a few at GoodReads to see what the general consensus of it was. There’s a huge split in what people thought about the book, and the typical “I’ve read all three books and all three books are rubbish” cropped up a few times. [I tend to ignore these more than anything as it’s a bit ridiculous reading three whole books if you dislike them...]

When I rated the book I decided to give it five stars [out of five]. I know that this isn’t exactly a literally masterpiece, and I am also aware of areas that could have probably been a bit better, but my reasoning boils down to this: I enjoyed the ride, regardless of the ending.

This whole series evoked emotions in me that a lot of books haven’t done recently. I enjoyed seeing things from Tris’ perspective, and whilst it was different to read things from Tobias’ perspective these didn’t feel like a unique entity to Tris – the narration didn’t have a lot of differentiation between the two characters, and sometimes it was only half way through a perspective change that I had realised the point of view had changed.

The whole idea of genetics is also very interesting – but needed more fleshing out. I can understand why that sort of thing wasn’t introduced in the first two books considering the nature of “Chicago,” however it did feel a bit like… look at this awesome idea that you won’t be able to get away from.

Maybe… maybe the thing that made it all feel that bit more forced is that Tris and co are forced from one revolutionary situation and thrust into a world that they know nothing about, the information they are then given turns out to be biased and yet more revolutions are planned. I think it would have worked better had this been split into two books – one of the escape and learning about the outside world – the history, the life, the government and the genetics [this could still be interesting, I don’t mean to read a book on history etc.] and then a book on the action – the revolution. Maybe it would have felt less rushed and the history more fleshed out.

One of the things that I did have a problem with was the whole use of serums – in particular the memory serum. Whatever the case the memory serums shouldn’t have been used at all, not on Chicago, and certainly not by Tris to do exactly the same that she fought to stop happening on the people that she loved. That was not okay.

But still… in the context of the story it worked.

Tris’ death is something that I felt was particularly meaningless in that it didn’t really achieve anything. I know it’s all about making sacrifices for the right reasons, but I don’t really feel as though the story really gained anything from her death. I guess by doing it Roth ensured the ending of the book, and didn’t allow the happy ever after thing… maybe she doesn’t believe in it. Perhaps in the sort of society that Tris lived in, her death was inevitable – Dauntless, young etc.

I liked the brief glimpse of Chicago after all that had happened, and the potential that the city had become a safe haven for all those considered being Genetically Damaged – and that perhaps there was some degree of change – but not caused directly by Tris’ death.

I know people have a lot of strong feelings about this series, and this book – what were yours?

I enjoyed the ride for sure, and hope this is a series that I re-read again in the future.

Keep safe folks!

Kialtho

11/22/63 – Stephen King

11/22/63 – Stephen King

Plot Synopsis [GoodReads]:

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?

Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor’s story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father. On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock’n’roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts. Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?

There is so much to talk about with this book but I don’t want to reveal even the smallest bit of plot detail in case it spoils the surprise for yourself when/ if you happen to read this book.

I think before I go into any details regarding “11/22/63” I was to give a brief history of my relationship with Stephen King books. I read “Carrie” before I read Harry Potter [around age 11], alongside “The Tommyknockers” [admittedly, I didn’t finish that one], “Rose Madder,” “Dreamcatcher,” and have tried to read many others but seem to get distracted in one form or another. I find that King books need a level of concentration, and to be in the right frame of mind in order to commit to reading the whole book.

“11/22/63” has been on my to-read list for a long time, and after the sheer awfulness’ of “Clockwork Angel” I knew that it was time to pick up this particular book and read. I am so glad that I did – this is not a typical Stephen King book at all. This is not a horror book, although there are a few particularly horrific acts – not many though – it’s also not a particularly gory, or, it should be added is it particularly fast paced.

It was a completely absorbing book, one that I couldn’t stop thinking about, and even know I can’t help but think about it. About not only the world that the main character Jake Epping came from, and , but also the main plot of the book – to save JFK from assassination, and to ensure either way whether Oswald was working alone or with someone else. Fictional counter-factual history is a genre that I have always been interested in, and I just don’t think that I have read anything like this at all.

Things that I like about this book [without giving away the plot]:

-          Time travel. I’m a huge lover of time travel fiction.

-          Not typical SK horror fiction

-          A large part of the story was a love story

-          The mission – and how the “past” was its own character and what this meant for Jake Epping.

-          What the potential consequences of changing the past – just what would have happened had JFK not been shot?

I think it is a really intriguing question one that will – obviously – never be answered.

The scope of this book is huge, and I have to say that the one bit that annoyed me the most, perhaps, was the frequent mention of the “blue haze of smoke so consistent of the age” or some such. There was a lot of smoking, and I understood that, but I didn’t need reminding every few pages.

This is a book that I hope to re-read again in the future. It was just that good, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a change of pace for sure.

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

Heliopath Vest KAL

How has it become nearly the middle of April already? The last few weeks have been taken up with the “Heliopath Vest KAL” [on Instagram and Ravelry], reading 11.22.63 [Stephen King] and the secret thing I mentioned in my previous blog which I am still waiting information on.

Today’s blog is about the Heliopath Vest. There are a few things I need to mention about the Vest:

-          The pattern is from an American magazine and not available in the UK – but I had to have it, and the lovely UnapologeticKnitter hooked me up with a digital copy of the magazine, and I also was able to get a physical copy from a friend in the US [I am greedy like that].

-          The UnapologeticKnitter is quite possibly the most amazing [and maybe intimidating] knitter I have come across. She has CRAZY maths skills that I’m not sure I could ever hope to understand. But she is awesome and I am glad that I have “met” her.

-          The KAL has run from the beginning of March through to the end of this week

-          It has been largely on Instagram – and I discovered a whole new community of wonderful knitters and will definitely use this medium more in the future.

-          The pattern is AWESOME!

When I first started participating in the KAL I was planning on blogging or writing about more than the one casual mention towards the end of March – that didn’t happen because things have been a bit crazy the past few weeks.

I used Hayfield Aran yarn for this project which is an acrylic and wool blend yarn, one that I have used before and enjoyed using – it means that I’ll be able to just throw it in the wash as and when and not have to worry too much about destroying that beautiful work. This yarns colourway – had it existed/ been available in my local HobbyCraft when I was making Nuri’s Ravenclaw scarf is totally what I would have used. It would have been the perfect bronze colour to match the book colours rather than the grey I used for the film colours.

Heliopath Heliopath

When I first got the pattern I did my usual – what the heck have I got myself into? – routine. It looks complicated, and worse it was CHARTED. I don’t think I’ve ever worked from a chart set out in a way like that, however, taking my time with the patter and reading through it several times before it was time to cast one helped a lot. I had to look up in the only knitting magazine I collect the essence of charts and how to read them – and to also remember that I was knitting flat, not in the round – unlike the other project I had started before the Heliopath KAL came along.

Breaking the pattern down into bite-size chunks was a huge help. There was a schedule to aim for completion by the end of this week, and took to dividing the pattern into sections – and approaching the pattern in the same way certainly helped me get my mind around it. Of course, the pattern was written in American knitting language so there was a mild amount of translating – not a huge problem as a lot of patterns I’ve used are from the US.

Things I have learnt with this pattern:

-          Trust my tension – I used 4.0mm needles instead of 4.5mm as I am a quite tight knitter. Trying it on even though it’s not been blocked yet it fits well, and blocking will relax the rest of the tension.

-          Three needle bind off. This is amazing – If I happen to make a garment that needs to be seemed I will use this to seem the sides and shoulder as it is easy – although I did drop a few stitches on one side before I really got the hang of it.

-          Dropping stitches as a technique – it looks amazing in this vest.

-          My picking up stitches has neatened up in this garment compared to the last one I made that required it, even though I picked up far more stitches on the ribbing than was asked for in the pattern it still looks pretty sweet.

I will be making this pattern again in the future, at least once more for my Ma, and possible for Nuri too as she expressed an interest in the pattern when I first mentioned it back in March. The time frame for those both does depend on the super secret thing I have been doing though.

Thanks again to those hosting the KAL and allowing me to join in by sourcing the pattern for me,

Carry on crafting folks,

Kialtho

 

Heliopath KAL

I haven’t blogged since about the middle of March as it’s been a busy few weeks – there’s some stuff that I’ve been doing that I don’t want to jinx yet so I won’t go into details on that one – that and work has been full on, which has eaten up a lot of my time.

What I want to blog about is my current work in progress – I am taking part in my first ever Knit Along [KAL] – which has actually been going since March 3rd – for the Heliopath Vest from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine, available only in the US due to copyright restrictions. Luckily I was able to get a hold of both the physical copy of the magazine as one of my American friends was able to order it and send it to me – and the person running the Knit Along was also able to send me a digital copy of the magazine. It’s such an awesome concept that I wish there was something similar in the UK.

I wanted to make the Heliopath Vest from the moment I saw it, and have so very nearly completed it. I am going to attempt linking my WordPress to my Instagram so that you can see the progress… and if that doesn’t work I’ll post a few pictures underneath the blog entry. I am using a largely acrylic blend of yarn because… well because I like it. I think I’ve managed to buy too much yarn for my version of this so I’ll have to find something else to make with it too.

I found out about the KAL through the magic of Ravelry – it has shown me another side to knitting and Instagram, and also how nice strangers can be as well. The KAL ends April 12th I think but I’ve nearly finished knitting the main body so hopefully will have finished before then, which means that I will be able to return to knitting the other Vest I started before this project – one with super awesome alpaca yarn [which, incidentally, Deramore’s now sell so all that worrying about running out of yarn for whatever project I wanted to make is a bit redundant].

I’ve also started reading “11.22.83” by Stephen King – it’s actually quite engrossing, and I’m looking forwards to seeing the story through to the end – so look out for a blog about that in the near future. I’m currently just shy of the 50 per cent mark, and can’t stop thinking about the some of the key things – this is [fictional] counter-factual history in its best I think.

So only a small update, but there will be more in the near future!

Keep on crafting folks,

Kialtho

[Okay, my brain isn't working today so I can't quite figure how to bring my Instagram photo's across in a display kind of way, so be all clicky on the link above instead...].

What Makes You Happy? #1

What Makes You Happy?

This is a question that can be answered on so many levels it can actually be a bit intimidating. We have everything that we do in the day to day – for instance, when someone favourites a picture of mine on Instagram it makes me happy, receiving a comment on my WordPress makes me happy, receiving e-mail from a real person rather than all the automated junk makes me happy. But this sort of happy is instant, and fleeting.

There are other things that make me happy in life, such as a message from my boyfriend, getting results where they matter – whether it’s at work or home, like my knitting, or the gym – receiving letters from my best friend. It doesn’t always need to be something big, or something insane. Lasting happiness can be found in the smallest of things – like I receive letters from my friend, but the act of receiving them is beautiful as it shows that someone has taken that time to write to me, and with the advent of modern technology spending time writing a letter is more heart warming than an instant message or a note on Facebook.

Other things that make me happy are quite simple as well, such as having a new plot idea for when NaNoWriMo comes around; whether I do anything with it is a completely different matter, but that act of having that idea burst forth into my brain makes me happy, it makes me feel as though my brain is still active somewhere in there. Today’s idea came from something that was on BBC News this evening, and has quite the potential… usually when I have these ideas I start researching and then find that someone else has already done it, which can be a bit disappointing.

In my last post I mentioned my Fiat 500. Having one was my dream from the moment I saw them; they are sweet, small, and economical and a fun drive. I always maintained that I would have a yellow one, but the manufacturer isn’t currently doing the colour I want. I got one a couple of years ago called Bessie, she was white and an entry level model [I needed a car quickly, and didn’t have the time to have a car made to order]. On Saturday I picked up my second model – having traded Bessie in as I was offered a pretty sweet deal [I do feel a little like I have betrayed her a bit...]. My new Fiat 500 is a beautiful blue colour, with a matching interior dashboard. She also has air conditioning, which I didn’t have before. She’s also the next model up from Bessie, but largely the same spec as Bessie. It’s something that makes me happy as I had dreamed of having a Fiat 500, and it’s a dream that I have achieved. I always have a smile when I look at, and drive my car! [Unless some idiot driver feels the need to overtake me on blind corners which happens far too often for my liking!]

Happiness is one of those things that is difficult to maintain. I think it’s impossible to be happy for any prolonged amount of time, but being content is equally as good, if not better.

What makes you happy?