Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

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I’d been meaning to read this once I knew it was coming out. I loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and Taylor’s ability to craft stories – I definitely had high hopes. And I was not disappointed.

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Picking up this book we’re introduced to a rather violent start. A girl has fallen from the sky and been impaled. She is blue. She is very much dead. And then we’re transported elsewhere in the world and introduced to Lazlo, and the girl is forgotten about.

Lazlo is an orphan being raised in a monastery. He is a ward of the monks who insist that his life is a bland as theirs, but he revels in stories – specific stories of of a city far south that he knows he’ll never see. But one day as he’s playing in the fields something strange happens and he’s memory of the name of the city is gone. It’s gone from everywhere, no one literally knows the name, and every replacement he knows is not right.

When we rejoin Lazlo he’s an adult, and escaped the monastery by becoming involved with a library. His skill, or rather, his obsession is discovered and nurtured there. He works for years on his own research of the forgotten city, of constructing it’s language and knowing all about it. And naturally, that research is stolen away from him by a rich boy. Turns out, people from that lost city are seeking help from those who have specialist knowledge in various fields, such as philosophy, explosives, climbing, construction etc.

Lazlo surprises them, and even himself, to convince them to take him with them. He can speak their language, and impresses them more that the contingents from the scholars – in fact, he even shows up the Queen’s grandson… or was it nephew? Which naturally creates some animosity between them.

There’s a far amount of world building in the initial first third of the book. In fact, it seemed a little slow to begin with, but it works. It builds the city that Lazlo lives in, his life and actually how grey it is in comparison to what it will become. We meet some interesting characters in the next section as they travel to the unnamed city (also called Weep), and I think here is where I think I have my biggest issue with the book. Not that the travelling is bad or anything like that but Lazlo makes a friend here, how could have also been a potential love interest later in the book, but then when we get to Weep itself she’s not really mentioned or spoken about again, and considering how close he is perceived to be with her during the travels it seems a surprise that she’s not really mentioned again, not even for a catch up and a sounding board for Lazlo’s time in Weep or what he’s been up to.

The world is immersive. And really engaging as well, I couldn’t put it down as I neared the end and was in that state of wanting to keep reading but also not wanting to make it to the end of the book. It was such an awesome book. And that ending?

I mean, I want to talk about it but can’t because spoilers. But seriously. Depending on how the next book goes depends on whether I think Lazlo made the right decision because at this point in time I think the Lazlo that we’ve known up until that point would not have made the decision that he did make.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

The next one is out in the Autumn, but that seems like a stupidly long time away!

Until next time folks,

Kialtho

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Knitting in Q1 of 2018…

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It would turn out that I have a lot more knitting projects to talk about that I previously imagined. Jeez, I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit much toward the end of the year, no?

I can’t tell you why that happened. Just life. Work. Time, or lack thereof to do anything except sleep eat and work. I have also been crafting, mind, it’s just the writing up about them afterwards. I’ll start writing here, but I may split the blog into two in case it’s huge!

To be fair, I think one of the reasons that led to my neglect of the blog is the first project that I’m going to talk about, which was also the first project in 5 years that I ended up frogging completely and reusing the yarn elsewhere, and requires a small amount of background information I guess.

I’ve been wanting to make a ‘Find Your Fade’ style shawl for a long time, but didn’t want to commit the four or five skeins of yarn dedicated to it – at least – not until I could get some relevant and similar colour ways from the same dyer or maker, which is quite an expensive overture for this one shawl. I know it’ll be massive, but still… you know where I’m coming here. So I found this pattern on Ravelry which seemed to fill the hole, and I had some Stylecraft Candy Swirl so thought that that would work out well.

It didn’t. I think I spent about 4 weeks on it, and got to over the halfway point and even onto the second cake of yarn, but I wasn’t enjoying how it was coming out so decided to frog and forget about it. If I want to have a Fade, I really should just commit to a proper Fade, right? Or perhaps, use a different type of yarn. I don’t know. I’m not running back to make this one again.

To be fair, the next two projects also have reasons why they didn’t have blog entries: they were birthday presents for my mum, so I couldn’t write about them before I’d actually given them to her, especially considering she does read these blogs.

The first was the Mermaid Shawl, the pattern I first discovered in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine that I’d had specially shipped over from the USA because we couldn’t get it over here. [It’s since been renamed and repackaged to remove all references to Harry Potter for the UK edition, and this pattern is also in there too]. For this project I used the remainder of the lace weight yarn I scored from Countess Ablaze a few years ago, but honestly can’t remember the name of it. I know it was a left over from one of her yarn clubs [not the recent Classics Society]. I thought the colours and the name of the pattern meant that these two were made for each other. I think it turned out well. Perhaps I could have pushed it a bit and made it a little on the longer side, but it works as a shawlette.

This was also my very first beading project, and technique that I really enjoyed and would love to experiment with further in other projects. I thought I would hate having to stop and apply the beads but surprisingly I didn’t!

The second that I made for my mum was an African Flower Elephant. My friend gifted me a bunch of the African Flower patterns a little while ago and the elephant, being that these are my mothers spirit animal, had to be made for her. I chose just to have two colours for this one, a decent pink and a complementary grey. I did this for two reasons: my sanity when making the individual hexi’s and because I didn’t want anything to really detract from the creation of the elephant itself.

What do you think? I was super happy with how this turned out. She was quite big, and used a decent amount of ceramic cookery balls to weigh down her behind. Mum liked her too!

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Hot off the creation of the elephant I felt the need to make an African Flower blanket for the home. It sort of worked out how I wished, considering I wasn’t using a pattern for it, and the hook I was using was a bit small – basically it’s a small, slightly stiffly made lap blanket but could also pass for a rug on the floor really. I still have yet to wash it, nor have I trimmed the tails from the centres of the flowers because my synch circles have a habit of coming undone and I don’t really fancy sewing them all in. I think considering this was a huge experiment on my part – especially in terms of not having a pattern – I did okay. I would definitely change how I would approach the project again if I made it again. For this I used Hobbycraft’s Women’s Institute’s ‘Soft and Chunky’ and pretty much only wanted to use it for the hot coral looking colourway. The actual project is sitting on the back of the chair ready for use when needed.

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I also decided in this time that I would make a new Helipath vest as the one that I made before is a good couple of years old now and I love wearing it. I thought it was time to have a new one in a new colour. I loved making this again, partly because it looks so complex to make but it’s super simple if you can do the YO stitch in your work, and the frequent crossing of the cables. I chose the read colour again as it’s something that stood out for me, and something that I wouldn’t typically go for.

The only thing that annoys me about this one, and it’s entirely my fault, is that I put the button bands on the wrong way around. I’m not going back and undoing them now – to be fair – I din’t even realise it until my second or third time wearing it out. So can’t be that bad… no? The buttons on this one are channelling my inner [extremely inner!!] Gryffindor as they are gold. Red and Gold, no? I’m sure that I have enough Ravenclaw things that I can let this little Gryff related thing through?? Yeah, course I can!

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The last thing I have to show is my most recent FO. This is a replacement of my most favourite shawl/scarf that I wear almost every day and have lost somewhere. The original was made in Countess Ablaze’s ‘Nerds Prefer Their Rainbow’s Darker’, and was also the first item I’d made since moving into the flat with Alex. But I must have left it behind somewhere, a restaurant or shop or something because it’s gone missing. I was quite heartbroken about it, but then I saw this yarn from Cuddlebums and knew I could make another one in slightly bolder colours. The colour way name was ‘Electric Rainbow’, and the pattern is the ‘Elder Tree Shawl’.

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The new one is bigger too. I assume that that would be the years worth of difference in tension and the different needles I used too. [I used my Chiagoo’s red lace for this one, and before would have no doubt used my Knitpro’s Symphony].

Of course, now that I’ve made this one, finished and blocked it, there was a heatwave. So no doubt I’ll have to wait around until the colder weather to wear it. At least it’s ready, and with any luck I won’t loose this one!

So I think I’ve caught up the projects that I haven’t written about since last year. I’m currently working on a star blanket for my dad for fathers day, and then after that, I’m not sure what I’m going to make. Probably a shawl because I love making them. I have challenged myself to make 20 projects this year. The last couple of years I’ve topped out at 19, so I would really like to hit that 20 mark – and I’m using the challenge feature on Ravelry to help me keep track of things too.IMG_3752

Hopefully I can do it. I compared my total yardage/meterage used by this time last year to the same time this year, and in terms of yardage I’m definitely behind. But last year I made some baby blankets early on in the year, which is where most of it would have gone. I think that’ll be all for now, I hope that this wasn’t too spammy for you all.

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What projects are you working on at the moment? What works best for you when the warmer weather comes into play?

Kialtho

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

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Right, so funny story with this one. I downloaded after watching Girl on the Train thinking that this book was that – because for some reason my brain thought that these were the same. I don’t know why, but there you go. I’m very much a like to read the book before watching the film, but both these books became big phenomena so really, it didn’t matter so much for me at this time.

I don’t usually go for this sort of thing, so thought that it was also good for me to branch out into other genres. I guess this isn’t a typical example of the genre though?

Fair warning though, I’m not going to be able to talk about this one without a few spoilers.

Synopsis:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

I don’t usually hate characters in books. And I don’t think I’ve ever hated all the characters in a book before, bit this one certainly set the bar from pretty much the beginning. Nick was irritating as hell. I feel like if you were married to someone for 5 years, and with them for longer than that (although, to be fair I can’t remember how long they were together for before they were married) that you wouldn’t be quite like Nick. Nick was so careless and unemotional that another human being was missing, and his wife no less.

And Amy? Spoilt rich kid turned poor yet didn’t lift a finger to work or to help. She didn’t feel compassion for anyone, not even her own parents, or Nick’s mother – dying of cancer – and she just wanted to be in New York with her New York lifestyle, and the husband she met there.

As we are revealed more about Amy and her motivations is begs the question in the first place of why she bothered to get married. She was pretending to be someone she wasn’t from the word go – something that suggests that she didn’t know who she was at all, aside from a psychopath. I mean, she does literally get away with murder in the end.

Both the main characters are hateful towards each other. Like, really, absurdly hateful. If you felt like that, wouldn’t you just leave? Nick’s affair was completely predictable the moment the author started mentioning his disposable phone. You don’t have a burner if you don’t have anything to hide!

There was a lot of filler content in the first third of the book that slowed down the progress of the read. It actually made it hard work to keep going through it actually. Once Amy’s physical character came into play it was slightly more interesting. Although, her keeping referring to her weight gain when it equated to about a stone pissed me off. A stone wouldn’t make that much difference to her appearance than say – 4. [Ask me how I know].

The supporting cast of characters were also just as bad as the main set. The detectives incompetent, blundering and down right useless, the neighbours wanting to be in with Nick then turning on him when he didn’t want their attention or their food, his sister partly because her name was ‘Go’.

This book for me made me self reflect a little as well. Am I that bad in my life with my partner? Definitely not! Do I know everything there is to know about him? No, but that’s okay because it would be boring otherwise.
I thought that the film did a really good version of the book. They managed to transcribe it well – not that any of the characters were made any more likeable by being on the big screen. That being said, I think I would rather see the film and endure the book again. That says a lot, don’t you think?

How did you find this one? Did you find any of the characters likeable or relatable?

Kialtho

[The end of the blog brings me up to date with my books, next up will be the knitting one!]

La Belle Sauvage – Book of Dust #1, Phillip Pullman

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Much like my last blog this is a book that I read some time ago now. I haven’t exactly found the time to write much just lately, so here’s part of my catch up.

Because it was sometime ago, I do apologise if things have been mis-remembered or are a little off. I’ve read other books since then as well! My best friend gave me this book for Christmas, so it was one that needed to be read sooner rather than later. She has awesome taste in books too, and knew that I would love this. It’s been a long time since I read the original trilogy that this is also based on – His Dark Materials – so that’s definitely penned in for a re-read.

Synopsis:

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

To be honest, I knew this book was going to be released and had seen some of the coverage and excitement about returning to the world of Lyra but I must confess I didn’t know whether this was a prequel or a sequel series. I was fine with that as it meant going into the book unprepared, and ready for surprises. I had avoided all I could about actual content to ensure that no-one spoiled it for me – there’s nothing worse, is there?

Initially I found it slow going as we are re-introduced to the world of alternative Oxford, where peoples souls are a physical animalistic manifestation of their person, witches and prophecy are real, and there’s something called Dust which is a bit hushhush. Also, there’s the church which basically rule everything.

I thought that this book was quite once we had gone through the world building and established the characters and secret societies. We have spy groups, manipulation of children something like the Hitler Youth in that everyone is spied on and no one is safe, nuns both goodly and kind and horrible and brutal, and Lyra, a baby at the centre of it all.

Lyra is a 6 month old baby in the care of some nuns. Nobody is supposed to know her, and her presence a secret, but naturally everyone seems to know what her presence there means and just about anyone with a connection of Asriel or her mother (her name is eluding me, sorry) is drawn to her to try and kidnap her or otherwise have some sort of contact with her. The nuns do they’re best to keep her safe, but when the worst flood of 100 years hits the Thames, all the safety is literally washed away and we’re left with 11 year old Malcolm to try and defend a baby in his little canoe with a friend who doesn’t like him much at all.

Don’t be mistaken though. Our main character may be 11 years old but this, for me anyway, was no children’s book, which is one of the reasons that I wish to re-read the original series. There’s a predator in this book – someone who beats his own daemon, even leading to her severance of limbs – who also commits some dark acts. He sleeps with a nun – but this isn’t clear if it was consensual – but he does rape another character later on. That’s no normal children’s book material. I can’t recall if anything like that happened in the previous books. The level of interference from the church is also quite chilling. The original trilogy I remember having a load of discussions around the role of the church and whether they were anti organised religion or whether they were providing social commentary on how our government were susceptible to the influences of the church.

Once we’re about a third to half way through the book it does pick up, but the main action is toward the end of the book as Malcolm, Alice and Lyra was being swept away in the flood waters in his canoe. We end up with Lyra being dropped off at Jordan College under sanctuary rules which would protect her for the near future. It’s clear though, from the pace at the outset that this was just the first in the series as Pullman isn’t in a hurry to get through the world building at all.

I’ll certainly be reading the next one in the series.

My next blog on books will be Gone Girl. Who knows how long that will take to write that one!

Kind regards,

Kialtho

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) – Victoria Aveyard

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It’s currently nearing the end of April. I read this book sometime over Christmas and New Year. I didn’t write about it then, lots of stuff went on. You know ‘real world life.work stuff’ that you don’t ignore. So I read, and meant to write and then didn’t. I apologise, but that means that I am not looking at this with fresh eyes, but I enjoy the writing part so I’ll get on with it, and hopefully you’ll not curse me too much if I missed a detail.

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Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart

Before I begin too much about the book itself, and please note my introduction to this blog, I want to say that I loved this book. This was like the X-Men meeting Hunger Games (with a little less bloodshed, but not much!) and actually, it was exactly the sort of book that I wished to read at the time.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of it. Either it was going to be really good, and addictive, read, or I was going to thoroughly hate it. I didn’t think I was going to have any go between in it.

We are introduced to our main character Mare (I distinctly recall disliking her name, even if it was just a shortened version of her actual name). She’s been reflecting about the state of the world, of how society is split into two distinct groups. Reds, the commoners, because they have red blood. They aren’t special, there are a lot of them and they are the foundation of society. They are downtrodden, hard worked and poor. They are ruled over by the Silvers, who are Silver blooded and have special powers – control of over fire, water, earth, metal, healing, truth etc. They are the ruling elite and consider the Reds so completely beneath them, almost like cattle. Apparently, the whole world also considers this view.

Mare is trying to avoid being conscripted into a never ending war, one that’s already taken her brothers. Her sister has escaped, apprenticed to a dress maker. Mare’s friend is also being conscripted, but Mare has decided to try and do everything possible to get him out of his situation.

In along the reds is a terrorist group called Red Dawn. They are fighting for the civil rights of the Reds, militantly.

You can see why they’re paths would cross.

Without giving too much away, things go wrong for Mare as she’s revealed to have her own special powers. Reds don’t have powers, so this is something that shocks all those that witness it. Because of this, she’s placed into the care of the Royal family, they give her a husband to be – one of the princes – not the one she wants, of course – and ultimately – betrayal, love and the truth all happens.
What I really liked about this book actually was that it was set in a world that is both so similar, and so different to ours. The differences – like the super powers were pretty obvious – but the similarities were a little surprising. Things like TV, radio and communications existed, and there were also things like CCTV and presumably computers [just not like how we know and use them]. There was also new materials and compounds that existed as well. I really enjoyed those little details that made it both completely different and a little familiar as well.

For me this book was a joyride. I loved how it read, and I couldn’t help but think this was an action film in the making, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was picked up by a film studio somewhere. There’s a lot of emphasis of action films, and super hero films at the moment, and with the release of The Darkest Minds later this year – there’s an appetite for this stuff. I’d love to see this on the big screen.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Would you watch a film based on this premise?

Kialtho

Sleeping Giants – Sylvian Neuvel

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I finished this book before Christmas but am only now getting to write it about it for a couple of reasons – time for one – but more importantly, I was suffering from the biggest book hangover I think I’ve suffered. Let’s jump right into the synopsis so I ca talk about the book!

Synopsis:

What happens when you make a discovery that changes everything?

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.

“But this thing … it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”
But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”


I absolutely loved this book. From the format – which was completely different to any book I’d read before as it was listed in an interview/interviewee type style with occasional diary entries to help flesh out the story a little. The plot itself, which on the surface feels a little far-fetched gets completely washed away with how well the book is executed.

Once upon a time in the world of Rose Franklyn she fell down a hole and discovered a giant robot hand. When she grows up she’s become a doctor, a scientist investigating the robot hand, and theorising that there are more pieces out there. And there are. So she gathered them up and assembled them. Which the help of a few others they stand the robot up, and make it work and the rest of the world has a hissy fit.

What I really liked was not just how the story was told – Rose was the main character, but it’s certainly not told from her POV. Instead, we’re told the story from a nameless character presenting his notes on the subjects, and actually, it sort of makes him the main character as his story telling introduces us to people like the American Secretary of State, of Defence, the President, important people from around the world. He’s working with a lot of people to work on this project, and when it goes wrong, he changes just who he works with – including the countries and conglomerates – to ensure he gets his way from beginning to end. Even if it will mean treason.

I think the only downside to the story telling in this was though was that it was hard to emotionally connect to one character. There are a couple of things that highlight this point for me. When the characters are working together to get the robot standing and walking, there’s some intense jealously going on between key characters, which leads to a deliberate attempt on someone life and leaving one of the characters to be permanently damaged from it. [I’m trying to be descriptive and vague here, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!]. After this event happened, which is pretty key to the plot, I was a little like ‘oh, okay’ rather than impact-fully emotional about it.

Another example is when an accident happens as a result of an experiment with the robot. A key character is affected in a very specific way, which left me feeling a little ‘wtf?’ but otherwise…. ‘oh, okay’. I’m not quite sure how to fully describe it. The connections are definitely there to the characters, but if it was 1st or 3rd person, it would be a stronger emotional bond. As it stands we witness all these characters second hand through the narrators contact with them, rather than first hand. That’s probably a better way to describe it.

This was such a good book though, and I’ve had to give myself some time before I read the next one. It’s a case of science fiction as it’s best, I think, and I look forward to where the plot is going.

I have actually finished another book between Sleeping Giants and now, but like I said – book hungover and didn’t really know how to talk about this one. Not that I’ve done a great job mind.

I’ll write about the next one over the next few days to catch me up.

Before I go I’d like to mention the GoodReads challenge. I was undecided whether I was going to participate in it this year for the main reason that I’ve never actually completed it. This is because I have more than one hobby, so my targets have come down over the years and I’ve still not achieved. This year, I am aiming for just 15 books. That’s all. I know people out there read so many, but 15 for me I think will be more valuable than chasing a target I’m not going to achieve.

That’s all for now folks!
Happy reading,
Kialtho

Kialtho: 2017 Year in Review

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Okay, so this is completely late for the end of the year stuff – but in my defence I’ve been busy! I’m going to write one blog this year that covers both the knitting and the book side of things. I’ll mention a few highlights from this year as well. It sounds like a lot to be fair, but it isn’t, not really. So rather than beat around the bush, I’ll dive straight in!

Knitting:

Total projects: 19

Number gifted: 11

Number of these that were crochet: 3

Total distance knit: 9783 metres. It was actually more than this, but there were a couple of projects that didn’t get their measurements taken in terms of weight/used.

Stand out project of the year: To be honest this isn’t just one project. I have two for this – the baby blanket I made my sister – which is what I consider my masterpiece. Everything about this I loved, except for the repetitive strain injury I got from doing it. I still have yet to recover, and I am definitely in hope that I will recover.

The second is the crochet hippo I made – it was something that intimidated when I started, but then it’s simplicity shone through and it just an amazing pattern to make. I also made an elephant in the same style, but it’s the hippo that stands out.

Next years goals: I’d like to hit 20 projects next year!

Books:

Book challenge: 20

Books read: 11

The first question I have to ask myself when I look at this stat is – am I happy with it? On the surface, the answer is no, I’m not. 20 books? I used to be able to do that in a heartbeat. There was a time when I was read 12 books every three months. So just 11? But then I consider my life now to when I used to be able to read them. Life is different – I’m an adult now, I have adult responsibilities, I have my job – which requires some very early starts – I have other hobbies, like the knitting which I never used to do. So actually, is it that bad? Probably not. I have to consider that it’s still 11 books more than others will have read. The real question should be…. were they good books? Did I enjoy the books that I did read?

Probably: mostly.

Best book of the year: With out a doubt ‘Waking Gods’ by Sylvain Neuvel, closely followed by ‘Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Both these books are science fiction, and both of them gripped my in a way I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Children of Time was at the beginning of the year, and Waking Gods at the end – I still need to blog about that one though – I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Worst book: ‘Sinful Cinderella’ by Anita Valle, closely followed by ‘Enclave’ by Ann Aguirre. Both these were bad for very different reasons, and I won’t go into them here. Apparently I didn’t want to go into them before either I cannot find the blog links to refer to for this section.

Next year: I would like to read 15 books. It’s not a lot, but it’s what I think I can actually achieve without being disappointed with the end result as per previous years.

The other stuff:

– I got re-addicted to Dragon Quest VIII on the 3DS. This was my favourite Playstation 2 game and got completely immersed in the world once more.

– I got promoted at work, and joined a new store in this role. I’ve worked in three separate stores this year, and learnt a lot in all of them. I do miss my work mum though! (We all have one of those, right? It’s super weird that one of my employees/colleagues calls me ‘Mummy’ though. Like, what?

– I did NaNoWriMo again, and won it! [I don’t think I blogged about this either!]. This wasn’t my best novel, but I did it and that certainly made me happy.

– Artie turned a year old, and is as crazy as the day we got him. I love this cat. Have a photo!

Moody bastard #catsofinstagram #cat #koratcat #catmum #catlife #love

A post shared by Kialtho (@kialtho) on

 

I hope that you have had a good year, and that the year to come is just as good. As always, I’ll be here blogging periodically throughout the year as per usual!

A Knitting Update

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So I haven’t posted about my knitting in a while. I finished a project and let it linger until I could get it blocked, I also crocheted an elephant a la Heidi Bears, then knit a jumper for Mum, and finally this evening the quickest project ever which was an ear warmer thing, which is perfect considering the bad weather that has come in over the UK this weekend. I also made a hat during this time, but I don’t want to share a photo of it as the recipient still hasn’t received it.

My first project was the Fallston shawl – which I shared the beginning of in my last knitting related blog. This was a quick knit, and was meant to be the project I took my time with as I was supposed to be resting my hands from the RSI I gave myself from making the baby blanket. Even now, some four months later, my hands do still ache and my grip strength is vast reduced compared to what it used to be. It does seem to be getting better though, for those of you who maybe wondering about it. Fallston was a good knit, I chose some stash yarn from The Uncommon Thread and GnomeAcres. The GnomeAcres was ‘Glow Cloud’ which is a variegated yarn with pinks, purples and a little brown in it. I used this for the last part as I wanted it to stand out, and didn’t necessarily want to conform to the norm with it. It worked, and once it was made I decided that it would be a gift for my boss who’s always, like always, cold. [Instagram photo as I apparently don’t have a photo of it on my computer].

 

Next up was the elephant. I decided to make this in the same colours as the hippo I made back in the spring, so now they’re a set! The elephant was super simple to make, and pretty easy to put together. I put some ceramic baking beads into the body to weigh it down, and tucked these into the foot I’d cut off a light pair of tights. It works, so I’m not going to complain.

Over all I was really happy with the elephant, but it took so long to finish that I was getting annoyed with having it on the hook. I used Women’s Institute soft and silky yarn [my go to yarn really], which worked quite well. This project was also supposed to be a stash buster project, but I needed more red yarn so…. I’m not sure really how much stash I actually busted.

I went to stay with my mum and dad at the beginning of November as we were having work done to our bathroom, and decided to finish a project that mum had started but wasn’t going to be able to finish due to a recent diagnosis/confirmation of osteoarthritis in her thumb joints. Knitting was hard work for her, and she wanted an owls jumper – I happily obliged. She hasn’t told me if it fits yet though!

Lastly it was the chunky ear warmer. I’ve made this pattern a few times, but for some reason the pattern had disappeared from my Ravelry library. I’m going to be honest here and say I used the wayback machine to get the pattern. It’s a simple pattern, and a quick knit at that.

What have you been making recently? I don’t know what’s next for the needles!

Kialtho

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Curse King: 3DS

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I don’t write about games very often, I have to say. I used to be quite an avid gamer, from playing Sonic the Hedgehog when I was small through to things like Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry and GTA. Gaming has had a huge impact on my life – Lara Croft was my idol growing up. I think I played every game in the franchise except for Angel of Death, and I can’t even remember why that was.

When I was at school I remember asking my parents for a Playstation 2. They would pay for it, and then I would pay them back week by week from my job at the hairdressers until it was paid off. There’s two reasons why I wanted this game console… Tomb Raider: Legend, and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.

I’d spent ages playing on a PS1 demo disk for both those games. In retrospect the Tomb Raider one was far too easy, but I was so excited to be back with my hero I didn’t care so much. The Dragon Quest game, if I remember rightly, was limited to about an hours worth of play. Everything about this game sucked me in – the colours, the cartoon graphics, the music and the story. When I first started playing I thought an hour would be a long time to play, but it wasn’t! I hadn’t gone anywhere and my time was up!

So my parents agreed to the plan and I could have a Playstation 2 with the two games I wanted. To be fair, I could probably have lived my entire PS2 life just playing those two games. I got more – like Devil May Cry – great memories of sharing that game with my brother whilst we listed to Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘By the Way’ on repeat, and decided that ‘Tear’ definitely had something to do with DMC because of the line ‘devil may cry, devil may care’ which is in the game. Sort of. ‘Devils Never Cry was the name of Dantes shop – he changes it at the end for Trish to ‘Devil May Cry’. It was the little things.

Anyway, I digress.

Dragon Quest VIII is the game that not only introduced me to the Dragon Quest series – I have several of them on the DS now – it opened up to me a world of intense gameplay that could go on for hours and hours. In that original game save I sunk over 200 hours. In another 45, and another about 40. I restarted a few times, but I couldn’t get away from my original hero, whom I named Alyss. [Because, it was totally me in that game, yeah? And I was what… 14? 15?] Dragon Quest sucked me into it’s world in a way that Final Fantasy never could.

Fast forward a few years, a DS, 3DS, a PS3 [Tomb Raider made me buy this] and a PS4 [Tomb Raider and Dragon Quest Heroes made me buy this… can you sense a theme here?] later… and we have the re-release of Dragon Quest on the 3DS. Now, I know this game came out quite some time ago… but I’m an adult with actual bills to pay, so I only got it a few months ago. I played some, then put it aside and did something else. Probably knitting.

Well… I finished the main part of the game yesterday. I have absolutely loved being back in the heroes world [yeah, this time he was called Kialtho, but again, why not??]. The world was just as immersive as I remember, and I am aware that I haven’t even come close to completing the game in it’s entirety, I just wanted to gush about it a little bit!

As I came close to the finish, I have spent some time online wondering what other people had to say about it. Most people seemed sore on two core issues: redesigning Jessica’s outfits so that they were more ‘conservative’, and other censoring issues like a scene where Marcello uses magic to free himself rather than stab himself like he did in the original version, and the music. (There’s a guy out there that’s completed the game on a speed run in just 8:40. That’s insane!)

On both these topics I have this to say: it had been such a long time since I had played the game that I didn’t notice. The music sounded as awesome as it did before, and it is one of the things that kept me in the game. I’m sure if you played them comparatively you would notice a difference, but I didn’t. And in regards to the censorship – they lowered the rating of the game for an all ages game. I believe the original was PEGI 12 so it makes sense that they’ve made a few changes.

I loved, and I mean loved, the new content. And that you could get Morrie and Red as playable characters too. Although, I was a little sad to replace Yangus ‘legendary bandit turned hero’ with Red, but she did sort of nerf him. Her attacks were awesome. I’ve maxed out her Fans and Rougery skills and am working up the Blades one. I’m sure I should have done blades first, but I’m happy with how it’s been. With Morrie I got him a little later than the rest so he’s currently my lowest powered character and as such I haven’t used him all that much. That being said his Claws and Passion are making great progress.

I still have a long way to go before I can complete the final two dungeons, but that second one makes it sound like its going to be worth levelling up to the max. That will be my next challenge!

I’ll write about my knitting [two blogs to come on that front] and my book [so nearly finished!] soon. But for now, it’s back to the NaNo train.

Happy gaming,

Kialtho

Thief’s Magic: Millenniums Rule #1 – Trudy Canavan

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I have spent a decent amount of time in the universes that Trudi Canavan creates. I’ve read all of the Black Magician Trilogy, and then it’s sequel the The Traitor Spy Trilogy. I’ve also spent some time in the Age of Five universe, but I only read the first book. So it’s safe to say that I’ve experienced Trudi Canavan’s writing before, and know some of what to expect in terms of the writing and the set up. From the moment I’d read the synopsis of Thief’s Magic I had wanted to read this series, but have only recently got around to picking up the book.

Synopsis [GoodReads]:

In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.

Elsewhere, in an land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it — should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath.

But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands… and not even the people they trust.

We are introduced to Tyen, a student of archeology and magic, working to find something valuable whilst on a dig. All her gets is a dusty old book, but it’s a little more than that. It’s a book that talks, in a sense. Think…. Chamber of Secrets and Tom Riddles diary. Except the book can’t lie. And can instantly know everything that the holder knows. Tyen keeps the book a secret from the Academy – the prestigious school where he is studying his magic and history – but of course, these sorts of secrets don’t stay secret for long and he’s quickly on his way as a fugitive, set up for a theft he didn’t commit.

There is also the story of Rielle. A dyers daughter in the city of Fyre. She’s sent to the temple to study and become fodder for a marriage into one of the more wealthy families. She can see magic, see the stain it leaves behind but she has never revealed this fact to anyone except her aunt who has instructed her to keep it a secret all her life. Naturally, this also causes some problems for Rielle, but not until after she is kidnapped by someone they call ‘tainted’ – someone who has learned magic but not through the priesthood. All Rielle wants to do is become an artist, but fate has other plans for her as she is accused of using magic herself, and thus become tainted, and sent away to the mountain temple to serve her sentence.

In both stories all is not what it seemed. I spent a good deal of time wondering how these lives were going to interlink. Is Rielle going to become the book, Vella? Or, if as simple as living in separate worlds, how will their lives interlink? Who would be crossing into who’s world – which is a possibility thanks to the knowledge divulged by Vella. Rielle is a powerful untrained magician, and Tyen is also a powerful sorcerer although not fully trained had greater reach with the magic than his professors realised.

There are some very typical Canavan elements in this book. From the empire of Leratia, the magic, the lesser status of women, and a typical evil doer it has all the basics for a good adventure. You could tell that this particular book was the set up book, the journey to get you to where the characters needed to be for the big plan to happen – which would have been better had something a bit more than the journey happened. I was disappointed that the characters didn’t meet, thinking that their journey would come together here, even if it was on a cliffhanger ending that is so popular these days.

I will read the next book in the series, that’s for sure and hopefully things will pick up a bit there. As mentioned, this book was about the whole journey to get the characters to where they needed to be… not a great deal happened otherwise. There was an interesting character that we were introduced to in Rielle’s world that I think maybe the connection to Vella and Tyen so hopefully this will be revealed in the next outing.

That’s all for now folks! What are you reading at the moment? I have yet to chose my next book, and I hate the anxiety I get from not knowing what’s coming up next!

Kialtho