Pines – Blake Crouch

Since I found out that the TV series “Wayward Pines” was based on a book series I’ve wanted to read the books as the series was just so good! So here it is, my thoughts on the first book, called “Pines”.

Synopsis:

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.


If you haven’t read this book, and intend to, I would stop reading this blog entry now! I can’t guarantee that it will be spoiler free.

This is one of those books that could probably be read in one sitting, especially if it grips you from the beginning. I think I read it in three, because, you know, life got in the way.

We are introduced to Ethan Burke, our main character who has no memory of who he is, lost on the outskirts of Wayward Pines and injured beyond belief.

Wayward Pines is a beautiful and idyllic small town in Idaho. The people are welcoming, the hospital induces a fear like none other, and there’s just something… something that isn’t quite right. After stumbling around the Pines for a short while, the memory of Burkes injuries come flooding back. Car accident. Mack. Partner. Black out.

Nurse Pam is a sadist. She certainly loves her needles! And, I shall add that she was perfectly cast in the TV series as well.

I enjoyed how the actual story played out, from the waking up and beginning to remember through to the final revelation of what the heck was going on. About 2/3rds of the way through we find out that there’s definitely something dodgy going on outside the town, and perhaps it’s not a prison to keep people in, but a safe haven to keep something out. The way that Burke is handed his new position at the end of the book was a bit… sinister, but it was good to see the differences between the book and the TV series.

I think the one thing that annoyed me the most through the book though was the amount of body breaking exercise that Burke is put through. From the waking up and having broken ribs, to the running around the hospital, then again naked out in the streets [and not the only time he gets all naked either!]. Running through the forest… climbing clifftops, and through cramped air vents… and he doesn’t really seem to suffer from the after effects, except maybe once is it really described as a problem. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad, except the events of the book cover only about five or six days, so…. this was my bit of suspended disbelief.

I look forwards to reading the next one, and hopefully being introduced to more of the characters of Wayward Pines. This was essentially a one man show, with a couple of others thrown in to make life tough.

What are you reading at the moment?
Kialtho

The 100 – Kass Morgan

A ravaged Earth devoid of human life, suffering after the “cataclysm”. The last of the human race surviving on an ageing space craft, rife with rivalries and the divide between those who have, and those who do not. And a plan to get back to Earth.

Synopsis:

NO ONE HAS SET FOOT ON EARTH IN CENTURIES – UNTIL NOW.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents – considered expendable by society – are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life… or it could be a suicide mission.

Clark was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. Wells, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves – but will she ever forgive him? Reckless Bellamy fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And Glass managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope

Before I begin talking about this book I want to mention that I haven’t seen the TV series yet, but the TV series is the reason why I decided to read the book. It looks good. It’s a shame that I cannot say the same thing about the book, which to be honest genuinely takes first place of worst books I have read in the last few years, which is frustrating as I really, really wanted to like and enjoy this book! Typically, I don’t like giving bad reviews of books because… someone’s time and effort went into it, but… not this time. Sorry Kass Morgan…

We begin with Clarke, Confine, moody teenager awaiting her 18th birthday, and sure fire execution. Clarke is sullen, filled with hate at her situation. As the story progresses, and the same with each character that we are subsequently introduced to, we get bits of their histories thrown in to tell us how each character has ended up in their current positions.

There are four main characters, Clarke, Glass, Wells and Bellamy. Clarke, Glass and Wells all come from the posh, rich side of the ship. The side that has society, functions and apparently a lot of rule breakers that go unpunished. Bellamy is not only from Walden, the poorest sector of the ship, but also a Sibling. Siblings are rare due to strict population controls, and as such sees himself as the absolute care taker of his sister. Bellamy is also naive. And very annoying, but at least not so much as the other characters.

Glass was supposed to go to Earth with the other 100, but managed to escape the transport ship whilst Bellamy snuck on in not such a discrete way. Glass is the first person to get away with her crimes and be “pardoned” in a very long time. Glass is pretty one dimensional and focused on one thing: Her Walden boyfriend Luke. I think.

Clarke loved Wells. Wells ratted out Clarkes parents. Clarke hates Wells. Except that she does still love him. Except that she doesn’t.

This book was genuinely erring on the side of ridiculous. I think that it was written in a very formulaic YA/Dystopian manner and what’s more, it’s a weak story. This is the sort of storyline that has the ability to be amazing but the story telling fell far short of the potential. I like to be able to connect with my characters, not spend a whole book literally not caring what happened to them at all.

I need to briefly mention the ending as well: typical YA ending of a cliff hanger, but given the plot as described above… it wasn’t exactly a surprising twist, or even original.

I seriously hope that the TV series is better than this because I’ve been wanting to watch it for some time!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Can you convince me to even like it?

Kialtho

Kitty hat, Sackboy and a Lupin’s Scarf

I haven’t posted a knitting update for a while, but fear not! I have been busy, and I have a couple of projects to share with you.

Firstly, I want to share a Sackboy! This is for my brother. I held some chunky Sidar click double with some King Cole DK Shine [it could also be called Dazzle?]. Whilst I liked the effect of the fabric, I forgot how awkward holding yarn together is… which is ridiculous when it comes to talking about my next project, which started life a while ago as a DK-held together type project.

I’m quite happy with Sackboy, I love that he’s doing a pose from the game, even if it was unintentional, and his smile doesn’t look *too* creepy here. I think if I were to change anything I would consider giving him some bigger eyes… maybe. I hope my brother likes him :)
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I started the Lupin Scarf sometime last year, but didn’t like how the first one turned out, and it really wasn’t good enough to give away. This is much better; it’s made from Aran weight soft and silky, and used nearly the whole skein. The remainder when on making a kitty hat! This is a lovely brand to use, this particular skein did have a lot of fluff on it though! The colour of this picture doesn’t really do it justice – it’s a red that I can’t really describe, but it’s a red that everyone that’s seen the yarn has commented on at some point about it’s depth. Maybe a ruby red could be one way of describing it!
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The story behind this scarf is thus: my friend was admitted to hospital a year ago to have some emergency  surgery on his back so I said I would make a him a scarf… it’s only a year later but I finally managed to make good on this promise. I just hope he likes it! [I do believe I also promised some sort of cheesecake… so ought to make good on that too].

This is the kitty hat I mentioned. It’s exactly the same yarn as the Lupin Scarf, but as you can see even a slightly different light can change how the red looks! I’m not quite sure why I made the hat, but why not, eh?
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I’ve sort of made a decision on my next project as well, so the needles won’t be bare for long! I’m thinking the Nightingale Socks…. I’ve been putting them off for a very long time!

What’s on your needles at the moment?

Kialtho

Welcome to the Pines?

Have you been to the Pines? Where Paradise is Home.

I don’t typically write about films or TV shows, although there have been times when I have when a production has particularly made me want to write about it. The same can be said about Wayward Pines, a creepy little village where nothing is quite as it seems and everyone is under surveillance.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan we are introduced to a CIA agent with a history of adultery and failed cases. Or at least on failed case that impacts his every move from then on in. His name is Ethan Burke, with a wife, Theresa, and son, Ben. They play happy families until Ethan is sent to investigate a series of disappearances including two other CIA agents, leading him ultimately to the secluded township of Wayward Pines. Along the way he has an accident and ends up in the hospital with no wallet, no phone and no real way to contact the outside world. There’s a strange, ice cream obsessed Sheriff out to get him and a rotting body in an abandoned house. Oh, and his former CIA partner with whom he had the affair.

All is not well in the Pines. And just why can’t anyone leave?

I watched the first two episodes of this series a couple of weeks back, having recorded it on the DVR. Sometimes, with new things, it takes me a long time to get around to watching/doing them, and I think I delayed with this one as I didn’t want to be freaked out/disappointed. I thought I would give a couple of episodes a go, and see if I had any weird dreams [weird dreams about a TV series usually puts me off]. All was good, and on Friday I binge watched the remainder. At only 10 episodes, it’s not really a great deal of time.

Also: I just WANT TO KNOW what was going on.

Being as though the director was Shyamalan there was going to be some sort of twist, and that happened at around the 5th episode. And I tell you, it’s not what I was expecting. Even after the big reveal, I was still expecting something else, like SURPRISE SOCIAL EXPERIMENT. Shyalaman pulled it off nicely, and certainly kept the guessing game through until the end. And the ending!

As I’ve searched around the internet for more information about this series – such as the fact that it was based on a book trilogy [duly downloaded part one] I see that the thing that angers most people about the whole series is the very ending. I don’t want to spoil it at all, so I won’t say anything except that fact that I liked it. This, at it’s heart, is a dystopian tale, and keeping alongside traditional dystopian ideals… we’re not quite granted our ending as we would have liked. This makes me love the series even more, and wonder if even they could make a second one. I don’t think it’s likely to be honest, but there’s plenty of room to play with there. Maybe a secret society, rebels and the such like.

If you want to be creeped out a bit, want questions after questions and a what the hell kind of story, I would definitely recommend this. I believe all the lose ends are tied up and the story made sense once we know what’s going on…  I would recommend.

Have you seen this series? What did you think?

Kialtho

The Wind Singer – William Nicholson

This is a book that I first read around the same time that Harry Potter opened up a world of reading for me. I read before I discovered the Harry Potter series [even, would you believe at the ripe old age of 11 reading things like Stephen King], but it is a series that I can definitely say kick started my reading. Harry Potter that is, I probably didn’t fully understand the Stephen King at that age!

Summery:

In the city of Aramanth, the mantra is, “Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.” Harder work means the citizens of Aramanth can keep moving forward to improved life stations–from Gray tenements and Orange apartments, upwards to glorious mansions of White. Only some families, like the Haths, believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings. When Kestrel Hath decides she is through with the Aramanth work ethic, she is joined in her small rebellion by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they set the orderly city on its ear by escaping Aramanth’s walls for an adventure that takes them from city sewers to desert sandstorms. Guided by an archaic map, they know that if they can find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth, they can save their people from their dreamless existence. But the voice is guarded by the dreaded Morah and its legion of perfect killing machines, the Zars. Are three ragtag kids any match for an army of darkness?

As I’ve grown up I’ve often thought about this book. There’s just something about it that has stuck with me. One of the scenes during the climax of the book is one of the main characters staring into the eyes of the big bad, the Morah, and staring into and endless amount of eyes, and the feeling of never being alone. Looking back, and looking at other fandoms, it sort of reminds me of the Borg from Star Trek, with the hive mind controlled by the Borg Queen.

First and foremost, this is a children’s book. The writing and the storyline is fairly simple: the system is oppressive, the system is frustrating, the system needs to be challenged. Said children challenge system and are given a task that would resolve everyone’s problems with a magical talisman.

Even though it’s a fairly simple story, there are a few complex and unanswered questions. The one that baffled me the most was that I couldn’t place a time frame on the story. There was stuff that I thought could be set in an ancient time, but then the Ombaraka and Omchaka and their rolling cities, and some of the tech that we encountered through the main characters suggested otherwise.

The characters of Kestrel and Bowman were okay at best. Kestrel was more annoying that Bo, but also had most of the focus. This was more her fight that Bo’s, he came along to support his sister, because he wasn’t going to let her be in trouble on her own. And he believed in her. Their relationship was a little on the strange side.I couldn’t tell if the author was genuine in their brotherly/sisterly love or if he secretly shipped them, despite his trying to force the love of Mumpo onto Kestrel throughout the whole book.

I think the most fascinating part of the story in that it was also the most terrifying as it plays on the basic fears of most people, even if they don’t know it was that of the old children. These children who had had their lives literally sucked out of them and made them into old people, who would in turn suck the life out of other children. There’s nothing more scary than growing up, especially when it’s forced on you like it is in this book.

I wanted to recapture how I felt when I read this the first time. But I didn’t, and that in all reality is because I’m older now, and read slightly more complex books, even if they are sometimes children’s books! Despite this I am glad that I read this book again as I was able to reconnect to a world that I had largely forgotten about except for that one really outstanding vision that has stayed with me from a young age.

What are you reading at the moment? At this point in time I cannot decide what to pick up next… any ideas? There’s plenty to choose from on my GoodReads shelves but decisions decisions!!

Thanks for reading,

Kialtho

Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier

The first book in a series, this is a fantasy set in old Ireland and steeped in fairytale magic and intrigue, based on one of Hans Christian Andersons’ tales. And not a happy one at that. This isn’t a fairytale for children, that’s for sure!

Synopsis:

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

It took a long time to get into this book. The scene setting seemed to take a really long time, and I was certainly getting to a point where I could easily have put the book down and start something else. Then I went to Ireland for a brief holiday with Alex and it was like we were there at Sevenwaters, and from then on I was hooked to the story.

The story telling is vivid and beautiful. There is so much detail that I feel that it would take more than one reading to take everything in – but as much as I enjoyed reading I won’t be picking up this story again. It’s such a depressing read! So much stuff happens to the main character, Sorcha, so much pain and suffering – which is the point in order to complete her task of spinning and weaving six shirts in order to save her brothers.

I wanted to write a lot about this book, but as I sit here and type I can’t seem to think of what to say. It was a good book, and I did enjoy it despite how depressing it was. One thing I will say is that the love aspect which is mentioned in the synopsis – well I found it a bit lacking. I wasn’t up for a romance, but definitely expected a bit more in this regard.  It was until the last 100-150 pages that we focus on the love aspect, and a typical triangle as well which was equally as irksome for reasons I’m sure you would understand if you’ve read the book. There are two brothers, the eldest the heir to the family fortune, and the younger feeling neglected as pushed aside because he can’t have the love of his life. So why is it, when the elder – Red – decides to protect Sorcha by marrying her, regardless of his feelings, when Simon returns he decides that he is also deeply in love with her as well, despite already having a love of his life that caused him extreme jealousy from his brother in the first place. I guess I didn’t understand this aspect of it.

The part that made this book for me was being in Ireland when I was reading some it – and relating to the magic of Ireland more than the book itself I think. I doubt I’ll continue the series at this point in time, but you never know minds may change.

My next book is “The Wind Singer”, a revisiting of a childhood book that I’m looking forward to re-reading.

What’s on your bookshelves at the moment?

Kialtho

Warriors of Legend – Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon – Navok/Rudranath

You may remember, dear readers, that about a month or so ago I posted about the Sailor Moon Manga, which has been re-released in English from 2012 in 12 books, with a couple of extra special stories as well. The stories form the basis of the Anime, which played a big part in my life – and recently I cosplayed as Sailor Venus. During this time, I had ordered “Warriors of Legend – Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon” from Amazon as it sounded like an interesting exploration of things all things Sailor Moon and comparisons in modern life.

Here’s a brief description:

The book Warriors of Legend is one of the first of its kind, using a specific Japanese anime/manga series- the megahit Sailor Moon- to teach about Japan. Neophytes to Japan studies will find Warriors of Legend an accessible way to learn about this fascinating country. Those who know quite a lot about Japan already will find their understanding enhanced by the way the book analyzes the nuances of Tokyo’s history and Japanese society. The book also argues that Sailor Moon is a unique series in that it was both internationally popular and strongly structured by the culture of the city of Tokyo and post-Economic Bubble Japan.

I don’t usually read non-fiction books. They don’t hold my interest in the same way that a fiction book does, so sometimes it makes it hard to get through, but that’s not the case with “Warriors”, partly because the subject matter – Sailor Moon – is a bit like Harry Potter for me – interesting. That’s not to say the books I needed to read for my degree weren’t interesting, but Sailor Moon has been part of my life since about 2002, and again is one of those things that I grew up with.

This book is set out in easy to read sections and it wasn’t hard to keep up interest in small doses. I didn’t read it in one go, but I’m sure it could be done.

It’s a really interesting read. I definitely feel as though I’ve come away from this book having learnt at least something about the complexities of Japanese culture. I didn’t realise just how much of “reality” was in the series, from real shops, albeit with different or altered names, to monuments like a newly opened bridge. I think it was a clever addition by both the animators and the author of the manga, Naoko Takeuchi as it continues to reflect a changing and modern Japan.

As we are taken through various sections, I found that when I was reading there was too greater focus on Sailor Mars/Rei. I know that her character is important considering she is the embodiment of both the new and the old Japanese culture. I didn’t realise just how much her character had changed between the anime and the manga, and to be honest it made me realise just how annoying her anime characterisation was.

I think I found the section on Sailor Venus more interesting for a couple of reasons: the cosplay [before this cosplay, Sailor Moon was strictly my favourite character, but I do believe that has now shift to Venus]. Her mythology was really interesting, in that being based on both Roman and Babylonian myths [The myth of Ishtar is actually one of my favourites, although it’s not really something that would stand out to a casual reader/watcher of the series like me, despite it being on my favourites]. I really want to know more about Venus for sure.

I like that Ami’s character was based on a singer at the time – I wonder if she feels honoured at that or not?

I think if I had to say anything about that book it’s that it could be set out and flow a bit more cohesively as it seemed to jump around a bit, perhaps this was emphasised in that I took quite a break between starting and finishing.

Well, that’s all for now folks!

Kialtho