Cosplay: Sailor Venus and Sailor Jupiter!

Over the last few weeks, I mentioned in my previous blog post that things have been a bit quite on the blog but that’s because me and Erin have been doing a six week [pretty much] intensive sewing session, consisting of several all day events making our costumes for the MCM London Expo which was at the weekend. We went on Sunday, and decided to go as Sailor Scouts [who, else, this is us?]. I actually when as Sailor Venus, when normally I’ve wanted to go as Sailor Moon. I liked this as it was a massive change to normal, and allowed me to relate to another character.

Aside from some small projects back in the summer last year, this was the first time I’ve used a sewing machine to make anything, and I have to say I am very pleased with the outcome. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without Erin though, so all the credit goes to her really!

I wanted to share some of the photo’s of the whole process, they aren’t great quality though as they are phone pictures.

The whole process has definitely given me the bug, and I really want to make more things, I need to get some more feet for the machine, it took me a long time to find out the name of one of them, so it may be a while!

Here are a couple of pictures, hoping that Erin doesn’t mind me sharing some!
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Did you happen to see us? Take any pictures? I would love to see them!

Kialtho

Sailor Moon – Naoko Takeuchi

I’m not sure if you will have noticed but I haven’t been blogging so much recently, mainly because the books I have been reading have been the Sailor Moon manga, which were re-released in English around 2012. This series had a huge influence on me when I was growing up, I still remember the first episode I watched on Fox Kids when I was about 12. (Which was one of very many, many re-runs. I watched the same two episodes so many times in that one day it was unreal). When I first started re-reading I thought I was going to blog after each individual volume, but didn’t. Then I decided I would do it at the end of each arc, but the books and the arcs didn’t marry up how I would have liked to write about it. The same at the 6 book mark… so I decided to write one book once I had finished the main 12 volumes so I could share my feelings. One of the reasons I needed to finish the series is because this coming Sunday I am cosplaying at MCN London at Sailor Venus with my friend Erin who is playing Sailor Jupiter. I thought I ought to finish the main storyline before then. I really loved reading this series again. From the innocence in the beginning of our reluctant heroine, to the badass warrior that fails to fall even when all the odds are stacked against her in the final volumes. The Sailor scouts story is both liberating – having female warriors battling the forces of evil, the liberalism and the fight for love, justice and peace – it’s refreshing from some of the rubbish that is around at the moment. I like the fact that there things like same sex relationships are okay, and not questioned, and the same with transgender [the Stars, for instance] and even Sailor Uranus was hinted [although never really explored] as an hermaphrodite. There are hints that Saturn and Chibi-Usa have a relationship, which made my heart swell a little bit. I wish that there had been more screen time for the other sailor scouts. I feel as though maybe they could have had more of their own stories, as they seem really quite secondary to Sailor Moon, and only there to further the plot; mainly to die in most cases, before being revived by a newly supped up Sailor Moon. Sailor Cosmos; I love this concept, and the artwork around her. Whilst most people seemed to dislike Chibi-Usa, she is actually one of my favourite characters, and her story arc is definitely my favourite, even though it seems a bit rushed. I liked the concept of Dark Lady, and somehow feel as though other characters “evil” could have been explored as well? I don’t know, I think I’m just rambling here! I don’t really know how to fully express my love for this series, so rather than ramble for pages and pages, I’ll leave it here and hope that you discover some Sailor Moon love in your life! Take it easy folks, and look out for a blog in the near future of me playing Sailor V! [The wig I have is AMAZING]. Kialtho

A blog from an undecided voter:

It’s the eve before the General Election here in the UK. The future of the UK is in our hands, the very basis of democracy in action. We go to the booths, we chose a party to lead us [and a whole bunch of others to run local and town councils] and hopefully at the end of it all we have a single party that can competently run the country for the next five years.

How do you choose who to vote for?

Last time round it was very simple for me. I voted for the party that I most related to, and agreed with. This time? I am not so sure. It’s the eve of the general election, and whilst I have a good idea of who I am going to vote for I can’t help but think when I get into the booth tomorrow morning that I will have a completely different thought.

I wouldn’t say I hold strong views on many things; except that we should do our democratic duty to go out and vote, and that we shouldn’t waste those votes. There are parties that I think should be wiped out, and am praying that the general public see sense and DON’T vote for protest parties like UKIP. UKIP have gained a lot of media coverage, not too dissimilar to the the BNP in the 2000’s, and here’s hoping that they go the same way into obscurity.

Of the three main parties I would consider myself a Liberal Democrat… but this year? Are they really the party I want to vote for? I like Nick Clegg. His “mean tweets” skit was also pretty hilarious. I think that they have done a great job supporting the Conservatives, who themselves I think have done well; to the point that I can say I have noticed the difference from a financial point of view. We saved money buying our home – we were going through the process of buying our little flat AS this new policy came into play, and we literally saved money overnight, the difference in my pay… I can see that difference, and that difference counts. But is it enough for me to vote for them tomorrow morning?

I think, out of all the issues that have been raised over the last six weeks or so; the NHS [a British institution that people do want to protect, but something that is also in need of *good* reform], immigration [listen, immigration needs a lot of research rather than being based on hearsay, people are under the impression that it’s out of control because we accept those in need; when people talk about immigration into our country they very rarely talk about the people leaving the country… and the industry I am in is pretty much held up by immigration; I wish when people spoke about this “issue” that they had the facts, and not the based their thoughts and feelings off things that they’ve read on Facebook, or through the biased media outlets.

Another question: Europe… the debates are strong and the question is simple… supposedly. In, or out? Personally, I’m in. The world is developing into three distinct common/single markets. South East Asia, Latin America and Europe. Surely, this alone would suggest that we should stay in Europe? Not only that, but I believe that it would genuinely be better if we stayed in, so do I vote for a party that wants the referendum? Do I vote for the party that would take on the Euro more quickly than the others? [Something that I *wouldn’t* want to do!]

So the question is… what party can appeal the greatest number of policies to this voter? I don’t know. But come tomorrow I will have to make that decision, to take part in the election and do my democratic duty.

This link is quite useful:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/manifesto-guide

I hope you do to, reader, think about who you want to vote for, and why. Please don’t just go for the protest vote. Every vote counts, and yours does too.

Kialtho

The Martian – Andy Weir

I’m not sure what initially drew me to “The Martian” but it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a little while, not as long as some, and certainly not the newest book of the lot. I thought it was time to read it as I had seen that it was part of a Book Club on Instagram and wanted to find out what it was all about.

Synopsis:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I have a lot of science fiction books. I also seem to have a lot of books about/regarding/involving Martians. Science Fiction seems to be the genre of choice on my bookshelf it has to be said, whether classic or modern.

I am so glad that I took the time out to read Andy Weir’s “The Martian”. I’ve read a few books this year, and whilst I have enjoyed them, it would seem that this particular book managed to grip me in a way that I haven’t felt with a book for a long time. In fact… the last time I felt this into a book was probably “Ready Player One”, and if I recall correctly, that was quite some time ago. That’s not to say that I haven’t been engaged in other books that I’ve read, it’s just sometimes it takes a book like this one to make you realise how awesome some books can be.

We meet Mark Watney, stranded on Mars, presumed dead. He isn’t, and now he’s got to survive. Survive on hope that he can be rescued in 4 years time, that the next Mars landing will be able to take him home, and that he won’t in the mean time die from lack of oxygen, food, or some other catastrophe.

Mark gets a lot of bad luck thrown his way, but through it all remains mildly optimistic that he can do everything that he can to survive and get out the other end. At first I thought it was a bit ridiculous the amount of stuff that went wrong, but I think that in the long run this probably benefited Mark as it gave him tasks to focus on rather than the utter loneliness and silence of the red planet.

I cheered along as contact with NASA was re-established, and loved how other elements came into play in the story telling, evolving from the blog/log entries made by Mark, through to the characters of NASA and their roles in helping Mark survive. And then the additional little stories of the equipment, like the woven fabric/material that ended up exploding about half way through, or the bolt in the failed launch of supplies to Mars. These little stories, components felt like characters in their own right.

Apparently some people were offended at the use of swear words in this novel; I had no problem at all with this aspect of the novel at all. In fact, it helped connect to the character. We are all human, I’m fairly certain we all swear/curse I think if I were in the same situation as this character then I would have been doing it a lot more to be honest.

For some reason when reading through the log entries it felt like it took the longest time to get to about 200 sols, then the rest of the book picked up pace and suddenly we were at the thrilling conclusion.

Ultimately there were only two ways that this was going to end: rescue or death. I’m not going to spoil for you if you haven’t read, but I’m glad it ended how it did.

This book has definitely made me want to check out other novels by this author, and have duly followed him on GoodReads to see what else he has written as his is a name that I haven’t heard before.

I rated this book 5/5 on GoodReads. I hope you manage to take the time to discover this book for yourself, it’s a thrilling ride, and perhaps not at all what you would expect from a book about the Earth’s burgeoning exploration into space.

Have you read this? What did you think? Next up for me is part one in “A Dance of Dragons”.

Kialtho

The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living


Thoughts:
The idea of all the kids at puberty suddenly developing mysterious powers, and the ones that didn’t simply died, is intriguing, and an idea I don’t think I’ve come across before. This isn’t just some rehash of X-Men – which I think is what I expected when I first picked this book up – but the tale of the collapse of the USA from fear of these kids, by locking them up in essentially concentration camps, and hoping for the best.

I love that there are mentions of other countries like the UK imposing economic sanctions on the US. It shows that the author has thought about the wider ramifications of the world that she’s set up, and one that isn’t entirely without consequence. The US, in this book, is having to face up to what it’s done to these kids, through the sickness and the camps.

We meet Ruby as a 10 year old, scared, not knowing what she’s done. She manages to slip through the net and hide, to become someone that she is not in this new world of children defined by colours – the colours denoting their particular abilities [although, this isn’t exactly explained very well, hopefully more to come in the next book?]. Ruby is an Orange, and endangered species, because Oranges have the power of mind control.

Ruby was an interesting character, but the constant self fear and loathing did get to me a little, and in the middle of the book when the kids are searching for the “Slip Kid” the kid that will keep them safe from persecution, we see this a lot more. This section of the book moved a lot slower as well, but I can understand why it was needed – you can’t have the group of escapees miraculously and suddenly discover the camp with a little controversy.

Ruby knows she’s an Orange, she knows what she can do even if she can’t control it. She knows what other people can do to her – other Oranges, so I think my biggest problem comes a little later in the book when she’s being taught to use her abilities by the Slip Kid, also an Orange, when he begins to manipulate her. To make her want him, to make her behave in a different manner to how she was. At first I thought it would going to be a typical dystopian romance triangle, but actually I liked that it wasn’t, that she was true – despite being manipulated – to the person she loved. I did have problems with the mind-rape; I felt that this was glossed over too quickly, and that it was used as an excuse to get them to leave the camp rather than dealing with the fall out – mind, I suppose there wasn’t much time to deal with it, so again, maybe that might be something that’s dealt with in the next book?

I enjoyed this ride, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, one to definitely loo out for, I think.

Elder Tree Shawl

After approximately a month after starting this project I can announce that my “Elder Tree Shawl” is complete. Here it is:
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I had to take some breaks from making this though as the needles were making my hands hurt, but  I have to admit that it wasn’t until tonight that I realised I was using a 3.5mm and a 4.0mm needle… fail. Once I discovered this I felt like an idiot, I have to say. I don’t think it’s affected the shape of the shawl too badly though, and I certainly wouldn’t entertain the notion of ripping back.

I love the colours in this project, the yarn is from CountessAblaze, in the colour way “Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker”. I would definitely use this again, and sort of want to have it in a DK weight so that I could make another Crochet My Little Pony. I have several other colour ways from CountessAblaze in my stash – alongside GnomeAcres she’s my favourite Indy yarn dyer – go check them both out if you haven’t already!

I can’t block it just yet though as I don’t have enough pins or big enough blocking mats, so I will have to wait until I can order more – I can’t wait to see what this will look like when it’s fully completed! I only have nine squares for the mats and the wingspan of the shawl will be pretty big when it’s complete, so yeah, more mats needed.

The pattern is really easy to follow, much better than the “Lonely Tree” as well as this one you can keep going until you’ve decided you’ve had enough. Because of this I started weighing the yarn quite a lot when I joined in the second skein so that I could try and make sure that I wouldn’t run out during the cast off. It ended up that I had nine grams of yarn left, which I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with…

There’s not much to add for the time being, except that the next project up will be some Chikini’s; clothing/tabards for rescued battery hens.

Carnival of Shadows – R. J. Ellory

Before I begin I need to mention that I won this ARC copy of “Carnival of Shadows” in a GoodReads giveaway, and that my review is based on the version of the book I received non profit blah blah blah.

Let’s start with the synopsis:

Kansas, 1959. A travelling carnival appears overnight in the small town of Seneca Falls, intriguing the townsfolk with acts of inexplicable magic and illusion. But when a man’s body is discovered beneath the carousel, with no clue as to his identity, FBI Special Agent Michael Travis is sent to investigate.
Led by the elusive Edgar Doyle, the carnival folk range from the enigmatic to the bizarre, but none of them will give Travis a straight answer to his questions. With each new turn of the investigation, Doyle and his companions challenge Travis’s once unshakeable faith in solid facts and hard evidence.

As the consequences of what has happened become ever more disturbing, Travis struggles to open his mind to a truth that defies comprehension. Will he be able to convince himself that things are not what they seem? Or will he finally reconcile himself to a new reality – one that threatens to undermine everything in which he has ever placed his trust?

In his powerful, atmospheric new thriller, bestselling author R.J. Ellory introduces the weird and wonderful world of the Carnival Diablo and reveals the dark secrets that lurk at its heart

[Via GoodReads].

Thoughts:

I have to say that the premise of this book was really interesting, the mysterious carnival, a murder and the FBI. When I began the storyling I couldn’t help but think I was reading a story about Hotchner from Criminal Minds as I didn’t feel that Travis’ character was anything more than a typical law enforcement character complete with “troubled” history in the form of an abusive father murdered by his mother.

I was intrigued by the murder of the mysterious man underneath the merry-go-round, and in fact reminded me of “The Colorado Kid” by Stephen King, and a part of me wanted to see the outcome unresolved as well, but the story that Ellory developed was far different to what I expected. For me this story ran from something Criminal Minds through to the X-Files.

In the first half of the novel we get this solid investigation into the murder of an unfortunate soul, but how the story developed was a bit… ludicrous? I’m not sure how I felt about the conclusion, and to be fair it was another one of those stories that had a lot of pages, and felt that it was building to what should have been an epic conclusion, but it was deflated as everything just fizzled out and moved on.

I don’t know. It was an atmospheric read, and I enjoyed being in 1950’s America, but I just feel that there was something missing about this book. Perhaps it was because it was the ARC copy, so things had perhaps not been edited out.

There was one thing that I found quite irksome in this version, and perhaps it’s change for later versions, but the continued use of “Federal Bureau of Investigation” rather than FBI… it’s like it was to add to the word count more than anything… that’s probably just me though.

I think I could recommend it if you want an atmospheric read then pick this one up for something a little on the different side, but personally I don’t feel that the synopsis reflects the novel. I wouldn’t have called this a “thriller” but more of a slow burner that fizzles out… which is a shame as I wanted to like this more.

That being said I think that this has introduced me to a new author, someone that I haven’t read before and would be interested in reading some more of his work.

Keep on reading,

Kialtho