taketimetoshine: (Winter Warmth)
Whenever I come to a stumbling point, writers block... whatever you want to call it, I write a list. I figured blogging could be pretty similar. I'm blocked, so rather than stress about it, I'm going to give you a list. And not just any list but an A-Z of me!

A is for asexual. I am an heteromantic asexual. This means I could be in a romantic relationship with a man but one that doesn't involve sex. I'm not anti-sex, it just doesn't interest me. I pretty much have no sex drive, but I tend to be a hopeless romantic. I am, however, single.
B is for beaches. I love going to the beach. A nice hot summer day, warm sand beneath me, cool water lapping at my toes. A picnic. A book. An ice-cream. What's not to love?
C is for candles. I love candlelight, I find it very relaxing. The flickering of the flame, the soft hiss of the wax. I'm also fond of a scented candle.
D is for daydreaming. My mind wanders quite easily but I find it almost meditative, just taking a few moments to drift away, especially when working on a problem and I quite often find I've solved it subconsciously while imaginging myself on that wonderful secluded beach!
E is for eyes. The windows to the soul, as they say, and one of the first things I notice about a person. I am a sucker for big, brown, soulful eyes with long eyelashes.
F is for fairy tales. I grew up listening to them, I always remember my dad sitting on my bed, reading to me from a big book of fairy tales. As I've grown up, I love the mythology and folklore surrounding them... and, really, who doesn't love dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins, mermaids, trolls, witches, and magic?!
G is for gardening. I don't get to do it very often because I don't have a garden of my own, but I love it. I love the sense of nurturing something from a seed to a plant/flower/vegetable/fruit. I love the feel of the dirt beneath my hands. It's just so real
H is for happily ever after. Good beats evil, the guy gets his girl (and vice versa) and the dog lives... See hopeless romantic and fairy tales! LOL
I is for internet. I barely remember a time before it, I love what an amazing resource it is, a cure for boredom and it's where we all are right now!
J is for Jane Austen. She's one of my favourite writers, as cliche as it may be. I adore Pride & Prejudice. I don't know what else to say, really!
K is for Knights Templar. I love the mystery and mythology and all the stories surrounding them, what they stood for and what happened to them. I love the cross of fiction and fact.
L is for lapis lazuli. My favourite semi-precious stone and my favourite shade of blue. I've always loved it. It's sch a vibrant colour.
M is for magic. Again, going back to fantasy and fairytales but I adore magic. Not the earth-magic but the sorcery and spells of fiction, think Harry Potter style.
N is for nature. It's like I said - I adore our natural, physical, material world and all its parts, and the study of it, really.
O is for Once Upon A Time. Currently one of my favourite TV shows. I love the weaving of all the different fairytales into the stories... which is why I started watching it in the first place. I'm a little behind - I should probably catch up!
P is for paranormal. As much as I love the natural world in all its forms, I'm also fascinated by the phenomenon that cannot be explained by the bounds of what we know. Ghosts, demons, angels, UFOS, vampires etc
Q is for quotes. Maybe it seems like a weird thing to be into, but I have a whole notebook full of quotations I like. Some motivational, some from media... anything that appeals to me, I'll make a note of it.
R is for rainbows. Firstly, they're pretty. I know its merely light reflections but I love the reminder that good things come from bad, as it were.
S is for science. Again, the fascination with the world around us, studying it, learning what I can about it. Scientific method also makes a lot of sense to me.
T is for tennis. I am not a sporting person. I don't enjoy participating in sports, or in watching them. Except for tennis. There is something about it that I adore. Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Wawrinka, Nadal, Williams, Azarenka, Murguruza, Kvitova, Halep...
U is for unicorns. What do you mean 'they don't exist'?! In Ancient Greek times, they were included in natural history books and were believed to live in India.
V is for vampires. I'm pretty much a fan of them in all genres - from Buffy, to Twilight, to Anne Rice, to LJ Smith, to Bram Stoker. Immortality achieved by living on life essence... intriguing, no?
W is for werewolves. I'm starting to notice a pattern here. Did I mention a love for all things folklore/paranormal/magic/urban fantasy? And lycanthropy too is not a recent phenomenon, with early reports dating back to Petronius in the Roman times.
X is for X-Files. I fell in love with the show as a teenager for featuring in a serious drama way so many of the myths and folklores that I adored. I loved the mix of science and myth, blending of the two within the realms of also being a cop show.
Y is for Yoga I'm not the most flexible person in the world but I find that along with daydreaming, yoga works as a form of meditation for me. It helps me with stress relief and lets face it, suppleness and strength are never bad things to work on
Z is for Zombies Did you know the first use of the word 'zombie' dates to 1819 in a history of Brazil? Personally, my preferred zombies are the original Haitian voodoo reanimated dead but, like with most of my folklore, I enjoy most stories featuring them!
taketimetoshine: (Believe In Love)
Veronica Roth - Divergent
The blurb:In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, romance, science-fiction
Date I started this book: 29/03/16
Date I finished this book: 02/05/16

What did I think? I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite being a little put off by its supposed similarity to The Hunger Games. Whilst the setting is similar as they're both dystopian young adult books, this book has a completely different plot.

I like the setting - that people are placed in one of four factions depending on their personality type - and the fact that main character Tris does not nearly fit into one particular faction, so is therefore considered to be 'divergent'. Tris is a likeable character and is very human, complete with flaws. There are several supporting characters, and the character interaction (particularly between Tris and Tobias) is great. The characters and the story are well written, but the ending of this book feels rather rushed, like the author ran out of words and had to squeeze the ending in. While the ending is exciting, I'd have liked a slower build up.

Summary - This is an interesting book with an exciting storyline, supported by lots of likeable characters. I found it hard to put down and I'm looking forward to starting book 2 tonight

Oops?

Apr. 2nd, 2016 07:24 pm
taketimetoshine: (Stitched Heart)
I seem to have not updated in over a month. I haven't logged in or anything in that time. I'm not even sure what happened there. It's not like I've been sick or had a broken computer and been ridiculous busy at work or college. It just.. slipped my mind. Completely. I'm so sorry!

I've not really done much. Just a lot of reading... and forgetting to update on goodreads or post reviews. Such a complete failure.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to get all caught up so I'm just going to draw a line under March, forget that it skipped past like that and start again, fresh and clean from today.

So, internet, I ask you... what have you been up to? What have I missed? What do I need to know?
taketimetoshine: (Have The Answer)
I'm not doing very well at posting one of these a day but I'm still working slowly through the questions... I suppose the important thing is that I'm still going, rather than how quickly I get through them.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint a single favourite book but I utterly loved The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Family, adventures, a dog, picnics, ginger beer... That was the life I wanted as a child and I loved every single things those four children got up to. Looking back at them as an adult, there's a lot of eye-opening and facepalming at what they were allowed to do, but then it was a different time, wasn't it?

I mean, a character called Dick has a completely different connotation nowadays!

Then again, it could be interesting, in the hands of a competent author, to see an updated 21st century version of Julian, Dick, Anne, George, Timmy & their adventures. Purely for curiosities sake.

But, really, nostalgia is where its at
taketimetoshine: (Stitched Heart)
Oh. Wow. Where to even start? I've already talked about so many writers that I love - CS Lewis, George Orwell, Harper Lee, Jane Austen, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Rachel Vincent, Suzanne Collins... there are so many amazing writers out there that trying to narrow it down is next to impossible.

But, since I have to narrow it down, I'm going to say Kelley Armstrong.

I read Bitten for the first time in my mid-teens and suddenly as well as having fantasy, there was this whole new world of urban fantasy - werewolves living in my world. And, as the series went on, not just werewolves but witches, sorcerers, necromancers, ghosts, shamans, demons and vampires... Strong and interesting lead female characters, amazing family groups - both blood and otherwise. I love the whole intricacy of the plots threaded through the individual novels and the linking of the series as a whole. I love the world she made and the characters that populate it.

And now, ignoring my to-read pile and my 101 Things In 1001 Days reading goals, I have this itching to start from Bitten and work my way through the whole universe again
Though, to be fair, there are a number of those goals that the series would fit under...
taketimetoshine: (Default)
Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
The blurb:Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
Date I started this book: 19/02/16
Date I finished this book: 24/02/16

What did I think? The goriest and darkest of the trilogy, we find that Katniss Everdeen, still the 17-year old who survived two Hunger Games, is now the Mockingjay, or the face of the rebellion against the Capitol, and President Snow. This book picks up from where Book 2 "Catching Fire", left off, after Katniss breaks apart the facade of the Arena, effectively bringing the Games to an end, and on a larger level, the whole idea of being a spectacle for the Capitol's sick entertainment and subject to its power and oppression.

In an ironic twist, the rebels who set up base in District 13 (which had been thought to be totally destroyed), uses the very weapon that had been the crux of the Capitol's powers - the media. As an emblem of the rebellion, Katniss finds herself airbrushed and beautified to win support from the other oppressed districts, and through trial and error, finds what works best is to get to "Beauty Base Zero", which is "what a person would look like if they stepped out of bed looking flawless but natural. It means my nails are perfectly shaped but not polished. My hair is soft and shiny but not styled.... As a rebel I thought I'd get to look more like myself. But it seems a televised rebel has her own standards to live up to." With sardonic wit, Collins nonetheless convinces the reader with the sobering consistency of her dystopian world.

In the previous installments, the various prep teams and stylist teams assigned to the tributes had stood out for their frivolous antics in the heavily perfumed and sanitised environment outside the arena, but here, they become part of the blood and gore, manicures and fake lashes notwithstanding. While Katniss continues to struggle with her own feelings for Peeta and Gale, she is faced with less and less assurance that she is fighting for the right team, and that her alliances can be trusted, and even if she should trust herself, scarred as she is by her brutal experiences. She questions the offensive tactics that Gale and Beetee, another fellow survivor the Quarter Quell, devise: "That seems to be crossing some kind of line... So anything goes?... I guess there isn't a rule book for what might be acceptable to do to another human being".

Collins gets under the skin of her female protagonist, and follows through with her growing urgency to overthrow the Capitol and Snow, and we see Katniss go beyond issues of survival and revenge, because, as more and more of people around her fall on the wayside, and not just in mortal terms, she questions if humanity is even worth saving: "I think Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences.... The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."

These are difficult questions, and through Collins's artistic vision that she keeps with tight consistency in this better-than-average YA trilogy, they linger on beyond its closing pages.
taketimetoshine: (Pink Flowers)
I have to admit, my gut reaction here would be Harry Potter. I would love to be a Witch and attend Hogwarts - although preferably in a time of peace. I'd rather have not been a student when Harry was there... think how interrupted my education would have been.

Imagine walking down Diagon Alley and buying school supplies. Catching the Hogwarts Express. Being sorted (preferably into Gryffindor, thank you). Meals in the Great Hall. Playing Quidditch. Learning Transfiguration, Defence Against Dark Arts, Charms, Potions, Astronomy, History Of Magic, Herbology, Arithmancy, Diviniation... The Forbidden Forest. Hogsmeade.

I think it would just be wonderful!
taketimetoshine: (Winter Warmth)
This is a really tough one to answer. It's hard to judge how much a book has been read by the public without looking at sales figures, and whichever book I choose is probably being read by many more people than I think! So, I’ve decided to just pick an author that I love, because you always want your favourite writers to be read more, right?

One author I love who I don't see mentioned anywhere near enough is Jim Butcher. He's probably best known for The Dresden Files - a series of contemporary fantasy/mystery novels about private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden, who is the world's only "consulting wizard," accepting supernatural cases from both human and non-human clients, as well as the Chicago PD's Special Investigation unit. As the series progresses, Dresden takes on an increasingly important role in the supernatural world at large as he works to protect the general public, making it difficult for him to get by as a working wizard and private investigator. He finds himself facing off against an increasing variety of creatures (including other wizards), while facing the realization that his various cases may all be tied together behind the scenes and that his role might be even greater than he's willing to admit.

Butcher also writes a fantasy series called Codex Alera, the coming-of-age story of a young man named Tavi in the realm of Alera, an empire similar to Rome, on the world of Carna. Every Aleran has some degree of command over elemental forces or spirits called furies, save for Tavi, who is considered unusual for his lack of one. As the aging First Lord struggles to maintain his hold on a realm on the brink of civil war, Tavi must use all of his intelligence to save Alera

I haven't read it yet but he's also started a new Steampunk series called The Cinder Spires. The first book, The Aeronaut's Windlass, came out in September 2015.
taketimetoshine: (Stitched Heart)
Half-way through the meme and honestly, this was a lot harder than I imagine it would or could be. It's been interesting though, and it's got me blogging on a fairly regular basis so I'm pleased with how well it's working from that respect.

A thought provoking book? Hmmm....
"Big Brother Is Watching You..." It was chilling the first time I read those words and they seem to be more and more fitting as time goes on - much more so than they were in 1984, even more so than 1949.

The world created by Orwell is fascinating and so plausibly and realistically portrayed that I felt, not like I was reading a fictional novel, but a real, non-fiction account of what actually happened in 1984. That’s how believable Orwell’s writing was. I think what may have added to the depth of the dystopian world created in 1984, as opposed to other dystopians I have read, was that there was a solid political background and reasoning given for how things were the way they were.

I found it absolutely fascinating to contemplate some of the concepts of the 1984 world. Could it really be possible to keep a whole population docile by limiting their vocabulary, thus not giving them a means to express any disagreement or dissent? Could it really be possible to effectively wipe out everyone’s memory of the past by continually changing it to fit whatever version of events the government wished to tell? Would people actually accept this? Would they, or the majority at least, remain oblivious to what the government was doing?

This dystopian world that Orwell created is one of the most shocking I have read about, and it is made all the more terrifying by how realistically it is portrayed - and becoming.
taketimetoshine: (Have The Answer)
Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series.

It's almost cliche to say it but she reminded me a lot of me - plain looking, intelligent, hard-working, studious, bookish... I loved seeing a character with her conscience and compassion, her responsibility and her steadfast devotion to the rules. She was determined and focused and so strong, despite her insecurity and fear of failure. Yet, despite her confidence and her abilities, she was never arrogant and would always help her friends.

I would love to be as brave as her - even when she was scared and panicking she was still able to find the reserves to carry on, to win.

I could carry on for hours as to why I love Hermione, why I think she's an incredible female character and role model but I won't!

June 2016

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