Monthly Archives: March 2014

March Favourites

This month I’ve mainly loved stuff, so I’m dropping the not so hot part of the list.

I’ve read a phenomenal amount of books this month, well, 11 feels phenomenal to me. My Favourite Books this month are Feed and Divergent. Divergent was a very easy read, and I loved the characters. The setting was unusual and it left me wanting more, I finished the sequel this week, and I’m waiting for the third one to come back to the library. Feed was a very satisfying read, the story was complex and and character development was excellent.

We didn’t see that many films this month, due to extended car issues [which will hopefully be fixed soon]. The Favourite Film had to be Veronica Mars. It’s been a long wait since the Kickstarter project finished, but it was definitely worth the wait. I was happy to see the characters so many years after we last saw them. We watched it the day after it came out, on the sofa at home with a big bowl of marshmallows, it would’ve been better to see it on the big screen, but it wasn’t showing everywhere.

Favourite Game this month, was a cute little board game called Mai-Star. The aim of the game is to compete with other Geisha to get the best customers and earn the most money. A game only takes between 20 and 30 minutes. It’s a really good warm up game, to get you into the spirit of things before playing a longer game. We’ve played it half a dozen times this month, I still haven’t managed to win it yet, but it’s a fun little game, and the artwork is great.

Miscellaneous Favourites include Cadbury’s Egg and Spoon… they are the most delicious thing ever. I’ll be so sad when Easter is done with and they get taken off the shelves. It’s pretty weird how Kinder Eggs get to be an all year round type of food, but creme eggs and other eggs like that are only available for a few months at the start of each year. I’ll just have to stock up before they disappear.

We had a whole week of slightly better weather. It was so refreshing to see the sun. And a nice break from the relentless stormy weather we had in January and February. A tiny bit of sun is better than no sun at all, it’ll be nice to have it on a more regular basis.

-girlinthenerdshop

Category: Storytime | Tags: , , ,

Photo 365: Days 78-84

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Cat Lady Evidence

So, this is a thing that is happening right now. I sit down in front of my laptop and decide that I want to get some posts sorted for the next few days… and look what happens.

Two cats fighting for space on my chair

Two cats fighting for space on my chair

So… instead of pushing cats off the chair so that I can sit comfortably and get on with my mission… this happens

Noodle wins

Noodle wins

Noodle won the battle for cats on my chair. She is slowly moving around so that I have less and less space to sit, yet I don’t remove her.

After all… letting her have the chair is easier than trying to stop her walking on top of the keyboard every five seconds… right?

Category: Storytime | Tags: , , ,

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have read a whole ton of books lately. It’s pretty good to be catching up with my iggle book club choices, and getting through the massive backlog of paperbacks I have scattered about the house. I’m at 18 out of 31 in my GoodReads challenge so far. And it’s only March!

DIVERGENT_B_Format_UK.indd

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

 

This one was another quick read for me, it only took a couple of days. YA fiction has that effect on me, big font and simple, easy to devour story.

As is custom, I will start with the issues I had, I really didn’t like that the factionless were made out to be crazy homeless people, and that the evil lady wanted to get rid of them… they are a perfectly good workforce that she could utilise for cheap labour, and they already make parts of the city run by building and driving things. It just didn’t make that much sense to eradicate them.

I’m not entirely convinced by the learning to fight like a badass in just over a week. Muscles and co-ordination take a bit longer to develop than that. Especially if you come from a background without much physical activity and no previous experience in jumping on and off trains and the like. There also seemed to be a whole lot of violence for the sake of violence, the eye stab felt a bit over the top aswell. I know that Roth was just trying to show how hard it is in there, and how ruthless they all are.

My biggest issue was that of divergence. So our main character Tris is Divergent. So her brain can function in several ways, or she’s got a more open mind or whatever it is we’re told. If they don’t like this trait as a society, then why are the teenagers allowed to choose what faction they join… if they leave one and go to another faction, then  surely that leaves them open to learning a new way of thinking. As all the transfer initiates we come across still show many tendencies from their old factions. I imagine that we get more details on that as the story develops in the next couple of books. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Let’s skip to the good bit. I liked the different faction thing [even if I had issues with it too]. It was cool to see sides to the city, and how the different groups were founded because of the different responses to war and what caused it. Each faction had a different purpose which was cool, but how many super clever people does one person need?

Tris was a really well written character, she is a teenager, and as a rule teenagers are selfish and they don’t know what they want. Tris has a whole bunch of issues to get over, like leaving her family and being special and what not, and hiding the truth. She is also very cruel, which is an interesting streak to see in a leading role.

I think the highlight for me in this book was the developing romance between Four and Tris. It was awkward, and confusing for both of them. It built up so slowly so it made it feel more realistic to me. Especially having them both be nervous around each other when they were alone together, and in public not being able to do anything about it. I enjoyed it, and I was glad that they both made it to the end of the book. I hope nothing happens to Four in the next book, I’d like to keep him whole if I can.

What can I say, I really enjoyed it. I give it 4 stars, and I will most likely be carrying on with the series [and dragging Alex to see the movie when it comes out later this year!]

Category: Book, Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Conversations with the Girl

You know how it goes, I’m a talker, and sometimes the things that go on in my head are a little bit random. Same goes for Alex, and I’m blaming him for this one.

We went out for lunch, and had a discussion about the cutlery there. I originate from a town that is famous for it’s steel production… Alex said that if we were in a fantasy novel… because I came from the place that made steel things I would have an affinity for metal, and I would be able to tell all sorts of things just by holding the fork.

As interesting as this would be as a skill… I’d like to think my special knowledge would be a little more interesting that communing with the cutlery. Although, I guess steel could cover weapons too… so it can’t all be so bad.

If you were in a fantasy novel, what would you want your special area of knowledge to cover?

– girlinthenerdshop

Category: Storytime | Tags:

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

 

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

In this fable, the first man on earth to count the hours becomes Father Time. The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world–now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began–and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

 

This was a really short book, so it’s gonna be a really short review.

I’m not sure that I liked the writing style in this book. The bold heading followed by a short paragraph made it really easy to read but for the most part it made me notice that it was a book, if that makes sense. It really drew attention to the page, so that it was obvious it was printed, so it was harder to lose myself in the story.

I found the whole premise of the book a bit preachy, that we need to stop worrying about time, and focus on the here and now. It was a good message to take away, but it was a bit too heavy handed for my liking.

What I liked about this was that it was such a quick read. I finished it within a couple of hours. The cast of characters is quite small, so you get to spend a lot of time with each one to see how they tick. The book focuses around 3 lives, all of which seem completely separate for the most part, but each character learns something from the others when they come to be linked together at the end. I never knew that just one word could make me feel such overwhelming relief… “Grace” if you read the book, I’m hoping that it has the same effect on you!

Even though I found the message being sledgehammered into me, I did really enjoy the book. I give it 4 stars.

-girlinthenerdshop

Category: Book, Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. I did have some issues with the book as a whole. The main thing was the photographs interspersed throughout the book. The photos that were relevant to the story did add something, as its always nice to have a visual to support what you are reading. Several of the pictures didn’t add anything at all to the plot though… like the creepy picture of the twins in masks. They were not actually mentioned in the book as characters, like some of the other characters are, but just mentioned as photos found in the orphanage. I found the book hard to really get into, the pictures were a little off putting for me, and interrupted the flow of novel.

It felt like the genre changed part way through. It started off with a really strong horror / creepy storyline going on. About a third of the way through it took a step away from this and slipped into a sort of action thing.

The last main thing that annoyed me was the Emma / Jacob love interest. It felt forced to me, and I’m not sure the book needed it. Especially because of the technical age difference and Emma’s former love interest. Nope… not a fan.

I loved the time loop thing, the idea of having a safe refuge within a day isolated from the rest of time passing. The Peculiars needed to be protected, and hiding out of time is the perfect refuge for them. They experience time passing, whilst the day they live in resets and none of the normal inhabitants are any the wiser.

My favourite character Millard spent years [of his time] documenting the events of September 3rd from the points of view of each inhabitant of the island, including the pigs! What else would an invisible boy do.

Jacob was mostly believable as a modern day kid trying to find his place in the world. He doesn’t know what to believe, and after being told that he is crazy and seeing a psychiatrist he still doesn’t know what he should believe. The stories that his grandfather told him seemed so real to him as a boy, and then less believable as he grew up. He spends a lot of this book trying to reconcile the truth with his reality, and it takes him a long time to feel that he fits in somewhere.

It had its flaws, but once this book got going it was quite pleasant and easy to read. It only took a couple of days to get through. I’m having trouble deciding if I will read the next instalment in this series. I do want to know how several things get resolved, but at the same time, if it is a novel interspersed with pictures then I’m not sure I want to.

3 stars

-girlinthenerdshop

Category: Book, Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Photo 365: Days 71-77

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Prudence and the Crow Vintage Books

Seemingly March is turning into a serious book month, I’ve done a lot of reading curled up on the sofa in the evening, what’s not to love? I think the only thing better than choosing a new book, is getting a mystery book through the post. So this month, I tried out my first ever subscription box, Prudence and the Crow.

This box was the most exciting Friday parcel I’ve had. The box came beautifully packaged, and the address was hand written. From one glance you could tell exactly what this parcel was, and it was letter box sized so it fit through the door without the postman having to disturb me.

Beautifully wrapped

Beautifully wrapped

The entire box has a very vintage feel to it, wrapped in brown paper and the book was wrapped in brown paper too, and tied up with string and a hand written name label. The inside of the box lid has the most wonderful science-y feel to it, with the diagrams printed on the inside and on the wrapper of the box.

The box, inside the wrapping

The box, inside the wrapping

I was so excited when I saw all of the little extras in the box! There was a lovely selection of things to try out, from sweets to tea samples. I’m a recent convert to tea, so this pleased me greatly to have two new flavours to try. [I’m eating one of the sweets now!] Tucked in behind the book was the spotty cloth book cover and a postcard for a book series, it mentions fairy tales. It’s like they could read my mind when packing the box.

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Can I just say hand drawn star constellation right there…

There were even more little things packed into a pocket in the lid, as if the surprises would never end! Here we had the books plates, and some more branding, I think the Prudence and Crow tickets are adorable, and perfectly sized to be used a book mark or to slip into an envelope to send to someone else [which is what I plan to do with the small ones].

Trinkets inside the box

Trinkets inside the box

I nearly missed the handwritten note tucked inside the book telling me about the choice. The book picked for me was an alternate cover for the American edition of the book, and it was written in green ink, [I can’t remember if I said that was my favourite colour or not, but it was a nice touch].

Book, cover and note

Book, cover and note

The subscription structure is really flexible, allowing you to sign up for one month or up to a year. Not many boxes let you try a one off, they want you to commit for a bit longer, which is what normally makes me not sign up. Being able to try it for one month was an excellent thing for me, as I now know that I liked the box, and signing up for longer isn’t so daunting. I chose a sci-fi book for my first box, as I’m reading a lot of sci-fi and fantasy at the moment, I think I would change this for future boxes, or maybe sign up for random selections since the arrival of the millions of sci-fi paperbacks on World Book Day from the in-laws.

The communication with the ladies behind this box is good too. I managed to get my own address wrong, and they sorted that out really quickly and easily so that it didn’t get lost in transit.

So, I say go ahead and subscribe it. It was a real delight to open!

-girlinthenerdshop

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Uglies

Uglies

 

This is the 14th book I have read so far this year… pretty good going I’d say.

This book came across as an incredibly critical social commentary. The basis of this story universe is that upon reaching the ripe old age of 16, you undergo SERIOUS cosmetic surgery to make you into a ‘pretty’. And they don’t just mean pinning your ears back and smoothing the skin. They mean, full on body reconstruction… making you the perfect height, changing your bone structure and making you perfectly symmetrical. They do this because back the barbaric olden days, people went to war over differences in skin colour, and taller people more often got the better jobs. In this place though, no discrimination , because everyone is a pretty. Sounds like a lovely idea.

There is a lot of scene setting done here which helps to build the world in your mind. I liked how advanced the technology was, and hover boards seemed superbly clever. The information system being linked to you is a bit Big Brother-esque, but it means everyone is kept in line, following the process of being an ugly before they get the operation.

The contrasts between city / Smoke are interesting. People in the Smoke take care of their possessions, and everything means something. Expensive city things [like dehydrated food and sleeping bags] are hard to come by, so they are treasured and everything is repaired where it can be. This is not the case in the city. Every room has an interface screen that can produce pretty much anything on demand. Trinkets, clothing, food and entertainment are all there in the blink of an eye. Tally finds this unusual, but it makes her start to value things in a way she never has before. Initially she was reluctant to leave the city, but the longer she spends there, the more she comes to like it… but drama happens as is needed in novels for there to be a story, and the potential of sequels [there are at least 3 more books so far in this series]. Things can never just go to plan can they. And we are left with Tally giving herself up to the authorities to help her friends… which I assume means in the next book if she is still there, she will have had her operation even if it was the last thing she wanted.

The pacing was a little weird, it felt off to me. That a lot of paper was dedicated to the time after Shay ran away, and the endless, lonely waiting that Tally had to endure; but her journey to the Smoke, we lose four days in one sentence.

It took me a long while to get into this book, mainly because of the main characters desperate desire to be a pretty so she could go and be with her friends. Pretties were portrayed as vacant party sheep, which I guess is a stage they need to pass through, enjoying themselves for the first time in such a decadent manner before they settle down and choose jobs and become middle pretties [after the second operation, natch] Once I got into though, I sped through it, devouring every detail about the differences between the town people and the out of town people. The horror Tally shows when she sees the people in the Smoke burning trees is novel, as they only use wind power in this fictional future.

I give 3.5 stars… and I’m very tempted to get the next book to see what happens.

– girlinthenerdshop

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