Thursday, 19 February 2015

NON-FICTION READING CHALLENGE - A LIFE OF PHILIP K. DICK


I've read a lot of Anthony Peake's books whose writing - and I quote from his website - 'deals with borderline areas of human consciousness.' They are fascinating books, so I knew I'd love this one the same. A Life of Philip K. Dick is his seventh book.   

Before reading this I had read two of PKD's book: Counter-Clock World and Time Out of Joint, though I believed I'd read more. Then I realised that I've seen some of his books adapted for screen: Blade Runner, Paycheck, Minority Report, and a favourite, Total Recall. They are Science Fiction, but for PKD, what he wrote about was far from future imaginings, he was seeing the future in his present life.         

Philip K (Kindred) Dick or PKD was born 1928, in Chicago, America. His life was plagued with tragedies leading to his constant fear, anxiety, paranoia, and other phobias, which are reflected throughout his novels and short stories. He was fascinated with science and technology and seemed to gleam advances in this arena before they became mainstream. 

A connecting theme running through his fiction is the question: What is reality? Is it real? Is it an illusion? This resonated in his actual life where his state of mind was questionable. You have to bear in mind he dabbled in drugs, too, recreationally and to support his mental state with his prolific writing output. 

This aside, some of his visions appeared out of this world, but Peake later gives sound esoteric and neurological explanations to back his own theories why PKD experienced what he did.

PKD was a man who remembered the future. In the end, as if taken from one of his novels, he died as he predicted, found lying between the sofa and the coffee table. He'd had a stroke. 

P.S. 
What is real? An explanation from Plato.




Thursday, 12 February 2015

CROCHET HOOKS AND WRITING YARN


Mr Owl denotes a blog about writing, but this is a piece about one of my hobbies - crocheting. There is a connection, though, which I will explain.


I fell in love with this poncho from Simply Crochet Mag (bottom left corner). The pattern's available to download from Ravelry, by the way.


 I sent off for some gorgeous DROPS Nepal yarn from Wool Warehouse.

 

Together with my 6mm and 7mm hooks, and
trusted crochet bible, I sent off deciphering the pattern.


 Then came the dreaded blocking. I followed Debbie Stoller's instructions, trusting her words of experience, but felt I was placing my beautiful colours into a bath of acid. The key words I kept in mind were 'Don't Wring!' That would do untold damage.


The next stage was to lay it out and wrap it in a towel and 'squeeze' the water out. 


Then I laid it out on a bath sheet, on the kitchen dining table, manipulating the wool to shape with a gentle massage. I left it to dry naturally, which took a few days.


Hey presto! I have me a poncho!


Why is crocheting like the writing process?

You have a story outline (the pattern), which you follow to create your masterpiece, though, if you're like me you have to unpick and go back to correct minor or major mistakes. The finished product has to look good after all.

You introduce various elements (coloured yarn): structure, plot points, character arc, voice, setting, emotion, etc; and interweave them to form the story. Often you refer to The Hero's Journey, or Self-Editing books to guide you through the process. You should have a finished manuscript.

Leave it to steep in a dark cupboard for a month (the blocking process). When you come back to it with fresh eyes you can rework the MS (reshape the wool), and repeat till fully revised (the piece is dry).

Much like writing my MS I found myself crocheting into the early hours with my mantra: 'Just one more row. One more row.' It took me a week to finish. That's the poncho.

If only writing a MS were that easy.


Friday, 23 January 2015

THE OFFICIAL 2015 TBR PILE CHALLENGE - WATCHMEN


First off the shelf for The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge is Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and illustrated Dave Gibbons, and published in 1986 by DC Comics.

Watchmen is one of those books I'd heard about that was a 'must read' book. I bought it about eight years ago and I'm wondering why I waited thing long to read it.

Set in 1985, it follows a group of masked heroes fighting to protect New York City against crime under the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

The story opens with the murder of one of the heroes and follows Rorschach, the vigilante outsider, who wants to get to the truth. The hero characters include: Rorschach, The Comedian, Doctor Manhattan, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Ozymandias.

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy reading this graphic novel, and I was surprised how quickly I got used to the format. The story flowed easily, full of depth with backstory coming through without intruding on the present. The illustrations connected the text and I found it wasn't something I skimmed over. There was a lot of information in the panels that was part of the story telling.

Having only read a few comics and annuals as a child, I can say that Watchmen hasn't deterred me from reading other graphic novels in the future.



Tuesday, 6 January 2015

NON-FICTION READING CHALLENGE


This is my non-fiction reading list brought to you by theintrovertedreader.

Please visit her blog for details.

I have chosen to read twelve books - Seeker level (11-15). 













1: A Life of Philip K. Dick   30/01/15                        Anthony Peake
2: On Writing                                                           Stephen King
3: Quiet                                                                     Susan Cain
4: Blink                                                                     Malcolm Gladwell
5: Hallucination                                                         Oliver Sacks
6: The Hollographic Universe                                     Michael Talbot
7: The Etymologicon                                                  Mark Forsyth
8: The Six Wives of Henry VII                                    Alison Weir
9: Wildwood - A Journey Through Trees                     Roger Deakin
10: The Uncanny                                                        Sigmund Freud
11: A Book of Silence                                                  Sara Maitland
12: Gothic: The Evolution of a Dark Subculture         Chris Roberts/
                                                                                   Hywel Livingstone/
                                                                                   Emma Baxter-Wright

                                                                                                            


THE OFFICIAL 2015 TBR PILE CHALLENGE


This is my TBR pile list brought to you by roofbeamreader. Please visit the blog for details.

All books must be published before 01/01/14.





1: The Cuckoo's Calling                                 Robert Galbraith
2: Watchmen 21/01/15                                   Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
3: White is for Witching                                 Helen Oyeyemi
4: The Evil Seed                                             Joanne Harris
5: The Handmaid's Tale                                Margaret Atwood
6: Robopocalyse                                              Daniel H. Wilson
7: The Glass Books of Dream Eaters                G.W. Dahlquist
8: The Prince of Mist                                      Carlos Ruiz Zafon
9: Time Quake                                                Kurt Vonnegut
10:The Passage                                                Justin Cronin
11: Transition                                                 Iain Banks
12: Nocturnes                                                 John Connolly

BACK TO THE CLASSICS 2015


This is my classics challenge for 2015 brought to you by karensbooksandchocolate. Please visit her blog for details. I've choosen to complete all twelve challenges listed below.

All books must be published 1800-1965.

I've based my book list on 'all things Gothic' as this is a genre I've read the past, and I would like to continue to find more classic gems.


1: A 19th Century Classic                                 Northanger Abbey
                                                                             Jane Austen (1818)

2: A 20th Century Classic                                 Something Wicked This
                                                                             Way Came
                                                                             RayBradbury (1962)

3: A Classic by a Woman Author                     Wuthering Heights
                                                                             Emily Bronte (1847)

4: A Classic in Translation                               The Angel of the West
                                                                             Window
                                                                             Gustav Meyrink (1927)

5: A Very Long Classic Novel (500pgs +)        Bleak House 
                                                                             Charles Dickens (1852)

6: A Classic Novella (250 pgs or less)               I Am Legend
                                                                             Richard Matheson (1954)

7: A Classic With a Person's                             Island of Doctor Moreau
Name in the Title                                                H.G.Wells (1896)
                                                                             
8: A Humorous or Satirical Classic                 Nightmare Abbey (1818)
                                                                             Thomas Love Peacock

9: A Forgotten Classic                                       Carmilla
                                                                             Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)
                                                                                    
 10: A Non-Fiction Classic                                The Uncanny
                                                                             Sigmund Freud (1919)

11: A Classic Children's Book                          20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
                                                                              Jules Verne (1869)      
                                                                                    
 12: A Classic Play                                              The Vampire, or The Bride
                                                                              Of The Isles
                                                                              James Robinson Planche (1820)

                                                                                    

Monday, 5 January 2015

READING CHALLENGES


It's time for some reading challenges. A Classics Challenge was my first one in 2012 and opened my eyes to the classics. I've also been doing The Classics Club, which I started two years ago to complete fifty classics in five years, but I've not crossed many off the list over the past seven months. My list can be found here. I'm hoping to catch up this year.

I'm going for twelve - with a theme - but at the minute I'm still compiling my list. I will be posting about my choices once it's completed.                                                                                           
Details about this challenge can be found here.
Watch out for the post to follow with my list of twelve. I have lots of books in my TBR so this is a great way to set myself the task of finally reading some.

Details about this challenge can be found here.
I do like to read non-fiction so I thought I'd choose twelve books. 

Details about this challenge can be found here.

All these and similar challenges are a great way to interact with other bookworms, read and share books that you may never have come across before, or had the the time to read. The challenges ensure - if you stick to them - that you get the reading done, within a time frame and within set rules, in a fun and enjoyable way. After you've read your book you post a review and link it back to your blog.

LIVING THE NIGHTMARE - YA HORROR


If you like YA and horror these are the books for you. Red Eye is a horror series from Stripes Publishing, an imprint of Little Tiger Press, who have four books in the series.

A group of teenagers get together for a 'revision party' and take a study aid pill, FokusPro, to help them get through exam stress. The wonder drug proves to be a hit until the nightmares begin.

Izzy's an outsider but manages to 'get in' with the group when she moves into an apartment, part of the Barbican estates, the setting for Sleepless. They experience terrifying hallucinations, paranoia along with the constant fear of falling asleep, because if they can stay awake they can stay alive long enough for the drug to lose its effects. However, Izzy's friends are being murdered. Who will be next?

A thrilling chase with gore to boot.

Sophie's friend dies suddenly and she goes to stay the summer with family in a Scottish island, Skye, but it's not a peaceful place. There's a dark past to the house she stays in, and then there's the porcelain dolls.

Is it a coincidence that things go wrong after using a Ouija-board app? Sophie feels guilty about her friend, Jay, and her troubles don't end there. In Skye her cousins have their own problems - physical and psychological - to deal with, which effect the household, and no one wants to speak about Rebecca, their dead sister.

The dolls. I'm staying clear of those tiny, creepy things.

Sam and his parents move to Prior Mews, which neighbours Bierce Priory, the home to an influential, wealthy family in the area. Their nocturnal activities pique his curiosity as well as the strange behaviour effecting those he encounters, including his parents. Are they colluding in a secret or is it something else?

It's when he drags his new school friends to investigate the house that gross discoveries are revealed. Get the hell out of there!

You never can tell what goes on behind closed doors.

Shocking yet fascinating.

Gabe's family need money and he's found a way to get a lot of it. His innocent find is exciting at first, but then it lands him into a heap load of trouble. The treasure has a past and it's catching up with him, and the demon will not rest until it's demands are met.

Like an Indian Jones quest, Gabe risks his life to be in possession of the treasure, because death follows it like a curse, yet he must appease the dead to stay alive, and keep his friends and family safe.

A thrilling and hell raising ride through the streets of Los Angeles.



I read these books on Kindle, but as they're due to come out in paperback this year I will be buying my copies. The covers are great.