Friday, 24 August 2007

Booking Through Thursday

Indoctrination August 23, 2007
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:35 am

Using a suggestion from Erin today:
When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

I think that I have probably answered this question or something like it somewhere before. So I am not going to do a big long post on this. The straight answer is yes I did grow up in a family that shared a love of books. My mum used to talk to me all the time about the books she read when she was little and all her trips to the library. My dad on the other hand didn't begin reading much until he went to college. Funnily that was round the time he started dating my mum so maybe she influenced him a little. When I was little going to the library was a family event. Even my sister who reads sporadically loved going. We would all come away with handfuls of books and the rest of the evening we would all be quietly reading together in the living room. My dad doesn't read quite as much now so it's mainly my mum and I who share a love of books despite our widely differing tastes.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

DS9: Season 1

I have made a start on watching Deep Space 9 from the beginning. Unlike TNG I was fairly confident that I would remember all the episodes. I was older when they were first screened and my parents bought the videos almost right from the start. Also I watched them fanatically having a teen crush on one Dr Julian Bashir. So I was more than a little surprised when there were one or two episodes I only vaguely remembered and yet the rest were very familiar. The main episode I couldn't remember was "Vortex" which is the first hint that there are more changelings in the Gamma Quadrant. It also hints that the changelings keep to themselves after being mistrusted by non shape shifting beings. A hint of things to come maybe.

Favourite episodes in the include "Progress" and "Duet" both of which I found very sad especially Duet. A Cardassian pretends to be the once leader of a Bajoran labour camp in order to receive the punishment he believes is deserved. Surprisingly both those episodes were mainly about Kira and she wasn't one of my favourite characters. Normally (especially at that age) I would have looked up to strong female characters. However, I found her to be just too much. Her character did mellow with time as characters usually do and I didn't mind her so much.

This series seemed to end very abruptly. I got to the last episode and was surprised that there was no more. This series was made during TNG season 6 (which might explain TNG's poorer story lines during that season) which was filled with two part episodes. This one had none and didn't even end on a cliffhanger. Something that changes later on though. The last episode is linked to a bigger story line though (the whole Winn/Boriel story) and maybe that was what they wanted. To end it with something a little more open. I have tried to find out if there was any other reason but have came up with nothing.

The one thing the other series of Star Trek has been notorious for is the carry on of the crew. While watching the extras on TNG it was always mentioned that when the whole senior crew got together to film it was a nightmare because there was always some practical joke or other. It sounded like everyone had fun and they always involved their guest stars . DS9 was notorious for being serious and this was mentioned on the extras here. Actress Nana Visitor put it down to the fact that most of them were stage actors originally (although a lot of TNG actors also came from the stage. Patric Stewart being the most famous and the most famous for his practical jokes). From what I have heard actor Avery Brooks wouldn't allow any carry on and the rest of the actors seemed to revere him. Sounded to me a little like Brooks took himself way too seriously. I think it is surprising because there was so much more chance for comic value within the stories themselves. You have the Quark/Odo duo and later the O'Brian/Bashir duo. I guess when you see them being funny on screen you expect the same off.

The one thing this series has over the others is that they have to have more aliens which was also talked about during the extras. They had to have lots of Cardassians, Bajorans and Ferengi as well as a sprinkling of others in the background to make it look like it really is a space station. I did enjoy hearing about their ideas for the station itself. Originally they had wanted to create a large sprawling station which had been built apon again and again over the years. They wanted it to be a station that was centuries old and had changed hands many times. That possibly no one really knew who built it in the first place. I think they were limited though by the size of the set which is why they gave up on that idea. Also due to limitations the promenade only had one level during the first season. They did things to make it look as though there was another level but it didn't actually make an official appearance until later in the show.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Some Monkey Pics

Nothing new to report but I do have some sock monkey pics.

Mr Sparkles preparing to go and see Monty.

Mr Sparkles on the train.

Mr Sparkles and Monty are reunited.

They hang out.

Enjoy the view

Order some food.

And then to bed.

Two days later Mr Sparkles gets a letter

And a photo.

Crazee4books, I do recommend Tamora Pierce. It's basically teen fantasy where the lead characters are all female. Definitely worth reading but you should start from the beginning, the Lioness Quartet.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Mini Ode To Timewarden

Timewarden has decided that he won't be posting anymore which I think is such a shame. I will very much miss his posts which I always looked forward to reading. I do actually remember his first post which he again mentioned not that long ago. The post was about the new animated series of Captain Scarlet. I remember reading it with interest as I had loved Captain Scarlet as a child. I especially enjoyed the weekly posts on Doctor Who and taking part in what almost became a weekly discussion. I will also miss his thoughts on music as he has such a wide and varied taste and this was clearly shown in his posts. Timewarden I hope that you consider coming back at some point in the future!
This is what I am listening to just now. It features a lot of covers and live performances by various artists. I am enjoying the covers more. I can't help but like hearing current artists singing classic hits (providing of course they don't make a complete hash of it). One of my favourite's is KT Turnstall's cover of "I want you Back". Mind you it helps that I do enjoy listening to Turnstall's own music.

Lili, don't worry, I will make sure your card is special (and protected since it will be going further afield), lol. I know how you feel. It was the kitchen table I had to use too and of course I had to have it cleared for dinner.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Christmas already?

I bought some Fimo clay a few weeks ago with the intention of having a go and hopefully making something I could add to my Christmas cards. The plan was to make little stockings and attach them to the front of the cards with those glue dots. They would also have ribbon so that the stockings could be removed from the cards and placed on the recipients tree. Well I attempted a stocking and it went disastrously wrong. Should have started with something simple. So I next made some candy canes and I am thinking of attaching this to peoples gifts. These are fairly easy to make and I did have fun doing it. Here is my top tip if you want to try using clay. First of all have a packet of wipes handy. Colours transfer to other colours just through touch alone. This isn't exactly ideal when working with red and white. The black is the worst for it though. You need to wipe your hands, clay knife and surface before starting on a new colour. I also advice that you work with the paler colours first. One other tip which is probably just common sense, keep your window open while baking the clay and then air your oven after words. The smell is awful. It's not pungent but you will be aware of it. Other than that it is a lot of fun though.

Speaking of Christmas I really should make a start on my Christmas cards this year. My theme is going to be snowmen. I think snowmen will be easier to make than the stockings. I have been in the mood to make Christmas related items so I should use that feeling while I can to get all my cards done. I managed to make handmade cards for everyone last year and I am hoping to do the same again.

Another reason to look forward to the Christmas season is that a few weeks ago I finished another scarf. I used another pattern from the knitting bible. This one is called eyelit rib. The pattern was very easy to follow. I quickly got into the rhythm of it and knitted away while watching the last of the Star Trek episodes. This scarf I have decided is for myself. I have knitted many scarves since taking up knitting and this will be the first thing I have made for myself. I'm looking forward to wearing it as the yarn is so soft.

Here is the last felt mascot I made. A friend requested the alien from the book but in brighter colours (the one in the book was done in gray). Since passing it on to her she has decided that it is an elf rather than an alien. I haven't made any more felt mascots but plan to make more at some point. I'm thinking of making some Christmas related ones to attach to presents along with the candy canes. They don't take too long to make so I am hoping that it is possible.

Crazee4books, it probably does make us book fanatics but I'm proud of the title. I bet most people who come under that category are proud of it.

Timewarden, I have been tempted to buy the magazines with all the different Dr Who covers such as the radio times. I just don't have the space to store it all. Being a crafter, book fanatic and DVD collector leaves you limited in space unfortunately (doesn't help that I tend to hoard things).

Lili, I tend to get rid of the books I don't enjoy too. Generally by giving them to charity shops. I also give them away if I read the book, enjoyed it but have no intention to ever read the book again as it was just a light, trashy read. Admittedly the last type are few and far between as even some books I class as my trashy reads I find difficult to give away. I also am more likely to read a book I have never read before than reread a title. There are so many books I would love to read again but so many more I would love to read for the first time. I wish there were more hours in the day.
I am missing my sister but we are on the phone to each other all the time. I think she gets lonely all by herself too which isn't helped by not having a television (she plans on getting one but is low in her list). I also see her at least once a week. She has been requesting her days off so that one of them matches mine which is nice. So I am seeing her today and going over to her place tomorrow. As I said the only good thing is that I now have a craft desk which I have been making full use of. I have been loving having the things that I am working on at hand. Usually everything is stored away as I don't have the space to leave them out.

I apologise for not commenting on everyone's blogs. I have been reading them but need to catch up on my comments. Will do so soon.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Booking Through Thursday

Multiples August 9, 2007
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:13 am

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read? If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

There is only one book that I have multiple copies of and that's "Jpod" by Douglas Coupland. The reason I have three is that two of them are limited editions (in different formats). The third is also limited edition in the same format as one of the others but it is signed. I had no intentions of buying three copies of the book. It's one of my favourite books and while I am a collector of books I just never thought of collecting editions of one particular title. The first copy is actually a proof copy. Publishers give these out to book stores in the hopes that they will read them and therefore be able to sell them better when it comes to them being released to the public. They are also given to proof readers to spot any printing errors. I usually don't bother all that much with proofs. I have a couple but being such a Coupland fan I practically snatched this one out the reps hands when he handed it over. I had no intentions of buying a copy of the book but then they brought them out as a limited edition and I couldn't help myself. About 3 months after the release of the book and I had already bought my second copy we were sent signed editions and I couldn't resist then either. It's the only time I have ever done that though.

I do have a friend who actually collects editions of one book title. She loves books as much as I do but unlike me she can actually say that she has one ultimate favourite book. She's a "Pride And Prejudice" fan. She has always loved the story even before the days of the television adaption (although it did help fuel her addiction). I wouldn't even like to guess how many copies of the book she has. She once saw an edition of the book in a film. The leading lady was reading it. She took one look at the cover and then was straight on the net trying to hunt a copy down (luckily enough she did find it). She also reads the book again every time she buys another copy of it. I think it is sweet. I have loved many books but not enough to go out and do that. Or at least I couldn't single just one out to do that with. "Jpod" was an exception.

My sister has just about finished moving her things out and I have all but finished tidying and gutting out. Would have went a lot quicker if I hadn't been working. There are still things that I need to do but I am having crafts withdrawal. I am itching to work on something, anything, as it feels like days since I have worked on anything. I have decided that tonight I am going to take a break and do something crafty.

Lili, I am glad that you liked the mascots. I very much enjoyed making them. I have since made another which I will post later. I also found a bag of felt that I forgot I had so I will have to make more with that. "Magician" was a great read. I hope your DH likes it when you track down a copy of it. How are you getting on with "First Among Sequels"? I finished it last week. Plan on posting my thoughts on it soon.

Timewarden, I haven't read "Stark" or saw the adaption. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Ben Elton himself. I tend to switch over if I catch him on television. It put me off trying any of his books. The only reason I really read that one was that a friend has recommended it and made it sound interesting. I did like it and I will probably try more but who knows when that will be. I loved "Preemptive Strike" too. Ro was never a favourite character of mine (although she had a major role in some of my favourite episodes) but I loved this one and I did like her character in it. It was great to see. The main reason they did that episode was partly to tie up loose ends with Ro but also to introduce the Maquis. Chasing the Maquis was how "Voyager" started and they used both Next Gen and DS9 to add in the background they needed. I didn't actually realise that until I watched the extras.

Crazee4books, I loved Salem's Lot. I am also a bit of a King fan (I think that has probably come across in a few of my posts, lol). I am not a horror fan on the whole though. I think the genre is a very difficult one to write for. You either do it very well or very badly and King does it well. His books tend to stand out amongst all the others. I have tried James Herbert who I feel is a bit in your face with his books. The sex and violence stand out more than the story does at times which is off putting. I have also read a number of Dean Koontz and I now feel that after reading a few I could probably guess the rest just by reading the blurb. Richard Laymon is the same in that sense but he also uses sex as a bludgeon in his books. I would almost class his books as soft porn. Mind you I have heard the same said for a lot of horror writers. I tend to rarely bother with horror these days unless something really catches my eye or it's King.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Busy Times

Thank you everyone for all your comments. I'm afraid I can't reply to them all just now. My sister has moved out and she is still half at home half at her new flat. Most of my time is taken up with helping her clear out all of her things. I am giving my own things a whole new spring clean in the process (helped by the desk sis is leaving behind which is now my craft desk). Who would have thought all this clearing out and cleaning would take days. My sister is a mucky pup. Anyways, I will try to post soon. In the meantime here is a pic of Mr Sparkles in his new home atop my craft books. He is missing his cousin Hector Montgomery.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Star Trek TNG 7

I was going to leave this post until tomorrow as I have already posted today. I couldn't wait though. I wanted to get my thoughts down while they were still fresh in my mind.

Last night I finished the last of the TNG boxsets. I seem to have rushed through them this week but it wasn't like that at all. Each of the episodes on this series were so familiar to me that it was easy to just keep watching. It was funny though as there were a number of episodes and themes that I was convinced were in an earlier season. Episodes like "Phantasms", "Masks","Eye of the Beholder" and "Emergence" I definitely remember as being in the last series. At the time of first watching I saw these as some of the more bizarre story lines in NG which is probably why I remember it from this season. Episodes though such as "Inheritance", "Parallel's" and "Attached" I was convinced were in an earlier series. I don't know why it got all mixed in my head. As I was watching them I remember wondering what happened with the episode where DaiMon Bok returns for yet more revenge. I was convinced that I had missed an episode somewhere along the way until I came across it near the end. I even thought that the Deanna/Worf relationship had begun much earlier than it did. Funny how that happens.

Some of my favourite episodes have to be some of the stranger ones. I loved "Phantasms", "Masks" and "Genesis". Data plays a rather large role in each of these (as he does through out the majority of the series). Although it would have been nice to see more of the other characters Data has always been one of my favourite characters. I especially liked the idea of an android discussing his dreams with Freud. I also have a soft spot for "Lower Decks" even when I first watched it. I loved this story that was about the officers who were at the beginning of their career. The ones who are usually just background in each episode. It was also nice to see what happened to one of the four academy cadets who got into trouble along with Wesley for carrying out an illegal maneuver.

I do have a confession to make. I always hated the last episode. I remember watching "All Good Things..." the first time and I was so disappointed. I refused to watch it again. I hated everything about the episode. I thought it was dull and boring and a bad way to end the show. As I neared the end of watching this boxset I wasn't looking forward to it. I even thought about just leaving it out. In the end I couldn't do that and I'm glad that I did. The running theme as I have watched all these episodes again from the first series through to this is that I found that my opinion on many episodes had changed. Some that I wasn't to fond of the first time I learned to enjoy. Others I grew out of. Watching this last one was probably the most dramatic change. I was hooked from the first moment and I enjoyed every minute of it. I like seeing the crew in the past and the future. I loved the fact that the Q were back testing humanity as they had in the first episode and that Q had helped Picard get the answers he needed. It was a nice ending to the whole show.

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday
Have you ever written an author a fan letter?
Did you get an answer?
Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?
(And, sure, I suppose that e-mails DO count . . . but I’d say no to something like a message board on which the author happens to participate.)

No, I have never written a fan letter to an author. When I was younger it never occurred to me that I could otherwise I probably would have. I had heard of people writing fan mail to pop stars and actors. I remember one of those pop magazines showing addresses of where you could send various fan mail to. I was never teeny boppy enough to go ahead and write one of those letters.

I did consider writing a fan letter to an author a year or so ago. I had planned to write a letter to Stephen King. I had not long finished the last of the Dark Tower books and once I had I came across a lot of criticism on how he ended the series. I think it was because of those criticisms that I wanted to write a letter explaining how much I enjoyed his books. There was more to it than that although I don't think it was a gushy letter. I think I was annoyed about all the criticism (although I have to say that in some cases I could see their point) and I just wanted to show some support. Of course I only composed it in my head. It was one of those things that I had in my head to do before I went to sleep and then it didn't seem like such a good idea after I woke up the next day.

At the time I found it very easy to imagine what I would say in this letter. Now though I can't imagine it. At least I can't imagine writing something that he probably hasn't heard before. "Hi, I really enjoy reading your books. They really mean a lot to me. Hope there is more to come." I am sure he and most authors have had many letters like it. I think King actually puts a lot of himself in his books. Many of the main characters are writers or have had drinking problems. In "Lisey's Story" the husband of the main character was a writer. Some of his fan mail was mentioned in it where people saw things in his books that weren't there. One particular fan took it to the extreme and it ended in the writer being shot. I think that there is some truth in this. Not that the author has ever been shot but that he has received some very strange mail too. I think for any author it must be frustrating to receive letters like that and I think King showed that in this book (as well as a hint of amusement).

I've kind of went off track there. I would be interested to hear if any of you have ever written to a favourite author and what you said. Or if you haven't what would you say?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Book Reviews

"Blaze" by Richard Bachman

Blaze is along for the first time in a long time. Sometimes he forgets that his best friend and partner is dead and still talks to him. Still makes food for two and worryingly still hears his voice in his head. Not used to being on his own Blaze decides to carry out the plan his partner had come up with. Then everything will be alright. Blaze manages to kidnap a baby but without his friend to think about the details things start to go wrong.

Most fans of Stephen King will know that Richard Bachman is actually King himself. King decided to see if he could reach the fame that he did again but this time writing under a different name. Stephen King has a recognisable writing style and a lot of people guessed that Bachman was King. In the late 80's King finally admitted to it and killed off Bachman. He then found "Blaze" amongst some of his papers. A book he had thought was lost long ago. Thinking that it was worthless at the time he hadn't bothered trying to publish it. Coming across it years later he decided that it wasn't as bad as he thought and so here we have it. The style is very much King's. The main character is very King like. He is seen by the rest of the world created by the author as bad or even evil. Well most people would see baby snatchers as evil. We get to see inside his head though and we get to see his past. Blaze is just unfortunate. A bright boy who was damaged after an accident and was used to following someone elses lead. You can't help but feel sorry for the character and want to help him. I really liked this book. Not so much for the story but for the character. It was worth reading for him alone.

"Magician" by Raymond E. Feist

Pug is an orphan who has been befriended by Thomas and his family. Both live in the Duke's castle and have the run of the kitchens and grounds between chores. Soon they will both be of age where they will be chosen to become an apprentice. All boys who are not chosen either make a living doing something else or become a free man and must leave the castle grounds. This is a fate as bad as death to most of the boys and Pug is worried he will be one of them. However, he has been chosen to become a magician. Things are starting to look up for Pug. He not only is learning magic, he has the attention of both the Duke and the Princess after saving her life. This happy life doesn't continue as strange people have been seen on the land. They speak a language that is not recognised as coming from any part of their world. One thing is clear, they are intent on invasion and conquering. The Duke must convince the King that their world is in danger and to send troupes out to protect their land. The Duke soon finds he is fighting a battle on both fronts and he must face the possibility of civil war and invasion.

I was once told that this was the best book in the fantasy genre. While I wouldn't go that far it is up there among the best. Mainly fantasy this book does have a touch of sci fi with people invading from another world. I loved the whole idea of this and certainly thought it was an original idea in fantasy (I could be wrong here). I especially liked seeing things from the point of view of the invaders and seeing Pug learn their ways and become sympathetic to their cause. There are two more books in this series. However, I have learned that there are another three which starts from the time of Magician and they are written from the side of the invaders. Knowing this just made me more enthusiastic about this book and reading the series further. Definitely a must read for any fan of fantasy.

"Dead Famous" by Ben Elton

Inspector Coleridge is hating his current assignment. He is in charge of an investigation into a murder. One that means he has to sit in front of a screen and watch a group of people he has now respect for or any interest in. Well, except maybe one but even that disturbs him. Coleridge has to investigate the murder of one of the contestants of Peeping Tom. How can someone be murdered in a house where the inmates are watched and recorded 24/7. It's up to Coleridge and his team to find out.

If you haven't guessed this book is a Big Brother spoof. We have a bunch of contestants no one really likes (Elton has managed to bring together a group of very unlikeable characters), a team of police most of whom enjoy the show and one Inspector who is behind the times and can't understand why anyone would want to watch the show never mind be a part of it. This book was pretty funny. Elton was able to take everything that is dislikeable and shallow of big brother contestants and put it all into his own characters. As you are reading you do find yourself agreeing with Coleridge and wondering why anyone would want to watch it. The murder itself is just an addition to the book until of course you get to the end and discover who the murderer is.

"Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Discovering that Armageddon is close at hand Crowley and Aziraphale (agents from both sides) decide to try an stop it. Neither like the idea of Heaven or Hell winning having spent centuries enjoying themselves on Earth. To do that they must find Satin's child who had been brought to Earth to be raised by a powerful human family. Something went wrong though and he is being raised in a village in England. Adam Young is more concerned about having fun with his friends than bringing the world to an end. At least he is until he starts getting some funny ideas.

I read this book because it was the first book written by Gaiman (although he co wrote with Pratchett). This book has the humour of Pratchett and the style of Gaiman. I like the whole premise of what would happen if Damien was brought up as a normal child by a normal family. There is not an aspect of the story that isn't taken by the authors and twisted into something funny. If you haven't read anything by either author I recommend starting with this.

Crazee4books, I agree you are more likely to get a true evil villain in fantasy and sci fi. A character that has no redeemable qualities. General fiction tends to be a bit more fair (or realistic). Every time I hear or read about the new Star Trek movie it's usually about problems they are having and possible contenders to play the part of Kirk. I think something was mentioned in a magazine I bought the other day. I have yet to read it in detail so if it has anything interesting on it I will be sure to mention it. We have avoided most of the floods. It has remained warm but with short heavy showers throughout the day. And I mean short. It's almost blink and you miss it. It's starting to get a little cooler though.