Thursday, May 19, 2016

What Scares You? Taking A Risk?

Things are not looking rosey at the moment career wise, I am feeling more and more pressure at the Job Centre now with weekly pointless meetings were I am left in no doubt about how little my advisor thinks of me asking me the same old questions each week. I half think they are looking for me to have a blowup so I can get sanctioned or something. According to the advisor there are no end of jobs in my field in the local area and everyone wants to hire someone who has been out of work for 5 years.

I can think of few things that are more likely to put someone off doing their best to find work than condescending job coaches (which I think is their proper title???). Anyway it has been clear to me that as well as pounding the virtual pavement of the job boards I need to look at other ways of creating cash. I was talking to a friend who definitely personifies that man of all seasons thing and he suggested I take a look at Teespring and see if I can run a successful campaign through it.



Other ideas might be to put up my comic collection for sale, I'd would feel bad selling it off at this point but in reality it has been more than a decade since I collected comics with any regularity and I haven't had access to them in about the same amount of time, they are all boxed up so I am stuck in that I really need to take a look at them research whether or not they are worth anything and take pictures and the like before I put them up for sale.

So subject to work commitments next weekend at Comic Con and all the transcribing after I am going to be working on some designs for T-shirts then maybe I will put them up for a poll or just consult some people who I respect to see which one I should go with. Obviously I need to make a brand to put them under at least on that I have some ideas.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Demon Road by Derek Landy

Demon Road is a 2015 novel written by Derek Landy and is the first book of the Demon Road series. It was published on 28th August, 2015 by Harper Collins Children’s Books. The ISBN for lookup is 0008156921.

I received this book from Netgalley after I requested it.

Please be aware that there will be spoilers in this review and it is better for you to read the book BEFORE looking at my review though I will do my best to not talk about the plot in detail.

SUMMARY

Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in...Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be… 

WHY I BOUGHT IT (PICKED)

I requested it from Netgalley because you can never have too much urban fantasy in my view. Also people seem to really like Derek Landy’s work so I thought it was worth at least giving it a chance.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as I have not read anything from this author before what I got was a fairly enjoyable if somewhat strange ride and a very interesting protagonist. The last time I read a book with a similar sort of feel was the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. I am not saying they are all that similar but reading this did remind me of that excellent series which finished much too soon.

It is interesting that the author chose to go with someone who is viewed as an unattractive female lead. Think back through your YA collections and see how many times the protagonist had actually been physically unattractive. The fact that her “darker” side is viewed as beautiful is interesting it could also be an allegory for drug use or drinking to make yourself.

The road trip aspect of things is interesting but not all the extended class of characters actively work which is a shame because it means those stops on the journey kind of lag and you’re waiting to see what’s next in terms of destination.

If there is a problem with the book it is that there are too many stops on the journey for this initial book. I think instead of the extended journey along the Demon Road we could have done with one or two less complications with the quest and a little more insight into our characters. I suspect it is not the last we have seen of Glen so maybe we might know more of him in the next book but this was certainly some time to fill in a little backstory for Amber the snapshot of her parents coming to the school wasn’t really enough for me it is hard to envision exactly how her parents very unique approach would have felt over the years as she grew up.

I think the plot itself is pretty interesting definitely doesn’t suffer from any aspect of it that makes me think “oh I’ve seen this all before just executed in a slightly different way”. Having a protagonist with limited skills is also interesting yeah she can go horny on command by the end of it but as they have made it clear demon armour won’t stop bullets. When you add that to her non-existent fighting skills it gives you someone to root for.


Do I want to read the next instalment? Yes but how much? I’m not sure if this pushes its way to the top of my TBR but I am still eager to see what happens next. If urban fantasy is your thing and you like imperfect female protagonists this book is definitely worth your time so check it out. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly #2) by Charlaine Harris

Grave Surprise is the second book in the Harper Connelly series written by Charlaine Harris. It was published on September 26th, 2006 by Berkley Hardcover its ISBN for lookup is 0425212033. I purchased this book.


WHY I BOUGHT IT

I have been making my way through the Charlaine Harris’ back catalogue after True Blood finished up. I started with Aurora Teagarden and really loved the series so this was the logical next step.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This book started slow, I mean really slow something that is a symptom of being first in the series and often suffered by books that have huge stories to build like your epic fantasies and Sci-Fi. However this book is set in the Southern States in a world pretty similar to our own so I wondered why it dragged in the beginning.

Keep going though and you are rewarded with an interesting story about a couple of damaged people who have formed an incredibly strong bond. The supernatural element (or is it) is just an incredibly unique premise for a murder mystery series. Harper herself is very clear that she is not a psychic or clairvoyant.

She is also a member of a very unique group – people who have survived a lightning strike. You learn a lot about the phenomenon in the series like for instance that there is pretty much no walking away from a direct lightning strike and that survivors generally are hit after the initial strike. The rest of the things I will leave you to learn as you read or you could do hit Google.

Once the mystery got going the book became markedly easier to read. You can see the Charlaine Harris style in this book just like I enjoyed in Aurora Teagarden and Sookie Stackhouse. I best describe it talking about all the little things that a lot of books miss out and a lot of social interaction. The style makes you feel like you’re really involved in things rather than just watching on from a distance it makes a lot of difference.

This isn’t a lot like Sookie Stackhouse which is an adult mystery paranormal mystery it is probably closer to the Aurora Teagarden series though it is definitely a little darker in tone. I think as I work my way through the series I will see more similarities that line up with the themes in Harris’ work, small Southern communities with lots of secrets.

If you like murder mysteries check this out the twist of the Harper’s unique abilities makes things even more interesting. If you’re a fan of the way Charlaine Harris writes then I think you’ll be engrossed by this book too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Calamity By Brandon Sanderson (Reckoners #3)

Calamity is a 2016 Young Adult novel by Brandon Sanderson. It is the third and final book of the Reckoners Trilogy. Calamity was published by Gollancz on 18 February 2016 you can look it up by its ISBN - 057510466X. The previous books were Steelheart (Reckoners #1 and Firefight (Reckoners #2).

SPOILER CHECK: THIS IS A DEEP DIVE REVIEW OF CALAMITY AND AS SUCH WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. OK so if you have not read the first two books STOP and go read them first or this will ruin many of the things that make the story great.


WHY I BOUGHT IT

Well obviously because it is the third part of a story I would really like to know the end. The Reckoners trilogy so far has been one of the most novel (puns) takes on the superhero genre in books. The only series on a par would be Wearing The Cape series by Marion Harmon which if you like this series you'll probably enjoy that too though it is a different look at a world full of superheroes.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The beginning of Calamity is almost the exact opposite of the start of Firefight back then the team wasn’t exactly celebrating but it was building something. Calamity sees the team in despair once part of a national if not global Reckoner network and now literally the only people left standing.

The overarching message pounded into us from the first two books is that Epic = Evil a message reinforced by both the Prof and Megan that is what the Reckoners believe even if we as the readers know more because we see more.

Seeing David as the head of the team is actually an interesting plot twist as he is clearly the risk taker. He now has to sit back and run things and take care of his team I think his status as operations might be part of the reason that he spends a lot of the novel putting so much pressure on Megan to keep testing her powers despite the strain it puts on her sanity. I could talk about why this is BS when he is ignoring his Epic nature but there is another section for that.

Megan is awesome as always completely kickass and so strong within herself she is a full rounded character in many ways that David is not when you throw in her crazy, crazy powers she becomes even more interesting.

The other characters really were not much more than window dressing this time in my opinion which is a shame because usually Sanderson likes to have an ensemble cast in his stories with real personalities, quirks and history.



WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

I went into this wanting to know a few basic things and I felt like I was teased with these things every two or three chapters. It took so long for things to get where they were meant to go it got boring in places, boring is not a word I would ever associate with the writing of Brandon Sanderson.

David lying to the team about his Epic status. I get part of it being down to all that has happened but he didn't even tell Megan the woman he loves. I can't buy his “it doesn't mean anything” in the early book he knew full well what it meant for him being pretty much the foremost expert on Epics around.

David riding Megan about using her powers more added with the lying is something that really I find annoying and actively made me angry while reading through the book.
It is never really explained why Megan is less violent than most other Epics which we see while she is with the Reckoners, then when she goes to work for Regalia and also when she rather briefly talks about when she first became an Epic. Plus Conflux was selfish not particularly evil.

On the book itself I just felt like I wanted to try my hand at editing because parts of this book felt like filler, or my precisely a filler arc for those of you who like me watch anime. There was a lot of repeating the same old thing time after time, like “if only I could control X power, or master that technique”. David’s nightmares, him going back to Megan or speculating endlessly how she could Deus Ex Machina her way to save the whole damn world. It just felt like the characters were placed in stasis with no real room to grow for nearly the entire book which is so different to the first two.

CONCLUSION


I don’t want to sound like I am pounding on the book because I am not but there are things I am disappointed by probably down to the fact that I am comparing it to the previous two and other books by Sanderson that I have read.

Friday, January 1, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Villains Inc by Marion G Harmon (Wearing The Cape 2)

Villains Inc. is the second book in the Wearing The Cape series written by Marion G Harmon. It is an indie book that was released through CreateSpace on 30th March 2012. The ISBN for this book is 1475125968. I bought this in paperback form can’t remember if it was eBay or amazon worth checking as there was a price difference.

There are lots of spoilers in this review so be aware. I would also recommend that if you are interested in this series then you should start with Wearing The Cape by Marion G Harmon.


WHY I BOUGHT THIS

I picked up the first book for free after trying to populate my newly bought second hand Kindle with a few books I might actually bother to read and was blown away.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Chicago sounds like a fun city and it has always been an American city that I wanted to visit even without its own superhero team. The world painted in the Wearing The Cape series is rich and detailed by the end of this book you know everything you need to know about how superhero bureaucracy.

Can we also talk a bit about how awesome Hope is as a lead character? Even though this is only the second book she has already been through so much but it is the fact that we can believe her journey, dealing with her PTSD while still doing her best to do her job and getting on with her life which was hardly settled now as she still feels the push and pull between her life as a hero and the life she knew before.

Villains Inc. is a pretty straightforward idea as a plot in a world with superhumans why wouldn’t organised crime want their own team of enforcers after all when one bullet proof man can knock over a bank or a police station by himself.  I also like the fact that this idea was opposed strongly by the super powered law abiding community in the past.


I’m not going to go over everything that happens in the book I just really enjoyed reading it and I am impressed by the fact that the quality of the writing improved in this book and that the author isn’t settling into a rut.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Going Back Into Battle - JSA

It was always a possibility but I had hoped that I would have found a job by now. After claiming ESA long enough for them to finally give me an assessment (11 months where it should be 2) I didn't get enough points and was told to switch back to JSA. I got the call on Friday and they wanted me to apply then and there unfortunately for me I was waiting for someone to drill into my teeth so I decided to wait until I got the letter.



Letter arrived on Tuesday informing me that my ESA was stopped on the same day they wrote up the letter on Friday so then it meant it was time to apply. Here's one wrinkle my area is now a Universal Credit area so I could not apply online. I am intending to appeal my ESA assessment and those on appeal can't be part of the UC pilot. Is it still a pilot after all these years? I don't know.

So now I've got my JSA first meeting on Monday where I will finish out the application and be required to sign a Claimant Commitment. This is where the battle starts to ensure that it doesn't force me onto Universal Jobmatch or to a totally unrealistic number of jobs to apply for each week.

I know some people might assume that it is being lazy or that Jobcentre Plus isn't out to get you, unfortunately they are and the numerous reports of sanction targets and my own posts about the various attempts at sanctions should serve as evidence.

I do not look forward to this fight or the wait to actually receive my benefits which are on pause while the new claim goes through but I'm assured it will happen by the 23rd. So just in time for Christmas unless I had to post presents at all.

I'll keep you posted on what happens on Monday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Month Is A Long Time

I have not posted in a whole month which is pretty bad. Things have been moving forward sort of. Shall we summarise:
  • Job hunting, cranking out maybe 15 a week as a minimum
  • No interviews this week
  • Booked my place for a really cool Star Wars: The Force Awakens Party
  • Trying my best to put in some work for Nanowrimo
I am trying to remain positive but it is not easy. Thankfully I am stubborn and I am just not willing to give up yet. I've been getting through a lot of books and a number of my favourite series came to end this year or will next year.

I've been doing a bit more with my volunteer role hopefully that means that we will get our accreditation back so I can go cover events. It is something that is fun and also means that I am gaining new skills as well as working on improving existing ones, communication skills can always be better right?

So a short update for sure but hopefully I will be back soon with more.
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