Book Review: Transcendental (The Transcendental Machine)

Hello,

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Most of my mornings for the past two months or so have been fairly average on the surface but good underneath. On the surface, I get the bus into Manchester and walk ten minutes to work. Underneath, I get the bus and read the latest story on my Kindle reading list. This book was until recently a sci-fi story entitled…what this post is entitled (but without the ‘Book Review’ bit)

The chapters were around 20-25 minutes long and with my journey being about 20 minutes, I was able to comfortably read four chapters a week on my way to work. Give or take. This morning, however, I finished the book. It is one of three stories and I think I will be purchasing the next two. When payday comes around.

So, the description of this story is as follows taken from the following link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Transcendental-Machine-James-Gunn-ebook/dp/B00CVMIWFU:

Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship’s passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be. Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the star ship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realises that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she’s someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley’s personal quest, or to make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.

 

I was looking for a more recently published book (this was published 27/08/2013 according to Kindle) as I have read older books and want to get into the habit of reading newer books. I also want to get into the habit of reviewing said books as I’m looking to be more active on Goodreads in the future. With that in mind, here is my review:

4 out of 5.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I have always enjoyed books, films and TV sci-fi that blends the fantastical elements of sci-fi with real life and tries to make it all seem as normal as possible. This story does just that.

There are a number of main and secondary characters who are all well drawn and are used very well. Each character does not outstay there welcome. None feel like they are just hanging around. Whenever their part is played in the story, they leave it. I liked the main character Riley, who seems very down to earth and grizzled war veteran by the sounds of things, who is also quietly smart. Asha is very mysterious from the start, which drew me into her character. And the vast array of aliens, all quickly and concisely described, provide a wonderful variety to the story. Some of the chapters are from some of the aliens themselves. Telling their own story of why they are on the ship and journeying to find the Transcendental Machine and reach the next step of their particular races evolution. All this coupled with solid descriptions of the surroundings means the story builds well and ends leaving me wanting more and thinking a lot about the whole thing. Which is how I like it.

Can’t wait to read the next two.

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Book Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian.

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Synopsis (taken from Giles Kristian’s official website at http://gileskristian.com/books/the-bleeding-land/):

England 1642: a nation divided.

England is at war with itself. King Charles and Parliament each gather soldiers to their banners. Across the land, men prepare to fight for their religious and political ideals. Civil war has begun.

A family ripped asunder.

The Rivers are landed gentry, and tradition dictates that their allegiance is to the King. Sir Francis’ loyalty to the crown and his desire to protect his family will test them all. As the men march to war, so the women are left to defend their home against a ruthless enemy. Just as Edmund, the eldest of Sir Francis’ sons, will do his duty, so his brother Tom will turn his back on all he once believed in…

A war that will change everything.

From the raising of the King’s Standard at Nottingham to the butchery and blood of Edgehill, Edmund and Tom Rivers will each learn of honour, sacrifice, hatred and betrayal as they follow their chosen paths through this most savage of wars.

Hello,

I purchased Giles Kristian’s first book, Raven: Blood Eye, in 2011 for no apparent reason. I just walked past the book, had a brief scan of the synopsis, and thought ‘Why not?’ Since then, his books have been and still are a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration for me and my writing. This past Thursday, I finished reading his 4th book, The Bleeding Land and wanted to provide a review. It won’t be too long as I don’t particularly like long winded reviews. If you are considering reading a book like this, I hope that this review can help you to make your decision.

For me, the best things about Giles Kristian’s books are the battles scenes (really well described. Using most if not all the senses to put you right in the heat of the battle) and the dialogue (solid mixture of humour and relevance so that no word is wasted. EVER) and The Bleeding Land continues this trend.

As the synopsis above shows, this book has a lot going on. A country at War and family are torn apart by it. The characters, mainly Edmund ‘Mun’ Rivers and little brother Thomas Rivers, become the main points with their family members and war comrades providing good quality support. Each main and supporting character is allowed to grow and develop well and at no point did I feel that any of the characters were there just to make up the numbers. Each character had a use to move the story along and help another or their own character’s story.

The scene is set very well to allow this to happen early on. You are introduced to the River’s family and the impending conflict of the country around them. This all builds to the Civil War beginning and the brothers taking opposite sides (Mun fighting for the King and Tom fighting for the Parliament. I won’t tell you why). Once this happens, the story moves along and does not allow the Civil War around it to engulf it, keeping the River’s family at its core very neatly. Along with the men of the River’s household, the River’s women are very well represented with the mother and sister of the family, Mary and Bess, shown as strong characters in their own right.

The battle scenes throughout the book are very well described and again using all five senses, helped me to drop into the battle. Sometimes, I smelt the odours of War far too well for my liking. But, that just shows in my opinion how good an author Giles Kristian is. In particular, one of many Battles, where the Rivers women, having been left to defend their household whilst the men are away at War, become part of the War as the parliament ‘rebels’ fight to take their home from them. This spans a few chapters and is not just about a battle. There are many other things going on which made it so compelling.

The only downside I could find was that some of the descriptions went on for too long and I found myself skipping past them. In most cases, it was the descriptions of the clothing that each character was wearing. Though very clear and informative, I felt that these could have been shortened to keep the pace going.

In conclusion, a brilliant read with rich characters and a good story, I would recommend this to anyone looking for an action adventure and historical fiction novel to read. You will not be disappointed.

 

My Pros and Cons and Tips for NaNoWriMo 2016.

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Hello,

As you can probably tell, this is a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2016 related post. I have taken part in three of the last four having decided to miss one year as choosing to edit instead of writing 50,000 words for 2014. I considered taking part again this year but I managed to consider it far too much and now I have nothing prepared. I will, however, be doing a mixture of editing and writing throughout November as a substitute.

This year, I wanted to provide some (hopefully) helpful information for those of you attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. That number does sound a lot and it did to me when I first tried the challenge in 2012.

When you break down that number across the whole of November, it gets a lot easier to take in. The figure (rounded up as the exact figure is daft) of words to write for each day is 1,667. If you decide to commit to 2,000 words a day, that allows you 5 free days to do whatever you like with. I recall assigning those days for hangovers myself.

I only found writing 2,000 words to be a daunting task when I had no idea where my story was going. For the first 2,000, I planned what I was roughly going to write so I could at least have an idea (it is the first draft after all so I didn’t worry too much about getting it right first time) beforehand. After the first 2,000 were written, I planned the next 2,000 and so on. The plans I made were usually just a few paragraphs or even less as a rough outline. As I got into writing the story I discovered that when I knew where the story was going each plan and 2,000 words became easier.

On some occasions, I managed to write more than 2,000 because I was in the middle of an important scene. It was either a heated discussion between the quarrelling villains of the piece, or the hero’s in some cases. Or some back story or a battle scene (there were quite a few). All of which I could not stop at just the 2,000 because I found myself either in the middle of a sentence or that I wanted to finish at natural point (usually the end of a scene or a chapter) before finishing for the day.

Making sure to write at least some if not all of the 2,000 words a day was crucial to help me calmly reach the target and to not lose my sanity. Some days I managed just shy of the whole 2,000 but made up for it in the days after that. Other times I didn’t come close. Let me show you what I mean through a small scene involving me and my too laid back attitude to the word court in 2012.

Wednesday. “I don’t feel like writing anything tonight. I’ve been working all day and can’t face the laptop anymore” (This equals one day without writing 2,000 words)

Thursday. “I’ll just play one game of Pro Evolution Soccer on my Xbox. Then I’ll start.” (Another 2,000)

Friday. “My head hurts. Too much beer. Cannot write today” (Another 2,000)

“Okay. It’s Saturday. What’s my word count? Including today I’m 8,000 words behind! How can I write so many in one day? It’s the weekend! I’ve used all of my hangover days! HOW!!!”

On that Saturday, I ended up writing 6,000 words and then adding an extra 500 words to the next few days until I had caught up with my target. I kept to my plan for 2013 and 2015 and avoided the above, which made the challenge easier to handle.

The Pros of completing NaNoWriMo 2012, 2013 and 2015 were that I had three partially finished novels that I could work on to finish in future. I have since completed the 2012 novel but found that the 2013 novel will need to be started again (I now hate that it is written in the first person) and the 2015 novel is going to be a lot bigger than I thought and requires further planning. Without NaNoWriMo, I would not have discovered this about two of my stories.

NaNoWriMo also helped me to find discipline whilst writing. Since 2012, I have been able to commit to word counts per day to finish a story as I am able to use the same planning I used for NaNo on all my stories ever since. It allowed me to get down on paper (laptop) tales that have been spinning in my head for years. It is a great feeling to do so and to finish. When you do finish, I suggest buying a t-shirt or something to commemorate the achievement from the official website (http://nanowrimo.org/). It’s your own trophy and it helps to ensure that the fine people who organised the whole thing can continue to do so for years to come.

The Cons of completing NaNoWriMo? In my case they were:

  • My back hurt a little bit more.
  • I lost some sleep.

That’s all I can think of. I lay flat on my carpet after each days writing for about 10 minutes and that helped my back. I slept longer on weekend mornings to catch up on sleep.

I hope that this has helped you in your quest to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and make sure you have some fun in the process.

Goodbye!

Tarot Spread – Will Attunement

Hello,

I’ve not posted for over 20 days according to my stats. That is all down to my time being consumed, devoured, destroyed, by revision for an exam. That exam was this past Friday so now I can concentrate on getting back to reading, writing and discussing as I’ve wanted to do for almost a month. To start,  here is a fascinating article about tarot cards and there link to will attunement. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tarot Spread – Will Attunement – http://wp.me/p5EOCB-dH

My writing week in not so many words and a few pictures.

Hello,

Over the past week, I have been more focused on studying for my exam at the beginning of April than anything else, which has affected my writing output. I’ve said to myself each day that I would come home from work write and finish my latest short story but I haven’t. I’ve come home, exercised, eaten, studied, and then gone to bed. Not the worst cycle I’ve ever been in but it does not include my own writing so it’s close.

I have managed to do a small amount and moved the story along but it is not enough. The story, about the earth being taken over by giant rock worms and a young couple’s efforts to stop them, does move along nicely when I’m writing it but the ‘when I’m writing it’ part is in short supply. I have a chilled out weekend planned so I aim to get more of the story written then. If studying doesn’t stop me that is.

With weekends in mind, off the back of the blogging 101 course I took throughout February I joined a group Bloggers meetup, which has many members who took the same course and want to keep in contact and help each other out. Inside this wonderful group there lies a challenge. The challenge is to include a link to the site to spread the word and carry on the challenge within a post that details something I did over the weekend. Well, firstly here’s the link https://bloggersmeetup.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/weekend-wanderings/. And secondly, last weekend I was in Manchester, UK and I was walking along Market Street in the City Centre when I came upon the most show off-y, egotistical man I have ever seen. The picture below details how full of himself he is. I’m joking, though. It was a pretty impressive site. See for yourself.

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Look at his smiling face. Rubbing his skill and happiness in my face! I am usually happy anyway but not this level happy. He has literally go up to another level.

And here’s another picture I took on my way from work last Friday. Thought it were mildly amusing.

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That’s all from me. Hope you all have a good weekend and get everything done that you want to do.

Goodbye!