Tuesday, 29 September 2009


I think I've reviewed Pandemic already, so I'm kinda skipping past that (I've definitely read it more than once...). Anyway, like I said, I'm still way way behind with regard to what I read over the summer, so I'll move onto the next on my list. By the same author.

Overkill is the first Paul Richter book, and it's brilliant! Sometimes the earlier ones aren't as good, but this one was certainly exciting. Not only was there a lot of action, there was a lot of physical movement too, with Richter travelling in a Tornado across half the world... The descriptions are top, the plot's got a good chunk of conspiracy (though not perhaps as intriguing a conspiracy as that in Pandemic), I really enjoyed it in short. Definitely one of my favourite writers.

History, History, Maths

Well, today was quite fun. I have Modern History, followed by Ancient History (after break), then lunch, then maths, and then home, yay! It's really interesting what we're doing at the moment. And kind of amusing to compare the stuff we're doing about democracy/political systems/politicians in modern regarding British foreign policy in the 20s with the radical democracy in Athens. At first I wondered why it was called 'radical'. I mean, democracy is just democracy, right? Well, their system seems pretty radical to me... Although they didn't let women have any say whatsoever :( . But that seems to be about standard (although one of the states, can't offhand remember which, did enfranchise women during the American Revolution in the late eighteenth century--obviously much later on though). Basically, everyone could go along to the Ecclesia (assuming you were an Athenian citizen, over eighteen/twenty one and male) and have a vote over the various aspects of policy. Instead of electing representatives, everything was run through the Ecclesia first, even the really mundane stuff. Quite interesting. And it was all in the open air, and by either show of hands or chucking pebbles in a box. Makes you wonder why we don't have referendums on at least some of the important issue (like the EU, hint hint Gordon Brown!). Although I am dubious about the actual realities of some of this stuff. I would so laugh if one day we realised that various people never really existed. We had a bit of a look at the trial of Socrates, and apparently, he never wrote anything down. My history teacher said he did exist, but it just makes you wonder whether Plato just invented him to explore a moral issue.

Democracy was less radical in the twentieth century. Although to their credit, they did have a somewhat wider franchise (all men from 1918, all women from 1928). Which meant that all of a sudden they had to appeal to the entire population. And the liberals got pretty well thrashed. I'm wondering if they're gonna make a comeback, what with nobody really liking Labour any more, and nobody really thinking Cameron would make a mega good replacement. But I have no idea what the Liberals are any more (I'm assuming they'll have changed like the other parties). I think they're still split. Hmm... Anyway, that's about it. Oh yeh, I said maths in the title, didn't I? We were just looking at e, ln and that sort of thing. Integrating and differentiating fractions using ln etc. I'm just annoyed that John didn't tell us why lnx differentiates to 1/x. Maybe it's really really complicated...

Monday, 28 September 2009

The English Civil War--A people's history

This one was by Dianne Purkiss. It was pretty good, I enjoyed the attention it gave to ordinary people, including women. Some of the same names cropped up again from God's Fury, England's Fire--Nehemiah Wallington collector of pamphlets, amongst the obvious ones like Cromwell, Pym and so on. One thing that did disappoint me a bit was that the pamphlets it had pictures included of were almost all the same as the ones in the other book. But it was very readable in style. Sometimes amusing, fairly gripping, but I can't say I learnt a huge amount from it. It was interesting, yes. It didn't really speak a whole lot about the big things--it was more about the experiences of people, and focussed a bit on iconoclasm, the banning of Christmas, etc. I've still not managed to read anything particularly about what happened afterwards, with the exception of A Short History of England.

Probably worth reading if you're interested in the period and don't know a whole lot already. Anyone know a good book about what happened after the Civil War?


I'm pretty knackered today I have to say. I didn't get home till about 11:15 or so, and then I woke up really early (as in quarter to six early) and couldn't get back to sleep for ages. But Blest was awesome! While we were singing 'This Is Our God' (Hillsongs), I just sensed that there were angels all around, and I was nearly crying. It was just incredible.

Sarah was talking about prayer, and she did an ace job. I didn't want her to stop. She just really brought it to life. I would've taken more notes, but it was kinda dark so I couldn't actually see my Bible... But she was talking about praying as we went through the day. So I prayed that the gears would change on my bike properly, and they did... but then the chain fell off. Meh. But it did go back on again without too much of a faff, so that was okay. Oh well. I didn't get run over or anything, so that was okay.

Oh yeh, and I've managed to volunteer myself for something again. Well, I've volunteered myself to do the first Creative Writing Group on Wednesday (we'll be talking about characters), and I also volunteered myself to play my clarinet at the next Blest. Maybe I should stop just randomly agreeing to do stuff, but it is quite fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Agent Zigzag

This was the one by Ben Macintyre (there seem to be a couple out there...). It was fascinating! A real insight into the Double Cross system attained by following the story of Eddie Chapman. What a story! It read almost (well, it did read) like fiction. Absolutely phenomenal.

Not only did it give the experiences of Eddie Chapman (and they were, it has to be said, rather incredible. He recruited himself into the Abwehr after the Channel Island where he was hiding from the British police on was occupied by the Germans, convinced them eventually that he was genuine, contrived to be parachuted into England, and instantly went to the British authorities who used him as a double agent as part of the Double Cross scheme, then let him return to Germany via Norway and yeh, what an adventure I won't say too much because you should read it), it also gave you a real feel for how the Double Cross system worked. Basically, after nabbing the German agents (who were pretty shockingly equipped), they got them to broadcast back false reports. Chapman's spy masters were so impressed they awarded him the Iron Cross! They even managed to fake destruction of the Mosquito plant! And then there was the way they took a picture of a new British mine with a special tape measure to make it look really really tiny and scare the u-boat captains. And one of the cleverest things (in my opinion) that they did was related to the V-bombs. They told the Germans they were landing farther to the West than they were, so that the Germans would adjust the trajectories so they missed London! It's absolutely fascinating, I'd really recommend it, not just as a historical book but also as a spy thriller which has the added bonus of being true.

William I

This is a purple jacketed book. Actually, I can do better than that, I'll just walk over to my bookcase and I can tell you who the author is (I reckon there's probably more than one book called William I, hence the distinction that it's the purple jacketed one...). Maurice Ashley, that's who wrote it. And it was published by the Book Club Associates. I paid about 20p for it. There's a lot of pictures too—mainly of the Bayeux Tapestry which is absolutely amazing, I saw it when I went to Normandy on holiday. It's massive! I can't imagine how long it took them to sew it all.

Apparently, Harold wasn't killed by an arrow. The tapestry's been misinterpreted, it's actually a sword. It still looks rather like an arrow to me, but there you go. We were told it was an arrow, a chance shot, when we studied it in history (think that would've been Year 8 or 9). The Battle of Hastings, according to history at that level, was won by a stray shot, and that let the Normans come to power. Anyway, you still get the impression it was a spot of luck that let William the Conqueror (or William the Bastard as he was apparently known back then, being illegitimate and all, which they definitely don't tell you in history :D) managed to go from being the Duke of a rather tiddly little country called Normandy to also being the King of England.

One other interesting thing I'd like to pick out is that according to a general history of England I was reading (review later—I'd read the bit on William and decided it made sense to then read the book which was just about William), William brought great sophistication over from Normandy, and helped to make England what it was. Ashley suggests that actually, England was more sophisticated before William came tootling over and mucked stuff up. Certainly there was conflict between the Norman masters and the (all of a sudden) subservient English. I wonder which way round it really was. I reckon the English of back then would probably tell you the Normans mucked things up, while the Normans accused them of being ignorant gits...

It was certainly an interesting period to look at, but I'm not convinced 'The Life and Times of William I' is the most interesting book around on this period. I may have to look for something else about it. The little old book 'A Short History of England' was perhaps more interesting about this chunk of history. But the pictures were nice :D.

The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999

An Osprey Essential History, but the thing is, it didn't seem as neutral as the others have been. Very, very critical of the UN and pretty much all UN personnel. I think it's probably too close to when it happened for them to be totally objective about it. And there was a lot about the political side of things too, which wasn't really what you expect from an Osprey book. It's supposed to be military history, not a bit of an excuse to rant about how useless the UN is. I admit, I do get the impression from this book (and from talking to my parents), that it was a horrible mess. And my history teacher has implied the same thing when we talked about it vaguely as one of the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles. I suppose I'm not really in the best position to judge as this is the only book I've read on the topic, and I can't remember any of the events described—I would've been seven in 1999, and at that age you don't particularly pay attention to what's going on in the world :D. Wow, that smiley looks weird in italics (I'm writing this in OpenOffice writer because my brother has stolen my internet, and I'm writing in italics so that I can distinguish it from the titles of books I've read over the summer). Anyway, like I was saying, I'm not in the best position to judge, but the book definitely comes across as biased. Maybe I need to wait a few more years for someone to come along and write a reevaluation of it, although they reckon that usually takes at least thirty-fifty years after the event. It seemed like it could be a very interesting piece of history, in part because of the political dimension to the violence, in part because it could later be assessed as the point at which the UN started to fail in its job like the League of Nations was assessed as failing in Manchuria and Abyssinia after the event. I'm writing a story at the moment which has a group of fanatics determined to start another world war so that afterwards there'll be an even better version of the League of Nations/UN which will wipe out all war forever like both were supposed to do initially, that's what made me wonder about that. I might have to use that...

On the other side of things, the Osprey book did do a pretty good job of distinguishing out the various different groups. At any rate, I didn't get completely and utterly lost as to which group was which. And like I said, it's too soon to expect a completely neutral appraisal of the Collapse of Yugoslavia. Not that history will ever be written as completely neutral (it would probably be really boring if it was just 'facts' ie dates—the interpretation's what makes it interesting, that and the individuals who make it up). So if, like me, you weren't old enough to have any idea what people are talking about when they say 'collapse of Yugoslavia', it might be worth reading this to get an idea of what they're talking about. On the other hand, it's not hugely detailed and maybe google would be a better bet.

Renegade's Magic

What an awesome book! I mean, Robin Hobb is one of the greatest fantasy writers ever, and this one just tops off her amazing Soldier Son trilogy. I couldn't stop reading, I was so terrified for Nevarre. I thought he was going to have a horrible ending. Not as fast paced as the Farseer and Golden Fool trilogies, it's nevertheless utterly gripping. A big book, admittedly, but well worth the time it takes to read. The description is stunning, and I mean stunning. If you ever have to analyse a piece of descriptive writing, Robin Hobb continues with the standards set in the first two books of the series with regard to the sheer detail she puts into her world. From the berries and the leaves, to the Specks and their magic and customs, this is a world you find yourself understanding as though it were our own.

A brilliant summation of what happens after the magic claims Nev totally and he has to enter the forest. Imprisoned within the body of Soldier Boy, unable to let himself submit to his powerful alter-ego, Nev becomes a spectator in his own life. But in order for the magic to work, for the land to be cleansed, Nev must become one with Soldier Boy. They can only save their people—both their peoples—together.

I won't tell you any more about the plot, but it's intricacies leave you gripped and the final ending is as satisfying as that in the Golden Fool trilogy. In case you haven't gathered already, I highly recommend this book—although you'd be best to read the first two (Soldier Son and Forest Mage) first.


It wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Yes, that sounds terrible—I was expecting it to be bad before I even started. But I was so disappointed in the fourth Maximum Ride book I wasn't sure whether I even wanted to carry on with the series. But I saw it in the library, so because I enjoyed the first three so much I decided I'd better read it.

Now, I do have one question. Why, when you have a group of six flying kids (and a dog who randomly gains wings at the end of the fourth book), do you decide to set the book predominantly underwater??? And randomly add new 'powers' to your bird-kids? Wasn't flying enough? Oops, that was more than one question, but it was all related. Evil megalomaniac captures Max's mother, romance between Max and Fang with a bit of jealousy (get over it and snog each other, please!) thrown into the mix, it follows the standard pattern that James Patterson seems to have established. Which was fine in the first three books, because it was basically the same enemy who they were working on defeating. But again? I mean, how many evil megalomaniacs with lots of money can there be in the world? However, there were the strange sea creatures created by pollution. And to be fair, Angel could already swim underwater without breathing. But the fact that she wasn't kinda squished by the pressure really just shows blatant disregard to practicalities. The earlier ones were at least believable. Now? I'm not convinced.

To be fair on the book, it was, as I said, not as bad as I expected. Max is still a great character. Nudge acted relatively believably, and I do like her as well. In fact, I like all the characters. And I suppose Total having wings is okay—after all, he was genetically enhanced too, and he could already jump really high and talk (I always did expect him to end up with wings I have to say). But it's still a disappointment if you look at how great The Angel Experiment was. So, unless you really really like the Maximum Ride series already, I suggest you don't bother. Just stick to the first three, and maybe this one if you happen to see it in a library.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Well, I've done it all. It's been 'payed and sent' and now I just have to let college get on with the reference thing etc. And then hope. So there we go. I have applied for university. And I'm tired. It's been hard work getting it all done, and a little bit stressful trying to get it all fixed up. Meh. Never mind. Don't need to worry about it any more :D.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Way I See It

Inspirational. That's the only word for this book. An incredible story of overcoming the odds with sheer determination, it's the bibliography of a girl who finds herself with an inoperable spine tumour, who loses the ability to walk and loses her vision, but never loses her determination. Nicole Dryburgh tells her story, with insights from her mother and friends. Don't let yourself be put off by the fact that it's rather pink. We read it at book club, and even the boys enjoyed it. I don't think there's much more to say about it, other than that it really makes you realise how fortunate you are.

Paths of Glory--The French Army 1914-1918

This was an interesting book, up to a point. However, it did seem to talk a lot about the British effort for a book supposedly about France. There was also almost nothing about campaigns outside the Western Front, which I'm sure the French were involved in. However, it was interesting to see a little bit more about the Battle of Verdun which is almost always mentioned with regard to the Somme, but rarely gets much more than that. However, it does chart the progress and setbacks of the French Army well. The French did bear the brunt of the fighting in the First World War, but nobody seems to think about them...

The major problem the French faced at the start was their emphasis on the offensive. Even though the Germans were attacking and sweeping in through Belgium, the French had other ideas which blatantly ignored enemy action until it couldn't be ignored any longer. They launched their own offensive into Alsace-Lorraine, which was a major reason for the tension leading up to WWI as it had been taken at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. They had some success at first, but the troops had to be taken away from there and sent to defend France where the Germans had actually broken in. But the trouble was, the French were determined to counter-attack constantly, and to not give up any land. They were still wearing very bright uniforms (which the British had replaced before the Boer War in 1989 and further adapted after the experiences then which pointed out that shiny bits were not such a great idea), making them brilliant targets, and so when they counter-attacked they were decimated. This meant the army lost a large portion of its experienced men, particularly the officers as they tended to lead from in front.

Conscription had been part of the French military for a while, and in theory gave a sort of national unity. In practice, mixing up men from different areas of the country caused problems due to accent differences. It also destroyed the unity within the different regiments, who had originally been all part of the same community (like the Pals regiments), which Anthony Clayton suggests played a part in the French collapse of morale in 1917. This too is well portrayed, along with the way in which the army was pulled back into action.

At the end of the book, he suggests that the experiences of the First World War--a pyrrhic victory for the French in the end--was what led the French to collapse so fast in the Second. I don't particularly agree on that point. For one thing, although it would have permeated the social consciousness, they weren't the same people who were fighting again. Many people admired Hitler's style of government, and, as demonstrated by the creation of Vichy France, they were mostly okay to live under it (the Resistance, according to Churchill's Wizards did not really play much of a part in the ultimate downfall of Hitler and was never much more than a nuisance). In fact, even Gandhi thought Hitler was a decent enough chap at first. I have seen it argued that Britain shouldn't have fought Hitler at all, and certainly the French stood little chance of standing up to Hitler--half because of the lack of political unity, the lack of decisions, and the fact that their army had been run down. Further, there were a few blunders, which left them in an untenable position. It was pretty logical to surrender in that position, rather than attempting to sustain a resistance that could not have served any particular point.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The French Revolution 1789-1799

This one was by Peter McPhee (I would guess there's a fair few books out there with the same or similar titles). I think the best word to describe it is: dry. And complicated. I found it difficult to follow, because my understanding of French is limited to GCSE level (although I did manage to get an A* :D). But there were the odd bits put in without being translated, which unfortunately made very little sense to me. The other part of the confusing side is that he seemed to expect a fair bit of understanding already, which I didn't really have. My only knowledge was related to the storming of the Bastille. It wasn't really a very good introduction. I'd been hoping for something like God's Fury, England's Fire but related to the French Revolution. It did talk a fair bit about the political side of things, and how the Revolution solved some of the French problems, but it was also a little bit boring truth be told.

Some of the stuff about the previous reign was interesting, I'll admit that. The fact that there was no common system of measurement in the country, and every district had their own (sometimes with the same names, even if they were different sizes!), was pretty shocking. And some of what he said about the political system in place, the politics of the mob basically, was interesting. But on the whole, it wasn't really that good. If you want to know about the French Revolution, I don't recommend this one--it left me almost more confused than when I started it.

Whoa, where's the time gone?

It seems like only yesterday I started again at college. Equally, it feels like the summer holidays never really happened. Weird, isn't it? Anyway, I've been crazy busy what with UCAS forms and whatnot. Scary stuff. I really hate doing forms like that, they're so fussy. And it doesn't help that my high school wasn't on the system, so I had to fish out the school number. And then I had to work out what examining board I did which exam with. And I've just found out that it actually needs to be handed in on Wednesday this week, not next Wednesday like we were originally told. Help!

Anyway, I've been back for one full week and one part week (had Monday/Tuesday off the week before last). I'm getting a fair bit of homework, but I've got frees now so so far I've been able to do large portions of it at college. Today, for example, I did all my maths, history, and ancient history homework in my free period, and had time left to read :D. That was good. It meant I didn't have to do any over the weekend--just read.

I've started doing AS Ancient History (or Classical Civilisation as it seems to be called, sounds a lot posher I have to say!), which is quite fun. Although it is weird to be in a class with a load of first years. But it's pretty interesting. The democracy stuff is fascinating, and it's kind of strange to see how they determined to keep the power out of the hands of a small group of people by allocating offices by lot etc. To be perfectly honest, we've been looking at similar stuff in Modern History (although related to modern/more modern British politics), and allocating by lot doesn't seem to be such a good idea when you remember that Education Ministers randomly switch to Armed Forces etc. Very interesting stuff, although I have to confess I do still prefer Modern. We're doing WWII!, which I've never had chance to study properly before, although we have looked a bit at the build up to it in GCSE.

Anyway, I think that's about it with regard to updating on life. Now I just need to somehow catch up on all those book reviews. I might skip a few, certainly the ones I've written about on here before.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Rather Unexpected...

[I actually wrote this on Sunday, not today. I've just not been on laptop connected to internet since then.]

Well, today was a bit of an unexpected day. I was, as I described earlier, somewhat thrown in at the deep end with regard to Junior Church. Well, I say thrown in at the deep end, to be honest, I jumped although I was expecting the water to be a little shallower. Still, I enjoyed it. Then there was the whole playing around with a laptop thing, which I kinda decided to do off my own bat, but still, not something I would expect to do. I'm now lying on my bed, typing this into open office because I don't yet have wireless (and probably never will at home, it's a bit too unsecure for my parent's liking and I have to say I agree with them on that), on a laptop. Which I never really expected to have. I knew I'd probably get one before I went to uni, but I wasn't expecting my granddad to give me his old one, well before I'm going away. Seems to be working perfectly fine. Still getting used to the keyboard a bit, though thankfully there don't seem to be too many random letters in not quite the expected position. Anyway, that wasn't the most unexpected thing that happened today...

It appears that I can play the drums. Yeh, I say that as though I didn't realise it. I kinda didn't. Got to church this evening, and Buster apparently said to my mum that Hil wasn't here so it looked like we wouldn't have a drummer. Mum half volunteered me, so I thought why not and hopped on down, not really expecting anything to come of it. Hil duly turned up, but then said she didn't want to play, she wanted a night off. So all of a sudden, yes I was playing the drums at church. Bear in mind I have never played with a group before—a few months ago (maybe around Easter time, maybe before that even) we got the electric drums out and I had a bit of a go with mum. Since then I haven't played them. But I sat down and had a bash and it went pretty well. Talk about jumping in at the deep end (again, can't really say I was thrown in, it was my choice to go for it). I have to say though, I did quite enjoy it, especially when I was starting to get the hang of it. My dad said on the way home 'wasn't that a bit stressful', and to be honest, I never really felt that stressed. Church on a Sunday evening is an environment I feel very comfortable in, so I was okay with that. I think God had a hand in it too :D. In fact, I know he did, cos there is no way I could've done that in my own strength—I was shaking after my last clarinet exam, and clarinet is something I feel a heck of a lot more comfortable with than the idea of me playing drums. Apparently it sounded okay. Buster said I lost the beat slightly once or twice, but that I did pretty well over all, so I guess that was okay. So yeh, a bit of a day of firsts for me.

I only joined for the hat

This was a brilliant book. The title caught my eye--it looked quite amusing. It was, but it was also very interesting. Filled wtih recollections from not just the author, but also her friends. It deals with the WRENs, something I knew very little about. I mean, you hear about the women in the RAF, but I never really considered that there were women in the Royal Navy and that they actually did some pretty interesting jobs.

There was the usual admin-type stuff of course, but there were also far more exciting duties. Like teaching submarining and torpedo aiming. Did you have any idea they let WRENs do that? I certainly didn't. It sounded quite exciting, and the WRENs were once allowed out onto a real submarine, to see if they could do it for real. I seem to recall they did manage to hit one of the targets, which is quite impressive as I would imagine the simulator and the actual would be quite different. Another thing the WRENs were involved with was the Navy equivalent of the RAF's plotting table. Again, not something I ever thought of, but I suppose they'd have to have one in order to keep track of their ships, and convoys. Apparently one of the WRENs was on duty plotting her fiance's convoy when the news came in that some of the ships had been hit, which must have been rather terrifying.

All in all, it sounded like an incredibly exciting experience. I would've quite enjoyed it I reckon... You get a real sense of the atmosphere amongst the WRENs, I would really recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Home Front and the role of women in the Second World War. Or just those of you who would like an amusing, if sometimes rather poignant, and lively read.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Junior Church

Well, today I did Junior Church at Fresh Manna. Well, part of it. I got a call on Thursday night from Ruth, she said could I do the under fives on Sunday. So I said sure, came up with an idea and a bit of a plan, including an activity. Got it all ready on Saturday evening. I made ten baby Moseses out of salt dough, and baked them all (and since I had some left I made some other things too), which was quite good fun. Painted them up this morning. And I ended up getting to church and after a bit of confusion based on the fact I was supposed to be going in with the rest of my group today, I wound up teaching the whole of Junior Church, with a load of parents listening in, about Moses, and then handing round my Moseses. There were just enough apparently, because I then had to scurry off to my group. Nicky and Ruth both said I did pretty good. Apparently the babies went down well :D. Unfortunately, the origami boxes were rather more complicated than anyone else had anticipated (actually, they're not that hard, but you do need to have someone to show you how to do it), so they didn't manage to do that. I enjoyed it any rate, will hopefully get to do it again some time.

As an added aside: I am writing this on a laptop for the first time ever. My granddad gave me his old one, dad's modified it a little so it has enough ram to actually load the antivirus, and now it seems to be working pretty good.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Guns of Naverone

Classic thriller. What more can I say, really? This was one of the first Alaistar MacLean books I read, I've reread it at least three times now.

Captain Mallory and his group of four other men are going into Naverone 'the hard way'. A mission which is almost suicidal, in order to destroy the Guns of Naverone so that the men on Kheros can escape. A fascinating and thrilling action story unfolds, laden with tragedy, adventure, and great characters who persevere despite various setbacks (including the fact that Miller has vertigo). I love this book. You should read it.

Running Blind

I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the other books by Desmond Bagley. Part of it was that the hero didn't really seem all that heroic. I read it while I was in Cambridge, and it was good enough to make me want to stay up and finish it off, but I felt a little disappointed. It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but not as good as the others. The detail about Iceland was very well written, and if I hadnt got quite annoyed at Stewart for being not particularly heroic, I would have thought him quite a good character. I just have a preference for spies to be heroes. It was a great plot though, and even if I'm not a great lover of women who just provide a rather 'dumb blonde' sort of attraction, this was not quite as much of a 'dumb blonde' as I've noticed in most books of this era.

I definitely recommend Desmond Bagley, though I don't think this is one of his best works.

Monday, 7 September 2009


On Saturday it was a baptism service for Fresh Manna down at Tanterton (we don't have a baptism bit in our 'church', what with it being a university building). It was really good, great to see Simon and Tom and Becky all getting baptised.

On the way home, Mum and Dad dropped me off in town so I could go to the teenage reading group, but it wasn't very good. We didn't talk about books at all, and I kinda wished I'd just gone home.


Well, on Friday I was lucky enough to have all the periods I had free consecutively in the afternoon. However, as soon as I set off for home on my bike, it started to throw it down. So I got drenched. Meh.

I also went to an Oxbridge meeting in the morning, where I found out that I apparently should apply to Cambridge rather than Oxford because of the whole resitting thing. But that means doing a HAT test. Although the Oxford course does look pretty good. So yeh, don't know what to do about that yet. I'll go to the Oxford open day on the 18th, hopefully that will help me decide, although I am inclined to go for Oxford.

I got masses of stuff to do over the weekend (and extra two days off), but I've now done a lot of it. Almost all the form stuff, and some of the rest of it. Why did every single teacher thing it would be a great idea to give us loads of work for these two days off? Still, I suppose I shouldn't complain.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


Well, I went to history today and discovered that although I got an A overall, John still thinks I ought to resit my Crimean/Boer/WWI module, so I guess I will. It's to do with addy uppy stuff. Then he got me kinda worried and said I need to check with Cambridge whether I'd be okay cos I only got a B in the second exam. I just looked though, and it all seems fine. So yeh, there you go. First history lesson with John today, he seemed pretty good. Not quite as friendly as Elisa perhaps, but I don't suppose he needs to be. And he has a Scottish accent, which is a definite bonus :D. The new Cherub book (and Pilgrim's Progress) arrived from Amazon today. Guess which I started reading?! Actually, I've finished it, and it said at the back that there's only going to be one more Cherub book :*(. Plus, and this is gonna sound really geeky, all my other Cherub books are paperback, and all the covers line up because of that (they have a little band of a different colour at the top with the Cherub logo), and the hardback one isn't going to line up. And plus the book is shaded rather than solid colour. So it doesn't match! But yeh, that's really a very minor gripe when I realise that I totally could not have waited any longer for the new one to show up. A year already since The General! So while I don't want the series to end, I can't wait for the next already!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

First Day Back at College

Well, I went into college this morning, and when I finally got there (I hate busses), I worked out what room I was in, managed to get into Cecilia's after a bit of faffing, and tootled on up to C202. I met Martin (my Lit teacher) on the way up, and he said 'well done' on my exam, and then told me they were probably gonna send off for my script to use as an example! And then he said he didn't think he had me this year :(. Turns out he was right. But anyway, I got up to where my form room was, and nobody was there at first cos I was kinda early, but I didn't know where anyone would be so I figured I'd go straight up. I was there a little while when Vic came up, but turns out she was in a different room, two doors down. So I was still on my bill. A few more people from my old form started showing up, and they were all in 204 as well. It was starting to look like there was gonna be a form of just me, which was a tiny bit worrying. The teacher stuck her head out and asked me to go in, so I went in, and felt a wee bit nervous, especially when she revealed that I was the only person from my previous form in this new one. People trickled in, and we ended up with the grand total of... 6. Yes, you read right. I went from a form of 23 last year, to my new form which should have 9 but today for some reason had 6. Anyway, we did the adminny stuff, and for some reason I've been put on sociology again even though I didn't want to do it.

Then it was break, so I went and found Rachael. Even though she's not in my form (or even in the same block for it!), we've got the same frees, so that was good. Then it was back up to C202, only to be told we had to go to EB7. But I have now come to the conclusion that this room does not exist. We looked everywhere! At least we rediscovered my form tutor, who is really nice. Then she got us all to talk to each other, cos none of us actually knew any of the others, and then it was off to AS 'Classical Civilisation' (Ancient History really, but ya know, they like to give stuff posh names). Only the teacher wasn't there because she doesn't work on Wednesdays and she wasn't expecting anybody... So I had a free instead. Then Maths, which was okay, lunch--great fun to see everyone again--and English Lit. Not as good as with Martin, but I think my teacher seems pretty decent, so that's okay. Then off to Bethany, and this is why I hate buses. I can cycle to Bethany from college in approximately 20 minutes. The bus took half an hour. I can cycle home from Bethany in under 30 minutes (it's all downhill). The buses took me near enough an hour. Which is ridiculous. And plus buses are otherwise unpleasant--crowded etc. Still, I am alive and I had a great first day back at college :D.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


On the 27 we went to London for the day. I managed to stay up late the previous night, reading The Black Sun by James Twining (brilliant book!), so I was pretty knackered when we had to get up early and head on down for London. Had a great day though. We visited the British Museum again, and I have to say, it's one of the real must sees in England. The statues they have there are stunning, and I mean stunning. It's also incredible to think how they ended up in London, because most of them came ages ago and so probably came on wooden ships with sails. I know there's a bit of a thing about we shouldn't really have nabbed stuff from other countries, but I asked the guide about how these humongous statues ended up in the Museum, and she said that the British consul was asked by people at home who were concerned to see if the government would let them take the statues to Britain because the local people were mushing them up for mortar. So it's probably a good job they did take them. And it does mean that in going to the one museum (if you have the time), you can wander through its galleries and get a glimpse of life in just about every part of the world. Next on the list was lunch, which was okayish, but the chicken pie was too salty for my liking (and the portion was a bit small too :( ). Anyhow, after that we were going to the Tower Bridge museum, but when we got there we realised it would entail heights (which I'm really not good with) and didn't actually seem all that interesting, so we tootled along the side of the Thames on a bus, until I saw this pretty amazing cathedral (not St Paul's; it was a really really old one, as in founded pre-William the Conqueror) and we got off and had a look round and a drink. Then James insisted that we had to go on a Tube journey just for the sake of going on the Tube (the fact that we'd used it to get to the Museum apparently wasn't good enough for him). Mum and I got off a bit earlier to go back and have a look at some bookshops we'd spotted earlier--we'd already had a look in Hayles, which was quite amazing, so we then went in a couple of others too. And yes, I did buy some books--three to be precise. My own copy of the novel that kept me up the previous night, and two non-fiction. Then we had tea, at this fantastic Italian. We were looking for somewhere to go, and we'd seen a couple of places with pizzas sat around looking a bit limp, but then we walked past this place where the chef was stood pretty much in the window spinning pizzas around. So we went in there, and I had some fantastic pasta with mushrooms (and nibbled some of Mum's pizza too :D). Then we tootled home on the train. A long, long day, and pretty exhausting, but great fun too.

The Satan Bug

It appears I may have reviewed this particular book before, seeing as it popped up when I was writing the title in. Never mind. It's such a good book I don't mind writing about it again. I think the word which best describes this book is 'fascinating'. From the incredibly well done first person narration which reveals details about the main character bit by bit and leaves you seeking more info about this enigmatic and intriguing man, to the plot itself which is magnificent in both scale and execution, to the nitty-gritty of the action, this book is one of those that a) you read over and over, and b) still keeps you up to an insane time in the morning every time you do so, regardless of the fact that you already know how it ends and know what twists and convulsions it will go through to get there. The truth of the matter is, I suppose, that the book follows such a sinuous, twisting plot that it's very difficult to grow bored of this. So yeh, fascinating about sums it up. That and the fact that I would really really recommend this to anyone who likes thrillers or conspiracy theories or any of that lark.

Cross Country

Yeh, this is the newest book in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson (unless he's gone and released another since I last checked. It was okay. An interesting plot, and for once Alex Cross did not jump into bed with anybody. Or at least, when he did, he just lay there next to a woman and did nothing else! Which is quite amazing for a James Patterson book (I have to confess, I do tend to skip completely or at the very least skim those bits...). Alex Cross determined to go after this guy known as the Tiger, who was involved in a couple of messy murders. He stumbles into corruption etc. I thought the portrayal of Africa was a tiny bit moralising and OTT regarding the whole crooked crops, everything's awful and so on. I know it is, but it struck me in a rather similar vein to The Final Warning (Maximum Ride book 4, and you honestly don't want to read it). IE James Patterson had a bee in his bonnet about a 'big issue' and decided to spread the word around using his stories. Fine, but Alex Cross really wasn't the person to get the point across. A different person would've been better, because yes Alex Cross has had to draw his weapon etc but at the end of the day he's a psychiatrist not an action hero. If you want a book that deals with the issues around Africa and is also a great read, go with Bait. The other thing that bugged me is that the threat to Alex's family has been done so many times before in previous novels (and I haven't even read all of the Alex Cross ones). It would be interesting to see how Alex would relax to get home to a scene of slaughter--the kidnapping thing (and I'm not too bothered about giving the plot away because this book is not worth reading) was out of character for the villain. It was, to be quite frank, ridiculous. By the end of the book, I wanted the bad guys to win, if only to get rid of Cross' irritating smugness (and somehow he kept right on bouncing back after being beaten up--something I thought only I was guilty of doing, and then only in my first drafts when I start running out of ideas and just decide to shoot people). I also wanted Nana and the kids to get splatted, which shows how bad this book was, because in the past books I have quite liked the character of Nana. So yeh, don't bother with Cross Country, unless you want to see what has been a pretty good series (I quite enjoyed Double Cross, enough to buy a copy secondhand) brought to a pathetic end. I can't honestly say I'll be reading any more James Patterson books, the quality seems to be declining with every new release.