Sunday, 28 February 2010

A Picture

I got this picture while we were singing 'The Battle Belongs to the Lord' in Church this morning. I had to write it down straight away, now I think I'll share it with you.

We are advancing into enemy held territory. The sky is red as blood, dripping with it, an ominous portent of what is to come.

But God is on our side, what have we to fear? Who can stand against His might? And with every step we take, His glorious presence spreads further into this world of darkness. The light is nigh, the light is soon to be here. We are its harbingers.

We stride forward, together, united. This battle belongs to the Lord, as all battles should do, must do.

Every step we take brings us deeper into the territory where Christ does not reig. Every step brings us closer to that dominating dark castle. But soon, soon, the light will reign here too. Soon we will bring it.

Every step we take brings us closer to the range of enemy arrows. The dancers, the worshippers, the flag wavers, the singers, it is we who advance. And our praises rise up to the Lord.

They advance to meet us. We advance, following where the worship leads.

The arrows are fired. We keep going, keep going forwards. We ignore the arrows. They bounce off the shield of our praises. we are safe because of the praise. We will conquer the land.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Well, today it rained on me while I was walking home and I'd forgotten my umbrella. I've also forgotten this week: an essay, my modern history text book, my ancient history text book, and I think I may have left my brain somewhere... It's quite annoying, because normally I'm pretty well organised. Or at least, I don't tend to forget important things. We also had a 'launch' of General Studies A2. Meh. The teacher (not my form tutor, we had to go to a random room which is set up like a cinema to listen to the senior tutor launch it instead) went on and on about how it'll improve our essay writing skills and how we'll be doing loads of practice on writing essays in tutor and how we'll have essay structure lessons. Essay structure plans are the most pointless plans I have ever seen. Essays have an introduction, body and conclusion. How you order it within the body depends a) on what you're writing about and b) personal preference. For example, some people like to start by arguing against the statement you're given or stating one side of the argument followed by the other. Others like to split it up into factors, for example looking at the pluses and negatives under one topic then moving onto the next. I'm doing three essay writing subjects already, I really don't need to sit there and write more essays. I'll have essays coming out my ears at this rate. Then we had to go and learn how to use ebrary. For a start, it's one of the simplest programmes I've ever seen, so it wasn't really necessary to have twenty minutes 'learning' how to use it. For seconds, there weren't even any decent books on it! There were a large number of history books I'll admit, but when I tried to get books on Irish history, there were only short guides, travel guides, and the odd academic paper which was of no use for the topics we're looking at. Meh. Rant over.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Absolutely fantastic. Another book I couldn't put down. I've been doing pretty well in terms of picking books recently.

Flash is a fantastic piece of sci-fi, absolutely gripping. Jonat resigned from the Marines in a great storm after witnessing one too many incidents of corruption, of being sent where the corporate world wanted him sent to suppress competition rather than to fight a battle against the real bad guys. Now he's a consultant to companies using 'prod placement'--a method of advertising that involves putting a string of chords into tv programmes. The chords are associated with particular products, and thus advertising can be slipped in to almost any sort of programme. But then he gets commissioned to do a report into the use of res-chords in political campaigns. The equivalent, say, of Gordon Brown campaigning with Kellogg's cornflakes sat in the background. Or, let's say, Barrack Obama's use of the slogan from Bob the Builder :). The only problem is, someone doesn't want the report published. Or more accurately, someone wants him dead. Jonat finds himself not only relying on the skills that once made him a rising star in the marines, but is forced to take on responsibilities he would never have imagined.

The characters are, as in the other books by L.E. Modessitt Jr, fantastically believable and intriguing. The plot is utterly gripping, it's really a book you can't put down (slight problem if you actually need to do something, as it's a fairly long one too...). It also takes a good look at political systems, at the problems we have today, and at what it means to be human. Can't recommend it enough.

Eagle in the Sky

Wow, what a brilliant book. Wasn't at all like what I expected--it looked very much like an action sort of book and ended up being rather more of a romance, but it was very well written. Felt rather fragmented at first, but it picked up and I couldn't put it down. I was captivated. I picked it up because it had a picture of an aeroplane on the front and it was 10p, wasn't really expecting that much to be honest. But I found a deep, moving, intriguing plot and some very interesting characters. The ending was very satisfactory, left me feeling all happy. Highly recommend it. By Wilbur Smith, well worth the time taken to read it. I'll be honest, I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't so cheap, as I've never read one of his books before, and I did very nearly give up after a couple of pages, but I'm glad that I did finish it. An interesting tale. Involves aeroplanes, romance, and Israel. What more can I say? I don't want to give any of the plot away. Oh, there's a writer in there too, and some good action scenes, and some quite intense emotions. Loved it.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Well, I decided that it would be a good idea to reorganise all my books again. I do this every so often, as I either get bored with the current arrangement or end up with books all other the place from buying them and not having the room to put them in the right place. Anyway, I guess for most people it wouldn't be such a huge job, but I have probably about five hundred plus books. And I decided to put them all into alphabetical order (all the fiction at any rate) by author, then put the series into series order and if it wasn't part of a series then it's alphabetical by title. Yeh, okay, it was a bit of a geeky thing to do, but I do now have every book actually sat on a shelf rather than on top of another book, and it looks good. Should be easier to find stuff now.

I'm on my second day with no facebook. Just realised that it means I won't actually know what a friend in Kenya is up to, but I figure my mum can tell me.

Monday, 15 February 2010


Well, it doesn't have a title yet. In fact, it has a single chapter and a little bit more. It also has a mindmap type thing on A3, semi-complete, which shows all the characters who have so far appeared. And a picture that I painted. I would stick it up here, but that would mean going downstairs and trying to persuade the scanner to work. So I'll describe it to you instead.

There's an image of the world, against a black background. Flying over the top of part of the world, a pale green aircraft with jet flames coming out the back. The nose is snapping a chain. It's the image that went in the centre of my mind map when I decided to do one for the story I was going to write next, and it sums up the plot. Or at least, it does for me. See if you can guess...

Yep, there's aircraft in it. One of my main characters is an ex-pilot. And guess what, there's space travel too. It's sci fi :). And slavery. And another main character determined to put an end to slavery. Oh, and there's going to be a military coup as well, with the assistance of the Air Force. Or maybe the Space Force? Does that come under Navy? I think the latter, so it'll be the Air Force against the Navy. The ex-pilot flew for the Navy too, and he did his flying in space, therefore the Navy has taken the jurisdiction for space travel. Well, it's in ships, isn't it? I don't think I'm explaining the story very well, sorry. I don't actually know a whole lot about it myself yet. All I know is that there will be some nice exciting flying scenes to write, there will be a military coup led by the Conservatives (taking out Labour during their party conference, arresting members of True Labour for sedition so that they can become the new government), and there will be a bit of a mega-arguement between Jon (the person trying to end slavery) and Arry (got himself freedom by fighting for the Empire) on one side and Prometheus (the ex-pilot) on the other side. Should be fun to write. It's also rather ambitious as far as things I've written go. It starts out with three plot lines in the 'current day' bit and another plot line every other chapter or so for when three of the main characters from the 'current day' bit were serving together in the War. Hmm, yeh, complicated. I should maybe stop describing it, write it, and then tell you what it's about. Because knowing what happens when I write, I'll end up with a totally different story to the one currently buzzing about in my head just now.

The Brink

Fascinating. After reading One Minute to Midnight, also on the Cuban Missile Crisis, I came to the conclusion that it was interesting to read about but that the particular book I started with was a very poor account. I'm about ninety per cent sure that this one was by a guy called David Detzer, but again I took the book back to the library without making a note of who wrote it--that name is from Amazon and as it doesn't have a picture of the book I can't guarantee it's actually the right one. At any rate, this was a far more complete work and gave some interesting insights that were lacking from One Minute to Midnight. For example, he suggested that there might not have been nuclear warheads in the Cuban missiles, points out that the missiles involved were pretty pathetic specimens at any rate with nothing like the range the US government claimed, and were hopelessly inaccurate. One is left seeing the whole crisis as mere posturing on the part of Kennedy, and I honestly wonder whether there was any point making such a fuss over it. Figures from Jane's and the US government were quoted in terms of missile range, the ones from Jane's were significantly lower than the ones from the US government, both, apparently, were exaggerated. Of course, it was published while the Cold War was still going on, so you can't be certain that the author's figures are correct, but it certainly gives scope for speculation. Incidents that One Minute to Midnight made out were unique to that account which allegedly took in little known incidents were included in this book too, including the U2 flight that got lost over the USSR etc. So if you're looking for a good history of the crisis, with information on both sides (somewhat optimistic over Cuba in my opinion, but there is certainly an attempt at even-handedness) and an explanation of what the missiles actually were and what other missiles were around and a fairly rounded narrative, I have to recommend this one. It's just a case of whether you can actually find it...

The Bay of Pigs

Very interesting. This was a book about the experiences of Battalion 2506 in the attack on Cuba. How it was created, how it got there, and what happened afterwards. It was certainly interesting. There was very much a pro-Cuban exiles bias, and although it wasn't said in as many words you did get the impression of American bungling, mismanagement and incompetence, as well as betrayal. It drew extensively upon the experiences of the men of the battalion, and included a section on their experiences in captivity and how the money was eventually raised to free them all. What was interesting was that during the Cuban Missile Crisis there were still discussions about freeing the battalion's prisoners. I'm really sorry, but I don't actually know who wrote it. I think it was a guy called Johnson, but I got it through the history book group and forgot to make a note of it, so I don't have a record of who it was actually by. It was definitely an older book, published in the sixties. And it had a blue cover, if that helps :). According to this author at least, the Battalion was nearly successful and might actually have managed to take over Cuba were it not for the fact that the Americans did not give them the air cover they were promised and did not continue to supply them. There was, it has to be said, a lot of emphasis on how honourable and brave their conduct was in captivity and during a trial for treason, but the battle was also well described. An enjoyable and interesting account of the Bay of Pigs.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


If any of you poor souls out there are as unfortunate as me, and have to do Cope (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness), you'll understand that it is one of the most pointless things you will ever be called upon to do. However, I have now finished it all, at long last. It's rather pathetic, to be honest. Whoever decided it should be worth seventy UCAS points did not have their brain screwed on the right way up. Or even around at all. There's no way I have learnt more in Cope than I did in AS English Language, for which I will receive sixty UCAS points. In fact, I'm tempted to say that it's worse than Sociology, worse even than General Studies. Take, for example, the most recent module we completed. We had to make a brochure on an aspect of healthy living. Fine, you say. But we had to do it in a group of at least three, take minutes of 'meetings' where we discussed task allocation, and so on. I don't believe I have ever done something more pathetic. I could have done the leaflet in about fifteen minutes. In fact, I believe I did. But no, it had to be dragged out over two lessons so that we could have two separate meetings. Then we had to fill in a load of pointless sheets, including health and safety considerations. Health and safety considerations involved in making a leaflet?! How ridiculous is that?

There was, I will admit, one module which may have been vaguely worth doing. It involved learning a new skill and then doing a presentation on it. However, we weren't warned about it before the summer holiday as we should have been, and so I ended up doing my family history. Most people did learning to drive. Again, there was a large quantity of rather pointless sheets to fill in to go along with that. And the 'skill' I picked did not really fit with the sheets either. If I'd known, I might have done something interesting over the summer holiday, like building a model from scratch. Although to be fair, I could actually have done model-making as my 'new skill', as I did a model with rigging for the first time during the summer holidays. Boy was it fiddly--I was basically poking little bits of string into place and hoping they stuck in the right manner. And I even went and did a bit of research so I could check exactly how the strings were supposed to go. I've only done one model complete with string...

While I'm on the subject of pointless things, English Lit was rather infuriating today. In the exam, we have to write about William Blake's poetry, without the poetry in front of us, and we have to do an unseen poem as well. As in, a poem that we have never seen before, not as in an invisible one, and write about it as a partner text to the Songs of Innocence and Experience. Fine. So in English Lit, we're doing two matching Blake poems (allegedly they all pair up nicely, but what my English Lit teacher does not seem to have noticed--or nobody has--is that there are not equal numbers of poems in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experiencing), and then doing a random other too. Fine I guess, but there's no way we'll be getting one of the random others we've happened to study in the exam. So why did we spend far more time looking at a Thomas Hardy poem today than looking at The Echoing Green (Song of Innocence). We scarcely talked at all about the Blake one, but skipped pretty much right over it to the Questioning Nature one. Humph. I have to say though, William Blake is an absolutely fantastic poet. I'm really going to have to get hold of an illustrated edition of his poems.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Shadow Project

Fantastic book. I got it new from Tesco, on the basis that I thoroughly enjoyed The Mozart Conspiracy and The Heretic's Treasure. And I wasn't disappointed. Another wonderful book, if now on slightly more standard lines (neo-Nazis, a secret Nazi weapon, etc). But it was well written, and there was a very interesting personal slant to the story, and a fascinating array of characters. Ben Hope is a brilliant character, and then there was his sister... But I won't say too much about that, you'll have to read it and find out for yourself. After fighting with a client and breaking his arm in his close protection training centre in France, Hope realises the only way to avoid a law suit that he cannot possibly afford to pay out on, he'll have to go back into the world of kidnap protection that he thought he'd left. A wonderful book, laden with complications and interesting twists of fortune, the action is also fantastic. Enjoyed it immensely, and I think I might even read the vampire series soon to come out from the same author, although that's not normally my sort of interest. I read the extract at the end, and it seemed kinda interesting. Maybe I'll even read Twilight one day... Anyway, I'd certainly recommend this one.

Ring Around The Sky

It was in a Star Trek omnibus, I thought it looked vaguely interesting and on the basis that if it was any good there'd be a lot more of them to read, I thought I'd give it a go. Well, I suppose it was all right, but I won't be rushing out to get any more in a hurry, and this was the only one in the omnibus I read. It was pretty mediocre to be honest. The setting wasn't that well described in my opinion--it felt a bit more like you were expected to know what it was like, or the author just couldn't be bothered with that side of things. The ring around the planet was, by contrast, quite well described. There was, however, little action, and the characters were rather flat. The conflict between the characters felt a little clumsy, though there was an interesting background, even if the cause of the conflict (supposedly hidden?) was relatively obvious from about fifteen minutes in. To be fair though, it was a rather short story so you can't expect perfect characters and detailed settings. That's why I say mediocre/average rather than poor, but I must confess, I don't generally like the shorter novels. I prefer something with a bit more meat on the bones so to speak. In fact, there are only two shorter novels I've enjoyed (both quick reads). One was Hell Island by Matthew Reilly, and the other was set in a merchant navy training vessel in the eighteen hundreds, with the main character a kid who had been sent there for theft. Can't remember what it was called or who it was by, sorry. Oh, I suppose the Biggles books are fairly short, and there are short story collections. But I prefer the full novel Biggles ones to the collections of short stories, although even the short stories are generally quite linked. So yeh, I'm not a big fan of the shorter stuff, which is probably part of the reason I didn't enjoy it so much. I can't recommend it though. It's not a terrible story, and if you're into Star Trek, I guess you might enjoy it. But i found it a bit disappointing.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Strawberry Avalanche

I'm just listening to this song by Owl City. It seemed like a good title, as good as any. I'm really enjoying it actually--I wouldn't be listening otherwise. I kept hearing Fireflies on Cross Rhythms, thought it was ace, and decided to have a look about for the band that did it. I'm liking this music muchly :). It's upbeat and fun, and I'm sat here trying not to start typing in time to the beat, because that's just daft.

Anyway, I didn't really come on to talk about Strawberry Avalanches. Although they could be quite fun. Hmm... I wonder if it's strawberry milkshake, smoothie, or real strawberries still in their skins. Maybe the little baby ones like we get in the garden that taste way sweeter than normal strawberries. I do apologise, my brain appears to be taking me off at yet another tangent. I was out late last night, that's my excuse. And then for some reason known only to my subconscious, I woke up first at four AM (I wonder if that's because I woke up at three the day before, and two the day before that...), managed eventually to get back to sleep, and then woke up again at six. After lying there bored for about twenty minutes, I figured I might as well read.

So, what've I been up to today? My parents are away in the caravan, for their wedding anniversary (29 years on Valentine's Day, but that's in half term so they decided to go away before that), my brother has gone to my grandparents. So I have the house to myself. *Stops and bobs along for a bit... Now I'm typing to the beat again. Never mind. It's inspirational music. Vanilla Twilight now. They really come up with fun names, don't they?* Okay. So I have the house to myself. I read for about two hours after waking up, Blood Sweat and Arrogance by Gordon Corrigan. Pretty interesting so far. Then breakfast, checked my e-mail, facebook, etc. Came back upstairs and decided to sit and crochet for a while whilst listening to Churchill on tape (second volume of his history of WWI). I'm making a baby blanket for a friend :). It's a good excuse to do some crochet again, I haven't done any for ages, and it means I can do things like listen to tapes, which I don't normally because unlike my brother I can't listen to a tape and read at the same time. In fact, I occaisionally found myself losing the thread of the tape slightly as I checked the pattern. Then I got up properly and did Irish Coursework and distance learning course. Tried to make lunch--I had a tin of macaroni cheese to heat up. It heated up fine in the pan, but it was the most disgusting concoction I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to eat, so I had to chuck it. Ate pineapple rings instead, while watching Patriot Games. Good fun, but I think the book was better and Jack's wife came across as a complete twit in the film. I was crocheting while doing that too. And now I'm here, psyching myself up to do maths homework. A Core 3 Revision Guide, what fun.

Don't know why I told you that to be honest. I guess maybe one day, some historian in a couple hundred years will look at this (if it's still floating around somewhere), and go look, that's how people used to live. They used to eat all their food out of tins and their parents stayed married and grandparents played a big part in their lives and... And it would all be totally unrepresentative of the vast majority of the world. Especially because I watched Patriot Games on video :). Well, it was 10p and you can't get a film out the library for that. I've got a fair number now, most of which I haven't watched. See what you can tell about me from the videos I own (and I'll include my two DVDs as well). I have: Transformers and Fireproof on DVD, the first two Lord of the Rings, Top Gun, Gladiator, Mission Impossible, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Blackadder Back and Forth. Course, we have a fair few that're family ones too, which I'll watch sometimes. I tend to read more though. I won't list all my books here to let you work it out from them though--that'd take forever. Suffice to say: fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, crime, some historical fiction, a lot of history books (mainly WWI and WWII cos they're easiest to find, but quite a selection of others too--English Civil War, Mussolini's Italy, Falklands, Afghanistan, Crimean War, Russian Revolution, all sorts). Anyway, I shall leave you in peace now and go do my homework. Bye :)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Ask and The Answer

I still haven't found my list. However, I do remember reading this one--it would be hard to forget it.

The Ask and The Answer is the sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go, and it's even better than the first one. I wouldn't recommend, however, reading it without having read the first. It launches back into the story without a whole lot of explanation, which is fine if you've read The Knife of Never Letting Go as I have, but could cause problems if you haven't.

Todd has been captured by the Mayor of Prentisstown, who has determined to make himself the new president of the whole planet. Forced to work for him in order to keep the girl he loves safe, Todd finds himself starting to sympathise with the Mayor's ideals, even though he cannot share in the methods he uses. Meanwhile, Viola finds herself in a House of Healing, and ends up joining the group which fights against the Mayor, whiile Todd fights against the women who commit bombing atrocities in the city and call themselves The Answer. In response, the violence begins to escalate on both sides, particularly with the Mayor setting up The Ask, to torture women for where their organisation's headquarters is. Brilliantly told from start to finish, this is a fascinating book that makes full use of the book layout to tell the story, as well as the text. The Noise is as brilliant as it was in the first, with the thoughts of men echoing out into the surrounding area, while women remain mysteriously silent. It's a fantastic book, very enjoyable, and I couldn't put it down. I should really have been reading stuff for the history readers' group, but I read this instead because it was smiling at me, and I'm glad I did. Brilliant book.