Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hi! So, at the moment I'm still at CTYI but we're in the computer room today trying our hand at web journalism i.e. blogging. It's actually been mandated that we use Wordpress so I am, but as it's not co-operating at the moment I thought I'd drop in here, to my trusty Blogger.

CTYI is coming to an end, with less than a week left, and I will of course write down everything I can remember from it once I go home. I really wouldn't like to forget any of this, because it's been the best thing I've ever experienced.

Usually when I'm really looking forward to something, I blow it up in my head until it's reached such epic proportions that reality couldn't possibly match up to it. I was both astonished and elated to see that CTYI surpassed even my most ridiculous expectations. It has been, quite literally, magical. Often I feel like holidays/things I've been looking forward to pass too quickly, but the great thing about this is that each day has been so incredibly busy that it feels fulfilling. Still doesn't change the fact that I'm going to cry when it ends, but I'll know that it's been so worth it.

A lot of things follow the principle that 'you get out of it what you put into it'. I came here expecting that CTYI would be the same. In some ways it has been, but the amazing thing is that even the people who were a bit reluctant or shy seem to be having a great time. As far as I can see, there's no way you can't.

I arrived with a strange collection of things in hand, including a pirate sword, a multi-coloured dressing gown and 15 packets of Instant Noodle. Incidentally, these are common things to see in CTYI. I was shown to my room (I'm a residential student) and can I just say, it's gorgeous.

Back when I can, only two days left!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Top Ten Favourite Beginnings/Endings in Books

I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I didn't number them becayse I can't choose between a lot of them, but these are all in my top ten.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling) - Ending

It was a huge shock (Dumbledore!) but it was a really dramatic ending and I have to repect that.

Fragments (Dan Wells) - Beginning

This really kept up the momentum from the previous book, and it was a great entrance into a brilliant book. Started with a bang!

Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked (Derek Landy) - Ending

CURVEVBALL! The last chapter epilogue was just THE BIGGEST TWIST.

Partials (Dan Wells) - Ending

I don't know why I loved this so much. It was just enjoyable.

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - Beginning

Not the exact beginning, but the reaping - it was excellently described and really let me into the world.

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox - Ending

All the plotlines melded really nneatly and naturally here, I loved it.

Temeraire: Throne of Jade (Naomi Novik) - Beginning

Drama was just brought right up from the start, as was the emotional core of the story.

Temeraire: His Majesty's Dragon (Naomi Novik) - Ending

The ending to this one was really heartwarming after all the adventure, I must say.

Blood Ties (Sophie McKenzie) - Ending

This all tied in really neatly, and the description was beautiful.

North Child (Edith Pattou) - Beginning

This really brought me into the faiytale world well.

So those are my Top Ten for this week! Leave links to your own TTT in the comments, or if you don't have a blog you can just suggest some endings in the comment itself!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Guest Post: From Reading to Writing

As I'm away on holiday right now, Oliver Dahl, who blogs at The Dreamers Adventures, is here with a guest post. Presumably, if you're reading my blog, you're a bookworm - so here for your viewing pleasure is a post about how reading tastes translated into his work as a self-published author. Enjoy, and be sure to check out his blog on July 13th for my post on how to write dynamic characters - and stick around on his blog for a look, you might like it!


It doesn't take long as a writer to hear the tossed-around phrase, "write the kind of book you would want to read."

When I first started (trying!) writing books, I hadn't heard of this writer adage. I almost discovered it on me own, though under different words and ideas. This was around the fourth or fifth grade.

"Little kid" me wanted to read a book. And not just any book, something with dragons, twin boys, characters like me that I could connect to, and dwarves and elves of my own variation. I wanted to read something that had a colorful, vibrant, unique, and constantly changing setting. I wanted to read a book with magic, and a wizard, and a desert, with a rickety old bridge like in Indiana Jones. I wanted to read a book that, quite frankly, didnt exist.

No matter how hard my little heart looked for something like this, I couldn't find anything. Sure, there were books that were close, and aspects of those books added more little things to my list of things I wanted in would I thought would be a perfect book. When I realized that no such book really existed down to the minute details that I wanted, I realized that I could write it. I could write that "perfect" book. And maybe other kids like me would want to read it. And that's how it all started. I still have the crinkled pieces of notebook-paper that the first pages had been written on.

If you haven't been able to tell already, I have quite a few tastes that I look to satisfy in the books that I read. Oftentimes, I joke about the length of the self-filed genre of my first book, The Dreamers. I classify it as "Modern YA scifi fantasy adventure." What a mouthful. Now if I could only fit in action and "contains cheesy knock-knock jokes" in there somewhere. Hmm...

If we take that adage I first quoted, and apply it right now, you can assume that because I wrote a book in that genre, I enjoy reading in that genre as well. And you would be absolutely correct. Michael Vey, by Richard Paul Evans is another book I would classify in that long genre. I absolutely love fantasy, science fiction, YA, Dystopian fiction, and most subgenres between. My favorite "genre" however, is a mixture of all of these set in modern times. Rick Riordan is a great example of this. Suzanne Collins' "Underland Chronicles" is another. I love how almost believable their stories are. You can make yourself believe that Camp Half Blood exists. You don't know for sure that it doesn't. And that is what I love. Wheras in generic fantasy fiction set in the typical medieval ages, you know it didn't happen because of history books. (The dragons are a little bit of a clue, too...) And, if not for the Doctor or time travel, we could rule out our scifi as impossible as well. It's the slim chance of possibility that draws me in to modern fiction.

"So you're saying... There's a chance?" :)

Alright, I'm getting sidetracked. Like I have mentioned in a post of mine, I think that everything that we write comes from somewhere else. Everything we write comes from other stories that we have seen, read, listened to, and experienced. It is my belief that if we never experienced anything, heard, read, or saw any form of any story, we would be unable to write. Due to the fact that most of the stories I read as a kid were fantasy, scifi, and fiction in general, those stories that I experienced and enjoyed became stored into me.

The things that I have read really are the things that I write. Mixed together with my own experience in my mind like a blender, I make new idea "smoothies" from every story I know. And again, because most of those stories I know are fiction, most of my smoothies are, too. To keep going with this rather strange smoothie metaphor, if my most of my ingredients are berries, (fiction) then most of my resulting smoothie is going to be, too.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I hope my rambling and impromptu smoothie-metaphor-filled, button-pushing made sense. I hope that before you leave, though, you'll check out some of my smoothies. Er, I mean... Books. That's right. :)

Born in 1998, Oliver Dahl is the oldest of five children and lives in Idaho. Previous to finishing middle school, The Dreamers had earned him the a spot as one of Idaho's Top 50 Idaho authors (2011). The title of Idaho's Student of the Year (2012) preceded both the publication of Dahl's second novel, The Nightmarers, and the completion of his freshman year of high school. Oliver's books have spent time in the top percentages of books on Authors like Brandon Mull, Obert Skye, and Richard Paul Evans own autographed copies and have expressed interest in The Dreamers. Dahl is also an awarded musician and engineer. He has as twice as many Oscars as Leonardo DiCaprio, and has won the Tour de France as many times as Lance Armstrong.

He can be found in too many places online.
Website BETA:

Facebook Page: Click here to view my page.
Twitter: @OliverWDahl.
YouTube: Click here to view my Channel. Click here to view my page.
Amazon Author Page: Click here to view.
GoodReads Author Page: Click here to view.
Google+: Click here to add "The Dreamers" to your circles.
Tumblr: check out what I think is funny at!
Imgur: pictures (usually funny)
DeviantArt: See what I'm drawing over at
I'm on Riffle! Check out my profile.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Stupid White Men - Michael Moore Review

Stupid White Men – Michael Moore Review
Genre: Non-fiction, Politics  
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5 Stars
In short: Entertaining, thought-provoking, well-researched enough to be funny  – but lacks rereadability.
I read this book again this week after reading it for the first time about two years ago. It’s one of my favourite non-fiction books, brimming with political satire and sarcastic hilarity. Unfortunately, what makes it so novel and fresh in the first place means that reading it again takes the pleasure out of it a little. Still definitely one to get from the library or borrow though. It went to the top of the UK bestseller list before it was even released in the UK, and it really is a triumphant feat of sleuthing.
Another good thing is that you can just choose chapters at random because each is an independent unit. With names such as ‘Dear George [Bush]’ and ‘Kill Whitey’ and ‘the End of Men’, it’s a delight to read and you’ll always find something to interest you.
Something Moore does well is make your blood boil. He somehow comes up with hard, unexaggerated facts that have mysteriously stayed out of the public spotlight, and waxes eloquent about the oppression and corruption that nobody notices.
The last chapter and the epilogue were where Moore fell down in my estimation. I don’t know whether he lost inspiration or something, but he stopped being as witty and hilarious as he had been throughout the rest of the book. And as I said above, upon rereading it you aren’t as shocked by the facts and things he says so it isn’t such an enlightening read. Still, the first time around you really enjoy it, and it is a damn good book.
For almost all of the book, Moore is furious. And funny. And furiously funny. The End of Men and Kill Whitey especially are great chapters to show up misogyny and racism, and he does it all with a sense of humour.
So there you go. It irked me that the UK and Irish version left out a section because we don’t have the Freedom of Speech Law, but hey, that’s the law.
 *** *** ***
I'm currently on holidays, if you call CTY early college a holiday, without internet - this is a scheduled post. I can't reply to comments as fast but continue to leave them and I'll reply when I get a chance!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Matched - Ally Condie Review

Source: Library   
Pages: 366
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he's not. In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that's when her whole world begins to unravel...

In short: Enjoyable, thought-provoking dystopian - very YA.

Review: I'm feeling a lot of cover-love for this one (go Theresa Evangelista!). Cassia trapped in the orb is an excellent descriptor of the book to come. Besides, I've seen a lot of good reviews so I had to get it.

The funny thing is, when you boil it down I would usually HATE the premise/theme of this book. It's literally centred around romance and a love triangle. I have never seen anything MORE love-triangle-y. (love-triangular?).

But what's amazing about this book is its dystopian elements. The dystopian world Ally Condie creates is vividly described and quite terrifying in its very utopia.  On paper, it's a perfect system. But when you throw human beings in, it's restrictive and unjust. The little details that Condie lets slip out subtly - the Officials completely choosing someone's line of work, their partner, their possessions - really build up to create a good picture of it all.

It was really enjoyable and light. It's not a hugely long book, but there's a lot of information in it - and even with that it's not done with a heavy hand, which I'm very glad of. As well as that, there were some genuinely thought-provoking parts that seem to be missing from a lot of dystopians lately. The government has everyone die on their eightieth birthday, because it has decreed that after that quality of life decreases so much that the person shouldn't be alive at all. That was really chilling, and brings up topics like pre-emptive euthanasia. Then there were the measures the Officials took to keep everyone equal and not questioning, like when they raided homes for artifacts. Again, hints of Communism. Not loudly, but just enough to make you compare it to today's world. And they incinerated libraries (!!!).

And then the romance. I am not a fan of romance. This one was done well, actually, but I still don't like it being the main focus of the story. So, the conflict is that Cassia is expected to love the person she's Matched to, but because of some big conspiracy/mistake, it doesn't exactly work out as planned. She sees someone else, and starts to fall in love with them, breaking every rule in the book.

Here's what I did like about the romance. Her 'true' love interest, the unsafe one, encourages her to open her eyes, to see past the forced safety of Oria and become a bit of a rebel. It makes her into a defiant, proactive heroine and I really liked that. Also, with the way the love interest is done it's exactly like Slated by Teri Terry (one of my favourites, my review here), to the point where it's uncanny.

There were some quite clumsy metaphors, as if the author was just trying to get them in - like the one about Sisyphus. I get the point, and I understand that it was meant to symbolise their struggle and acts as a catalyst for Cassia's transformation, but it just seems forced.

Other than that, a highly enjoyable book that leads well into its sequel in the trilogy, all the books of which (Matched, Crossed and Reached) are out now.

P.S. I got contact lenses, after 13 years of wearing glasses! This is exciting! Also, I have to get Fractured, Slated's sequel. And Divergent. And Insurgent ... I have less than 2 weeks until holidays so I have to get my books lined up soon.