Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I've had an amazing week! I've done at least 800km in the last six days, but it's been absolutely worth it. On Tuesday I travelled through the Barossa Valley and up to Clare on a day trip. I managed to leave my camera in a restaurant in Clare, making this photo even later than it was going to be...
But now I can bring you a pretty spiffy K - this was part of some decorative ironwork on one of the bank buildings in Clare. I hoped to find more instances of this letter on that trip but while I saw many others, including the H below, K eluded me until I had got all the way to Clare.
This weekend I spent an amazing couple of days with a group of friends - we played games, went hiking and generally had a blast. This photo was where we were hiking this morning. I didn't take terribly many others but I'm sure that everyone else made up for it! I did find a couple of candidates for L, so maybe you'll see them next weekend...
We did see some interesting trees as well - one appears to be gradually swallowing a boulder whole, while we could see a face in the other. Can you see it?
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I read Garth Nix's A Confusion of Princes as an e-book through Overdrive. I'm loving reading books this way. My library's selection isn't huge - nor is my phone's screen. But it is very convenient. I used to carry books everywhere but a lot of the time I find my bag is already too heavy. Few things can be worse than finding the time and inclination to read without a book in range... I finished reading this book some time ago but it was too good to leave without a review.
A Confusion of Princes is a fantastic sci-fi adventure. Prince Khemri has been raised in a sheltered environment with the belief that he is the best thing to happen to the Empire. In his imagination his future is filled with grand adventure exploring the galaxy making conquests and great discoveries. When he comes of age he rapidly discovers that as one of millions of princes (who all want to kill him) it will be a struggle to survive his first hour and that he will have to abandon his dreams to fight for survival. His journey will challenge everything he believed.
I've been waiting for a long time to find another Garth Nix book I really love. I discovered Sabriel when I was about fourteen and read it over and over - and when the sequels came out it just got better. Unfortunately those of Garth Nix's books I've tried to read since, most particularly the Keys to the Kingdom series, disappointed. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were bad, but they were not for me. I generally strongly encourage adults to ignore the age classifications on books but they just felt very...kiddy.
Then along comes A Confusion of Princes and my faith is restored.
Prince Khemri is likeable protagonist who is remarkably relatable - which is a substantial achievement considering Khemri is a complete asshole. When the book begins he is the product of a highly planned high-tech upbringing that has shaped his body, mind and abilities. He has been the centre of everything thus far - most of the people he has known have been mentally programmed to reinforce his superiority. This has made him self-centred and self-important. From his point of view people and the world exist for his amusement. Unsurprisingly, the story is about to arrange him a series of wake-up calls.
The opening intrigued me and grabbed me, then threw me head first into a foreign universe where several chapters dumped an awfully large amount of information to set the scene. This created a fantastic universe for the story to take place in and was enjoyable, but one colleague has told me they found the info-dumping so off-putting they did not continue.
The narrative voice is the book's strongest point. Khemri's first-person viewpoint is funny and engaging and kept me turning pages over, or at least flicking to the next screen, far later than was sensible. I could feel the shock of successive reality checks passing through his mind and his discovery of emotions that were completely foreign to him.
There is one major plot point that felt particularly contrived - concerning one of Khemri's rivals but... spoilers. If you read the book it probably won't take too long to work out. Many aspects of the book are highly original but the foundation of tropes and clichés is noticeable. These common elements and themes are handled well with fresh twists but are hard not to notice.
Please don't take my criticisms as reasons not to read this book. Although it's not flawless (what book is?) it's a seriously fun read in a fantastic world designed with great depth. A Confusion of Princes comes highly recommended to anyone who enjoys science fiction, fantasy or adventure.
Garth Nix also has a new Old Kingdom book, Clariel, due out at an unspecified time this year. I have very high expectations and hope that I will be able to tell you how wonderful it is before the end of the year.
It's not the only series I love that is getting a new installment this year either. A new Sergei Lukyanenko Night Watch book is to be translated and released in May. I can't wait! I have slight reservations with this one - the first three books in the series built on each other and got better and better but I felt quite let down by book four. Hopefully book five will bring a new restoration of faith.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Today I'm making a second bonus post - I just have to mention The Breakfast Rave which was held in the beautiful grounds at Cimicky Wines this morning. I found about this in the Barossa Vintage Festival brochure and loved the idea.
The turnout was enormous - I'm not sure if that is normal or if they had a big boost from the festival. Large events can get a bit unfriendly but there was none of this here. There was a wonderful, relaxed community feeling and everyone I met was wonderfully friendly. While we were waiting to order the staff came around with free hugs for everyone!
There was even a table with seeds, flowers and home-grown gardens - people were encouraged to leave something and take something, but if you didn't have anything to leave to take something anyway. I got some parsley seeds which I'll get a pot for soon. Maybe next time I can take some parsley!
So long as I can I will continue going to these, and I hope more friends will join me next time. If you're interested like their facebook page to keep in touch. It looks like they hold one roughly every three months. Maybe I will see you there next time?
This is the first photo post for a while! Since I last posted a photo I've moved house, started a new job and spent some time waiting for my internet connection. I intend on resuming weekly posting with these.
This is the first J photo I took, just before I moved. I tried to use the statues in Moonta St before but wasn't happy with the outcome so it didn't make the cut for G in the end. I had another go for J and this one came out well.
Three of the other photos were taken in the last week around Gawler while I've been out walking - Dead Man's Pass is a great place to go for a walk, and work's within walking distance so I've had plenty opportunities to spot possible future photos for this alphabet. I'm looking forward to see what I can see this next week!
All credit also to Mum and Dad's garden for the cactus. The second and third rusty machinery photos were in a couple of locations in the Barossa Valley. I went up there last weekend for the Barossa Vintage Festival, which was amazing. I'm hoping to see a lot more of the Barossa Valley while I'm living so close to it.