Skyward Review

Informal review, because today’s my birthday. And I thought I’d review the earliest birthday gift I received this year, by a lovely twitter peep who granted me a birthday wish.

Skyward was fun to read, and it went by very quickly from a chirpy kinda thing to a more dramatic one. I did enjoy a lot the way humans adapt to the low gravity environment (I mean, there’s a lot of other things that wouldn’t work but not going into the nitty gritty, this is a comic).

There are many creaive ways of “moving” and of staying “grounded” rather than being blow away by a movement that would propel you out of the atmosphere. I guess the best way of describing it is having the same atronaut “space” feel but all here on Earth without the “oxygen tank and protection from stuff” problems real space has.

I enjoyed it a lot and it was a good thing to read on a day I was feeling sad and a bit in too much pain (I don’t talk to much about pain, but that’s a journey too long to say here). So thank you very much! I can’t wait to get the next volume!


As for my birthday baloon day, it’s going to just another day. Work, then I treated myself to an aerial sling class, then a haircut/dye.

What do I want from this next year? I want to strengthen my body slowly, to cope better with the causes of my pain (I can only manage it, not fix it). Do more art, I haven’t done much art this last year as I changed jobs and then planned a wedding (it takes SO much of your time). I also want another critter…

Backgrounds for your pictures

“So Moon, what do you use for your background?”

Since I keep getting this question a lot, I am now making a full post about it. And as I am sure you’re eager to know the answer here is the short version of it: a puzzle.

Yes, you read that right! Currently it has been The Bizarre Bookshop 2 by Ravensburger/Colin Thompson. I also have a few pictures with The Bizarre Bookshop (the first one).

And how did this cleverness occur? By pure chance. I had bought a cheap low coffee table for my artwork because I am into biomechanics and trying to control pain in my body (but that is a story for another day), and I found the white table boring.

I love puzzles (either thinking puzzles or jigsaw) so I bought one and used it as my new “decoration”. I had initially intended to glue it to the table but that never happened because I loved the first puzzle so much I went out and bought a second one.

And after payday this month I treated myself to two more puzzles because I was bored of my current puzzle background. (So expect new “theme” without being on purpose).

So by chance I had to take unboxing pictures and other kinds of pictures and the table was the best place to do so, and well, they looked nice so I kept doing it, and it set a theme.

It is a relatively cheap way of doing a background (you can go to a charity shop and get a puzzle for almost nothing) and it is also a fun distraction. jigsaw soothe my mind and my anxiety and are of the few things that actually mean my brain isn’t doing ten thousand things at the same time. Once I start one, that is all I am doing.

So if you feel creative or you like jigsaw (and if you don’t maybe you know someone who does and can solve the jigsaw so you have an awesome background, you can probably convince (bribe) them with books or cake or cookies… chocolate is a good option too).

Meet the Character + Inktober Art

Keeping up with Meet The Character, I know I promised more Wig Bag Trio on my previous post, but I recently drew a “collection” of my characters so I thought it’d be a good quick introduction to them.

This piece shows all the characters that pop up most in my drawings (there are several missing).

First, let me show you a sketch. I drew this in October 2014, after a series of events that meant my first ever “I am unable to draw or create anything” (not artist’s block, but shock and PTSD). This particular sketch alongisde a counterpart where some of the first drawings I did once I could draw again..

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And of course, I deviated from my Inktober prompts (the deviation started with drawing characters from games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Bioshock…) and had to sketch, and ink a fresh take on this.

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This is the finished piece (it may be coloured at some point):

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And now let’s meet the Characters!

The girl in the middle with a bee tattoo and glasses is actually me (so this is also a “meet the artist”). The idea is I am backed by all the characters and stories inside my head.

To the left, you can see Star Fawn kneeling. She is a Fasquee, part of the native species of Deema.

Behind her are Dalv and Naj (recognise them?) from Wig Bag Trio storyline. And then there’s Knit, Mischief (the lamb/sheep) and The Captain. Mischief is very mischievous so it keeps getting in the way, there’s a reason that it has that name.

Conjuring souls in the middle over my head is Cyx Red, The Collector. She featured in 2016’s Halloween-HQ event on DeviantArt (Sadly, you can’t play last year’s adventure but you can do this year’s. She features in several storylines so she is more of an “omniscient” flitting character.

Then you can see Child Knit, she doesn’t really feature in the main WBT storyline but appears in my sketches, usually wearing The Captain’s jacket which is a paradox since she couldn’t have met him as a child.

Then under Child Knit, are the Lestrange triplets. They do not feature as much in my sketches, but are part of the Eveniengate and Deema storylines (Eveniengate occurs within Deema). They are probably the oldest characters in this drawing (they came to life around 2004-2006).

The “archer” is Moire Fox, another Fasquee. She is the second oldest here, as her story came to me around 2007. She is the character that has had the most name changes since her conception. At first she was “Fox Girl”, then Unay, which became She Without A Name, then Ella, and finally Moire Fox.

Underneath Moire is Vixy/Little Fox, this is one of the position I first tried as a logo, but that slowly evolved into my logo. She is also quite old, 2007-2008 I think.

Missing in this picture are most of Eveniengate storyline characters (very few of them have actually been drawn), MD the queen of the dream world, Yves Oswald, Oniria & Insomnio, Kit (Black Cat design for a video game), Rose Vered and Ava from WBT, and Moire’s younger sister Roisin.

So there we go. Which character are you most excited to learn more about?

 

The Guilty Reader Tag

So I wasn’t tagged to do this at all but I found it fun so decided to do it anyway. I am curious to see how “guilty” I am.

Question Number 1: Have you ever regifted a book?
Yes. I have had to move a lot and strip down to basics in the last 5 years, so I would gift away books I had finished reading that I thought would find a good home. Some of those were gifted books, some weren’t. Of course, none of them had deep meaning in having received the book, the ones that are a special gift I have kept.

Question Number 2: A book you’ve said that you read but you haven’t.
This one is tricky, because I don’t usually say I have read a book I haven’t. What may happen is I think I have read it and I actually haven’t and I am thinking about a different book. Usually this is because a) another book has the same/similar title or b) the plot is so much the same that I think it is that book.

Question Number 3: Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?
No. If I have kept a book it is because it has been gifted/given to me. I wouldn’t want someone to lose their book because of me.

Question Number 4: Have you ever read a series out of order?
Kind of. Some series I have started with the core books (like for Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, the core is the Dragonflight trilogy but they are not the first chronological books to be read) and gone from them and grabbed here and there. I would read them as I got hold of them. I sometimes just want to read a certain book in the series and that is that.

Question Number 5: Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?
Not sure. I don’t think so. Most of my life there weren’t many people to discuss books with so there was no one to spoil. And nowadays I usually ask before dropping spoilers. Maybe I have without realising it?

Question Number 6: Have you every dog-eared a page?
Yes. For as long as I can remember I wouldn’t write notes or do anything to books, then a friend lent me Carlos Castañeda’s books and asked me to make notes on the margin, dog-ear the pages and all that since he wanted to find those notes when he re-read it. There were also his notes there so it was very interesting to see what had sparked his interest and some of the thoughts he had while reading it. After that experience I am more lenient, but it will depend on the book. Non-fiction, poetry and things like that are more prone to get marked than usual YA fiction.

Question Number 7: Have you ever told someone that you own a book but you actually don’t?
Probably. Mostly because as I mentioned before, my books were doing a quick turnaround and moving forward at some point in my life, so I may have had it then given it away and forgotten. But this is rare and I can’t remember a time this happened.

Question Number 8; Have you ever said that you haven’t read a book but you have?
No. I have read odd books and books that spark reactions like Twilight series or Flowers in the Attic (if you do not know what I am talking about, one word: incest) and don’t deny it at all. Don’t see why I should. My tastes have refined and some books I read genuinely because I was trying to find what the hype was (nowadays I mostly keep away from some rather than make myself go through reading it so I don’t DNF).

Question Number 9: Have you ever skipped chapters or pages in a book?
Yes. The most recent one was Daughter of the Burning City. As early as she has breakfast with her “father” I had suspicions and skipped a few pages and realised that I was right so my suspicious took better shape and I kept skipping until I had half read the book and half skipped it (and my suspicions were so point on that it was sad and annoying and I spoiled myself for it). I sometimes skip parts if I am considering DNFing the book and want to read forward to see if it is worth reading and it’ll get better. Usually, if I decide to keep going I will read what I skipped. Also when I was younger, my mum would only let me read adult fiction if I skipped the sex pages, so I would.

Question Number 10: Have you ever bad-mouthed a book?
So what exactly does this mean? Said bad things about it? I try not to but if the book is bad, it is bad. Can’t change that.

This is all my guilty reader tag, and I tag Maja and Nikki (once you read this, try doing it on your blog).

I guess I am a not too guilty about guilty things.

On being an artist I

I will move away from books today and talk about art. As you may know now, I am not only crazy about books but I also draw and have even done a design for Book Box Club.

And it has only been recently that I realised how much I actually enjoy doing this and creating artwork for projects I am passionate about.

I am not going to go on a long post about how you should pursue your dreams or how to do art, there are so many guides, posts and tutorials on this topics I would only be repeating what has already been said.

Instead I want to talk about something that marked me deeply and which I am still carrying around with me to a degree.

I have been drawing since I was a child but only started doing it more seriously when I started writing stories. I needed to illustrate what was going on in my head and some things, words didn’t do them justice. They were not the prettiest drawings ever, at all. But they made me happy and thankfully my family knew it was the best I could do at the time so they appreciated them.

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From around 2000-2003 when I started writing and illustrating my stories

Then the internet happened and I discovered Deviantart and e-shuushuu. I was mesmerised and realised that maybe, maybe I could be considered an artist because I drew a lot and was conveying ideas on paper and maybe this was for me.

And this way the funny stories, the weird ideas my friends and I exchanged, our own world started to be translated into short stories and drawings. Sketches I would lovingly draw with my mechanical pencil and then ink out with a Sharpie marker (because 10+ years ago I didn’t know any better). And they made my day. I was also very proud of my ability to reproduce at scale scenes from manga and comics and I even challenged myself to colour these scenes without using any black lines and blending colours together.

It was all well, and then I shared them on Deviantart, on the internet, and that is when it all went wrong. You see, I was improving, admiring others (I never copied, traced or stole from others), attempting to understand their styles by trying to replicate it (not because I was trying to be them but rather to understand why they would draw things a particular way, this is called finding your influences), and I was slowly settling into my own style and my own ways, slowly improving (all self-taught, without any guidance).

But the Internet is vicious and people started assuming I had just copied and then scanned and edited to make it appear as if I had drawn it (though errors were blatantly obvious) and calling me out because I didn’t know how to draw and fan art was not allowed and I should not draw fan art of manga and my favourite cartoons.

Then came the critiques on my line work.

I sketch on small/short feathered strokes, partly because I have issues with my wrists (I struggle to open bottles, the twist required is difficult for me, and don’t even talk to me about child proof caps/taps, those are the devil’s inventions and a child would have more success than I do) and partly because I like the soft feathered effect it creates. And in the last 3-5 years it has been admired and I have received compliments on how it looks soft and fragile and delicate.

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Perfect example of my feathered sketches. Moire, one of my oldest characters, she’s a Fox Fasquee.

But before the praise came, the critique came. Someone told me the feathered strokes meant I was never going to be a good artist. That the only way to be an artist was to make perfect long lines full of “flow”. I was told I was good for nothing and that my art would never be good. I would never make it and unless I completely changed my style and all I knew about drawing, I had no hope at all.

I can’t even remember who was cruel enough to tell me I was bad at art, but I am sure that they are not artists anymore or that they plateaued and haven’t moved from the same style they had 10 years ago.

Still, the bad critiques, the poisonous comments, the accusations of not being a legitimate artist, all left their mark on me.

Yesterday I was completing some sketches for bookmark designs and showing them to a friend, and I kept saying “oh this doesn’t look as nice but it’ll better when I clean it up” or “It’s missing this but I’ll add it in when I transfer it to my laptop”, apologising for each sketch I sent because it wasn’t perfect, because it was a sketch.

Thankfully, I am blessed with good friends and she told me I shouldn’t apologise about it, that it was amazing artwork and just a sketch, not the finished version. It was then that it dawned on me that I was apologising for things I shouldn’t. These were only rough sketches (and for sketches, looking at them objectively, they are extremely detailed, see below), but here I was thinking I should apologise because it wasn’t perfect.

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I even bothered to learn how to make a dream catcher so I could draw it right (talk about going into details)

Let me tell you something, I have a full-time job and several other responsibilities in my life. I didn’t major in arts, instead I have an engineering degree and a lot of experience behind my back and yet I am also an artist and pursue this branch of creativity. And considering the amount of time I can give to this and that I am doing it as a side gig rather than my main job, it’s something I should be proud of. I am able to design pieces for book subscription boxes and other independent businesses while at the same time keeping a full time job and all my other responsibilities and paying my bills.

So to close this post, if you are an artist, a writer, or looking for who you are, don’t be discouraged. It takes time to learn and to become good, and yes there are good things to learn, but we learn by following what others have done (or not at times) so build yourself up. Find artists that can point out your mistakes but gently help you fix them rather than make you feel like you are doomed.

And please, do not doom anyone. We are all learning in this journey. Rather than putting them down, help them build themselves up.

Reading Routine

In response to Ms. Victorious blog entry about her reading routine, I am writing this post. I am not sure how long it’ll be, but I am sure I may have a lot to say.

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My bookshelves now look different

1. How I tend to read books

I’d say the best way to answers this is “any way”. I have a tendency to sit next to the bookcase (on the floor) and just read, there on the floor without any preparation beforehand or any thought about it. I used to do this at my parents house, sneaking behind the dining room table and in front of the bookcase, reading my mother’s YA novels (this is 70’s and 80’s YA books) since she thought I was too young for them (I probably was but it was books and I love reading) or maybe reading the Juvenile Encyclopaedia (I can’t remember the exact name but it had language lessons, encyclopaedia articles, stories, etc. I read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi on it (amongst other things but I just have the memory of it).

But I digress, sorry!

How I tend to read is just by grabbing a book and submerging myself into it. Quite simple I have to say. Of course I have preferred ways of doing this, such as going to bed with a cup of tea and reading for a few hours, or sitting next to my bookcase and reading or just on the couch. But unplanned reading is as welcome as planned.

As for my reading speed, I am a very fast reader. I have yet to meet someone that reads faster than me (doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who does). Which means I don’t like reading out loud, my eyes+brain are about 10 pages ahead of my mouth and hands, so it becomes a chaos of stumbling upon words because yes, my mouth is reading the first line in the first paragraph, but my eyes are already several paragraphs ahead and insisting that I say those words too. It is a struggle for me to slow down when reading (it helps if I’ve read the book before, since I have photographic memory and that means I remember the words so I don’t have to read as much and can concentrate on wording them out). Being fast also made it difficult to keep track of where the group was reading when it was one of those classes at school where we each read a paragraph in order and yeah. I would usually count the people and mark my paragraph so I knew what I should read out loud when my turn came.

My mum has a funny story that when I was in elementary school, something like Y4 or Y5 (8-10 years old) on a parents meeting thing the teacher was adamant that parents should make sure their children read for 15 minutes everyday and my mum asked “very well, but how do I make my child read for just 15 minutes a day? She won’t stop!”. In all fairness, I learnt from her, she would read a lot too, so she was to blame for this.

And as for the environment, I don’t mind music or silence, I admit I prefer a quiet room so I can concentrate better but if ideal conditions aren’t met, I can still read perfectly fine.

2. What kind of books I tend to read

I can say all kinds but to be honest I read an eclectic picky mix. My main reads are fantasy (and it’s many variations, urban, high, etc) and sci-fi, but for example I am not very fond of Asimov and a few other Sci-Fi giants and prefer more obscure ones. Same with fantasy. Of course, I read a lot of YA. And I have a soft spot for Mary Higgins Clark’s mystery/thriller novels or anything from Kathy Reichs.

I can also read contemporary though I am not as keen and I prefer for those kind of reads things like Cecilia Ahern and such, or japanese writers (Murakami is the most known but there are others). And my other favourite thing is historical. It can be historical fiction or non fiction. I have a lot of books on WW2 and aircraft, but then I also have books on colour, costumes, drawing, the art of, etc.

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And last but not least, I like graphic novels (but I am not wowed by Marvel/DC). This of course includes manga.

Most of what I have read (until I started buying book boxes) is older books and authors that either are famous now or ar not known anymore except by older people. Authors like M.M Kaye (learned a lot about history and the West Indies), Brian Jacques, Madeleine L’Engle, Robin Cook, Robin McKinley, Ken Follet, Anne McCaffrey, etc. (If you saw my post on my favourites, most of the books are old or they are new editions bought to replace the broken old ones). Some of my favourite books are now out of print or it is hard to get hold of them because people aren’t buying them anymore.

3. Where I tend to read

Short answer: everywhere. Long answer: everywhere, for real. I don’t know exactly when but it was in my teenage years (probable between 10-13 years old) I made the habit of almost never leaving the house without a book. You never know when you can sneak time to read, so I can say I’ve read while waiting (standing or sitting) in a queue, at a bus stop, waiting for the train, sitting outside a classroom, while in class (killing time after having finished the assignment), I’ve read on a plane, in a car, etc. The list goes on. I just read everywhere.

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My favourite places are bed, couch, floor and under the stairs (there is a tiny space there and I just sit among the coats and cleaning stuff and all that and read, somehow it is comforting). Another favourite occasion is sneaking some reading on a boring event (I may sin of being rude by taking out my book and reading at a conference during a talk or things like that, but I am multitasking most of the time and whatever the person is talking about I either already know it or it is not interesting me).

4. What kind of snacks keep me company while reading

I don’t prepare snacks for reading time, as you can gather from all I’ve written already, I basically just read. If I am reading before bed I try to take a cup of tea with me, but what usually happens is I forget about it while I read and only drink it once it is cold. If I am reading at a coffee shop then of course I will be drinking something and maybe having some cake (every now and then I go to a Costa or something, buy some coffee/tea and a cake and read and eat and drink in peace there, change of environment sometimes helps and is needed, sometimes I like being alone in a busy place). Snacks may happen at other times of reading but it is very variable so can’t say I do specific something. Tea is the most probable answer to be fair, but I drink tea almost a cup per hour so the odds are stacked in favour of tea.

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So now it is your turn, what is your reading routine?

What kind of books do you read? Is there a particular place that inspires you to read for hours? Coffee or tea while reading? What kind of snacks work for you?

Pictures this time include old shelves, a visit to Costa coffee, December’s Book Box Club and a lovely window seat with a view to snow in the valley (I was very lucky to have this as part of my job at the time).

 

Moon Kestrel lands into the blogosphere

This is me and why I am here.

I am Moon Kestrel.

Most of my friends know me as Moon and I look a little like Hermione does but with glasses. I am also very short and I do not wear heels (biomechanics are interesting, plus heels are evil and make me hurt)

20170729_111523Cosplaying Hermione at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) with Lisa Williamson.

As you can figure out from the picture (and the the blog tag), I like reading and books. I am quite a geek, nerd and a hipster (before it was even a thing). To be fair, it’s not like I was trying to fill those tags. I just happened to somewhat fit them.

I am smart, love learning, reading, will find shortcuts for maths (and can do mental maths, sometimes quicker than my friends can do them on a calculator), actually I like finding ‘shortcuts’ in everything. I consider them to be ways to be more efficient or quicker or just get better results. Which means some times I will take the ‘long way shortcut’.

I am the girl that always has a book around (they are everywhere, in my purse, on the shelves, on the kitchen counter, on the bedstand, on the floor…). Actually when I moved to the UK from Mexico, one of my three suitcases was full of books. It must have looked suspicious because at airport security they asked me to open it and couldn’t believe their eyes when it was just piles and piles of books. Thankfully books aren’t restricted items, so I just went through and that was it.

Also I like taking opportunities so I have done a lot of things in my life and keep my mind open to new things.

This blog is meant to be a collection of book reviews (because books of course), recipes (who doesn’t like food?), some of my writing and musings, drawings and other things running around my mind.

So I hope you will stay around and like it.