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Nollaig

Noll's Reading Log 2017

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On 6/28/2017 at 10:47 AM, Nollaig said:

I recently played Uncharted (I've never really had access to a PS3 or PS4, so a lot of older games are firsts for me!) and really enjoyed it. It wasn't without flaws, but I'll happily play the rest in the series. Partner recently finished the most recent one (four, I think?) and said it was fantastic.

 

At the moment I'm playing Beyond: Two Souls, which is the game with Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in it. It has some serious pacing issues and I'm not mad about the quick time events, but it's worth a play. It's made by the same crowd who did Heavy Rain, so I'll probably check that one out next as we got the two in a boxset.

 

I love the Uncharted series. The first one is the worst by far, so the only way is up for you! ;) I'm currently halfway through Uncharted 4, though I haven't been able to get round to gaming for months. I'll have to pick it back up again soon.

 

I also played Beyond: Two Souls. Whilst it wasn't a patch on Heavy Rain (which I highly highly recommend), it kept my attention long enough to finish it.  Though I wouldn't ever be bothered enough to replay it to try and get different endings.

 

 

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@More reading time required I think Heavy Rain will be my next game - I played Beyond: Two Souls first as I knew it was the lesser of the two games. I finished the latter yesterday, and initially got a very bad ending hehe but I replayed the last chapter and got a somewhat better ending, which itself had a few options. Apparently there's 24 endings. I'm going to watch them on Youtube, which is what we ended up doing for Nier: Automata too as there are a ton of joke endings in that.

 

 

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Finally gotten around to taking an updated pic of my cross-stitch:

20170701_225540.jpg

Slowly getting there!

 

I've also been researching study options. They're basically non-existant for someone with a degree (even though my degree doesn't give me any skills). There is one entry route to the kind of course I want (admin/medical admin) but you have to be unemployed for 6 months first. The courses are 1 year full time, so they start in September, and I won't be unemployed until September. So I contacted some people explaining my situation and how it would benefit nobody if I wound up sitting around unemployed next year for 6 months to do the course when I could do it this September with an exception.

 

I doubt I'll get a favourable response, but I figured I'd try!

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That looks amazing :o!!

 

I hope they will make an exception for you *fingers crossed*.

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On 6/30/2017 at 9:15 AM, Nollaig said:

 I played Beyond: Two Souls first as I knew it was the lesser of the two games. I finished the latter yesterday, and initially got a very bad ending hehe but I replayed the last chapter and got a somewhat better ending, which itself had a few options. Apparently there's 24 endings. I'm going to watch them on Youtube

 

 

 

That's a good idea! I often don't think of doing that.  Although I did once watch a load of walkthroughs of old Spectrum games that I never finished as they were so rock hard. ;)  Inevitably the reward for finishing them was rubbish though. :D 

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8 hours ago, Athena said:

That looks amazing :o!!

 

I hope they will make an exception for you *fingers crossed*.

 

Ditto and ditto. :)

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Thanks everyone for the compliments on the cross-stitch. Still a long way to go, but enjoying seeing progress.

 

Unfortunately, they did not make an exception for me. I knew it was a long shot. I could hound social welfare and the college I want but it'd be a game of back and forth. I'd have to apply for the scheme via the college, who send the form to social welfare. Neither would approve me on paper, but neither one can approve me individually, so I'd be left going between them pleading my case and passing messages. But the scheme rep I spoke to from elsewhere in the county said it was a long shot and didn't look good. Instead I think I shall have to pursue my studies online and by evening courses, which will be expensive. When I am actually unemployed, though, I will have clear evidence of my attempts to improve my prospects and maybe they'll be able to do something for me then, in terms of training grants or something. :)

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Sorry to hear it didn't work out :(. I hope you'll be able to get them to approve you in the future  :).

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Beautiful cross stitch, Noll, I love all the colors!

 

I'm so sorry about not getting the study course you wanted.  May I ask why you have to be unemployed to take it?  Also, if you end up going the online/evening class route, do they have student loans in Ireland that you can take out?  We have those here and don't have to pay them back until after we are graduated.  Just curious! :) 

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Thanks ladies :)

 

@Peacefield, for the scheme I was rejected from, it's an entry point into 'further education' (which is the name given to education between second level and lower third level), for people who are long term unemployed or didn't get the necessary results at second level to progress to third level. The thing is, this level of course also contains things like admin courses of all kinds (legal, estate, medical, hospitality), which nobody goes to university to do, let's be real about it. So because I have a degree and employment (and won't be unemployed til the end of my contract in October), I just wasn't eligible to do it via the scheme (which would allow me keep my unemployment benefit as a training allowance). Without that support, I can't pay my rent, and I can't just do the course anyway because if social welfare found out I was doing a course full time and claiming money for jobseeking, they'd cut me off. As for student loans, I don't want the debt. I'll pay for what I can out of my own pocket and no more.

 

@Athena (and Peace) I actually found what might be an alternative option. The National Learning Network offers the exact same major award (office admin) I was going for through the other scheme. They are an organisation who provide free courses to injured, disabled or ill people to help them re-enter the workplace. As I am medicated for anxiety and depression, I count under mental health issues and am eligible. I'd even be able to do most of my study from home, and keep my social welfare benefit. It's looking promising. Meeting the guy on Monday to discuss. Fingers crossed! :)

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I'll "keep my fingers crossed" for you, Noll :)! Good luck!

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Met the guy yesterday about doing the Office Admin course via National Learning Network, and it was a really positive meeting. I'll be doing it over 1 year rather than 2, as I have a relatively high level of education/experience already (e.g, one of the modules is word processing and I used to teach people how to do that, so I can do it quicker). It's mostly study from home, with meetings once a week or so and classes a couple of times a month, depending on which classes you're doing that month (e.g. Word Processing might run two tuesdays a month, bookkeeping runs 4 fridays a month, and you pick what modules you want to focus on and attend the relevant classes that month).

 

He even said they might be able to help provide some funds for my evening study (which is costing me approx 1500 euro!), as well as supplying all the ink I need for printing etc. They would have loaned me a laptop if I needed it, too. They also have a relaxation room for de-stressing, and a psychologist if you need to speak to one about stress/anxiety etc. Some of the modules will be very useful for me, for example they go through interview techniques by actually videoing a mock interview and going through the video step by step to see what you need to improve. The thought scares me but it will help!

 

So, just have to fill some forms, get a medical report from my doctor, and once unemployment hits, try get it all past social welfare!

 

Very happy with how it's looking :)

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I really hope the course through the National Learning Network works out, it sounds great! It's so silly that the other one requires you to be unemployed for six months. 

 

I know I'm really late with this but I just had to say your cross stitch is looking amazing :)

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On 11/07/2017 at 0:26 PM, Michelle said:

That sounds really good Noll - I hope it works out! :friends3:

 

On 11/07/2017 at 11:10 PM, Little Pixie said:

Fingers crossed again ;this course sounds even better. :)

 

On 12/07/2017 at 7:51 AM, Athena said:

That sounds great Noll :)! Fingers crossed.

 

On 12/07/2017 at 6:13 PM, chesilbeach said:

Sounds promising, hope it works out for you, Noll :)

 

On 15/07/2017 at 7:01 PM, Hayley said:

I really hope the course through the National Learning Network works out, it sounds great! It's so silly that the other one requires you to be unemployed for six months. 

 

I know I'm really late with this but I just had to say your cross stitch is looking amazing :)

 

 

Wow, thanks everyone for the support. Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been MIA again lately due to life. I check in with the forum but don't always post. Really appreciate these messages, though :)

 

I'm hoping to finish my last assignment for Medical Admin this weekend, and start my Business Admin course which I just got the course materials for. I also did a little workshop in Infection Prevention and Control, which was interesting. I don't really need it, but figure if I were to end up an administrator in a hospital or nursing home or something, it's no harm to know the theory and it looks good for me to show interest.

 

At the moment, the plan for modules is:

 

Major Award in Office Admin (via National Learning Network)

  • Word Processing and Spreadsheets (I won't learn anything here but they tick boxes to get the major award)
  • Information and Administration, and Text Production (Office admin, document production and storage, some finance stuff I think, quite similar to Business Admin*)
  • Customer Service (Self-explanatory) and Personal Effectiveness (this is where they video me doing a mock interview and build my confidence!)
  • Sage Book-Keeping Package (very useful for general admin work or a small clinic, this'll be a valuable one)
  • Work Placement (also valuable for obvious reasons, and I might do a year of employment-based-training, where the aim is you secure the job at the end)

Self-study through online, distance and night:

  • Medical Terminology and Administration (almost done!)
  • Business Administration
  • Socrates Patient Management Software (short course, not a full module, only 4 classes)
  • Audio Transcription (I love the idea of working in a psychiatrist's office or some other mental health clinic where I transcribe session reports or something)
  • Anatomy and Physiology (substantiates the Medical Terminology course, assists in transcription work)
  • Communications (may or may not do this one, but like the idea of having it under my belt - relates to context-appropriate communications, communication channels and media, body language etc.)
  • Infection Prevention and Control (this is mostly interest as you need work placement for it, so I'm not doing it officially, but I have got the textbook and the detailed course specification, as well as completing a short workshop in it with a company who also deliver the full module, so will learn it even if I can't do the exam in it! Plus, depending on my work placement next year, maybe National Learning Network would fund this module.)

* I actually wouldn't have done the Business Admin module had I known about this course in time, but unfortunately I had already paid and registered. Still, Business Admin deals with some human resources and legal stuff that the other one doesn't, so that will be interesting.

 

So yup, that's my plan. Super super excited about studying. In the month of October, I will be doing classes two nights a week, two days a week, and studying probably two online modules. It'll ease off in November. Will certainly be interesting!

 

I will actually post some reviews soon, I have a bunch 80% done on my blog. Just gotta complete em and bring em here.

 

Again, really appreciate you all taking the time to read about my silly little life and offer words of support :hug:

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Wow, that's a lot of studying! It sounds interesting and valuable, a good plan. Good luck, Noll :)!

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Finally, some reviews!

Gone Astray - Michelle Davies

astray.jpg
Genre: Thriller/Detective
Synopsis: Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives - and friends - as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams. But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone. DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family.


*** 

Review: I was a little hesitant about starting this book, as it is the first in yet another detective series - and having just read (and loved) two books in the Matilda Darke detective series, I was afraid this one would not live up. However, I decided to give it a go as the two leading ladies play quite different roles - while DCI Matilda Darke heads a Murder Unit, DC Maggie Neville is assigned as a Family Liason Officer. Her role sounded really interesting, and I don't think I've ever read a thriller/detective novel from that perspective before. I'm pleased to say it was well worth the read.

I liked the premise of the story as well, as you often hear about the pleas lottery winners receive from the public for some of their winnings. This story takes that to extremes, with the apparent kidnapping of young Rosie. The characters are generally very likeable, and the story is well written. Maggie herself is maybe not the most interesting character in the world (her personal crises are just not as engaging as those of tortured Matilda Darke), but she's at what she does and most importantly is not UNlikeable.

As with many of these types of books, the ending was a little unbelievable, but overall it held together pretty well. It's definitely enough to leave me wanting to read the next installment in the series.

Rating: 4/5 

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For Reasons Unknown

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Genre: Thriller/Detective
Synopsis: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word. Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda's case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

*** 

Review: I didn't expect this book to be good at all, considering I just nabbed it as a cheap Kindle purchase. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. I loved the characters (Matilda particularly), and found the central murder mystery very intriguing. The writing is excellent, and I'm looking forward to reading more by the author (this is the first in a series).

There were a few slight issues with the story, which ultimately I decided to overlook in favour of a four star rating - towards the end, events spiral a bit for a couple of the characters and it didn't seem very credible. Additionally, there are a couple of elements in the story which are quite dark/graphic and, while I'm all for that in books, it felt a bit out of place with the middle-ground feel of the rest of the book. Overall, though, I loved it.

When you have a series which is going to be based around an individual, you need that individual to be well-written, well-rounded, and very interesting. For me, this was the case with Matilda. Being honest, she doesn't seem like an overly accomplished detective, (she seems to magically figure stuff out 'off-screen' later in the book) but there's something about her that I like. Maybe it's just her relate-able human-ness. She has faced a tough time, but she handles it pretty well despite the impact its had on her life. She comes close to losing it sometimes, but always pulls back from the edge. There's something admirable about how she does this, and tackles this case while she's at it.

For all the unlikely wackiness that takes place towards the end, it was an enjoyable read. Looking forward to book two.

Rating: 4/5 

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The People At Number 9 - Felicity Everett

number9.jpg
Genre: Fiction 
Synopsis: When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara's street seem dull by comparison. When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another's houses. And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they've no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them...

*** 

Review: I thought this was going to be a thriller when I bought it. I mean, it looks like a generic one, the title sounds like a generic one - but admittedly I now cannot find the word 'thriller' anywhere in association with this novel. My bad. It didn't even have to be a thriller though, one dead body from 20 years ago or something would have been fine.

That said, I tend to enjoy a bit of all kinds of books, so when I say this one was really wasn't great, it's not just because I was expecting a thriller - it's just dull as dishwater. This is essentially a character driven novel, which tells the story of how one couple is dazzled and drawn into the crazy lifes of a super charismatic couple. But the problem is, not one single character in the book is even interesting, let alone charismatic. Gav and Lou are a bit weird, but that's all they are, and when Sara and Neil start acting out of (what little) character (they have), I was honestly just left sitting there thinking, 'heh? Really? How can you be falling for that?'

Additionally, the novel skips along in fragments, reviewing events which occurred in the interim, presumably to indicate the passage of time and draw the story out over a sufficient period of time, but it mostly felt like the author didn't know how to pad out those gaps. I couldn't wait to get to the end of this one, a very disappointing purchase.

Rating: 2/5

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Last Days - Adam Nevill

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Genre: Horror
Synopsis: When guerrilla documentary maker, Kyle Freeman, is asked to shoot a film on the notorious cult known as the Temple of the Last Days, it appears his prayers have been answered. The cult became a worldwide phenomenon in 1975 when there was a massacre including the death of its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. Kyle's brief is to explore the paranormal myths surrounding an organization that became a testament to paranoia, murderous rage, and occult rituals. The shoot's locations take him to the cult's first temple in London, an abandoned farm in France, and a derelict copper mine in the Arizonan desert where The Temple of the Last Days met its bloody end. But when he interviews those involved in the case, those who haven't broken silence in decades, a series of uncanny events plague the shoots. Troubling out-of-body experiences, nocturnal visitations, the sudden demise of their interviewees and the discovery of ghastly artifacts in their room make Kyle question what exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in him?

*** 

Review: This novel was a bit of a rollercoaster ride in expectations, which ultimately fell very flat. I loved the basic concept, as I have a bit of a thing about cults (morbid, I know). Having read The Ritual by Nevill, I had high hopes that he would be able to present a very creepy cult, and if I was really lucky, make it quite dark too. It started off relatively light - nothing about the cult seemed particularly outlandish or disturbing, though it was fun to learn about it as the film production crew went on their travels to interview and record.

Unfortunately, the first half of the book, while creepy in places, is slow to reveal much of anything. it is quite atmospheric at times, with a sense of impending doom and all that typical horror jazz, but mostly it's just too drawn out. Then, the second half goes crazy with detailed exposition and way too much over-plotting. It took me quite a while to actually finish this book because I was so sick of reading explanations.

Nevill is a talented writer, his actual sentences are usually a pleasure to read, but sometimes his ability to pace and wind up a story are somewhat lacking. Had this book been 100 pages shorter and the history/truth of the cult more gradually revealed, this could have been a super scary book. Unfortunately, I was a bit too bored to be scared. Points for effort, and nice writing.

Rating: 3/5

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The Other Side of the Wall

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Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: When Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour's garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door. Wondering if night feeds and sleep deprivation are getting to her, she hurriedly retreats. Besides, the fact that a local child has gone missing must be preying on her mind. Then, a week later, she hears the sound of a man crying through her bedroom wall. The man living next door, Sam, has recently moved in. His wife and children are away for the summer and he joins them at weekends. Sylvia finds him friendly and helpful, yet she becomes increasingly uneasy about him. Then Sylvia's little daughter wakes one night, screaming that there's a man in her room. This is followed by a series of bizarre disturbances in the house. Sylvia's husband insists it's all in her mind, but she is certain it's not - there's something very wrong on the other side of the wall.

*** 

Review: I picked this one up because I noticed it's set in Ireland, which is always a treat for me. It's actually a surprisingly good book. For a significant portion of the book we're following blocks of narrative, first from Sylvia, and then a really long block from Kate, with a sprinkling of Sam. There are also two or three different childhood recollection chapters from different characters, and chapters from a mysterious 'woman' and her 'husband'. This borders on confusing for about half the novel (as you can well imagine), and I also found myself flicking ahead during Kate's block to see if the story would even return to Sylvia, or if that was some oddly long introduction to the family next door.

However, everything does actually come together really well. The characters are sufficiently fleshed out (for the most part, I did get confused by whose parents were whose a bit in the childhood flashbacks). So it is easy enough recall their stories and the events they're experiencing, and when the light bulb moment comes, it does all make sense. Now, the villain's motive is a little difficult to believe, but then isn't that almost always the case with thrillers? What I would say makes this one different is that the there is a pretty clever twist and enough substance to make the incredible reason a little more credible.

My only complain is that one thread of the novel is completely distinct from the rest of the book, and makes for a very unnecessarily confusing moment at the end of the novel. It could have been left out entirely, but in fairness not so much time was spent on it as to make it sufficiently detrimental to the rest of the book.

Rating: 4/5

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Outside Looking In - Michael Woods

outside.jpg
Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead. The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end. The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

*** 

Review: This will be a short review as is often the case when I'm reading the second in a series. As per the first book, I love the character of Matilda Darke. I actually like her more in this book, as, in addition to my reasons for liking her in the first book (tormented soul bouncing back) she seems to be a character with an understand of moral gray areas. There are some threads that feed in from the first book to this one, a few references to a certain character, and Matilda's response to them is something I really relate to. So, I like this human aspect of her. I think Michael Woods just has a knack for making his characters really human.

The mystery was once again compelling and it was a joy to revisit the old investigation team members as they go about solving a complex case. The bouts of humour and darkness from the first book are still present, and as per the first book, the ending seems a little bit unlikely in places, but it's still enjoyable to read due to the great writing.

I have the third book in the series already, and can't wait to start it.

Rating: 4/5 

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