Monday, October 21, 2013

Lucid Dreaming

For those of you weirdos (I love you), who already know of lucid dreaming, and have successfully carried out a lucid dream, then this might be entertaining. For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm talking about.. stick around, you might actually take interest!

Okay so I was talking with a friend in school today, and seriously this guy is awesome; he takes crazy ideas and makes them seem completely normal. Today, it was lucid dreaming. I wasn't previously aware of the term, but rather the concept, and I actually remember having something like a lucid dream before. It was only semi-lucid though. But nonetheless, the whole thing just fascinated me! Oh and by the way, lucid dreaming is when you are aware, in a dream, that you are indeed dreaming, and are able to control what happens in your dreams. Sounds freaking amazing right?! Yeah well he went on about how he started it a weak ago, researching how it works and all that, and finally had his first successful lucid dream the last night. 

Immediately upon getting home, I grabbed my laptop and began my very thorough research on it, discovering many things. Here's my condensed guide of learning to have lucid dreams.

Step 1) Dream Journal - Apparently if you keep a dream journal, you might begin to see trends in your dreams and therefore, will be more likely to realise when you're dreaming.

Step 2) Am I Dreaming? - Constantly asking yourself whether you're dreaming or not, will get you into the habit, and you'll find yourself asking the question in dreams, possibly leading to a lucid dream.

Step 3) Reality Checks - There are ten ways of checking whether you're in a dream or a waking reality. These include:
    - Breathe - Can you hold your nose and mouth shut and breathe.
    - Jump - When you jump, do you float back down?
    - Read - Can you read a sentence twice without it changing?
    - Look - Is your vision clearer or blurrier than normal?
    - Hand - Can you push hand through a solid surface?
    - Time - Can you read a clock face or digital watch?
    - Fly - Can you will yourself to fly or hover above the ground?
    - Palms - Do the palms of your hands look normal close-up.
    - Mirrors - Does your reflection look normal in the mirror?
    - Math - Can you add up two numbers for a correct answer?

Step 4) Meditation - In the hour or half hour before going to bed, you're supposed to stare at your hands, in complete silence, and chant, over and over again, what it is you want your dream to be about. For example tonight, I'll be saying so myself; "I will dream about having super-powers". Bit far-fetched but you gotta dream big, right? Haha

Step 5) Have Patience - After what I've read, and heard, it takes a while to be able to do is. Apparently it's like a superpower itself! Haha! So don't expect to be able to do it straight away. 

Personally I can't wait to start all this! It's just past ten now, so I'll go through the list for about thirty minutes to an hour and hopefully it works!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Release Date: October 6, 2009

Source: Kindle Store

My Rating: 4/5

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they've closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprisingly yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried withing his mind.
                                       - Goodreads

"The Maze Runner (TMR), by James Dashner, an interesting title for an interesting novel. It was partly for the reason of the interesting title that I chose to review the book, that I even decided to read it in the first place, and only after completing the read do I recognise its importance. It plays a major role, or should I say it's the name designated to the major role our protagonist plays in the story.

"He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air"
Engaging, as every opening of every novel should be. Thomas, our protagonist, comes to, after what seemed to him like an endless sleep, in a seemingly make-shift elevator, surrounded by who seem to be ordinary teenage boys. Confused, as you'd expect, he begins with a torrential flow of questions, the answers to which aid him in realising that he had been abducted, and sent to a very primitive version of what we know to be a normal town.

We learn that this has been a re-occuring thing, the arriving of a new boy on the same day of every month, for two years now, and that the only information the boys are in possession of is their first names.

The place they have been sent to, was christened with the name 'the Glade', and is situated in the heart of an ever-changing maze. A maze in which dangerous creatures reside.
The boys have cleverly banded together, each taking it upon themselves to provide one necessary need for the community, be it becoming a farmer and providing food or taking up the role of a builder and making sure their simple homes and hospitable. What Thomas is interested in, however, is the selective group, namely 'The Maze Runners', who spend their days exploring the maze, desperately searching for a way out.

Thomas soon discovers that all odds for escape whatsoever, aren't in their favour. This becomes even more unnerving when a girl, the first to ever set foot in the Glade, makes an unexpected arrival the day after Tom's. Teresa, the girl, is unconcious at first, and upon the crowding of the gladers around her body, she jolts to life with a note in her hand, reading "The end is near". Mass panic erupts as a result and subsequent occurences lead most of the gladers to believe that all hope is lost.
With all blame pointed in his direction, what will his next move be? Will he and the others unearth the secret to their escaping? Or will they remain in the Glade,  in fear of whatever horrible fate awaits?

This novel is entertaining, through and through, what with its uniqueness that makes it stand out from other Young Adult (YA) fictional novels, the deep characters that add to the enjoyment of reading the book, and the strange way in which the story is written.

Speaking of the author's use of strange, yet intriguing, language in the book, James Dashner creates, within TMR, a completely renewed way of speaking. It isn't uncommon that in a story, you find certain aspects of the characters' speech, that seem unusual and different to what we would classify as the norm. Dashner takes this to a new level entirely, incorporating into modern English, small words such as 'greanie', 'shank' 'klunk', 'shuck', the meanings of which I'd rather keep out of this review, for your sake. It doesn't seem like much, but when these words are thrown into every second sentence, the experience changes drastically.
"You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!", just a particular example of the word's use, when Tom got a bit too aggitated.

The concept of character building in TMR similar to other YA novels in that the protagonist grows and develops, to some extent, but there is also a noticeable difference. Said difference is due to the fact that the characters know nothing about themselves or their lives prior to their arrival in the maze. This creates the possibility that it's somewhat difficult for the readers to form opinions on the characters, because the factors responsible for shaping the individuals are unknown.

Despite the obvious difficulty it's clear as day the type of person our protagonist, Thomas, is. Sixteen year old Tom, of height five foot nine, with soft facial features and an average build. All this information is brought into light by other gladers' speculations at the beginning of the book. The fact that Thomas himself, doesn't know how old he is, or is unable to describe what he looks like without the aid of a reflection, the fact that he is unsure of his basic profile, creates questions in our minds and most of us read on as a result. The one thing, besides his name, that Tom is certain of, is his daring and determined personality. Even the readers, are sure of this by the end of the first chapter, when Thomas confides in his new friend 'Chuck', that he wants to be a maze runner. There isn't a doubt in our minds concerning his personality because Dashner so carefully and cleverly creates the character of Thomas.

The story is told from Thomas' point of view, so the character developing is based predominantly on him, but the building of the other characters is also well done. Chuck, for instance, Tom's first friend in the Glade, is portrayed as a young vulnerable boy whom Thomas instantly takes to caring for. The developing of Chuck's character contributes to the fleshing out of Thomas, as a new side is added to his personality; that of a caring older brother. Another noteworthy character in Minho, Thomas' fellow maze runner and pal. The bond between the two characters gives Thomas even more depth and makes him all the more likable.

Books are woefully underrated. The lessons hidden behind those all too familiar monochrome wordings are often missed or misunderstood. Even if the reason for your picking up a book isn't solely based on obtaining insight of some kind, the imagination at work in fictional cases, or the wealthy of factual knowledge in others will likely be worth your time.
The time taken to read 'The Maze Runner was definitely time well spent. Though the beginning was slow reading for me, most aspects of a good novel were present in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I award it four out of five stars and deem it suitable for what I assume its target market is; young adults."

*           *          *

So yeah, this is a book review, written for an English assignment we were given this week. Nothing too fancy, just a filler post because I haven't updated my blog in a while! Read it, or don't read it, it's up to you!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I think what I'm about to talk so passionately about is universal, which is partly the reason I'm bringing it up in the first place.

Okay, I think we've all been through those dreary days, where nothing seems to be going in your favour and even the sun, which is supposed to signify warmth and heat and life, is weakening. We've all had those days where we feel so overwhelmed with the world and the problems we're faced with, and we're convinced the melancholy will never subside. 
I'm not afraid to say I've been going through something similar, for quite a long while, and it took until today, to realise that it's not all bad.

I take extra classes in the Institute of Education in Dublin, and always look forward to English class; the guy's just a legend! He teaches English with such zeal that makes you want to learn. Something my normal English teacher greatly lacks.

This particular English class, we studied 'The Darkling Thrush' by the poet Thomas Hardy. Another brilliant man. He paints us a picture, of a dull Winter's day, at dusk, and describes perfectly how blue he feels; something we can all relate to. He feels like the ominous cloud that hangs over him will never go away, and "every spirit upon Earth seemed fervourless as I". His powerful wording immediately draws out the reader's sympathy and they can almost share in his sadness. I know I did when my teacher read the poem anyway.

What makes this poem so amazing, however, is what happens in the last two paragraphs. Hardy catches the song of 'the darkling thrush' and is filled with awe. Usually birds sing at dawn not dusk. The sheer beauty of it is enough to lighten Hardy's mood. He's realistic in saying the happiness will not last forever, so, in that moment, he'll appreciate and celebrate it.

I took this poem to be about life, and how life can feel overwhelming and depressing sometimes, but the good things keep us going. I took it to be about Hardy being in a tough spot in his life, writing wise, with a sore lack inspiration and a feeling of wandering aimlessly. But then, the thrush appears, and in all it's strange glory, provides the inspiration. It's inspiration that won't last forever, but proves enough to grant euphoria for the moment.

I walked out of that class with a big cheesy grin on my face.

After that class, I stuck in my earphones, with "Ride This Feeling by Kate-Miller Heidke", on repeat and I was just.. euphoric. It was a strange feeling, the song fit the mood perfectly, and I felt as if nothing bad would ever happen. Obviously I knew that would never happen, so I appreciated the song even more. 

I had my earphones in until I went to bed that night. It was the perfect day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Happens With Every Book


(This looks really long, but please stick with it)
Don't worry, this isn't going to be some lengthy book review, written as if I know everything and anything that was running through the author's mind as he was creating the story, as some out there do write. It won't be as formal as a book review, that's all saved for the review I have yet to write and hand up to my teacher next week, but it will be a rant of some sort. Please don't hate me..

Okay, this being the fourth installment in a particular series, The Lorien Legacies or 'I Am Number Four' series, it's immediately obvious that I had taken a liking to it, and was already heavily invested in the characters (you'll read why that was a mistake soon), and their various storylines. 

Just a short summary of the happenings up to this book.
In the first book, we follow the life of Number Four, one of the supposed nine Garde who was fortunate enough to escape their falling planet, post being attacked by another alien race, or the Mogadoriens. The nine garde, from Lorien, were burdened with the daunting task of taking down the Mogs on Earth, and rebooting their race and planet, but first they had to train and harness their powers, or 'legacies' as they call them. Anyway, back to Number Four. The foundation of his character building begins in Florida, when the readers are given insight to his surprisingly nice life on the beach, with his Cepan, or protector, Henri. So one night, while serenading a girl and all that shizz dat we boyz do.. his leg suddenly begins to heat up and it appears that a loric symbol is being burned on his leg. He flees the scene and we soon find out that this is the third time this sort of thing has happened, signifying the death of the third garde, or 'Number Three', and being number four, he is next in line to be slaughtered by the Mogs, because they can only kill in the order of Garde numbers, whilst the garde are still separated. Number Four and Henri quickly move to Paradise, Ohio (ironic yeah I know) and he becomes 'John Smith'. Long story short, because this is taking far too long, he befriends a guy called Sam, who's Dad was, coincidentally, among the few who helped the garde and their cepans get their lives up and running upon arriving on Earth, and had been abducted by Mogs years back. Sam plays a big part in the later books, and so does Sarah, the typical popular girl, but admirably 'ex-cheerleader', who ends up becoming John's girlfriend he just can't live without. At the end of book one, the trio have their first encounter with the Mogs, Henri dies and Number Six comes into the picture.

I won't take up a big paragraph going through the next to books, because I've probably lost half you readers already, but over the course of the next two books, John, Sam, Sarah and Number Six...
1) Train a lot
2) Meet up with Number Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten, who supposed escaped on another ship after the initial one.
3) Train even more because Nine is a training junky
4) Lose Sarah
5) Get Sarah back
6) Lose Sam
7) Discover Eight is destined to die by a blade passing through his heart
8) Lose Six
9) Get six back
10) Fight Setrakus Ra, the all powerful Mogadorian leader
And the book ends with Setrakus fleeing.

Okay, the real reason I decided to write this blog post. The Fall of Five. The fourth book and the one that almost tore me apart from the inside out.
I don't have the time to go on and on about how I was thoroughly entertained but disappointed all the same, but it seems I have no control over that most of the time.

With the starting of this book, Sam is being held prisoner by the Mogs (if you were listening to my very detailed synopsis of the second and third books, you'd know he was captured). He is busted out, though, not by the garde, who were literally on the floor above him fighting Setrakus Ra, but HIS FATHER! The man he hadn't seen in like ten years! Anyway, he and his Dad escape, and the point of view changes to John, which is another thing I love/hate about the series. The changing of POVs that is. John, the unspoken leader, takes the team back to Nine's loft in Chicago, where they train and exchange experiences and just get caught up. The POV alternates between Marina, Number Seven, and John whilst in the loft, before John, Six and Sarah go to meet up with Number Five, who gave away his location by burning the Loric symbol for the number five onto a field, which was picked up by the news, obviously. They meet five, and instantly there's dramatic irony. The readers, and maybe even the characters, know that there's something off about Five. We put this to the back of our heads, however, after he, John, Six, Sarah and the newly arrived Sam and Malcom, fight off a small army of Mogs.

They all go back to the loft and it feels so nice, you know, them all being reunited. It's almost as if you, the reader, are part of their family and therefore, share in the joy of being complete again. The team trains, and efficiently makes battle strategies, pondering how they'll actually take down Setrakus, and Five brings it up, that he left his chest in the Everglades, because he thought it'd be safer there. By the way, I forgot to tell you that each garde received a packed chest of various different Loric items and weapons, and they decide that they'll go and get the chest. Oh and another 'by the way', they have this pet thing, called a Chimaera, from Lorien obviously, who's able to take the shape of any animal, Loric or otherwise, and they call him Bernie Kosar (BK). During all this time, Ella (Number Ten and the youngest of the group), has been having recurring nightmares, in which Setrakus Ra is trying to coax her into joining the Mogs, for some reason. One night, the nightmares get bad enough, that Ella is unable to escape them, and after trying to awake her, John is also trapped inside this nightmare. The two fall under a deep slumber and the other garde, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine, decide on rushing to get Five's chest because they feel helpless in the loft, and this is where things start to get effin twisted!

The five garde get to the Everglade (a mountain range I guessed), and have just obtained Five's chest, when.. he surprises everyone! He knocks Six clean out, holds Nine under the surface of the murky waters, all in order to talk to Seven and Eight, for he deems them the only two, who are fit to JOIN THE MOGS! It turns out he has been working for them since his Cepan died eight months after arriving on Earth! A fight breaks out between Five and the others, but since Five was trained by the Mogs all his life, he surprises everyone, even the readers, by maintaining the upper hand. He goes to end Nine's life, but Eight teleports into the way of the blade, and it runs straight through his heart, just like the image said he would die in this strange cave they visited a while back. The irony is, that this also happened when the group was fighting Setrakus Ra, but back then Marina was able to heal him. This time the fresh scar, signifying Eight's death, burns itself onto the legs of the remaining garde, and he's gone forever. 

It's devastating really. For some strange reason, I particularly liked Eight, from the moment the readers were introduced to him. I love his legacies, and his abilities, so reading the lines leading up to his death was somewhat of a surreal experience. 

Anyway, Marina, since she and Eight had really connected, became enraged, and, to put it short, Five loses an eye because of her, before Six, Seven and Nine flee. 

Back at the loft, Sarah, Sam, Malcom and BK are overwhelmed by the wave upon wave of Mogs that flood into the apartment. John finally wakes up, having seen the future in Ella's nightmare. Ella, however, remains asleep and is taken by the Mogs. Sarah, Sam and Malcom, escape the apartment, while John gets the remaining chests. Out of nowhere, he runs into Adamus, a pure Mog who was tested upon and now has the legacies and personality (I think) of Number One, still in the loft, and the two agree that Adam will help the Garde "Win this war".

Then the books ends..

Just imagine how annoyed I am. Cliffhanger endings are not a good thing for me, and they happen with every book I read!