2014 – A year in review…

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Well, it started off well, but tailed off towards the end of the year. I had a major life event and unfortunately my reading went out of the window…

So I managed 34 books, lots more graphic novels this year, and lots of fantasy and science fiction. I’ve read more on my iPad this year, especially comic books which I find a lot easier to get hold of and to read on it too.

I didn’t manage to fulfil my A-Z challenge or my goal of 50 books, but onwards and upwards, and this year is a new challenge.

I hope to read 50 books this year – hopefully I’ll get there, I feel back on track with my reading now, and I’m really enjoying curling up with a book in this horrible British winter weather…

Thanks for reading my blog last year, I’m all up to date with last year’s reviews now, and can start on 2015’s…!

TTFN,
Laura

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Book Number 9: Y: The Last Man – Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr

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Last collection in the series…

Y: The Last Man - Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr

Y: The Last Man – Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr

166 pages
Genre Fiction (Graphic Novel – Sci-Fi)
Sunday 3rd March – Sunday 10th March (1 days)
1 afternoon

The final instalment of the Y: The Last Man series. Do not go any further if you don’t want spoilers!

I have really enjoyed the series and this finally instalment was not a disappointment. Still no actual definitive reason for the plague, although there are many theories brought forward and discussed within the series, my favourite being the theory that the Y chromosome became obsolete as nature decided it was no longer needed once human cloning had been perfected. However, we are presented with many other theories throughout the series, the rapture, an amulet, government conspiracies… All the characters seem to have complicated far-reaching stories of how they ended up where they are, and all the theories seem to be linked to one or other of the main characters.

There were strong female characters – especially Agent 355, and the ending between Beth and Yorrick was much better than I expected – no happy endings, no living happily ever after, a more realistic end to the story instead which is much more enjoyable. We never really find out the cause of the plague, but it doesn’t matter – the journey was much more important and interesting than the ending. Yorrick remained a likeable character throughout the book, and I found myself on his side for most of the books.

The first series of graphic novels that I have read, and very good – I will be searching for more Vertigo comics in the future.

Next book: Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

Book Number 6: Basics Design: Layout by Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris

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More work reading…

Basics Design: Layout by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

Basics Design: Layout by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

175 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Art & Design)
Monday 28th January – Sunday 3rd March  (34 days)
2 morning, 3 afternoon, 1 evening

Next in this series of books – a good look at different layouts for graphic design. A print-based book, it looks into the technical terms and explanations of layout within design. There are plenty of diagrams, drawings and photos to illustrate the techniques and to provide creative inspiration.

A good book for learning more about graphic design and layout, and for inspiration for print based design work. Fantastic as a reference book to dip in and out of for inspiration for projects, or for reading from cover to cover to improve your skills and knowledge.

This series is very good, I would highly recommend them for students as a very interesting set of reference books, I remember using these a great deal during my degree.

Next book: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Book Number 1: Basics Design: Format by Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris

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First of the year, some work research…

Basics Design: Format by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

Basics Design: Format by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

175 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Art & Design)
Tuesday 1st January – Saturday 5th January (5 days)
1 afternoon, 1 evening, 1 night

An interesting read for any print designers. This book has a brilliant combination of both very good examples and illustrations of different formats and technical information and terms on the formats and how they work. There is some lovely work in here, some of it I had seen before and some of it was new. There is work by Frost Design, Hat-Trick, Madethought, Pentagram, Rose Design, Sagmeister and Why Not Associates, ranging from books to posters, brochures to marketing objects…

Each example doesn’t just show a creative design but also the use of the different techniques talked about throughout the book – such as die-cutting, binding types, folds, scale, paper, print techniques etc. The book discusses and shows how different forms and formats of a piece affect the user or the audience, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the established mould. The book shows examples which illustrate the way in which different formats and effects change the way the audience interacts with the piece, and how it can add to the design and aesthetic of the work too.

One of the best things about this book which I not only really enjoyed but also found very useful, is the use of the techniques within the book – different paper stocks, print techniques, folds and cuts, which help to explain and show how these things work. The book is very image heavy, with concise explanations and captions, and handy little sections with useful glossaries, information design and lists of techniques and formats.

Not really a book to sit and read from cover to cover, although I did find it hard to put down once I started, this is a lovely reference book full of inspiration and information – well worth owning so you can dip in for different projects here and there.

Next book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book Number 17: The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

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Next book:

The Machine Stops: E.M. Forster

Page Count: 83 Genre: Fiction – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Time taken: 4 days (Sat 30/07/11 – Tue 02/08/11) Sessions: 1 morning, 1 night.

There are actually two stories in this little book, “The Machine Stops” and “The Celestial Omnibus” and I read each in one sitting.

I have never read any E.M. Forster books, and these little modern classics are brilliant at introducing you to a new (but old) author. “The Machine Stops” is a great little story about a dystopia where we all live in little cells linked by a machine, with no human contact, and every physical and mental need met by “The Machine”. Most humans are happy with this isolated life underground and start to see the machine as a sort of religion. We follow two characters, a mother and son, the mother happy with her life and her worship of the machine, her son, a rebel who wishes to go above the surface and out into the real world. As the story progresses the machine breaks down and, well, you’ll have to read it for yourself!

The Celestail Omnibus is about a young boy who goes on a journey to “heaven” or the “afterlife”, and returns home. He then embarks again on the journey with a well-read and learned man, who dismisses his story, and throughout the journey, tries to explain what he sees with his head, whilst the boy uses his heart.

Both stories were good, the first made me think of the internet, and how this book really was ahead of it’s time, predicting television, video conferencing and the internet in the early 1900’s. It showed man’s dependence on machines, a well trodden path for many sc-fi stories, but was still very interesting. It also made me want to unplug and go outside. Which I did.

Next book: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Book Number 7: The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore

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Number 7 was:

The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore

Page Count: 160 Genre: Non-Fiction (Art & Design) Time taken: 3 days (Sun 13/03/11 – Tue 15/03/11) Sessions: 1 morning, 1 lunch.

A bizarre book that I bought when I was at University as it was on my reading list, but never got round to it. It’s not really a book to read in a linear fashion, but I did it anyway. It’s pretty short, it’s set in a collage style way, with photos and text working with each other to show McLuhan’s philosophy of media and communication. Some of the pages are set back to front, so you need a mirror to read them, or set upside down.

I didn’t find it that great to be honest. His ideas and views were interesting, and I enjoyed the design of it, but I don’t think it was supposed to be read in the way that I did, more a book to be dipped into. However I do recommend it to anyone with an interest in Graphic Design, Media and communication.

Next book: Perfume by Patrick Süskind.