NaNoWriMo 2017 and Preptober

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a non-profit organisation that wants to encourage people to write a novel. You have the entire month of November to write 50,000 words…so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I have always loved writing but I will admit that it has been quite a while since I wrote anything fiction. The closest I get to writing these days is this blog, and let’s be fair I’ve been pretty sporadic with my posts lately. I think it’s because work is always so busy and life itself is just so hectic it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to do these little creative projects. So I have gone into NaNoWriMo as a complete newbie. Fresh meat. Or…fresh Tofu as I should say!

When it comes to writing for NaNoWriMo there are two types of people: Pantsers and Planners. Planners are those writers who have an entire scene by scene set up for the start of November, who know exactly how their story is going to go and how it is going to end. Pantsers on the other hand are writers who have nothing but a few ideas and their imagination to guide them once November 1st hits. Now I have always been a bit of a Pantser when it comes to my writing: I would write because I felt inspired in that moment to write a story, and can not remember the last time I actually FINISHED a story. So I have decided to become a Planner for the first time in forever…I have a notebook and everything! I even went so far as to colour code my story by main character perspective. How shmancy am I?!

The main reason I wanted to write about this is to let you guys know why I may be a bit quiet for a while in November. But also, and probably most importantly, I wanted to let all of you who read this know about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t cost anything and if nothing else it should be a load of fun to just write a novel. Set yourself the challenge and finish that novel you always thought about writing. I have also seen just how social it makes people: Every area has it’s own ‘territory’ of writers and they run Write Ins and Plan Days throughout November, where writers of all backgrounds and walks of life can get together and just talk about writing…get some feedback, share ideas and just enjoy being creative with like-minded people…just for fun!

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While there are no real prizes at the end of the month, you will leave the process with at least two things: A brand new novel (or at least the start of a new one) and maybe even a new found love for writing in general. In this day and age, when there is so much bad stuff in the news and in our minds, I want to use NaNoWriMo as a way of showing everyone that there can always be joy in a good book…especially one that your wrote yourself and could even lead to inspiring others to write their own too!

So what do you say? See you at a Write In soon! ❤

T xx

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Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

Most expensive Star Wars toys

No one can deny that Star Wars is an insanely popular and well-loved franchise. The films have become a stable part of 20th Century cinema and even if you have never watched one of the films, the characters and universes are iconic: EVERYONE has made a ‘I am your father’ joke, as well as encouraged their friends to ‘trust the force’. It is also no surprise that the toys are highly sought after, and for a bit of ease of reference, here is a list of some of the most expensive Star Wars items ever created.

Rocket firing Boba Fett

Unsurprisingly, there are at least three Star Wars toys that are worth a stupid amount of money. The Rocket Firing Boba Fett toy released in 1980 currently sells for around £5,000. The toy was originally sold with a gun that shot out a small plastic rocket, but was quickly recalled when parents started to complain that this could injure their children. The toy was re-released without a firing gun, so naturally the original and almost ‘dangerous’ version is highly sought after by collectors and fans alike.

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LEGO Ultimate Collector’s edition Millennium Falcon

Now yes, LEGO have since made roughly 3 other versions of the Millennium Falcon, but the most sought after is the original: Made in 2007 this model consisted of roughly 5195 pieces and was the first ship to be made on ‘mini-figure scale’. Currently selling online for around £3,200.00 it is clearly even more sought after now that it is no longer being made.Image result for lego r2d2Oddly enough, any large scale LEGO Star Wars set is going to be worth big bucks after being discontinued: The large scale R2 D2 model originally sold for around £140 in stores, but now that it has been discontinued for nearly 2 years, it is worth around £450…and that’s out of box and made! Completely sealed packet, that has never before touched bricks, could sell for as much as £800.

Telescopic lightsaber Darth Vader

As with almost all toys, the first run of this toy in 1978 was recalled because the lightsaber could extend and potentially injure the children playing with it. The toy was re-released sans extending lightsaber but it happened so quickly that there are only about 200 versions of the original in existence. Selling for around £6000.00, it is one of the most sought after Star Wars toys going.

Darth Vader war helmet

Ok so technically this is not a ‘toy’ so to speak but rather the actual helmet that Darth vader’s main stunt double wore during filming for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. This is therefore more of an original film prop, which somewhat explains the £115,000.00 price tag on it currently.

real darth vader

What other Star Wars toys have you guys heard of? Or…which Star Wars toys that you currently own do you reckon will be worth big bucks in a few years time?

T xx

 

Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

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Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx

 

Jaws: Book vs Film

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that Jaws was a damn good movie. I saw it for the first time when I was about ten and I don’t think I took another bath ever again: Literally any body of water that I could submerge myself in was a no-go for fear of shark attack. I was ten…leave me alone. Recently in a little charity store I found the book of Jaws by Peter Benchley, and I have noticed quite some stark differences in them both.

SPOILER ALERT IN PLACE.…if you have not seen Jaws, or wish to read the book, do not read further!

1. The people

In the book, the most appealing character of the whole story is the shark. The people of Amity are seriously xenophobic: Anyone that is not from Amity is simply there for money-making. The whole town relies on the summer tourists visiting the town and the beach so much that everyone there has to struggle through the winter to afford to stay in a relatively expensive seaside town. The houses are all rented out to summer folk, businesses hike up prices, and the main beach is opened to attract everyone even though there’s a man-eating shark around. The town is also pretty corrupt: There is only one journalist who runs the local newspaper, and he is best friends with the chief of police and the Mayor. The Mayor is also funded, it turns out, by some New York mobsters before they invested so much

Even the main characters are pretty nasty people. In the film, the main characters are pretty likeable: Brody is your run-of-the-mill chief of police, keen on public safety and a loving relationship with his happy wife and happy children. In the book, he is blunt, old fashioned and, most of the time, drunk. His wife, Ellen, is bitter, yearning for her younger years of rich friends and socialite lifestyle. Hooper is a cocky and womanising young man, who’s arrogance is almost as high as his IQ. The only character is somewhat endearing in his unlike-ability is Quint, the aged shark hunter, and only because he makes no apologies for who he is: He knows he’s a bit of work, but owns it.

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2. The affair

One of the main things that the film doesn’t cover is the affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody. Having known each other as upper class children, Ellen begins to fantasise about having a fling with Hooper. He is everything that she feels she left behind when she chose to marry Brody and live in Amity: rich lifestyle, fancy dinners, big social events, and a high profile name. Hooper doesn’t say no, but throughout the book Hooper is simply your generic rich-kid: He is used to not being told what to do and so very rarely will do what is needed. He and Ellen, while it only lasts for one night, go about their affair with blatant disregard for Brody. But at the same time, Brody is such a detached husband you almost can’t really blame Ellen for wanting someone more attentive. In the end, the very brief fling makes Ellen realise how lucky she is to have Brody and how much she does love him. Plus…well it’s not like the affair could continue…

3. The deaths

While the film hit most of the key deaths – the opening scene is quite possibly iconic in the horror world – the book has a few extra ‘deaths’ that the film played on slightly. In the book, the only deaths that are really talked about are, obviously, the very first attack on Christine Watkins and then the death of little Alexander Kintner. Every other death is only simply guessed upon: When Ben Gardener fails to communicate with base while he is out on his boat, people assume he has been eaten. The fact that no body is ever found also convinces everyone that he has been eaten by the huge shark. In the film, the floating severed head coming out of the boat sort of confirms that he is absolutely shark-meat, but the book seems to try and high light how paranoid the little town is becoming. Furthermore, even when the main characters die – Hooper is actually bitten in half by the shark when he is in the shark cage, and Quint is dragged under the water and drowned when his foot gets tangled up in a harpoon rope – you don’t really acre that they’ve died. If anything, I was almost proud of the shark for ending the lives of such horrible characters.

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4. The shark itself

The book did a wonderful job of making the shark seem like the innocent victim in the situation. He is just a fish, surprisingly clever for a ‘mindless predator’, who is simply just trying to have some dinner and survive. The attitudes in the book highlight just how old the book really is: Written in 1974 the book plays hugely off of the general scariness of sharks. In modern day, and most likely due to the huge success of the film, more and more people are realising that sharks are not mindless killers, that they have intricate and complicated lives that we are still learning about to this days. The solitary lifestyle is something that the book plays on, making it seem that this fish has picked this little town to terrorise. In reality, sharks very rarely attack people, and of these attacks few are ever fatal. When it comes to sharks it is having respect for the sharks home: Don’t swim near seals, if attacked/if a shark gets to close punch it on the nose, or stay close to shore within sights of a life guard. The book (and to some extent the film) is very old fashioned in its view that sharks are nothing but viscous predators, but to some extent that’s what made this book so enjoyable to read.

Final thoughts?

The book is a great read: Story aside Peter Benchley writes in such a way that you can not put the book down. Even just reading about a dinner party he can create tension so thick that you need to keep reading to find out what horrible thing happens. The book constantly puts the reader on edge and has you reading way into the early hours of the morning because you just can’t tear yourself away from it. The film is also excellent: I don’t think I would have researched sharks as much as I have done over the years if not for this film scaring the absolute pants off me when I was 10. Both do an excellent job of telling the same story, but simply with different end goals in mind: The film wants you to cheer for Amity, while the book wants you to cheer for the shark.

Which version did you guys prefer? Let me know in the comments below and follow me for more comparisons! 

T xx

What I learnt from Wonder Woman

So I finally managed it…I made it to the cinema to see Wonder Woman. I won’t do a full review of the film but simply put…WOW. What a film! It was funny, it had Chris Pine (nom nom nom), it had adventure and action, it had romance, and probably most importantly, it had a woman kicking ass throughout the entire film. I didn’t know much about Wonder Woman before I saw this film and now I think I might be obsessed. So I thought I’d write a little article about WHY this film spoke to me as much as it did.

Wonder Woman knew what she wanted…

Wonder Woman, or Diana as she is commonly known, knew what she wanted and went after it. She begged her mother to let her train to become an Amazon soldier, and when she was told no she still took lessons anyway. She went to fight in WW1 because she wanted to help people and wanted to defeat the bad guy to save the lives of man. She didn’t care what it took, what it would cost, nor how she went about achieving these goals, because in the end she knew she was going to succeed, Failing was simply not an option.

Wonder Woman did what was right….

Throughout the film, the over arching concept was that man did not deserve the help of the Gods. Wonder Woman wanted to help man because she knew it was the right thing to do…that she couldn’t sit by and watch people suffering and die simply because the war was not ‘her war’. The film is set in World War One, so naturally women are viewed very differently to how they are in modern society. But no matter how many men laugh at her, ignore her, talk down to her or belittle her, Wonder Woman smiles sweetly and proves them wrong. No, man does not deserve her, but they deserve a chance that she can give them.

But she still understood the appeal of the dark side.

Yes, I mixed fandoms again. As mentioned above, the whole concept of what a person ‘deserves’ is weighted very heavily against what is right. Yes, a man who sees you as just a piece of eye candy deserves a good punch in the face, but the right thing to do is smile sweetly and simply walk away from him. A psychotic mastermind deserves to be flattened by a tank, but it would not be right to simply let them suffer at the hands of an angry God. While this film may take the concept to extremes (as do all good films, let’s be honest) it makes no secret of the fact that Diana understands that there are two sides to that debate…and both have very compelling arguments. In the end, it is what you believe is right that should win out, and that the concept of deserving is a subjective one.

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Wonder Woman is always a lady…

Now I won’t make the argument that Wonder Woman is the first ever strong female lead, because it’s not necessarily true (Ripley, I see you there!), but it is nice to see a woman doing what she thinks is best with absolutely NO expectations of reward. Diana takes no credit for her heroic actions, remaining humble throughout all of the praise that she receives. When people talk down to her she remains composed and calm, meeting their condescension with reason and facts. She speaks her mind in an unapologetic manner, yet without any sarcasm or aggression. She is badass, without being mean. She meets every challenge with grace, elegance and attitude and just becomes more lovely with every new awesome stunt.

In short…she is everything I wish to be

Diana is fearless, brave, strong, and above all else…feminine. She is funny and charming and unapologetic in her quest for what is right, and that is something that I always try to keep at. This film made me want to pick up a comic book and read more about her, but I now see why she has been a symbol of female empowerment for so many years.

Image result for wonder woman gifsGo get ’em girl!

What’s been your newest favourite film? Leave a comment down below and I’ll add it to my To Watch list! 

Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! ❤

T xx

Veganism: Common questions answered

 

Before I went vegan, I had a whole heap of health problems: I was constantly tired, always exhausted, my skin was terrible and I had so many issues with my stomach it became the norm to just be in pain with it. I was vegetarian for 7 years prior, but only after cutting out diary and eggs did all of my health problems more or less fix themselves. Yet despite my vast health improvements, my mental improvements and my overall happiness, I am always greeted with the same responses whenever I tell someone that I’m vegan. So I thought I would share these with you, and how I combat them.

Image result for vegan gifsIn case you didn’t know…this ^^^ is meant in sarcasm 😉

“Where do you get your protein?”

This is one of the most common questions that vegans are asked. All of a sudden, people become very concerned with the amount of protein that you are eating as there seems to be the understanding that ‘protein deficiency’ is something very common. It isn’t. In most cases, protein deficiency is not a real thing: Yes you can have low levels of protein, but the only way you can truly become protein deficient is when you are deficit in EVERYTHING else, or in other words, are seriously malnourished or starving. In modern day society, the only reason a person would be lacking protein is because they are not eating enough of the right thing: Beans, tofu, lentils, even certain types of vegetables have enough protein in them to meet your daily targets.

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“But our ancestors ate meat…”

Yes…meat that they hunted down and killed with their bare hands, used the skins for their clothes, and lived in caves…it’s a bit different. Your ancestors also believed that the Earth was flat, that women aren’t people and that blacks should be the slaves of white people. Your ancestors lived in times where food was scarce, where foraging for their next meal was all that they spent their time doing and would normally eat more fruit and veg than meat for the most part (mostly because berries don’t fight back when you grab them). Your ancestors didn’t let women vote until 1918, but that was only if they were over 30. Your ancestors also believed that university was for the super rich, and that the idea of premarital sex was punishable by flogging, whipping and stoning. Your ancestors didn’t think that marital rape was a crime until around the 1960s. Your ancestors, quite literally, are monkeys. When I hear this excuse I can’t help but laugh, because just as everything else in history has changed, so will our attitudes towards animals and the environment change.

Related imageOh Scott Pilgrim ❤

“But if we didn’t eat cows, they would overrule us”

I like this idea that all of the cows in the world are currently planning world domination, and are waiting for us to stop eating them to begin the uprising. It’s hilarious! I just picture cows in factory farms with little blueprints, planning Mission Impossible style. In reality, veganism is not a movement that will enact change overnight: No change has ever had effects overnight. Veganism is the gradual movement to a cruelty free lifestyle, and as such is something that will gradually over time become more normalised. Due to this, factory farms will get smaller and smaller as the demand for meat slowly declines, and as such not as many animals will be bred to keep up with these demands.

“But if you lived on a desert island, would you eat animals?”

This is another one of those unrealistic scenarios. If I am ever unfortunate enough to end up on a desert island with NOTHING to eat but a pig, yes I would eat it, as a matter of survival…as would every single other person in that situation! But how did the pig get there? Are there berries or fruits on the island that the pig has been eating that I could eat? How am i going to kill the pig? Am I supposed to wrestle it to the floor and rip it apart with my bare hands? Do I have a knife? Can I make a spear? How did I end up on this island, by myself, with no other means off of the island, with no supplies ANYWHERE to be found? This is one of those situations where context is key: Am I on a desert island now? No? Oh…well are there thousands of other alternatives to eating animal products? Oh there are…hmm…I think i’ll go the most harmless route then.

“So do you believe in complete freedom?”

Now this is a rare one, but the fact that I’ve been asked this at all baffles me. Why is this asked as though this is a bad thing?! The thing about being vegan is that it is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet: I didn’t go on this diet to lose weight (I actually think I’ve put on weight thanks to the yummy vegan chocolate and junk food I can find!) but rather to live a life that spoke to me. I went vegan so that my actions coincide with my ideology. If you want to read a bit more about this, I wrote a previous blog post about why I went vegan so feel free to have a little browse of that too! In short, you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat and as far as I have noticed, all vegans I have met are wonderfully open minded individuals who just have a lot of love to give and have a lot of care to show the world. I have also noticed them to be genuinely very happy and go-lucky people, who take everything in their life as a new experience that they are grateful for. And if that makes me a weirdo for believing in that kind of lifestyle, then I think I can live with that.

In summary…

Simply put, we are all living in a society where veganism is no longer this weird and hippy-ish ideology…it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s good for your conscious and it is now SUPER easy to live a cruelty free lifestyle, without really having to think about it. No matter what your reasons though, I would like to mention that just with this, as with all things in our world, education is the KEY to success. There are hundreds of amazing resources out there to help educate you on animal agriculture, your health and your mental well being, and even if they don’t convince you to try veganism, you’ll have definitely learnt something new…which is never a bad thing!

If you have thought about going vegan or even have some questions about it, feel free to ask away! Also, I’m trying to get into the flow of writing more often so if you want to keep up to date with me, subscribe! I would like that rather a lot 🙂

T xx

Best horror games

If you love a puzzle…

Limbo is actually a pretty simple game design, and yet somehow it just works. You play as a little boy, wondering through different areas trying to find his sister. It is almost all in black and white (or at least super muted tones) and works mostly based on shadows. Now while this game isn’t the traditional ‘horror’ game, it is definitely a game that puts you on edge and makes you feel uneasy: At one point, you hack off a giant spider’s legs with a bear trap, and at another point you lure murderous children (or at least slightly older than you teenagers) to death-by-stomping-machine…All while very little is explained to you and there is no more story than what you piece together as you go.

Image result for limbo gameSimple, yet effective

The puzzles are just challenging enough to make you think, while still being hard enough that it may test your patience attempting them four or five times. The art work is both calming and unsettling, and it’s simplicity is probably what makes it so enjoyable. It is definitely worth a play if you fancy something that’s scary while still being charming.

For the survivalist…

Outlast (1+2…so this may be a cop out…) is a survival horror game. In both games you play as some poor man who just ended up in the wrong place at the very worst time possible. In Outlast 1, you are trying to escape a mental asylum, and in Outlast 2, you are trying to rescue your wife from a mental religious cult: Po-tay-to po-tar-to. In both games however you are armed with nothing but relatively good stamina and a video camera to document your journey…and help you navigate the very dark crawl spaces. You have no weapons to fight back with and so you can either run or hide from the vast array of scary characters who want nothing more than to harm you.

Image result for outlastA little visit in Outlast

Both games are terrifying, and not only because you can’t fight back. Both games are really quite graphic with the blood, violence and mutilation that you are bound to encounter (so I suppose parental guidance should be stated!) and so is not a game for the fainthearted for that reason more than anything. The stories may be relatively flimsy – in many cases you aren’t sure why or how you even got into this situation in the first place – but the overall pace of the game is so well structured that you rarely get time to think about anything other than escaping…preferably with as many limbs as possible still attached to you. Jump scares galore, graphic violence and some truly terrifying moments, this game will definitely keep you up at night.

For the nostalgia….

Resident Evil VII was largely a success…while it may have varied a lot from the original games of the 90s, the game had a lot of nods to them for the fans. The game itself, was actually a lot of fun. While it may have been a relatively short game (roughly 8-9 hours) it was packed with everything you would expect from a horror: jump scares, abandoned houses, viruses, plagues, bugs, demon possessed families and even creepier non-possessed adults. The best thing about this game was also the high tech aspect of it all: Playing the high-resolution, wonderfully life-like animated game was bad enough without playing it in virtual reality. This game had everything you would want; decent story line, lots of monsters, lots of levels and, most importantly, lots of weapons to defeat them all with. If you don’t feel like sleeping for a long time, then have a go at this!

Image result for resident evil 7Meet the Bakers

Just because you like the scares…

Slenderman (again, a slight cop out) is not necessarily a ‘game’ in the same way the above mentioned are: There isn’t really a story passed the point of ‘Slenderman wants you dead’ and ‘find the papers’. The game, despite it’s simplicity, really is quite fun and is actually a bit of a cult classic these days. It’s surprising how scary a little bit of static on your screen can make you and I promise you, no matter how many times you play the game, it will still make you nervous when it happens. There isn’t much else to say on this game because there really isn’t much to it apart from jump scares, but if you just want a little game to play with people or because you’re bored one night, then this is the game for it.

Image result for slender manSlenderman awaits….

Similarly to the above is Five Nights at Freddy’s…because…well this one is pretty self explanatory!

For the nightmares…

While this demo is pretty hard to come across now (the game itself was scrapped before full release) it was truly scary. It was a demo released to raise interest for a new horror game made by Kojima Productions and featured the acting talent of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. It was pretty basic in theory: You walk a long a corridor of a house, walk through a door in the basement, which then brings you out at the start of the corridor again while all the while changing to become more horrific each cycle. I think almost everyone is aware of the fetus in the bathroom sink….yeah…that’s somehow not the most unnerving of things you will see in this game. If you are looking for nightmares then just watch the game play of this because it is genuinely unsettling…and if you’re brave/stupid enough to actually play the game then be prepared for a psychological trip.

Image result for PT gameOh hey…

What about you guys? What are some of your favourite horror games?

T xx

 

 

Top 5 Books of all time

I have always been a keen reader: According to my Mom I threw a huge tantrum after my first day of nursery venues they hadn’t taught me how to read and that’s the only reason I went to school to begin with. Books for me have always been an outlet and a place to lose myself in different worlds and different stories. So I thought today I would share a list of my favourite books with you guys!

1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This book was one of the first books I remember reading by myself. Granted I think at the time it took me about 4 months to finish but I could happily sit down and read it cover to cover in one day if I was left alone. It is just lovely! The book tells the story of a little horse and the life he leads: We join him as soon as he is born on a little farm with his mother, and follow him as he goes from house to house, owner to owner, job to job. Not every owner is nice and not every job is kind to him, but he approaches it in such an innocent way that you can’t help but share his optimism. This book definitely helped shape me as the animal loving vegan I am today, as I finally got to read a book that was from an animal’s perspective rather than as a simple side character. This book is charming, emotive and sincere and for that reason, I will always love this book more than any other.

Image result for black beauty

2. The curious case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R. L. Stevenson

This book is terrifying. At least, I found it so! However it is not truly scary until the end of the book where we hear Doctor Jekyll’s account of everything that has happened throughout the book. The book itself is told from the perspective of one of Jekyll’s closest friends, a lawyer named Utterson, who notices that his highly moral and just friend has begun to associate with the corrupt and evil Mr Hyde. Having never read this book before this year, I had no idea what the story really was: I understood the general concept of a man having two personalities but this book takes that a step further, in that Jekyll and Hyde are two separate people. I won’t give away any spoilers (at least none that aren’t already common knowledge) but this book was more like a mystery horror than the psychological horror that pop culture would have us believe it is. It is haunting, yet charming, in the way only Stevenson can pull off. It is one of the few books that when I finished, I just say there in shocked silence for a minute or two and tried to comprehend what I had just read. If you are someone who fancies a bit of an existential crisis, then this is definitely the book for you.

Image result for dr jekyll and mr hyde

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling

As with every other twenty-something, I love Harry Potter. I was brought up on the books and grew up with the films (I believe I was about 9 or 10 when the first one was released) so Harry Potter will always hold a very special place in my heart. But the third book was by far my favourite: I liked that it focused on the wizarding world before Harry. I liked learning about the Marauders: Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs and the entire friendship as a whole. I believe that this was something that was somewhat glanced over in the film as it helps you believe why (spoiler alert!) Wormtail’s betrayal to join Voldemort all the more heart-breaking for not only Harry, but for the remaining Maurauders as well. It was a welcome change to hear about the wizarding world at a time different to Harry’s world, and I believe this book cemented the importance of friendship on a deeper level than simply ‘Harry, Ron and Hermione = best friends for life’. I won’t go into too much detail about the Harry Potter universe (trust me, I could for days!) but recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the books at all.

Image result for harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban book

4. Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ok so this is a pretty pretentious entry I know, but stick with me! I was recommended this book by my high school English teacher, Mr Ingles, as he said it was the inspiration for so many modern day classics. So, with a summer free before university started, I decided to give it a read. My word, it is beautiful! I don’t mean that in the sense that the story is beautiful (Not going to lie, I’m still not 100% certain what the entire story really is) but rather that the words, the way they flow and the way they create an image is beautiful. This is essentially a very very VERY long poem telling the story of one man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in order to get to heaven and meet God. I will not go into the imagery and religious meaning of it all, but just as a piece of writing it is honestly the prettiest piece of writing I have read so far. The words are almost effortlessly lovely and when I read this I am instantly calmed and transported on this journey. I won’t lie to you, it is HEAVY reading…like seriously heavy reading with a lot of words and a lot of different styles, but it is worth it just to read a page at a time. I found it to be like Shakespeare, in that if you just let the words flow over you, you can eventually form a picture of what is happening and what it all means. If you are at all interested in English literature or even if you just fancy something pretty to read, I would highly recommend this!

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5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

As you can tell I am a sucker for the classics, but they are normally referred to as classics for a reason. This story, as I’m sure you are aware, is a pretty tragic one. The book is written from the point of view of Nick Carrow, Gatsby’s accidental neighbour, and describes Gatsby’s (somewhat worrying) obsession with the dim but lovely Daisy Buchanon. I won’t go into details, but if you saw the Leonardo DiCaprio film from 2013 you already know how it goes. This book is an insight into the entire 1920’s era, and probably acts as a bigger warning for the American Dream than Mice and Men ever did. There are moments when you are not sure who is the ‘bad guy’ in the story, as every character has aspects of themselves that we in today’s society would most likely frown upon. It is at times charming and funny, while at others it is harrowing and disturbing. Personally, I love this book and I love Fitzgerald. I especially love this book because I feel that it is always relevant: there will always be someone wanting to obtain the life of others. It is human nature to chase the dream that you have only seen glimpses of from afar, and I believe this books acts as a cautionary tale as to what happens once you have your first invite inside.

Image result for great gatsbyHey if it’s good enough for Leo…

What books hold a special place in your life? Let me know and I will most likely add it to my list of books to read!

T xx

Top 5 Relaxing Games

Animal crossing New leaf

To be honest, I could have picked any of the games from the Animal crossing franchise, but this one is my favourite. It is just adorable! Granted, I have not been back to my little village in a LONG time but the sentiment is always there. You play as a little Amibo character that is moving to a new little town. You can pick the name of it, its general map layout and your own personal appearance for your little character who you will soon live vicariously through. My little town, for example, was called Snorlax, it was centred right on the coast with a little stream running through it and my house with its little pink roof sat prettily on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea.

This game is so cute…and is so unbelievably relaxing. Yes there are little tasks you can do and little objectives you have to meet, but there is no real time limit on it: I played the game pretty solidly for about a year and I am still only on about 10% happiness for the town. But my town is so cute! I can spend my evenings wondering around picking fruit from the local trees, organising my flower gardens, creating statues and monuments for my little animal neighbours to enjoy, or I can simply spend the day in the ocean, swimming and fishing. Now everything you collect in your town can be sold for coins (sharks, for example, are worth about 400 of those) and as you build up your coins you can then start to decorate your little house, build extensions and design the layout as you want.

Image result for animal crossing gifsAaaaaand…relax…

This game has limited potential as there is always something to do to keep you busy. While it may seem dull to some, it is no doubt the most relaxing game I have ever played and is easy to lose endless hours over.

Pokemon Sun

Now this game goes without saying: It’s Pokemon! This game is the newest release from the Pokemon franchise and I love it. The new Pokemon are adorable and exciting, while the revamp of some of the more classic first Generation Pokemon pretty much made my life complete: Icy Vulpix is probably even more adorable than a firey one!

Image result for ice vulpix^^ Look at his little face!! ^^

The game itself is pretty free-roaming. You have little tasks to complete and battles you need to win, but there isn’t any time limit on this. I spent most of my time collecting as many Pokemon as I could, trying on new clothes and outfits in the little shops and mostly just looking at the beautiful artwork in it: The game is based loosely on Hawaii and it is very clear to see as you stroll through the different tropical islands with golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters and the warm glow of a digitally created sun.

The main reason I find this game is so relaxing is beqause it’s so easy to delve in to: The story is just enough to keep you interested in progressing, but not so complicated you get confused. The characters are likeable and, most importantly, you can now interact and cuddle your Pokemon! I would play with my team of Pokemon so much that all of them (Ninetales especially) would be absolute beats in the battle arena: I once had my Ninetales on 1% hp for 9 ROUNDS because everytime it was hit, a little bubble would pop up to say that Ninetales toughed it out so I wouldn’t be sad. How is that not the cutest??!!

I won’t get into the whole ‘Pokemon promotes animal abuse’ because I honestly think that’s a bit farfetched an idea (more on this in a later post I think!) but this game is truly a delight and if you haven’t played this before, I would highly recommend it!

Journey

Where to begin…I love a puzzle. I like to see myself as the logical, problem solver and this game is just that. Also, it is just beautiful to look at: You play as a little floaty person in a big old cape and scarf, wondering around the dessert. At some point, you find another little floaty person and the two of you have to work together to solve puzzles and complete the game. The reality of it is that each floaty person is an actual player…there are no AIs, and that in itself is quite lovely…that the two of you, wherever and whoever you are, come together to play this game.

Image result for journey game gifsIt’s just so pretty! ^^

The imagery itself is just beyond beautiful. Everything may be somewhat golden for the most of it but it’s calming and warm and based more on problem solving abilities than it is based on brute strength or strategy. The music is perfect, the game is stunning, and the little floaty fellow is surprisingly charismatic.

DC Injustice

So this one may not be on the same level as the others as it is basically Mortal Kombat with a DC skin. And I know it didn’t get much praise, but I for one love it, for no other reason than there is something strangely relaxing about beating someone up as Batman. I have used this game as a stress relief…while it is frowned upon for me to punch a rude customer in the face, it is practically expected of Harley Quinn to smash someone repeatedly with a huge hammer. As macabre as that may seem, or even unnecessarily violent, it is simply fun. It is a fun game, to play by yourself or with friends (the real trick is remaining friends after you’ve beaten them 5 times in a row as Catwoman) and you can just feel all the stress and anger of the day leave you. Also, I will point out that while it may appear violent, this game is actually incredibly PG compared to the original mortal Kombat games. There isn’t really much to this game by way of story (again, I only really play the fighting chapters) but there is definitely something relaxing about bashing your opponents into the stratosphere or exploding them with a bomb-filed cherry pie. Trust me, one little play of this as your favourite DC character (hero or villain) will make a little less stressed from the woes of working life.

Image result for dc injustice gifsGotta love a bit of Raven

What games have you guys found to be super relaxing? Let me know and I will probably give them a try!

T xx