Five Books I’m Really Looking Forward to Reading

I have a book addiction. Seriously, I can’t go into a bookstore without buying books, and I go into bookstores a lot. Ergo, I have a lot of books sitting on my shelves at the moment that are still waiting to be read. But they look so pretty, sitting there, waiting.

There are well over two dozen books sitting on my To Be Read (TBR) list at the moment, but here are the top five on that list that I can’t wait to read:

(Hover over the titles/authors for links to more information)

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI know very little about this book, and that’s partially why I’m so excited to read it. I suppose, I tend to love any book that tackles the taboo. Such as I loved Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, or even Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, this book also tackles those ever taboo issues in high school. I haven’t read any other of Matthew Quick’s books, but I saw the film of Silver Linings Playbook and that book is also on my TBR list, and hopefully this book lives up to the awesome reviews I’ve seen so far, none of which, thankfully, have given away any of the plot.

2. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

kc-packshotI originally picked this book up based on the gorgeous bird prints on the outer page edges, they are simply stunning. Then I read the blurb – Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row. I mean, doesn’t that just seem to hook you in right away? Also – I love books that are written, or stories that are told, in non-traditional prose, so letter writing is right up my alley. A novel centred around a 15 year-old and her complicated grasp of live and emotion, this novel is certainly one that I am likely going to devour in a matter of hours.

3. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

22456952Now, to be one hundred percent honest with you, this was predminately a ‘cover buy’, although I had technically decided that I wanted to read it before I actually purchased it. I saw it on @blueyedbiblo‘s instagram feed and the cover was just gorgeous and the title equally as intriguing.  On top of that, this book is written entirely in lists. Yes, lists. Something I adore, use a lot in my day to day life and tend to be drawn to, particularly when scouring social media (think, ’20 things all girls who wear glasses know to be true’ etc.). So another non-traditional prose based novel full of teen angst I simply can’t wait to dive head first into.

4. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

book-coverAnother book written in letters. It seems I can’t help myself when it comes to these types of books. This book sees our protagonist writing a letter, first off, as a school project, to someone who has died, and Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. This is admittedly one of the main reasons I want to read this book, because I am old enough to have been into Nirvana just after Kurt took his own life, so I remember actually hearing about it and coming to terms with that as a pre-teen. Death is always a hard subject to write about, and grief is even harder because we all experience it so differently. This book was going to be my first to read in May, but my copy got really badly damaged in a rainstorm not long ago, and my new copy came today, can’t wait.

5. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The-Shock-Of-The-Fall-coverIt was the blurb of this book that made me carry it away from the shelf and up to the counter to part with my hard earned cash. The blurb consists of a simple quote in a childlike voice: “I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.” And that was it, that’s what grabbed me. But another book about mental illness is something that I know will grab my attention, because it hits so close to home. This book has had a lot of great reviews, and seems like it’s gonna be another brilliant read.

Keep your eyes peeled for reviews of these books on my review page as I read them. You an also keep up to date on what I’m currently reading, if you feel so inclined, by following more of my book adventures on Instagram (@felixturtle_reads) and on Goodreads (felixturtle).

Images via: here, here, here, here, here, here,

Happy Star Wars Day!

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been in love with Star Wars. My dad and I would watch them together, and I used to love the loud sounds and fast flying. Heck, I was even young enough when the prequels came out to think I liked them, at least until Episode III when I realised I was wrong and the original trilogy was the only one that really mattered.

 
I loved the animated series’ that came along too; and played a lot of the games, especially Pod Racing on the N64. Star Wars was, and is, a huge part of what makes me Me. Not to mention the amazing lego sets! I love how inter-generational Star Wars is, how it has engaged kids and adults alike since the late 70s and still continues to grab new fans to this day.

And I am hella excited for the new episodes coming over the next few years starting this December. J J Abrams looks to be doing a mighty fine job, so fingers crossed we get a whole new batch of awesome flicks, and can invite yet another generation into the folds of the awesome Star Wars fan community.

So Happy Star Wars day everyone! May the Fourth be with you!

 

Images via: here, here, here

Five Awesome Book-Bloggers, Instagramers and Websites.

I love to read and I love books, and recently I have been scouring the blissful abyss of the internet, hunting down blogs, Instagram feeds, and other websites about books. Of course there are the big sites, like Book Depository and Goodreads – but I was on the hunt for something more personal. I wanted to find some fellow book lovers with similar tastes where I can find some book recommendations, great images and some reviews too.

I tried to avoid google. I used social media, mostly, to guide me: Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr. I let one image lead me to others, which led me to blogs, and I have come up with a list of a few that really inspired me – that have even got me reading more lately. Here they are:


1. Blue Eyed Biblio (@blueeyedbiblio)

blueeyedbiblio-msmarvelEmily is a vivacious 18-year-old book addict. But don’t let her age fool you! She is an avid reader, and she has an stunning Instagram account with a few hundred beautiful photographs of her books and bookshelves, and a staggering 106,000 odd followers to date. She also recently started a blog over at blogspot, where she posts about books she is reading and reviews books she has read. She reads mostly YA fiction, like me, so I find most of her recommendations interesting and have enjoyed all the books I’ve read that I have seen in her feed.

blue eyed biblio


2. OwlCrate (@owlcrate)

owlcrate logoMuch like the successful Lootcrates‘ desire to share Funko pop vinyls and other such nerdy wares, OwlCrate aims to share YA fiction with avid readers around the world. It is a subscription service, that upon signing up, sends subscribers a new YA novel every month for the length of their subscription, along with a few extra goodies as well. The great thing about OwlCrate, is not only the surprise of a new book every month, delivered right i your door by owl (poastal worker), but also the community that comes with it, being able to connect with other readers who are reading the same thing as you! Just follow the hashtag #OwlCrate on Instagram.

owlcrate


3. Nook & Burrow (@Lillytales)

lillytalesYou can find some lovely images of books and bookmarks on Kate’s instagram, with lots of great book recommendations, predominantly by strong female authors. Her website, while not solely centred on books, has some amazing things that book lovers will also love! Like customisable and beautiful wooden bookmarks, prints, wall-hangings and wonderful soy scented candles with magical scents such as Dusty Bookshelves and Buttery-Beer.

nook&burrow


4.  Book Drunk In Love Reviews

bookdrunkinlove gravityKirsten presents a nice, clean and simple tumblr blog, that has both written and video reviews of a great range of titles. Worth checking out if you want to know a decent bit about books before you read them. A range of adult and YA novels, there are some great talks from her youtube channel – complete with her amazingly cool bangs (that make me want to listen to everything she says!). Brutally honest, and very sincere with recommendations, I can honestly recommend this page to anyone looking to branch out a little and try something new.

Book drunk in love


5. Half Blood Princess (@_halfbl00dprincess)

halfbl00dprincess aliceAndie has such a stunningly beautiful feed of book photography I couldn’t leave her out of this list. I just love sitting and looking at her photos. Just another place to have a browse, read another book lovers thoughts and get some seriously good book recommendations. The way she sometimes does little themes with each photo, like Harry Potter, or Alice in Wonderland, is also inspiring in itself, to take better pictures on instagram if nothing else.

halfbl00dprincess


So there you have it, some of my favourite places to find book recommendations, reviews, accessories and just stunning pictures.

Of course, you can always check my book reviews and instagram out too!

felixturtle_reads

Edit: here is an article I just found on examiner.com boasting The top ten book accounts you should be following on Instagram. Check it out!

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

jamieoliverYesterday, I was lucky enough to see Jamie Oliver give a live talk at the Sydney Opera House. He was charming and funny and cooked some amazing food (sadly we didn’t get to eat any), but we did get a live performance from the Wiggles! But cooking aside, Jamie was here for a reason – to promote the notion he refers to as ‘Food Revolution‘.

The idea is that kids should be taught about food as early as possible, to cook it and to work with it – to recognise what is good for us, and bad; to learn tastes, flavours, combinations, even how to grow it. This idea can lead to amazing change within our nation, and the world, and will lead to a healthier, more sustainable future, for everyone. Jamie believes that we each have the power to promote change, and that we can all band together to help make our governments see that this is a good move forward for the future generations, and will benefit our society as a whole.

“My wish is to create a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
Read more at Food Revolution day.

Jamie knows food, we all know that’s fact – he’s been a celerity chef for over 15 years and he has had numerous successful TV shows and cook books, dating right back to hid Naked Chef days. And Jamie is fighting for food education, for children’s rights to know food too, and to utilise it to make a better future. You can help Jamie make a difference at change.org, by signing the petition, and sharing it with your friends. Let’s make the new generation the best one yet.

 

And for fun, Jamie Oliver Wiggle’s Food Revolution dance:

Join Jamie in telling our government that our kids need food education. You can click on any of the links above, or visit Jamie on any of the following social media outlets:

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Images: herehere, here, here

Videos: youtube, and my own personal recordings

Ed Sheeran, Live in Concert

Ed Sheeran is Hands Down the Best Performer I Have Ever Seen Live.

I love his music, and I  love his image and his whole attitude. Ed is just a stand-up guy, a great person with the power to do good (and he does!), and the man delivers when it comes to a live performance. There is a huge difference between being a ‘singer’ and being a ‘performer’, and Ed is definitely the latter.

With a mix of current music, older music, mash-ups and covers, Ed definitely knows how to entertain a crowd. Honestly, I have never been to a concert (and I’ve been to my fair share) that is so much an interactive experience, rather than just some famous person standing up and singing at you. He knows how to get you excited, how to have you singing along, tapping along, bobbing along and even rapping along if you can keep up! At one point, Ed had the audience singing back-up, in unison, and in harmony! You feel that you are as much a part of the concert as Ed is, and that, for me, is a rare occurrence.

It amazed me (more than Ed himself and his musical talent) that Ed was the only person on the stage during the entire performance (okay, there were a few roadies here and there, but you know what I mean). Ed, his guitar, a couple of peddles at his feet and Ed has the whole band at his disposal: backing tracks, the chorus, riffs and beats and it’s all so natural, but also ALL LIVE. He is adding backing tracks as he needs them, playing guitar like a total fucking boss and singing – all at once. He performs covers, and makes them his own, including Blackstreet’s No Diggity, Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, and even Iggy Azalea’s Fancy. He even mashed these songs into medleys with his own songs, and he made it look really easy.  The man is brilliant. Period.

ed sheeran
Ed in 247. Magazine UK, 2012

He sang all the new songs, and some of the best old ones, opening with Lego House and closing with a huge rendition of Sing – complete with harmonised audience back-up – and an amazing light display. The screens behind him on stage show live video of Ed as he’s singing, but also show images, light displays, and tell stories through animated and pre-filmed footage – the final result: a completely seamless, stunning display and a thoroughly enjoyable concert.

Not to mention Ed is just such an awesome guy – check out what he did this week in Sydney for a couple’s wedding over at popsugar. He is truly a nice guy, the kind of dude I’d love to just hang out with. That, and he’s besties with my favourite – Taylor Swift. Couple the whole thing with Ed telling us that Australia is his favourite place to visit, and I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable and exhilarating concert I have ever been to.

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5 out of 5

 

Images: here, herehere,

My (Generations) Addiction to Technology

More often than not, you kind of get a weird look these days if you tell people you don’t have a smart phone, or a Facebook account, or an email address. These days we are hooked into the internet like it’s a permanent drip, feeding out bodies with information and ‘social interaction’.

 

The younger generation has been born into this life of modern technology, they have iPhones before they finish grade school and they have a Facebook before they’re even old enough to register (if they used their real birth dates). They live and breath technology, and they don’t know anything about life without it. My generation, however (that would be right on the cusp of X ad Y), DO remember a time before technology completely took over our lives.

That’s not to say my childhood was completely barren of technology, I mean, obviously we had TV, and I had quite a few video game consoles. We got a computer the year I started 6th grade, and internet when I was in grade 9. But I remember playing outdoors a lot with the kids in my street, and going out with my family to do things. If I needed to entertain myself for a few hours, I would curl up with a good book. I can remember writing notes to my friends during class and having to wait until I passed them in the halls to hand them over, then waiting another couple of hours for my return letter. We didn’t have texting, and we only had instant messaging on MSN after school (for an hour, before homework). But there was no Facebook (we had myspace), and we socialised by actually talking to each other and hanging out.

Tech-AddictionI must admit, things have changed with time, my social circle are very much connected by Facebook and text groups more than face-to-face interactions, but that’s because we are busy adults, and not snarky teenagers with time to spare. And even though my friends and I still strive to get together as often as we can, we still rely on technology to get us there. My generation remembers a time before we all had a phone, before we emailed o keep in touch, or organise events, before you had to choose a perfect profile picture and that ideal Facebook status. Heck, I can even remember a time before my family had a computer, let alone the internet (and no, I’m not that old – I’m only three months over 30!). Because we remember what it was like trying to organise a lunch date without texting, we value the ease with which we can communicate these days, and the wealth of information we have access to without having to go to a library or open an encyclopedia.

internet-wallpaper-hdSo how often is too often to check your phone? 10 times a day? 50? What constitutes an addiction to technology? To the internet? I know that I am addicted to technology, and I know this simply by looking at all the devices I have. MacBook, iMac, iPad, iPhone, Xbox. I have unlimited internet at home, and 5GB on my phone plan; and I almost always use it all up. I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Xbox live, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Gmail, iTunes, YouTube and, of course, WordPress. when I wake up each morning, I check my phone; before I go to sleep at night, I check my phone. It drives my boyfriend nuts. When I’m at work, I take bathroom breaks to go and check my phone (and pee of course). On my days off from work, I’m usually blogging and checking up with social media and reading any articles I’ve saved during the day. And it may even be true, that even when you’re not using it, you’re iPhone is distracting you.

For some, it completely takes over their life, a genuine, life-crumpling addiction. But there are some very real dangers with this kind of addiction, like checking your phone while driving, or loosing sleep, you can read about some more dangers of technology addiction here.

I must admit, unlike the generation below us, I am not entirely wrapped up in my online lifestyle. I like to get out and do other things, and I like to do them often. And I also quite like just ditching the phone to read a good old fashioned book. There should a balance between a full, unattached life, and a life tuned in to technology, however unhealthy that balance might be, I like to believe that we as a generation aren’t completely submerged yet.

n-IPHONE-large570I think that because my generation knows what it’s like to be without (modern) technology, they absolutely relish in it now. Especially now that we are old enough to afford it all, too. We use our phones for work, for pleasure, to socialise and plan and bank and catch up on news. But we like ti live a balanced life, plugged in when we need to be, but unplugged when we have to be. It is truly a luxury to live in a world where you can broadcast a thought to anyone who wishes to read it, or chat to a friend half way across the world in a single click. I believe that our obsession, rather than addiction, comes from a love of the technology, a real appreciation of it, rather than an undying need for it.

Images: here, here, here, here

Retail Workers are People Too (a Rant)

And sometimes we have a degree, several qualifications, run a blog, write and do a multitude of other things behind the scenes that you don’t know about.

Working in retail customer service is not always a mindless job, it does not mean we are stupid or that we can’t get a ‘better job’.  A lot of the time, particularly in some of the most mundane retail jobs, people are working their way through university or college – these people may one day be teaching your children, or fighting your battles in a court of law, or even testing your eyesight. Alternatively, sometimes, retail workers think that their customers are the ones that are stupid, because they seriously say and do some truly ridiculous things. While this is true, it goes both ways, people are people and they all deserve respect, regardless of the job they do.

However, every now and again (a few times a day) we do get some seriously crazy, angry, and downright weird people. The angry ones are easy, you just oil up your feathers and let the water run down your back, but some of the others can really leave your head spinning. working in retail requires a delicate mix of particular personality traits if you want to not only survive, but be happy in your place of work. You need to be understanding, be able to listen and be kind – this allows you to give your customers the best service you can give, but you also need to be thick-skinned and not overly sensitive (or at least try your best to shake it off and get on with your day and cry about it all later). Customer service may be about serving the customer, but it does not make us servants, there is a fine line there that needs to be understood.

I think the ones that really boggle my mind are the ones that think they are more important than any other customer you have in your store. They march in thinking that they should be attended to immediately, regardless of whether all your staff are currently helping other customers or not. They seem to think that all the other people who had the good sense to call ahead and book an appointment count for naught, and that they should be ‘squeezed in’ right away. There’s always some kind of excuse too; ‘But I need to get back to work‘, ‘But I need to go and pick up my children‘, ‘But I just have a quick question‘, ‘But I’m here now‘…

That last one always grates on my nerves like a grater against a cold, hard carrot. It’s harsh and idiotic. I find it nothing short of entertaining when they are in a rush and seem to think that that makes them more important than all the others sitting in the waiting room, patiently and pleasantly. The reality is, if you have somewhere else to be or something else to do, call ahead and book and you will be more likely to get a time that suits you, simple as that.

And there’s always at least one who feels the need to make a scene and kick up a stink. They really neglect to understand that being mean and nasty and angry and frustrating doesn’t instil in anyone the desire to help; instead we really just want to slap them in the face and send them on their way and out of the store. We get that they’re frustrated, and we are going to try and help them, we have to, it’s our job; however we are going to be much nicer about it if they are nice to us in turn – simply logic, no? There is no need to yell, no need to stamp feet and no need to swear, at any of us, ever. 

There are always going to be the ones that feel the need to go out of their way to make a note of how angry or upset they are though – and sometimes it doesn’t even have anything to do with us. We once had a lady demand a refund on something she didn’t even buy from us. We’ve had people complain because we didn’t amuse their kids while they were browsing (we are NOT a day care and no, your child is not delightful – but that is a story for another time). When you write a bad review, give negative feedback or contact our head office, that doesn’t make you the bigger person, and you haven’t won, you’ve made yourself look like a whiney fool. We WANT to help you, that’s our job, but sometimes it takes understanding and communication on BOTH sides to find a solution. Please remember this next time you’re upset about something, it isn’t our fault personally, and we will try and empathise with you, understand you and your needs and fix the problem, if we can, but you make it really hard to want to help you when you are being a dick. Honestly.

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And while we are on the topic of temper tantrums, I’d also like to take this moment to apologise for not having any control over the set pricing of our products. I’m sorry that the huge savings you are already getting during our yearly sale aren’t enough for you, and I’m sorry that I can’t just change the rules for you, and discount everything just for you so you can pay the price you want (if we could do that, no one would pay for anything, ever). I wish I could, and maybe while I’m at it I might just rig the lottery and win a ridiculously huge amount of money so I can retire early. Very early. 

You can also take us turning everything off and beginning to close the doors as a sign that we are closing shortly and you should wrap up your browsing and go along on your merry way. We will gladly help you wrap up your shopping or any last enquiries, and we don’t often actually ask people to leave the store; but understand that we have lives and loved ones to get home to as well, we have worked all day and finally reached the moment that our shift is over and because of you we can’t leave. It’s frustrating. We aren’t getting paid anymore and yet we have to hang around and serve you, and while most of the time depending on the customer it isn’t all that bad and doesn’t take that long, sometimes it’s just downright disrespectful and rude, sometimes it really is just taking the piss. If your purchase or question isn’t urgent, surely you can pop back in another time, when we can actually take the time to help and serve you properly. 

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I’m not praising retail staff entirely either – this is not saying that they are the better people or worthy of praise at all. Some retail staff, or any one in customer service for that matter, are lovely people who go above and beyond for their customers, but some of them really are just ungrateful ratbags who shouldn’t be working with other people at all, period. Sometimes they may just be having a bad day, but the true sign of a good customer service representative is the ability to leave all their personal crap at the door, put on a smile and get on with it. Sometimes, though, it’s not just a bad day, I know first hand that there are some truly bad retail workers out there, and I sometime wonder HOW they ever got that job.

Working in retail isn’t always as easy as some people think, dealing with assholes is hard, but those rare customers; the kind, funny, sweet ones, make up for it all. Chill out and enjoy your shopping experience, and remember: a lack of organisation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. People need to remember that those of us that are lucky enough to work in retail are people too, we have feelings and we also have lives we enjoy living outside of the four walls you meet us in, and a little respect and kindness goes a long way in getting someone to help you. Most of us work in retail because we are good at it, we enjoy talking to people and helping people, and most likely have good knowledge about our particular field. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, I just wish that other people could love their life just as much and be happier, healthier people for it, instead of feeling the need to chuck tantrums, yell and degrade those they deem ‘lower’ than themselves, for whatever reason. Remember – treating others how you would like to be treated is all well and good, but treating all people with respect should just be standard. 

Retail

At the end of the day, we all love to shop, and customer service plays a huge part in that. Your customer service experience can make or break your whole shopping experience, or even your day. It takes a particular type of person to be good at customer service, and I agree that not all people who work in that field are the right people, but next time you have an issue with someone, or something, or a product or a store, just remember – the customer service representative you are speaking to is a person too.

You can see more of Norman Fueti’s hilarious and spot on web comic ‘Retail’, HERE.

Images: hereherehere, here

Why Autumn (Fall) is my Favourite Season 

I love Autumn. I love the crispness of it. The humidity of summer is fading away and the air is cool, energetic, buzzing. Sweat doesn’t haunt every crevice of your body, your clothes aren’t damp after a long day at work.

Leaves crunch satisfyingly beneath your boots and you wake up on Sunday mornings to the sound of rain on the window pane, the sweet lull of the pitter-patter creating the perfect rhythm for a sleep in.

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The world changes, sure the weather gets colder, but the atmosphere feels different, the air has a different flow. There is a distinct shift. Autumn brings a translucency that isn’t present in any of the other seasons, the light is heavier, diffused over the landscape, orange and burning. The air is lighter, the denseness of summer faded, breathing comes more easily. There is a crackle about, where the cool, fresh, and invigorating breezes meet the flame of light that perches on the tip of a hill in the afternoon. Autumn is my favourite season because it is electric.

I think one of the main things I truly adore about autumn, is that coolness in the air; that relief from summers hot gaze.autumn outfitYou can wear jeans again, and light jumpers, cardigans, skirts and tights and boots. Beanies won’t cause you to break out in a sweat, and scarves are as functional as they are fashionable. You get to snuggle into blankets, spoon pillows and surrender to the warm and smothering caress of your favourite throw.

No more short shorts, singlets and other horrible, heat-preventing items of clothing that look great on a model, or Taylor Swift, but not on a short, chubby, extremely pale girl with very low self-esteem. I am much more comfortable in jeans, thank you very much, and that’s why I really love Autumn.

Images herehere and here

Ten Awesome Games that Shaped the Gamer I am Today

I love games, I have since I was a little kid and I got my first gameboy for my tenth birthday in 1995, followed by a Nintendo 64 the year after. RPGs were the first games I fell in love with, expansive worlds, heroic characters and cute little sidekicks. I was hopeless at finishing though, if something was too hard back then, I would usually just give up, and sadly left many games unfinished, until I got old and revisited them anyway. I think that is partially why these days I’m such a completionist.

 

After my initial love with consoles, handheld and otherwise, I dabbled in oone gaming for a while, I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t play WoW, but I discovered a few free online games (like Ragnarok Online)and fell in love with being part of something so much bigger than I was. And my love of the world wide gaming community commenced.

These days, I don’t get nearly as much time to play games as I would like, but my love for them is still as strong as ever. I own almost every console on the market (still saving for my PS4) and I still play when I can. For nostalgia’s sake though, here are ten games that have shaped my unconditional love of escaping reality, of visiting fantasy worlds and playing a hero. I love my RPGs, adventure games, games that challenge me and games that are just stunningly beautiful to look at. Here are ten of the games that shaped the awesome love of games I hold today.


1. Pokémon (Game Freak / Nintendo)

bulbasaur-charmander-and-squirtle-27427-1680x1050 (2)Pokémon will forever live in my heart. It was the first game I ever completed to the end, and one of the very first games I received and played on my original Gameboy. (which I still have in working condition with my Elite Four beating team still saved). I always buy the new games on release day and I am still on my quest to Catch ‘Em All. Pokemon started my love of adventure RPG games, and ignited in me my desire to ‘catch ’em all’ – the fire in me that seeks to explore every dungeon, and find every item.  Pokemon for me instilled a love of adventure, of team work and strategy, but also of completion as I still work to fill my ever expanding pokédex.

2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)

IMG_9248As an older gamer, my love of RPGs evolved when I first picked up a n Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind was probably my first, but Skyrim stole my heart. Probably the game that I have dedicated the most play time to (if you don’t combine my Pokemon totals), with over 1200 hours. This game is stunning. It is absorbing. It has the perfect balance of guided quests and free roaming. The open world is seamless and there are so many nooks and crannies and caves to explore that the completionist in me totally lapped this game up. It is simply a joy to play and a perfect escape from reality. But honestly, no description is going to do this game justice.

 

3. Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix)

kingdom_hearts_2_by_pooterkid-d5f5mu7The characters, as well as their immersion into a Disney-based universe simply took my breath away. I will never forget beating Xaldin on my first attempt, and how excited I was about it. Not to mention the epic Sephiroth battle in KH:II. Kingdom Hearts took my heart so violently I have the game’s icon permanently inked on my skin. I suppose Kingdom Hearts and final fantasy kind of fall into the same category of fantasy RPG, but Kingdom Hearts stands alone for two reasons, it’s connection with Disney is magical, seriously, the mash-up is stunning and the uniqueness of the worlds it presents is amazing, plus it tends to drag you back into your childhood and all the fils you watched growing up, but the concept is also unique, the keyblade is a symbol of hope, and these games are all intertwined ever-so-cleverly.

 

4. Mario Kart (Nintendo)

mario-kartWho doesn’t love hurling shells at their friends to blow them up while speeding down a track with a cool theme, avoiding obstacles? Mario Kart can make and break friendships, and I became best friends with my other half while bonding over Mario Kart 7 on DS. I was never very good at racing games, the controls were always so touchy, and I crashed, A LOT. But Mario Kart never seemed to present those problems to me, not anymore than they did anyone else anyway. Mario Kart, I think, taught me about myself in regards to competition, I was never an overly competitive person until I first played Mario Kart on N64. Since then, it has become one of my all-time favourites, and I pull it out whenever I get the chance. In fact, I bought a wii U just to play Mario Kart. (And Zelda of course…)

 

5. Legend of Zelda (Nintendo)

IMG_9246Zelda is one of those games that just absorbs you completely, taking you into a new world entirely. I remember not only playing these games, but reliving them in my mind while I was at school or at work, thinking about them all the time. Once I start playing a Zelda game – it owns me. And this isn’t a bad thing. Zelda games are beautiful, they are engaging and they are FUN. But once again, fantasy, adventure RPG, the difference with Zelda is the many puzzle-soling aspects throughout the game, they are challenging and kept me super engaged with the game, the story and the characters. Zelda games are smart, they are cunning and they kept me so as well.

 

6. Final Fantasy (Square Enix)

IMG_9249The Final Fantasy games must be some of my favourite games to play just for the sheer beauty of the landscapes and environments. Don’t get me wrong, the story lines and characters are equally beautiful and engaging, and most of the FF games are super fun to play. And if none of the above wins your heart, the soundtrack certainly will. It’s the strategy in this series that places this in the category as games that shaped my knowledge of the greater gaming world – until I played a final fantasy, I didn’t really think about strategy, not even when I played Pokémon, which I do now. Final Fantasy taught me that having a good strategy can be the difference between winning and losing.

 

7. Yoshi’s Story (Nintendo)

yoshis storyOne of the first platformers I actually finished, I owe my love of classic and new platformers to this game. Of course I’ve played Mario’s and Sonic’s, but Yoshi was the character I fell in love with, and I share his love of melons too (the fruit, let’s keep it clean). I spent hours of my younger years slaving away, completing chapter after chapter, saving all the Yoshi’s and collecting all the fruit. The OCD in me loved the tidiness of the side scrolling platformer, enjoying the compact selection of world on the screen, just enough to focus on the task at hand. Yoshi also became one of my favourite characters, and is always my go to selection in Mario Kart.

 

8. Tomb Raider (Feral Interactive, Square Enix)

IMG_9251Obviously a winner in my book because it has one of the most kick ass lead ladies in the business. But the thing about Tomb Raider games that sets it apart from any other action-adventure RPG I have played, is the game-play, the timed-jumps, flips, wall-climbs and ledge-crawls that create an amazing sense of tension. Obviously there are other games of this calibre that I could have chosen, such as Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, but Lara won me over in these games, growing up I didn’t have an awful lot of strong female lead characters in games I was playing, and Lara was, let’s face it, the most kick-ass chick on the gaming market. Lara taught me that you don’t have to be a dude to be a hero, or a survivor, or to kick-ass, and the too young to understand feminist in me strongly appreciated the representation.

9. Portal (Valve)

Portal-2-PC-Game-10Games that challenge me are by far my favourites, and this RPG problem-solver was one of the best. The puzzles in this game could sometimes keep me occupied for days, scratching my head and frustrating myself to no end, but I loved it. This game, as a gamer, taught me patience, something up until this point I didn’t have much of, usually having purchased the user guide to try and finish the games to completion. But with Portal I didn’t want the guidebook, I didn’t want to google it, I didn’t want to cheat, I wanted to find the answers myself and feel the victory when I made it through each test, while GLaDOS (or Wheatley) taunted me. And it was oh-so-satisfying.

10. Crystal Caves (Apogee)

crystalcavesCrystal Caves is old. Like I had to install it with a floppy disk and load it in DOS old. But as old as it is, it is an amazing side-scrolling platformer and one of my all-time favourite games. Plus the ancient sound effects were uber-cool. This game taught me determination: I had no internet, I had no cheat books, It was just me and the game, and my little blaster gun. And it was hard. The graphics were simple, as was the story, but the puzzles were challenging and the gameplay was choppy at best, and even though it took me over a decade to finish this game (I finally downloaded and finished it in 2013), it was a huge part of the games of the 90s that pushed me to fall in love with gaming as a whole when I was just starting out in games. Our childhood memories and the games we still, after all this time, hold the most dear as some of our earliest gaming memories are the ones that make us GAMERS, instead of just people who play games.

I think it’s fair to say, that I am primarily, first and foremost, an RPG girl. I love a good fatasy or adventure RPG, and throw in an open world setting and I’m in heaven (CAN NOT wait for the new Zelda game this year). I love being challenged and I love finding ways to beat the boss battles that don’t necessarily involve me having to level-up or find better weapons. I love using my brain when I play games, but at the same time I enjoy gaming to escape and to be drawn in to an amazing story.

What kind of gamer are you?

 

You can find me on Xbox live as Felix Turtle, and on 3DS as Sami-Lee (friend code: 0877 – 2800 – 5289)

Images via herehere, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

Five Shows to Watch when you’re Dealing with a Break-Up

Breaking up with someone is HARD. It hurts, and it’s messy and it’s never fun.

I know these things because I have had more than my fair share of break-ups. The three big ones were just before I turned 21, when I was 24, (a milder one at 27) and then a pretty devastating one two years ago when I was 28 that saw me leave him in another country (luckily the last one had a happy ending). And of course all the insignificant splits in-between. There were, of course, many coping mechanisms that I learnt over the years, and one of the great ones is the need to vent and mourn and get all the emotions out of the system. And my favourite of these is watching TV shows. Binge watching to be precise.

TV has so much to offer in regard to dredging up emotion, depending on what you need to feel. So, here are my top five TV shows for purging all negative emotions that come with a break-up.

1. Dawson’s Creek

dawsonscreekThis is my number one because it’s the show I can watch a hundred times, without getting sick of it, as annoying as all the characters can be. These are, for me, the TV characters I grew up alongside, and their life lessons were very seriously heeded. The key to Dawson’s being a great break-up show is that it is full of break-ups. It’s full of people being in love, too. And most people think that this is a bad thing when you’re trying to get over someone, however I beg to differ: watching something full of emotion, love, lust, fun and pain brings all your thoughts of the person you’re trying to move on from to the forefront, which, for most people, is something you need to do to get on top of everything, and eventually, move on. This is the show to watch if you need to cry.

2. Sex and the City

sex and the citySex and the City is a brilliant show to marathon while going through the first stages of a break-up, trust me, I’ve done it twice. The amazing thing about this show, is that Carrie is actually giving you advice about your love life, she is literally telling you how to deal with your break-up. It’s genius, and it makes you feel so much better remembering that there are hundreds of thousands of women who have gone through exactly the same thing you are currently going through. Plus it’s nice to see some real, successful women struggling with what you’re struggling with, reminding you that break-ups happen, and being upset about them does not make you weak. This show is a must to get your head into a space where you are prepared and ready to face the break-up head on.

3. Friends

friendsWhen you need to laugh, this is the one. I tend not to trust people who do not love this TV show. This is truly a classic, and most importantly, it’s funny, and laughing really is a great medicine, so do it, and often. Watching this show is also really good at making you feel a lot less alone, with six characters (perhaps even more) who are very relatable to, and very, very lovable. However, the best way to watch Friends during a painful break-up is with your own friends, and with chocolate (just make sure that it’s over before you go out and meet any new people, and not just on a break).

4. Girls

girlsGirls is just what it sounds like, a TV show about a bunch of girls. Of course, there are boys, and the odd man, but for the most part this show is about girls, and that’s what we need when we are hating on men (not like ‘angry crazy-feminist’ hating, but just ‘I hate you for hurting me’ hating). Our girlfriends, mothers, sisters are who we go to when something like a break-up strikes, but for those times when you do just want to be alone, it’s nice to still have some smart, witty, funny and awkward female company to help you start feeling better about yourself. This is the one to watch to laugh and forget about assholes for a while.

5. Chuck

chuckThis one is in the list as being one of my favourite TV shows, but also as being the show that re-teaches you that hope and determination sometimes pay off. That the happy endings are waiting for us somewhere out there, we just need to be patient. Plus the show is funny, geeky, and has a very absorbing story line. But really, I think the best thing about this show are the great characters, and their complex and almost real-worldly relationships (don’t we all wish we could be spies!). This is a fun show to watch, and it is worth investing in, and it makes your heart sing, and hurt and helps emotions flow. But mostly, Zachary Levi is awesome, and really, really cute.

So next time a guy has you down, when you’re eating way more ice-cream than you know you should, and your chest hurts from gasping for air, and your tear stained face looks like complete crap – flick on netflix or grab a DVD, and force yourself you get all the emotions out, and start to feel a little more free. You will cry, you need to, but you will feel better for it, I promise.

Images via herehere, here, here, here, and here.