Sunday, 22 June 2014

What I've Been Reading:
I am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton


This was one of those stop-gap reads that you pick up to tide you over until you decide for certain which book you're going to read next.

I've loved Pusheen since I stumbled across her on facebook way back when but unfortunately, this is one of those internet sensations that just doesn't seem to translate well to book format. It would make a great gift for the cat loving teenage girl in your life but for me it was a little bit short and nothing in it really made me glad that I'd chosen to read it.

If you're a die-hard Pusheen fan then it might be worth the money, otherwise, I'd just stick to the comics dotted about the web.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

What I've Been Reading:
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman


“Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the world, a place where the U.S. government now puts not only the dangerous but also the inconvenient—people who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated and unskilled.”
~ Piper Kerman 

I adore the Netflix sensation 'Orange is the New Black' (if you don't know what I'm talking about you've literally been living under a very large rock for the last year!) and after speeding through the entire 13 episodes of season 2 within 72 hours of them going live, I was jonesing for more of my favourite female prisoners. So I decided to read the memoir the series was based on.

I don't read a lot of memoirs and autobiographies. I can't usually get myself to care enough about the person to stick with their story for too long. But Piper Kerman's voice drew me in just as much as Taylor Schillings comedic portrayal did with the show and while there were some obvious major differences to the tv adaptation, I was far from disappointed. 

'Orange is the New Black' was funny, heartfelt and gut-wrenchingly honest. And I learnt a lot through reading it and I don't just mean how to make Prison Cheesecake. I learnt about the failings of the US prison system, the way the prisons do very little to help the women they are supposedly rehabilitating. But most importantly, I learnt that despite the mistakes these women made, they have hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. 

Piper's determination to make the best of her situation, to use her time in prison to better herself, to learn new skills and help others really spoke to me. This woman is an inspiration and I hope that if I ever found myself deep within the prison system (I'm not planning on it happening but you never know what the future holds!) I'd have the strength to handle it with the "Prison Zen" that she did.

If you too are missing Piper, Alex, Red, Crazy Eyes and the rest of the girls then give the book a go. I promise you'll enjoy it. Although if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself wanting to binge watch the entire 26 episodes in a Netflix marathon!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Mutants and Masterminds

I've always thought of myself as a bit of a geek but recently I took my geekiness to a whole other level. A group of my writer friends and I have started a roleplaying game. Devised by our Game Master, but primarily based on a Marvel Universe game called Mutants and Masterminds, it involves us all spending several hours on the last Saturday of the month embracing our inner Superhero. And it's bloody good fun.

Anyway, I thought it might be cool to introduce you to my character. So meet Nymph, the alter ego of a Biochemist who has harnessed the unique effects of an immunotherapy treatment gone awry.

In her serum induced alternate form, she grows a bark-like covering to her skin, vines appear in her red hair and she develops some really nifty powers such as the ability to control insects and make vines grow from the floor and snare her enemies. Oh and she has a poison kiss.

I've never played any form of table top RPG before but I have to say I really wish I'd discovered them earlier. It reminds me almost of those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a kid. You never quite know what's going to happen next but the choices you make, the numbers you roll and the numbers your fellow players roll all determine the outcome. Our next session is a week tomorrow and I'm already excited enough to be dreaming about it (yes, I know, I have no life!)

Okay, this post didn't really have much of a point other than to give you a glimpse into my life. I hope you're all having a great Friday :)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Read Like a Teenager

I've always been a big reader. For as long as I can remember, curling up on the sofa with a good book has been the ultimate in pleasurable experiences for me. As a child, I never went anywhere without at least one book I could bury myself in if being sociable became too difficult. I would take eight books out of the library each week and read them all. As a teenager, reading became my lifeline. It took me away from the horrors of adolescence, taught me more about the world around me than my High School education ever did and inspired me to begin writing my own stories and poems.

But lately I haven't been reading anywhere near as much as I used to. I've tried blaming it on my medication (one of the side effects is lack of concentration), I've tried blaming it on my mood, I've searched for blame in a hundred and one places. But none of them have felt true. In the last six months, reading has gone from a pleasure to a chore. Choosing a book to read has become difficult, a minefield of incorrect choices and uninspiring subject matter. I've felt self-conscious that my choice in reading material might not be "cool" enough (whatever the hell that means!) and for the first time in years I've found myself going a whole week at a time without reading. 

While wasting time on Buzzfeed yesterday, I came across an article called Why You Should Read Like a Teen Again and its subject matter really hit home. The article isn't about reading teen fiction, it's about reading any book, be it War and Peace or The Hunger Games, the way a teen would, whole-heartedly. It's about allowing yourself to enter the world of the book you're reading and not come up for breath for hours at a time. The article talks about how as adults we're taught that spending time reading is bad. Bad for us and bad for our lives. By spending hours reading there are a whole host of other things we could have been doing: housework, shopping, cooking, playing with our pets or children. But really, why shouldn't we indulge ourselves in a good book once in a while. Why shouldn't we immerse ourselves in a fictional world in order to take a break from our often tumultuous and stressful adult lives. 

Reading like a teenager is completely natural and, I think, potentially a positive for our mental well-being. So why not turn off your phone, make yourself a cup of tea and crack open a book. Read like a teen and don't feel guilty about it.