A Message For My 17 Year Old Self

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Today I realised it has now been 10 years since my life changed quite drastically.

Between the ages of 16-18, I suffered from pretty bad depression. This started when I was in sixth form. From the very first day, the friends that I’d had from the age of 11 (and some even earlier) began to ignore me. To this day, I still have no idea what the reason for it was. All I know is that I’d never felt so lonely, and a downward spiral began.

But that’s not where I want this post to go.

Today I realised it has now been 10 years since I worked my way through depression, and came out of it a better person.

Because of my depression, I became addicted to a video game. Every day after school I escaped into the world of MMORPGs. But this is where I met some awesome people, many of whom I am still friends with. They kept me going when I hit rock bottom, and if I’m honest, they probably kept me from doing anything stupid. I even frequently stream with one of them on Twitch (shoutout to Shiz!)

Because of my depression, I didn’t get into my first choice university. Instead, I ended up at my second choice – and there I met two of my best friends, and found my true love (archaeology, of course). And if I hadn’t gone to university in Reading, I probably never would have known about Leiden – the two universities had a lot of connections. And my year studying at Leiden? Best year of my life so far.

Because of my depression, I have experienced some really low periods over the past ten years outside of the first two, and even saw a counsellor for a year. But I feel that this has made me a more empathetic and understanding person. I cannot recommend counselling enough. It was truly one of the things that helped me move on, after the depression came back two years after I thought it had gone.

Because of my depression, there were times where I cut myself off from the world. But now when I do something that I never would have thought myself capable of at 17 (not only gone to university, but gone to university in another country; partied in Amsterdam until 9.30 the next morning), I feel so happy that I now have the courage to do these things.

So to sum it all up, a message to my 17-year-old self: it will get better. Things will change, and before you know it you’ll be out of there. But most importantly: in ten years time, you know you wouldn’t change any of those experiences for the world. Who knows where you’d be without them, after all?

(Also without that depression you wouldn’t have found Parks & Recreation, and then what would life be?)

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Rinn’s New Year’s Resolutions 2018

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On my previous blog, I always used to share my New Year’s Resolutions, and I thought I’d continue over here! I never really like to set super strict goals, but rather things I’d like to take into consideration over the next year. Here’s what I’d like to do in 2018:

  • Take better care of myself. Physically, emotionally, mentally – I’d like to consider a little more about what I’m putting in my body and how I treat it. I’m generally quite good when it comes to meals, but stop snacking so much (or at least snack more on fruit).
  • And talking of food… experiment more with cooking. I’ve had my own place since March now, and one thing I always said I’d look forward to about having my own flat was having free range of the kitchen. Whilst I’ve tried some new dishes this year, I haven’t tried to make as much new stuff from scratch as I’d like.
  • Read at least 52 books this year. This is a really low goal for me – since I started blogging five years ago, I’ve consistently read at least 100 books every year, and the total has increased each year. By the very end of 2017 I’d read 151 books, which is a record for me. However, I like to aim to read at least one a week, and set no more – to avoid any unnecessary stress (I get very competitive when it comes to setting goals so need to go low…)
  • Keep up both the blog and my Twitch channel, but don’t let them take over my life. For a while, my book blog was all that I’d think about. I think I spent more time writing posts, thinking about writing posts and checking out new releases online than I actually did reading. I felt pressured to post a certain amount of times a week, get a certain number of comments on each post for it to be a ‘success’, constantly network on Twitter etc and comment on other blogs. It was not healthy and I eventually burned out, and began to almost resent book blogging. Hence this blog, which is much more casual and also covers a wider range of topics – so if I feel like ignoring books for a bit and posting about something else, I can. Similarly, before I reached Twitch Affiliate I got a bit obsessive about streaming and pretty much spent all my evenings playing games until midnight. Now I’m an Affiliate, I feel more relaxed and have instead set up a schedule, which I won’t neccessarily stick to if I just don’t feel like it.
  • Make something out of my job. I’m a bit fed up with just having a job. I want a career, and I want 2018 to finally be the year something happens. Whether this means I move on up where I am now, or I try and get back into the museum sector, I don’t know – but I want to feel like I’ve made progress career-wise by the end of 2018.

What are your resolutions for 2018? Do you set strict goals for yourself, or just have an idea of what you’d like to achieve?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin | 5 stars

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I’ll admit this this book was a slow start for me in the beginning. I wasn’t completely sold on the concept or the book when I bought it (it was on sale for 2 pounds so I really couldn’t say “no”) and I let it gather dust in my room for a good 2 months before I decided to start it. And when I did, I barely made it 30 pages in before I left it again for another month!

But I’m glad that I pushed through because I became very invested in the characters and the world within a few pages. I loved Jemisin’s world building here – she created a ruptured earth full of terrifying seasons and weather, and she did it so well that you felt the terror of the people.

Within this earth there is a fifth season that creates cataclysmic weather that basically destroys all life as you know it. This means that people on this world are terrified of shakes, quakes and unusual weather. Within this world, there are also individuals that are called orogenes that can harness earth’s power (and like all power, for good and evil reasons). I won’t say more because of spoilers but think X-Men on a ruptured earth. Oh, and everyone in this world is hella diverse!

Another aspect that I greatly enjoyed was the cultural and societal comm system she created. Here communities are the lifeblood of survival and each community has a stratified culture with each person belonging to a group, and each group playing a role in the survival of many. OK, so this is the anthropologist in me freaking out and many won’t give a crap about this part of the book but it is definitely a plus! This cultural and societal reaction is significant however to the survival of some of the main characters.

I could go on and on about other aspects of the book I like (think Stone People) but I’ll say something that irked me: This book is multi-perspective which isn’t exactly my cup of tea and took me a while to get used to. Jemisin does it well, and I get why she chose to use this narrative style, but eh, it was odd at first.

Other reviews I liked:

So that’s my brief review – I’d highly recommend it. Have you read it?

Rinn’s Year In Books

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I’m jumping on the bandwagon and also sharing my year in books! I love it when Goodreads does this feature every year, because I always find reading statistics to be really interesting, whether they’re my own or someone else’s.

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I read 59,696 pages across 147 books. I kept my Goodreads goal at 52, so one a week, even though I knew I’d beat it. One a week is a comfortable amount and gives me some wiggle room, in case I go off and do nothing but play video games for a week *cough*very possible*cough*

The longest book I read was A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon, at 1,439 pages. Somehow even though this was longer than the previous book in the series, I read it MUCH more quickly.

The shortest book I read was 154 pages – Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, which I decided to finally read after playing the game 80 Days on Steam (highly recommended!)

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My rating breakdown looks like this, with an average rating of 3.9:

  • 5 stars: 47
  • 4 stars: 47
  • 3 stars: 41
  • 2 stars: 9
  • 1 star: 3
  • Did not finish: 3 (not counted in my final total)

I read within the following genres: Fantasy (43), Science Fiction (38), Non-Fiction (27), Contemporary (13), Graphic Novel (7), Historical Fiction (4), Crime/Thriller (4), Paranormal (7), Classic (4).

This split is quite surprising – fantasy and science fiction are no surprise, but I didn’t realise I read so much non-fiction this year. This mostly comprises of historical non-fiction, biographies and travel books.

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The highest rated book on Goodreads that I read in 2017 was the excellent The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The lowest was Swords and Scoundrels (Duelists Trilogy #1) by Julia Knight, which I personally quite enjoyed!

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I re-read quite a few books, including all but one of the Harry Potter series, and finally started my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire, which will continue into 2018.

How was your year in reading? Did you achieve your goals?

Claire’s Year In Books

Claire's Year In Books

GoodReads recently shared their “Your Year In Books” feature and I always find it interesting to do a bit of a “post-mortum” of my year so I’ll give it a go for books, yes?

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View Claire’s Year In Books on GoodReads

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I read more meaty books this year

I read 17,892 pages across 52 books (this feels so impressive!) with an average book length of 344 pages which feels sizable to me.

I prefer to read books that are minimum 300 pages and to be frank, the fatter the book the better. In my head, I equate a longer book to something that has denser world building but it isn’t always the case, plus I see longer books as good value for money… am I weird for this? Does anyone else have a minimum page requirement?

153008The longest book I read was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey and it was over 1,000 pages (Fun fact: It took me the entire year to read this book! I read it in two 500 page chunks)

The shortest book I read was 4 pages and it was the Harry Potter: The Prequel by J.K. Rowling

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But stuck to my favourite genre – Fantasy!

I gave 34 books 4 or 5 stars, which is high compared to the 8 books that I gave 1 or 2 stars. I’d assume then that I enjoyed more books this year than not!

My 2017 year in reading was dominated by fantasy with the genre taking 23 out of  the 34 top books that I rated! No other genre came close: Sci-fi only had 1 book in the 4 – 5 star range, horror had 3, non-fiction had 4 and YA took 3.

I guess I really like fantasy? This is an interesting change because 2012 to 2014 was spent being obsessed with Historical Fiction and I haven’t read a single HF this year so far…and that’s not likely to change! Most of the books I plan to read next year are focused on non fiction and more fantasy.

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And I didn’t read as diversely as I should have so 2018 will have a few soft goals

This year I read more books by female authors at 18, with male authors coming in close at 13. I don’t think I read as diversely as I could though and I want to see myself make a greater effort to read books by female authors.

I don’t have stats about POC authors but I can say this: I didn’t do well in that. To be honest, I’m looking at the stats quite generally and I think 3 to 5 authors might be POC? This doesn’t make me happy – I’m going to have to try harder to read more diversely author-wise in 2018.

Another goal I have next year is to look for different perspectives, cultures and histories in fantasy. I’ve noticed that a lot of fantasy seems to feel medieval-esque, and… very white so I’d love to read more fantasy based on different cultures, backgrounds and with characters from many lands.

How was your year in reading? Do you have any recommendations for me for 2018?

Warcross by Marie Lu | 3 stars

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

There’s no doubt about it – I’ll always pick up a book about video games. I love this merging of my two top hobbies, and sometimes it works out in my favour, for example Ready Player One or the .//hack manga series.

Warcross looked very promising. The story of a young hacker struggling with debt and facing life on the streets, who accidentally manages to glitch herself into a major competition of ‘Warcross’, the world’s favourite e-sport, when testing a new hack. Emika is instantly caught up in the world of competitive Warcross, where opposing teams have to capture each other’s ‘Artifacts’ to win, and her life is transformed. However, as often goes with rags to riches type stories, not everything is quite as it seems.

I felt like Warcross as a game was well set up, and easy to visualise for the reader. Online games such as MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are really big at the moment, so it was also very relevant. And like Ready Player One, the use of Virtual Reality meant that Marie Lu could write Emika as if she was doing all the actions herself, rather than just controlling a character.

This was an enjoyable novel, but as soon as there was a whiff of romance I began to lose interest in the book. The romance was too convenient and quick, and the ultimate plot twist at the end was incredibly predictable as a result. Apparently it is a series, but could probably have worked as a standalone novel too.

In a sentence: a fun idea for a novel involving a video game I would definitely play, but ultimately let down by the romance and predictable ending.

I’m a Twitch Affiliate!

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After one month of streaming my Dead Space misadventures, experience of Paladins, return to Kirkwall and dating of Dads, I’m now a Twitch Affiliate!

If you’re not familiar with Twitch, this basically means I can make money from playing video games. Yep, I can make money from doing one of my hobbies! It’s going to be very small amounts, but still – why not? The revenue comes from subscribers and adverts, and it’s a really exciting development and one I’m really proud of.

Over the next few weeks I’ll work on building up my Twitch ‘brand’. I am, of course, going for the whole spaceship theme, with myself as the captain and my followers and subscribers as the crew.

If you’re interested in following, or even subscribing, please go and take a look at my Twitch channel. Even if I’m not live, you can view my previous broadcasts under ‘Videos’.

Is there a particular game you’d like to see me play? Let me know! 🙂