YouTube Spotlight: Primo Trev and Ohitsmandi

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Primo Trev

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Primo Trev is a gaming channel that started earlier this year in March. He generally plays casual games posting videos twice a week. His game series normally continue for roughly a month. One thing that I have noticed when watching his videos is that he generally gives himself some type of goal to accomplish within the game, for example getting to a leader board, beating a high score etc. I like this because it gives him a bit more structure to his videos which i find other gaming YouTubers sometimes lack. I really like the channel because it is very casual in nature and I feel like I can go and watch the videos either when they are released or a couple of days after. A problem I sometimes find is there are certain channels where you get left behind with all the content. These channels play games that require the backstory and post multiple videos a day making it almost impossible to keep up. Primo Trev however produces quality material in just the right amount of quantity. Combine this with fun games and a guy who genuinely seems to really enjoy making video, you have a great gaming channel.

Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCynMa5cDrdMMRc3qBx_sj1A

OhitsMandi

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Ohitsmandi is another booktube channel which I really like to watch the videos that are posted. Mandi makes tag videos mainly related to reading and books, in addition to reading wrap ups, Top 5 Wednesdays (originally created by GingerReadsLainey) and more recently “things I love” section. There are a few different reasons of why I really like this channel. . She reads a lot of YA books and I personally am a big fan of that genre so I am really interested in the books she talks about. Her “things I love” section where she talks about her favorite music, tv shows etc that she discovered in the month. I really like the way these videos are done and is overall my favorite videos she posts.

Check her out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ohitsmandiii

Book Review: Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse by Jack Flacco

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Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse starts where you would expect it to. In a zombie apocalypse. This entire novel follows Ranger Martin and his team of three teenagers and one younger boy as they try to survive in and help a world now over run with these “zombies”. Throughout the book there is fighting, action, mystery, a bit of romance and characters each with individual backstories and a surprising amount of depth.

The first thing I want to address is the writing. Jack Flacco has very descriptive writing which I really liked. The whole time when reading this book I could really visualize the scenes. It almost seems like a movie when you are reading this, a couple of moments in the book I couldn’t help but think this is such a movie moment. The fighting scenes contain a bit of gore (not too extreme but some descriptions did make me squirm) and had a good fast pace to it. This sections didn’t drag on too much and their was always interesting new plot developments scattered among the fighting. I think the whole book was paced pretty well, it takes a while to get into it however in the end the last quarter of the book goes by so fast you will not believe you finished it.  The only criticism i have concerning the writing and structure is that sometimes the transitions between characters viewpoints were very unclear and abrupt. I noticed this particularly in the final sections of the book where I would get lost with which character’s the book was talking about. However this was fairly minor and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book very much.

The plot of this book originally seemed a bit unoriginal to me, however once I started reading there is a lot of unexpected turns. There is one really weird but interesting plot element that is introduced in this book however is yet to really be expanded upon. This book also goes into the backstories of the characters which I really enjoyed. Again there is room for more detail in future novels but the fact that these characters have a history makes them a lot more real to me. There is a lot of intriguing little mysteries scattered throughout the novel and not a lot of them are solved in this first novel. I understand this is to leave room for future novels but personally I would have preferred a bit more of a satisfying conclusion. We also see a bit of romance in this book, which is something I would have preferred not to be included. I find romance in dystopian like novels frustrating at times. Saying this I think the author did a good job of balancing these moments, they didn’t drag on and were overall rather sweet.

I really liked the “quieter” moments of the novel when they weren’t focusing on fighting. There were calmer moments but still were really enjoyable to read. Humor is scattered throughout the dialogue and these lighten up the more serious of scenes. However these scenes were well picked and I never thought the humor was out of place considering the intensity of the scene. I think this was an excellent way to keep the book a bit more light and enjoyable.

As mentioned previously the characters have a lot of depth to them. I particularly liked the character of Jon, who was the youngest of the group and we really see him mature throughout the novel. There is a definite shift when you compare him in the beginning to the end. This seems very realistic considering the circumstances he had to go through. Overall the characters were very well rounded, and there was good distinguishable traits to each of them.

Overall I really did like this book and gave it 4/5. The only real problem I had was with the unsatisfying conclusion and the abrupt nature of some of the transitions between scenes. I definitely think I will read the sequel sometime in the future.

Update: Back to blogging + plans for 2015

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So basically I haven’t updated for weeks because I have been travelling.

I came back from my summer holiday and recently started school again.
I get really affected by travel in general, I hate flying and get extremely sick on flights. I takes me a while to recover fully and regain interest in doing anything. I also did not read anything around that time because I either have anxiety to the flight or am trying to get over it.

So as a quick update I decided I might talk about what I have been reading/watching/playing lately and what I plan to do with my blog during 2015.

So recently I have been reading Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse by Jack Flacco. I am just past the half way mark and am enjoying it a lot. I did have a bit of fear at the beginning that it may be a bit cliche, however once the story progresses there are a lot of moments where I was genuinely surprised. I am interested to see where it goes.

I have been watching quite a bit of YouTube lately. In particular gaming videos and am really enjoying a couple of newly discovered channels. I will hopefully get a youtube spotlight out soon where I can talk about them a bit more in depth.

As for games I bought Book of Unwritten tales: The critter chronicles. Which I am working my way through, so far it isn’t quite as good as the original but still very enjoyable. I have also been playing a lot of sims 4 (though when am i not playing alot of the sims?)

As for this coming year on my blog. I will probably only be posting once a week. My schedule is becoming much more busy and I don’t want to add extra stress. I will continue book reviews and youtube spotlights. I may do some movie reviews and possibly anime reviews and/or first impressions. I haven’t really decided whether to continue with game reviews. I may just do them once every month or two. or possibly just drop them all together.

Thanks for all the support you have given me since I started my blog last year.

Book Review: How to succeed in Hollywood without really acting by Peter Skagen

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*I received a review copy of this from netgalley.com

Since I have been reviewing more and more books it has lead me to pick up books I normally wouldn’t. Truthfully when picking up this book the title sort of turned me off. I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t expecting quality. However this book surprised me. It is a resource all about what to expect in the film industry including how to get through auditions, how to look at the script and what to do on set. I personally am not interested in having a career in the film industry but I do a lot of theatre so I picked this up to learn about another forms of acting.

 This book describes in detail about all the processes involved when trying to get a role in a movie. It explains common mistakes newbies make and how to look like a pro. Some of the tips can also be used in theatre acting, in particular when it talks about the auditions. Everything stated makes perfect sense and if you plan to go into acting you will want a highlighter ready so you can note all of the great points. Even though acting is a leisure activity for me I found myself using the highlight system on my kindle more then I have ever before.

The chapter about the story really dives into how to analyze a script, which was really interesting to read about. Undoubtedly my favourite part of the book was the real life stories that the author told. He has been in the business as both an actor and director so you are able to see a unique view. He balances out how the actor and how the director feels in every scenario. His enthusiasm for film just jumps of the page, making it a enjoyable to read.

The only thing that I think could have been improved is that sometimes he repeats his points a bit too much. I understand he is trying to get it across but as I was highlighting I found it tiresome to be told something again and again when I could see it in my notes.  Also sometimes it is a bit long-winded to get to his point.

Overall a fun read and I would recommend for someone who is interested in the film industry. I gave it 3.75/5

Book Review: Starting to frame: A Memoir by Roger Gordon

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*I received a review copy of this from netgalley.com in exchange for a honest review.

Starting to frame is the memoir of Roger Gordon a retired scientist. This memoir doesn’t focus very much on his academic career, more on what led up to his move to Canada from England. It focuses particularly on the time of his childhood through to finishing his university degree. The author depicts how his parents and ultimately is family are split apart. He discusses mental health issues that his parents both suffered and gives the reader a real look into what it is like to grow up upon it.

There are a range of memories that are recalled in this book, both good and bad. These memories are written done with specifics and clarity, I can imagine each scene. When reading memoirs I normally focus on the life story and what moments the author chose to add, not caring to much about the writing. I can’t just ignore the writing in this book because it is outstanding. From the Sheffield expression (which could have easily become way to confusing for a foreigner despite the glossary at the back) to the description of the house it all flows together without dragging on or being too abrupt.

This book balances out the distressing events with funny and happy ones. While I did cry a couple of times, the memoir didn’t become so depressing that I didn’t want to read the ending. Something that I thought was a great touch is that not only do you find out what was happening in the author’s life but he also talks about what was happening in England at the time. For me as someone who has little knowledge of any of England’s issues in the second half of the 1900’s this was really cool. Additionally getting a glimpse into life in England, the social ideals and even the technology was very enjoyable.

This memoir goes into mental health as something a lot of his family had trouble with. This book made me much more aware of these issues. During his time at home he had to deal with a sometimes unstable mother. His stories ring true for a lot of people in this world and it really makes you recognize the issue that it is. The author himself has to deal with some mental health issues himself. All the events surrounding these issues are told with a very real look upon it. The author also recalls how his family spread apart, taking sides with either his mother or father. It’s sad how people that were once so close, never talked to each other again. Despite all the hardships the author faced he was able to turn his life around and now has a stable family. He had to deal with all of his home issues while at high school and university. It was through persistence that he was able to achieve and change his life.

I think the way he turns his life around is one of the most incredible things about the book. I can talk about the writing and what he chose to include but ultimately he lived through all of this and pushed through. By the end of the book he doesn’t hate his family that put him through such hard circumstances, he forgives them. Roger Gordon is an inspiration and his story is one that you need to read. Not only does his memoir bring awareness to mental health issues but it is inspirational.

I gave it 5/5 and it is the best memoir I have ever read.

A look back on 2014: My achievements

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So the last week I have been seeing everyone’s wrap up of the year and resolutions for the coming year. I was thinking about what I would like to do. I am still planning to do a resolution/goal post however I haven’t been able to decide on what I am aiming for this year. I keep thinking why this is? Normally I can think of 20 at the tip of my fingers, so what is going on? I realised that it wasn’t that I couldn’t think of stuff, it was because I didn’t feel like I acknowledged 2014 enough.

2014 has been one of the most eventful, stressful but amazing year I have ever had. So much has happened in my life and I want to acknowledge the good things that happened in 2014. I don’t normally express things I am proud about to other people as I fear being thought of as vain or self centered. I am cautious even in writing this post as I am so used to keeping these types of things to myself. However I think a blog should be somewhere where you can express yourself, so that is what I am doing.

THE GOOD (things I am proud of)

– I started at a new school and was able to adjust to the change. I came from a small regional school to a school in a city so their was a lot to get used to.

– I got the lead in 2 productions (one play and one musical) despite it being my first year at said school. This was a hard one, you don’t release how horrible people can be until you get something they want. Going to rehearsals where there was the obvious drama clique was uncomfortable at times but I ultimately was able to overcome this. The day the casting (in particular for the musical) was announced, the amount of comments (some not so nice) I received as someone who generally blends was pretty intimidating. Though it just made me more determined.

– I read more than I have in ages so that was awesome.

– I made my blog, twitter and youtube accounts. I have made mistakes on all of these but it has been a great year of learning how every thing works and what I want to do in the future (there will be a post later talking about my plans for my blog)

– I did work experience at a theatre and had one of the best experiences of my life. At the end I got a personal letter of recommendation (in want of a better word) which is unusual as they normally take 30 students a year and then have just a short comment. Hopefully I will be able to return in the coming year and volunteer.

– I did a reading program with an under privileged kid over the phone.  This was so sweet and it was amazing to see the improvement in her over the weeks we talked. I think by the end of it we became close to friends and it was sad to say goodbye for the last time.

– I did more exercise (particularly in the first 6 months) then I have ever done before. Saying that I did eat way too much food as well but hey you always need something to improve on. So overall I was fit but still gained weight. Oh well I don’t really mind because I am still a healthy weight.

– Finally I did pretty well academically and feel more or less prepared for the new year.

So yeah that was my year and what I was proud of. I would love to hear your achievements and Happy New Year,

I hope to make 2015 even better then the last.

My Favourite Games I Played This Year (PC Games)

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So originally I was going to do a list of the top 10 games I played for the first time this year. However when I was thinking about it, I did play a lot of games for the first time however I also enjoyed a lot of games that I got last year and played more this year. So basically I have a top 6 of games that I haven’t played at all before this year and a top 4 for games that I have gotten previously but really enjoyed this year. I am just going to write a sentence or two saying what i want to say. This list is based on the games I have played most and overall enjoyed the most (some may have their flaws but I really enjoyed it. So I may have given the game a 7/10 in review but since then have still enjoyed it despite its flaws)

Top 4 games that I played more this year then I had previously (in want of a better way to phrase this)

Game Dev Tycoon

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Developer: Green heart games

http://www.greenheartgames.com/app/game-dev-tycoon/

My Review: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/game-review-game-dev-tycoon/

The satisfaction of making a best seller game on this game makes me love it. One of the best feelings is when you find that perfect combination of the different game elements.

Game Dev Tycoon is a business simulation video game that was released on December 10, 2012.[2] In the game, the player creates and publishes video games. [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_Dev_Tycoon]

Guild Wars 2

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Developer: ArenaNet

https://www.guildwars2.com/en/

One of my first experiences with an mmo and have loved it so far. This game really brings out the completionist in me, I am always going around trying to get the vista’s and 100% complete areas. I like just enjoying the scenery and relaxing when playing it. It helps me unwind.

Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. Set in the fantasyworld of Tyria, the game follows the re-emergence of Destiny’s Edge, a disbanded guild dedicated to fighting the Elder Dragons, aLovecraftian species that has seized control of Tyria in the time since the original Guild Wars. The game takes place in a persistent world with a story that progresses in instanced environments. [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild_Wars_2]

Super Meat Boy

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Developer: Team Meat

http://supermeatboy.com/

My Review: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/game-review-super-meat-boy/

Really fun platformer with just the right amount of difficulty and frustration.

Super Meat Boy is an independent video game designed by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes and developed by Team Meat. The gameplay is characterized by fine control and split-second timing as the player runs and jumps through over 300 hazardous levels while avoiding obstacles. Additional player-created levels are available for free download.[From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Meat_Boy]

Book of Unwritten Tales

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Developer: King Art

http://www.kingart-games.de/bout/en/

My Thoughts: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/game-review-the-book-of-unwritten-tales/

I replayed this game again this year (for probably the 3rd maybe 4th time) and it may end up being in my top 10 games for every year. I love the humor, references, dialogue and scenery in this game. I just can’t get tired with this game.

The Book of Unwritten Tales is a point-and-click adventure video game created by German developer King Art. The game challenges the player with a series of puzzles and brain teasers presented as a traditional point and click adventure game. [From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Unwritten_Tales]

Top 6 games that I played for the first time this year

Papers Please

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Developer: Lucas Pope

http://papersplea.se/

My Review: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/game-review-papers-please/

This game is really addictive. I got it at the start of the year and despite beating it a couple of times it doesn’t get boring. The extra depth with the storyline along with simple but fun gameplay makes this a good game.

Papers, Please is a puzzle video game developed by indie game developer Lucas Pope. It focuses on the emotional toll of working as an immigration officer, deciding whom to let in and whom to exclude from entering the fictional dystopian country of Arstotzka [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papers,_Please]

Cook Serve Delicious

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Developer: Vertigo Gaming

http://www.vertigogaming.net/blog/?portfolio=cook-serve-delicious

My Review: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/game-review-cook-serve-delicious/

A fast paced casual game. Another addicting game with simple but effective gameplay. I found myself madly typing trying to get perfect score days. There is nice variety with different foods, competitions and catering :)

One of the few hardcore restaurant sims in existence, Cook, Serve, Delicious! is a deceptively easy game to learn but incredibly challenging to master as you progress through your career from owning a terrible zero star cafe into a five star world famous restaurant [from http://store.steampowered.com/app/247020/]

Theme Hospital

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Developer: Bullfrog Productions

http://www.gog.com/game/theme_hospital

A fun casual game where you build hospitals. I love the humor in this game, all the small details including the weird diseases and hospital announcements make this game really memorable.  Great game to play an afternoon away!

Theme Hospital is a business simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions and published by Electronic Arts in 1997, in which the player designs and operates a hospital.[ from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_Hospital]

Data Hacker: Initiation

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Developer: New Reality Games

http://store.steampowered.com/app/311860/

My review: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/game-review-data-hacker-initiationcorruption/

One of the most enjoyable games of the year for me. I loved the atmosphere and feeling of the game. For some reason this game is one I go to when I have had a bad day because it always cheers me up. Has a more retro feeling with the 2D graphics and ultimately just a really good game.

Set some years in the future, following a global economic and social crash, Data Hacker Initiation follows Jay; a retired hacker in search of vengeance. Jay is a prolific player of Online World: the escapist’s dream game in a backwards-future, until an ironic case of mistaken identity, whereupon he is banished from the refuge that he so loved.
Enraged, Jay seeks to re-enter the game with a new agenda: wreak havoc for the administrators and key-holders of Online World. Little does he know; he is about to enter upon something great, and terrible- a twist that nobody saw coming. [From http://store.steampowered.com/app/311860/]

The Sims 4

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Developer: EA Maxis and The Sims Studio

http://www.thesims.com/the-sims-4

This is the newest installment in the sims series. I love the new graphic cartoonish design with bright colors. I actually really like the more objective style of gameplay because sometimes I don’t have a story in mind so it continually gives you things to do. The sims team have been great with updates which are giving the game some great new content.

The Sims 4 is a 2014 life simulation video game developed by EA Maxis and The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts. [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sims_4]

1849 + Nevada Silver Expansion

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Developer: Somasim

http://www.somasim.com/1849/

Review of Base Game: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/game-review-1849/

Review of Expansion: https://letsreviewstuffblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/expansion-review-1849-nevada-silver/

When I first played this game I honestly wouldn’t have expected to have it on my favourite games. If you get this game I recommend getting the expansion! I said this in my review of the expansion that the added content just makes 1849 a more full game. I wasn’t into the game when I first played it but when I got the expansion I found myself enjoying it more and more. Once you get into this game you can’t really get out of it. I really enjoy jumping on it at any time and just having some fun.

1849 is a city management game set during the California Gold Rush. Your task is to build towns, populate them with workers, and make sure that they are housed, fed, and entertained. You’ll have to manage and coordinate extensive production and trade networks to make sure your towns thrive [ from https://indiegamestand.com/store/788/1849/]

Book Review: KissnTell by Suzy McCoppin

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*I received a copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

KissnTell by Suzy McCoppin follows two girls, Vaughn and Anais who live in LA. They both attend a prestigious school filled with spoilt rich kids. They however have always been the outcasts being scholarship students. Vaughn strives to be part of the “in” crowd despite the fact that this groups has pulled disgustingly horrible pranks on her and her best friend (Anais). One day after a particular bad party Anais and Vaughn receive make overs and hit the clubs of hollywood. They are able to snap some celebrity pictures and from the advice of a hot young paparazzi they decide to create their own gossip website. The book focuses on how they keep the blog going and how their increased fame affects their friendship with the “in” crowd and each other.

The writing and general style has the teenage gossip feel which I really thought accompanied the story well. I found it a very easy and quick style to read which ultimately made this feel like a fast paced book. In regards to the plot lots happens, however sometimes it felt like the author was trying to squeeze too much in without giving enough thought to each theme. I really liked the whole blog and hollywood aspect of it. The author was previously a writer for a gossip magazine which i found very cool as she would have had experiences similar to the ones she wrote about. It does seem quite realistic in the hollywood and paparazzi aspect making it very interesting to read about.

My main problem with this book was the characters. The author does a very good job of making you absolutely detest Vaughn by the end of it. Her character is so annoying and ignorant it frustrated me to the point of not wanting to continue reading at certain points. There is romance for both of the girls and it is very insta love which made it so I wan’t able to connect with it at all.  While I enjoyed this book for the majority (minus some of Vaughn scenes) ultimately it wasn’t very memorable. I would recommend it if it sounds like something you are interested in. I gave it a 3/5.

Book Review: My De-Stress Diary by Dr. Annika Sörensen

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*I received a copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

My De-Stress DIary is a diary that aims to reduce your stress significantly over a year. I obviously haven’t had the book for a year and therefore wasn’t able to do the program exactly as intended. Despite this using the tips Dr. Sorensen gives you did make a difference. I am someone who has to deal with anxiety so when I saw this book on netgalley I decided to request it in hope that it may help me.

This book is broken up into weeks. Each week you are supposed to do something to help manage your life and/or stress. It will tell you something to focus on accompanied with an explanation and a quote. A lot of the stuff this book tells you to do is something you may have heard before and you could find it on the internet. The thing that makes this book effective is its structure. You only have to do little things each week to help and there is such a variety of things this book makes you do so you can find what works for you. I had a go at a lot of the practices and sometimes I might do one a day or one every two days. If i find one thing wasn’t working for me I would look back at the things that did work.

The thing i really like about the diary is that it gives you options. I personally believe it is about over the period of the year finding out which strategies you personally like. Just to give some examples of things it would make you do is things like having a healthy smoothie, organising your desk, turning your phone off for a period of time.

I really think this is a great stress management tool however it only works if you are willing to put the time into trying it.

I give it 4/5 the only flaw being I wish it had a little bit more content in each weeks section.