Illumicrate Unboxing and Review – August 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 20.01.30

It’s that time of the month again! Yes it’s Illumicrate unboxing and review! As always if you don’t want to see/read about the contents of this box LOOK AWAY NOW! If not, I’m so excited to share what I think is possibly the best book box I’ve received so far and with that, on with the review.

*

*

*

*

*

*

IMG_8673

The Graces by Laure Eve with letter 

I’d never heard of this book prior to getting my sub box but it looks incredible. There’s talk of witches, power and wealth. The letter from author Laure is also a lovely touch to the box, it also came with a signed sticker to place inside the book. I can’t wait to tuck into this!

IMG_8675

NeverNight – Jay Kristoff 

I actually squealed when I found this in the box. I’d actually pre ordered this online but luckily my box got here before. I’m SO excited to read this assassin based novel and love a good bookmark and something to stick up. *squeal*

IMG_8672

Gilmore Girls Exclusive Bag 

Now, I’ve never seen Gilmore Girls (although I might give it a go seeing as there is so much hype) but found out that this means ‘ready for anything’, I love that quote. So it’s a win, win. IMG_8676

The Trio Coasters by Taratjah Art – Exclusive 

I was nervous when it was announced there would be an item related to The Cursed Child (see my review here) but this catered to both the original films and the current play. I do think it’s odd that the Hermione’s don’t match but I supposed one is to match Emma and one Noma. Either way they were a nice addition to the box and thoughtful of different interpretations of Hermione.

IMG_8677

Drink Me Strawberry Tea from Post Tea (also an exclusive) 

An Alice in Wonderland themed treat, I’ve never tried a Strawberry tea before but I’m excited to try this.

IMG_8679IMG_8680

Small Prints 

Now, I’m not sure what these are from and the box doesn’t tell me either, they are beautiful designs though and I’d like to know more.

IMG_8683

Bookmark Discount Code 

I love a good bookmark and the promise of an unusual bookmark is always a bonus, I’ll be heading over to check them out soon!

IMG_8681

Witch Tattoos

This ties in with The Graces (I think) as a fun addition. I doubt I’ll wear them but I will head over and take the quiz!

IMG_8682

Colouring Quotes – Ashley Poston 

Some fun colouring from Ashley Poston, we also received a discount for her latest book. These are fun but without reading the books I have no idea of their significance, either way colouring is colouring!

IMG_8678

Unboxed print and discount code 

The latest novella from Non Pratt (who I once met and is really nice) with a discount code as it is out this month! The novella promises to be about ‘a brilliantly diverse case of characters…return to their old school and discover that no one can ever truly go back’. I may have to pick this one up.

IMG_8671

And that’s all of it! It was such a lot of content that I almost couldn’t fit it all in one picture! Again I can 100% recommend illuminate, it’s definitely my favourite book sub so far!

Sunday Seven: Seven Reasons You Should Go to A Con!

SUNDAY SEVEN (1)

After yesterday’s post, how could I not give you 7 reasons to attend a convention!

A chance to geek out about the things you love 

I love Harry Potter, Star Wars and Marvel and I was surrounded by people who felt the same. If there’s a film, book or comic book of it I can guarantee someone else will share your love of a character.

It’s a chance to dress up and not be judged

You can dress up and you have a reason and no one will judge you when you do! Want to dress up as a character you loved as a kid? Go ahead. Want to be the 12th Kylo Ren at Con? Why not? Want to be a super cool variant of a character? Go you! There is no limit on what you can dress up as at Comic Con.

Artist’s Alley 

So many artists, so much talent. Just look at this beautiful collection of prints, bits and pieces I picked up!

You can meet great celebs

Although you have to pay, there’s a chance to meet some really awesome people you’ve long admired. London Comic Con had Warwick Davis (Star Wars and Harry Potter), Big Bang Theory cast members and more. Previously my friends have met a lot of stars from Doctor Who too!

You can have a GREAT shopping trip

I save up months before a con so that I can spend without worrying because there is SO MUCH I want to buy. My Funko Pop collection always expands, I pick up the art I already mentioned and clothes. There is SO MUCH you can buy though, food, toys, wigs, other costumes, collectables. I’d have to take out a mortgage if I ever went to the San Diego Comic Con.

IMG_7544IMG_7547

There are some truly lovely people in the community 

Obviously you won’t love all of the thousands of people at Con BUT I’ve met some lovely people. We go with Ben and Abbie each time but I also meet others. Yesterday I met two ladies who really stood out to me. The first was a girl in a wheelchair, we were both waiting to get in the disabled access toilet and had been locked out (I was using my crutch and SUPER nervous about it). We chatted about going to con with an injury/disability, annoying toilets like that one and just life in general, she was just so lovely. The second was  someone in a beautiful black dress, we saw each other again later and she just had such a lovely smile and seemed so excited that I liked her dress! Most people at Con are absolutely lovely!

There are Con’s all over the world! My next one will be London MCM in October and I honestly can’t wait.

Comic Con Summer 2016!

Today I attended my second ever MCM Comic Con! This was the first time I’ve put together a costume and became a cosplayer! I’ve been sure I wanted to cosplay someone from Star Wars for a while and then I saw The Force Awakens *cough, three times, cough* I was sure I wanted to be Rey. Here was this absolutely incredible character, she was strong, she kicked ass and this was something I could make. So for the past few months Ali and I looked up parts for costumes, Ali’s took a lot more work than mine and is so realistic I can’t begin to describe just how awesome it looks. I was still stitching mine this morning (while Ali had fixed up my awesome hair do) and had to do a few adjustments at Con as well…hey, I’m still learning.

One of the things I love most about Con is how creative people are. You just look at some people and are in awe of their talent and creativity, I hope that one day I can do something so that someone might think that of me. Ali and I did get quite a few comments and smiles through the day. The best part for me though was when I saw kids who thought we were Rey and another Jedi. The kids in my building were left open-mouthed, whispering as we went past ‘They’re Jedi!’, it was so much fun just to see their faces. We were walking around with Ben and Abbie, just looking around, laughing, oh and buying…

 

Aside from the amazing stacks of Funko Pops around (yes, I have to be very careful with my spending and have saved up for Con for MONTHS before) there is also Artist’s Alley, a hub of incredible talent. I picked up so many different prints and pieces of artwork. It’s hard to explain how amazing it is to see and talk to these artists about their work and get customs done, things like that. You really never know what you’re going to find, it’s something Abbie and I get really excited about it.

It was nice to have Comic Con to look forward to after all the stresses of assignments last month, I just got to hang out with my friends, wear a costume I was comfortable in and just be the huge geek I am inside. Am I already planning October? You bet I am.

London with Joebi-Wan

53623732-D4CC-437C-A5E8-193B0331DCF2

On Friday the legend that is Joe and I headed into London for our art gallery date that we’ve been arranging for aaaaaages. I’ve gotten really into my art lately from reading lots of comic books (Joe’s fault) and my visit to the Van Gogh Museum when I went to Amsterdam earlier in the year. So after our disappointment that the Star Wars shop wasn’t open yet we got our train into central and obviously stopped off at McDonalds before starting our classy day.

We tried to follow our phones to get to the Tate and eventually found it where our attitudes ranged from discussing the art in an artistic way and comparing pieces of art to moldy potatoes, blobs and just generally saying how weird they are. We didn’t go into any exhibitions or anything like that because when you don’t know how good it’s going to be £16 is a pretty big chunk of money, for a student anyway. We wondered around and saw some amazing artwork Warhol and Lichtenstein were my personal favourites. After we headed over to Forbidden Planet for comic books as well as the Disney Store in Covent Garden to get some Star Wars goodies.

I love spending time with Joe because we laugh, we take the piss out of anything and everything and it’s just such a chilled out atmosphere between us. Thanks for the great time bro (y).

World Mental Health Day – 10th October 2015

IMG_3640

I didn’t intend to write a post on mental health today, until I realised that World Mental Health Day had snuck up on me and I didn’t have anything planned. I think a lot about how much about mental health I should put onto my blog, am I putting too little in, am I putting too much in, will people just see me as an illness? It’s a big concern I have being so open about my issues and my life.

I’ve lived with issues since I was 11, I’d be extremely unhappy at school due to bullying. I’d say that the really awful depression started at around 15, so 6 years ago now. I’m in a much better place but I’m not ‘cured’ and I’ll probably live with this for the rest of my life, it’s just one part of me. It’s like my asthma or the weak knees I inherited, it’s just something that’s there which can make my life more difficult.

I’m fully aware that not everyone gets the help I now get and isn’t as open, and that’s fine! This is one of the most person illnesses you can have, if you don’t want to talk about it so be it! For a long time after my diagnoses although I felt some relief I couldn’t say it out loud I couldn’t say ‘I have depression’ because I was scared about what people would say, even now I have that and it’s sad. We need more education because at least one quarter of the population lives with a mental illness, so why is it still taboo?

_86053924_86053923

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today, photo from the BBC

Love them (like me) or hate them, the royal family getting involved in mental health work and the fight against stigma can only be a good thing. I understand William’s public self helping with the cause due to his late mother, Princess Diana, who openly admit to struggling with Depression, Self-harm and Bulimia before she died. Catherine also has been strongly involved, particularly when it comes to young people, whether this is for personal reasons or not I cannot fault her. The fact that these young royals are being open and engaging will hopefully send a message to people or hope.

There’s also celebrities opening up more and more, I personally find inspiration in JK Rowling and Stephen Fry. When you see people in the public eye talking or just admitting that they also have a mental illness it makes you feel more normal, like you can achieve like they have and that you have someone to admire. I think it also makes them more human.

I thought a lot before writing this and I didn’t want it to be specifically about me, I just didn’t feel like exposing my emotions right now, partly because I’m in a bit of a werid headspace where my brain can’t work out of I’m on a high or a low…it’s really hard to explain. I did want to mention how interested people were at the open day today about the topic of mental health in my dissertation and going on in my PhD later hopefully. I wanted to mention how I came home and drew something to mark the day and try and get out how I was feeling whilst watching Stephen Fry’s ‘The Life of a Manic Depressive’ because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. Like most people in his documentary said, my illness can make my life utter hell but at the same time I don’t know if I’d get rid of it.

12120111_10154297741403206_1245612387597902818_o

My art piece ‘ out of my mind’ 

Amsterdam 2015 – Laughs, Beauty and Best Friends

Hello to all my lovely followers! I’m back from Amsterdam and I’ve finally gotten enough sleep to write coherent sentences! After spending the past few days in Amsterdam I can say that not only have I had a nice break but I’ve made some incredible memories with two of my best friends Daniela and Amy. This post will have a lot of pictures and a LOT of laughs because everything just seemed to happen to us!

After setting off on Sunday night we were all excited and got our back seat on the coach, driving through the night everything seemed to be going smoothly that was until we got onto the ferry. For well after midnight it was packed with people and the only space we could find was next to a man with quite an odd smell, combine that with a very rocky ship I wasn’t feeling all too well but before too long we could get back on to the coach where I thought I’d get a few hours sleep….not so much. I finally got to a point where I was starting to doze off when I could hear shouting through my headphones and someone threatening to ‘punch someone in the nose’. While most people were a bit nervous about this I was more irritated than anything, I mean come on it was nearly 5am in France, calm yourselves! A lovely man with some seriously impressive ink managed to try and calm things down and alert the driver, who had to pull up in the middle of nowhere to call the doctor and the police. We were stuck like that for an hour and a half while two people were taken off of the coach and sorted out, delaying our arrival.

Eventually we arrived to a drizzly Amsterdam and got the tram into the city centre where we saw our first sights of the city, although I have to admit after not having slept I didn’t take much in apart from the fact someone on the coach had smeared my new bag with chewing gum. Nice. We asked for directions to our hotel and were told it was simple to find but apparently not. We must have looked a sight the three off us half awake wandering around the streets of Amsterdam with our luggage looking incresingly confused. We found it eventually but had another 2 hours until we could get into our room so we did what any other group of girls in their twenties would do…we went into the Sex Museum. Well it was certainly interesting and some of the pictures on the walls were more than a little terrifying…my innocence has forever been destroyed. 11930889_10154225071528206_8684867348378646063_o

One of our first sights of Amsterdam, although taken when it wasn’t raining! 

We wandered around taking in the city and trying to get an idea of where everything is before finally being able to take a nap (after the girls had decorated the room in balloons and banners for my birthday because they’re adorable) in the room before hitting the town in the evening. The thing you have to know about Amsterdam is there are very different parts and two main tourist areas…we unknowingly booked our hotel on the partying and red light district side rather than the cute Vondelpark side, oops. I’ve never seen anything like the red light district and if I’m honest I felt more than a little bit uncomfortable. The men didn’t only look at the women in the windows but girls like us too who were simply in jeans and jumpers. That said there was a little shock to my system as apparently geek glasses are now sexy with most of the women in shop windows wearing glasses that looked a lot like my glasses I wear to help me see, I hoped no one would get any ideas!  11930969_10154221642183206_4169589696280979323_o

It may have been a cloudy day but you couldn’t help but see Amsterdam’s beauty 

We had a pretty early night with plans for a fully packed day the next morning. We had to be up and out of the room by 8am if we wanted a chance at getting in the Anne Frank house without queueing for two hours. I’ve wanted to visit the house since I was really young and so I was more than a little bit excited to visit and standing in the slightly chilly morning air and desperately trying to connect to wifi in the queue was a small price to pay.

We got in after waiting for around an hour and a half and I’ve seen nothing like it. I’d imagined Anne and the world she paints with her diary countless times but nothing could have prepared me for it, the rooms were so small. Everyone was silent as they walked through and just tried to take it in. There were so many moments when I just felt my heart fall, seeing Anne’s pictures on the wall, the bookcase that concealed them and most of all her diary. Seeing the diary made me want to just sit and look at it for hours. I think the most heartbreaking part was watching the videos of Otto that played every now and again. His pain at what he had lost just went straight to my heart.  I couldn’t walk past the central station after that without remembering how he waited there for his daughters who never came home.

12002549_10154222170773206_8529120540902150899_o

After we purchased our tickets for the Van Gogh museum the next day before I headed back to the hotel to rest for a little bit because my back wasn’t feeling especially great. The girls knew that I was struggling a little bit and while I took a nap they walked around and bought me back a bar of chocolate. Later in the evening, Amy had a headache so Dani and I went out so she could have a sleep and we’d text her a bit later on to meet up. Well we did text her but all didn’t go as much to plan as we’d thought. Our safe in the room had gone weird and so Dani and I rushed back to the room where the staff were absolutely useless, luckily our passports weren’t left in there! Eventually we all did go out for a wander around and to buy some souvenirs.

The final day was definitely the best. The sun finally came out and the girls had booked me a surprise for my birthday we were going on a cruise of the city! Although what we didn’t know until just before is that the cruise we had been sold was a lovers cruise! So we had a bit of a lie in before walking down to get our boat. The only seats were near an old german couple, the man was hilarious talking to us about anything to do with London, telling us they lived in a town of lesbians which was good but crazy and then drawing little cartoons of us to keep…oh and telling me I had beautiful teeth, like a rabbit. We couldn’t stop laughing and it wasn’t until we got off the boat that we realised that he thought we were lesbians on the lovers cruise!

The rest of the day was spent going to the Van Gogh museum which was a dream as he is one of my all time favourite artists. I felt so emotional seeing his paintings, reading his letters and reading about his battles with mental health. He was a truly incredible man. I went a little nuts in the gift shop and was mesmerised by all the artwork on display. After we wandered to Vondel Park and was almost killed by cyclists and relaxed in the sunshine before heading to the incredible Hard Rock cafe for happy hour and dinner and we were even given a free drink for my birthday!

Even the trip back was great despite being on a coach for 12 hours, we made some wonderful friends on the way back who I hope to stay in touch with. Amsterdam was incredible and I have two amazing friends who I got to share it with who spoilt me rotten. It’s something I’m going to remember forever and I think Amsterdam is always going to have a special place in my heart.

  11952686_10154226505578206_2772591450394972199_o  11947815_10154224489798206_3774431543963171745_o  12004889_10154225064588206_597704269144386191_n  12010718_10154224225578206_9107895598469638940_o

For all of my travel pics make sure to follow me on Instagram!

Book Review: It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

ikoafs

“Sometimes I just think depression’s one way of coping with the world. Like, some people get drunk, some people do drugs, some people get depressed. Because there’s so much stuff out there that you have to do something to deal with it.”

Craig has a good life, he goes to a top school in New York, has a loving family and a good group of friends. Craig is also depressed. After deciding he doesn’t want or need to take his medication any more, a few nights later he decides that he’s going to kill himself. But something stops him that night and he finds himself checking into a psychiatric ward and into a completely new world. To get better a lot has to change and Craig has to get to know himself.

There are books in life that somehow just explain your life. They make you feel like you’re not alone and you’re not as crazy as you thought you were. For me, It’s Kind of a funny story was like that. I’ve only ever read one other book that understood how I felt was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. You see, Vizzini’s main character Craig is a perfectionist, he wants success and if one thing goes wrong he spirals he starts to ‘cycle’ which, if you’ve never experienced it is a bad thing. Thoughts keep coming and coming until you can’t think straight,sometimes you feel like you can’t breathe. His high ambition and determination takes over his life to the point that the majority of his cycles are about the work he’s going (or lack of it).

A few people have criticised some of the actions of the teenagers on the ward and I’ll admit that, at first, I was sceptical and thought could things like this really happen? Then I remembered I was reading about teenagers, and I think that’s something you have to keep in mind while reading this novel. Craig isn’t an adult and while some of the things he struggles with might be hard to understand as an adult I can fully remember these feelings and emotions as a teenager myself.

I can fully praise this novel for its portrayal of what it’s like to have a mental illness as a teenager and also for reiterating that you should never just stop taking your medication. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to read something and just feel every bit of what the character is going through; the anxiety, the need to achieve, thinking that you can handle everything when in fact you’re only slightly getting better and last but not least finding a creative way to release all the frustrations. The reason that Vizzini can write this so well is because he himself has lived it. Like Plath’s novel, Vizzini’s is semi autobiographical; he was in a mental health unit as a teenager. On a personal level, I don’t think that experience ever truly leaves you. I’m inspired by him and incredibly saddened to learn that he took his own life a few years ago.

I want to give this novel five stars *****. This really is something else, not only is there a positive portrayal of young people with mental health conditions but also of teenagers in general. Craig does nothing wrong except try, and I think that’s more common than a lot of people realise. People with mental health problems can have a perfectionist side, which without help can take over, I certainly know mine does. I want everyone to read this because it is amazing, educational and I found that it really gave me some hope and someone to connect with. Go and pick a copy up now!

Review by Chloe Metzger