Friday, 23 October 2015

My top 10 favourite games.

Hello people, sorry for missing the blog last week, but I'm here now and hopefully will be back to doing the weekly blogs.

So, today I present you:

My top 10 favourite games.


Yes, yes, I know a "Top 10 list"  but, I'm here to write about things that young people can relate to, and what does a young person love most? Video games! So, here is my list of my favourite games. I would highly recommend any of the games on this list, if you haven't played them already, so here we go!

10) So, to start off this list, we have World of Warcraft. WoW was the first game I played. I've played it all my life, and have 2000+ hours on my main character. The reason it's only at number 10, is because of the decline in the TLC and quality of the game in recent years. But nevertheless WoW remains very close to my heart and I am certainly looking forward to the release of the new expansion Legion, and will definitely be playing it!

9) Next up we have Minecraft. I am a huge fan of Minecraft, I love surviving, and building, and exploring, not to mention that it's a hugely popular game. It's a great time-killer and an amazing game to play with friends. Also, if you haven't already, you should absolutely play with mods. Modding Minecraft is a great way to extend the play time and fun factor of Minecraft. Not only do they add crazy stuff, they also add practical things and things that help make the whole experience better.  

8) At number 8, we have Shadow of Mordor. I love the LoTR's universe. The combat is definitely the best part, it flows, it really feels like you're hitting something. The story is...ok. The nemesis system is just so great! It has an unlimited amount of play time. And it's just a great game all around. The reason this game is only at number 8 is because I haven't finished it yet, so I can't truly say 100% how the game is, but what I have seen, I love! 

7) For number 7 there's, Dragon Age 2. I am a huge fan of the Dragon Age series, but we'll get to that later. Dragon Age 2, is not the best game in the series, but still, I found it very enjoyable. Maybe that's just because I loved Dragon Age Origins. One of the things that people find the least enjoyable about Dragon Age 2, is the way the game play works, and I can see where these people are coming from. It's somewhere between a tactical combat system, and an action RPG.

6) Number 6, Watch_Dogs. Now, Watch_Dogs had a very rocky launch, and many issues. Also it was a very divided game - some people loved it, some hated it. Personally, I'm a huge fan. I loved the concept of hacking the city and using it to your advantage, although I would have liked to have seen it executed slightly better. It's also not winning any awards for it's story, it's not awful but, it's not the best, by far. The game play is good, but not quite there, the controls are a little clunky, especially when it comes to driving, it can feel quite unresponsive. But, perhaps the reason I love this game so much is because I am a huge fan of computers, and technology in general, especially when it comes to the computer science of it and the programming side of it.

5) Next, Dragon age Inquisition. The combat style is a lot like Dragon Age 2, but it's done slightly better. The story is amazing and the choices are amazing, and really do matter. The classes are dynamic and well executed. I love the dynamic choices you can make, and how there are seriously serious repercussions. Not to mention the gorgeous graphics, and the amazing details. The quests are fun and entertaining, and don't forget Skyreach, your amazing castle! There are so many ways to customise it, and managing your troops and resources. All-in-all it's an amazing game! 

4) Number 4, Sleeping Dogs. Sleeping Dogs, is an absolutely amazing game! The story is great and extremely touching at some points. The combat is fantastic and fluid. Enough said. 

3) Mirrors Edge. Some people absolutely HATE Mirrors Edge, but I LOVE it. I love it's parkour elements, and the graphics are beautiful. The story is lacking, but people don't play it for the story.

2) Skyrim, I love Skyrim! I have 2000+ hours of game play. I absolutely love this game. The story is amazing, the quests are entertaining, the side quests are totally worth it, and there are so much customisation options. The are no set classes, and you can play it as you wish! 

1) Dragon Age Origin. This game is amazing. The story is so immersing, all the classes are fun to play, and there are so many ways you can impact the world around you. Your companions are interesting and have important stuff to say. This is just a great game. And definitely worth a play.

0) Yes, I know, I'm cheating, but I couldn't think of enough games for a top 15 list, and a top 11 list would sound silly, so here we are at number 0!
Spec Ops: The line. This game is my favourite game of all time. The story is so touching, the combat is fun, it has just the right level of difficulty, and did I mention the story? The story is sublime 10/10, and it really delivers. It hits you directly in the feels, and really makes you question everything you do. How far will you go? Are you really still the hero? And the ending is... just great. You should definitely play this game! I HIGHLY recommend it.

Thanks for reading guys, stay tuned for next week's blog!

Aspect of Winter by Tom Early

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AboutTheBook

22930117
Title: Aspect of Winter

Author: Tom Early

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson

Length: 260 pages

Release Date: October 15, 2015



Blurb: It’s hard enough being gay in high school, but Fay must also deal with hiding his magical ability—powers he barely understands and cannot possibly reveal. His best friend Sam is his only confidante, and even with her help, Fay’s life is barely tolerable.

Everything changes when Janus University, a college for individuals with magical capabilities, discovers the pair. When the university sends a student to test them, Fay and Sam, along with their classmate Tyler, are catapulted headfirst into a world of unimaginable danger and magic. Fay and Tyler begin to see each other as more than friends while they prepare for the Trials, the university’s deadly acceptance process. For the first time, the three friends experience firsthand how wonderful and terrible a world with magic can be, especially when the source of Fay’s power turns out to be far deadlier than anyone imagined.


  Excerpt   


AS IT turned out, being wedged into the small space below the math wing staircase was exactly as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. Now, I was in there of my own choice, sort of. I held still and listened, letting out a sigh of relief when I heard the boys’ voices fading. I decided it was safe and did my best to wriggle out.

Groaning, I brushed myself off and realized that I’d somehow managed to cover the majority of my backpack in a thick layer of dust. Rumor had it that years ago the staircase used to be green. Now it was gray. I looked at my backpack in disgust and let out a breath, concentrating. The dust glittered as a layer of frost covered it. When I hoisted my bag onto my back once more, the dust slid right off, the frost preventing it from clinging.

Clean backpack in hand, I trudged up the stairs, across the hall, and walked into the classroom. I took my customary seat in the back next to the poster detailing the derivative rules of calculus, feeling a flash of pity for Ms. King as I watched her try to get anyone to listen, and grabbed my book of the day as the front row began its usual antics. Today they asked Ms. King about her love life, which, while incredibly rude, was extremely successful in throwing her off-balance.

I would never understand high school, even after nearly four years of it. It seemed barely tolerable for everyone involved, including the people who fit in. I didn’t fit in, and so every day was a new chapter in the purgatory of hiding what I could do.

I sent a grateful prayer to the high school gods as class was interrupted by an announcement saying we needed to go to the nurse’s office for a new immunization or something. Ms. King pulled us out of the truly thrilling world of integrals and sent us down one at a time. I was one of the last to go.

Stepping back into the hallway, I prayed that I wasn’t going to run into any of Logan’s crowd again on my way down. The number of times I’d heard “fag” muttered under someone’s breath was already too high.

The school had two hallways running between the faculty area and the math wing, and most people took the lower one. I chose the glass hallway because it was usually empty (this surprised me as well, but apparently using stairs was just too much for many of my classmates), and it was pretty cool to be able to see the entire campus from what was effectively its highest point. I trailed a finger across the glass as I walked, leaving behind a fractal line of frost in the warm September air.

I smirked. For as long as I’d been at Owl’s Head High School, there had been, in the eloquent phrasing of high schoolers, “spooky shit” in the fall and spring where kids would come across ice or cold areas in warm weather. I knew I needed to keep my head down, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.


  BuyLinks


AboutTheAuthor 

Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day. 

When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.




Nephy’s World Interview

Let’s start by telling us, in twenty words, or less, what you’re book’s about.
Aspect of Winter is about a boy with magic named Fay who’s ready to stop pretending to be normal.
What was it that led you to write in the genre(s) you write?
I’ve always loved fantasy, especially contemporary fantasy. It’s a lot of fun to figure out how magic would work in a world that’s like our own instead of someplace else entirely.
Are your books character led or plot led, or both?
I tend to start with a vague idea of a plot, a beginning and an end. But beyond that I don’t know what’s going to happen with the story until the characters show me. I put them in the world, and they show me how they go about doing things.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Definitely the writing part, not the editing part. Creating is fun – finding the flaws in what you’ve created is less so, though probably more valuable. I’m especially fond of writing fight scenes and humorous dialogue.
What is your least favourite part of the writing process?
Editing, mostly. I have difficulty finding the errors in my own writing even when I know they’re there. That makes editing an agonizingly slow process with many drafts.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?
Depends on the story. For Aspect of Winter I got inspiration from my close friends from high school and my own imagination. Most of my characters are like more extreme versions of people I already knew. But beyond that it’s just a matter of writing and seeing what comes out.
Tell us a little about the characters in your book and their story. You can use more than twenty words this time.
The story is told from the perspective of Fay, who’s a gay teen who’s been hiding his powers for years. He wants nothing more than to finally feel like he belongs somewhere, and when a representative of Janus University comes to his school, he takes the opportunity.
Sam is Fay’s pansexual best friend, and she’s the one who’s ready and willing to take charge of any situation placed in front of her. She’s fierce and headstrong, and incredibly loyal. When it turns out that Fay isn’t the only one who can go to Janus University, she leaps at the chance.
Tyler, on the other hand, is a completely normal guy at Fay’s high school. He wouldn’t be involved in any of this if one of Fay and Sam’s attempts at magic hadn’t gone horribly awry. But Tyler has had a crush on Fay for months, and he’s willing to deal with the weird if it means spending time with Fay.
If you could have one wish what would it be?
Beyond wishing the world was a little bit nicer of a place to live in and all that, probably to be able to speak and read every language fluently. There’s a lot this world has to offer, and English really isn’t enough.
What's your deepest fear?
Being forgotten. I’m an introvert who spends more time with books than with people. It wouldn’t be a stretch, but I have my family and my friends.
If I came to dinner what would you feed me?
I’m not much of a cook, so either something simple like mac and cheese or we’re going to stare awkwardly at each other until one of us suggest going out for dinner.
Which of your characters would you like to be sharing the dinner table with us?
Tyler’s too polite to turn down an invitation. Sam would accept the invitation just to bother me, and Fay would probably prefer to stay as far away from me as possible. Probably Sam.
Tell us in the character’s own words, what he/she would have to say about you.
I love my characters, but I’m fond of the whole “kill your darlings” concept. Characters need to grow, and putting challenges in front of them is the best way to do that. So Sam would probably try to punch me.
What would they say (again in their own words) about themselves, and their story that will make us want to read about it?
“Look. If you wanna read about me, I can’t stop you. But Fay’s the one with the angsty stuff. I’m here because I know it’s what I want to do, and what I can do. Finding out about magic in the world was cool enough when Fay showed me what he could do. Finding out that I could do it too? Even cooler. Janus University might be a place full of psychos, but it’s the only place I can go to learn more about all of this.”
Which other fictional character(s) would you like to be present at the dinner party?
From my story? I’d probably also bring Fay just so I could hear him and Sam banter like they always do. Otherwise, I’d want to invite Kvothe, from Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind. I’m sure having more than one strong-willed, sarcastic magic-user at the table couldn’t possibly end badly.
What other authors would you say have either influenced your writing or you would like to emulate?
I’ve read a lot of stories over the course of my life, and when I write I tend to draw a little from all of them. Since I’m writing contemporary fantasy, I sometimes try to match the tone of authors like Kevine Hearne, who also write contemporary fantasy. For first person I often look to Patrick Rothfuss, since his books are amazing. But for the most part I’d just like to figure out what kind of writer I am, not how to be like someone else.
Which character from literature, would you most like to have invented?
There are a lot of cool characters out there, but I wouldn’t want to have created any character other than my own. It’d be really cool to claim credit for one of the characters that everyone knows, but I’d rather work up to being able to make a character like that myself.
What do you prefer writing. A one off novel, a series or short stories?
I haven’t been writing long enough to know for sure, but probably one off novels. Series are lots of fun, but I sometimes lose interest in an idea before the series is done.
What kind of books do you read (if you have time to read)?
Lots and lots of fantasy.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in 5 years time?
Probably still writing. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
Do you have any other projects in the offing we should look out for?
Nothing ready to talk about yet. But Aspect of Winter isn’t the only project I’ve spent a lot of time on, just the first to be finished. More books will be coming soon.
Where can we find you?

Probably hiding in a library somewhere.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

How to Save a Life

It occurred to me that, as a fifty year old, there is only so far I can go in writing a blog aimed at much younger people. Therefore, I have asked my son, Efan, who is a teenager himself, to write some posts about things that are important to him. I hope you will give him support.

Hello, my name is Efan Headford, and I will be writing posts for this blog weekly from now on. Suicide and depression is a very close subject to me, and I care allot about it. That is why I've written this post on:

How to save a life.

We all go through difficult times in our lives, but sometimes these feelings of sadness and hopelessness persist and become unbearable. I believe that everyone, young or old, should be armed with the knowledge of how to save a life.

Step 1: Recognise the warning sings


Depression is one of the most common forms of mental health, largely considered the common cold of mental health. But it is one of the highest causes of suicide. 

The most obvious signs are depressed moods. Withdrawing from friends and family, becoming less social, more quiet and giving up on interests they once had. Like if someone really enjoys football, they come to practice every time and have a huge passion for the sport, but then one day, they stop. They stop coming and that once great passion just fades. 

Another warning is when they begin to withdraw from plans they made with you or anyone else. Suddenly calling up at the last minute saying they won't be able to make it.

Another sign to look for if you're a parent, is if they begin to sleep too much or too little. This is one of the biggest signs of depression.
Also, a lack of energy and drive is another clear sign. Irritability as well as a sudden gain or loss in weight and or appetite is another very visible and important sign.

Step 1.5: Self harm


I could have easily interpreted this subject into the above step, but I believe that this is such an important problem that it deserves an entire step of it's own. 

Self harm is the act of intentionally harming oneself. e.g cutting, burning, scratching, ripping out hair, punching, ramming against solid objects.

Any unexplained cuts. scratches or bruises are a clear sign of self harm. Even the smallest scratches, bruises or cuts are a serious issue. 

Remember, ALL SELF HARM IS SERIOUS!!!!! Even if it's as small as a little scratch. It can easily progress into something much more serious. If you notice ANY unexplained injuries, take it seriously.

Now, this is not to say that everyone who self harms are suicidal, or (Even though uncommon) depressed at all. Sometimes it's just a form of taking control back over your life. But still, it must be taken seriously. 

The reason this step is not Step 2, is because, as stated above, not all self harm is related to suicide. But still, and I cannot stress this enough. it MUST be taken seriously, every time.

Step 2: Recognise the signs of suicidal thoughts.


Suicide as a very serious issue. It is NOT to be taken lightly. It IS serious, but how do you recognise it before it's to late?

Look out for behaviour such as:
Always talking about death
Depression
Taking potentially life threatening risks (e.g carelessly walking out to the middle of the road, not bothering to check before crossing)
Making comments of being hopeless or helpless
Putting affairs in order, tying up lose ends etc.
Saying things like, "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
Giving away personal or beloved possessions.
And one of the biggest signs: Talking about killing ones self.

Step 3: What to do?


If you notice ANY of the behaviours or warning signs listed above, take action immediately! Sit them down, talk to them, tell them how much you love them, tell them how much they're worth, help them open up to what they're feeling.

If they're reluctant, give them time, but keep a very close eye on them and make sure they don't act on any of the feelings they have.
And as soon as possible, take them to see their doctor, they may be refereed to a psychiatrist, counsellor or therapist. Make sure to lay everything out for the doctor, tell them everything.

Step 4: Now what?


Make sure you hide any/all knives, medications or anything that could potentially be used for them to kill themselves. Keep an eye on them, tell them everyday how much you love them and that they are valued. Find creative outlets for their feelings, art, music etc.
Make sure they're safe.

What if I'm suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts?


Seek help, confide in a trusted adult, a parent, a teacher, a friends parent. Confide in a friend, talk to them about how you feel. Seek help from your doctor, a school nurse, a school therapist etc.
But, above all, remember:

You ARE valued. You ARE loved. Always see the light, NEVER lose hope. It WILL get better. Just hold on. Don't keep it all in. Seek help. You ARE worth it.

Remember that. Suicide is never the answer, no matter how hopeless it seems. Always keep holding on.

Resources: 

UK
http://www.horsesmouth.co.uk/ To become or request a mentor. You need to look down the page a bit to find the place to request a mentor.


International






Suicide hotline 1 – 800 – 273 – 8255

LGBT

Transgender
Useful information for transgender children and their adults http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx
http://transstudent.org/

Australia
New Zealand

Muslim Youth

Christian

Roman Catholic

Jewish

Pagan