My Favourite Games: The Sims 4

Posted October 26, 2019 by Fictional Fox in Gaming / 0 Comments

My favourite game right now is The Sims 4. I have enjoyed Sims games for years, but I usually get obsessed for a few days and then don’t play it for months. Recently I’ve been playing it every other day. Suffice to say that I have fallen hard down the rabbit hole this time.

One of the main fuels to my obsession is The Sims 4 YouTube community. The first Sims YouTuber I watched was Plumbella. Her videos are brilliant. She does a mixture builds, playthroughs and ‘history of’ videos (amongst others). I really recommend checking her channel out. She’s very entertaining and you feel like you’re watching a friend. Plus, she loves Harry Potter – I can relate.

My second Sims YouTuber find was lilsimsie, who also does a variety of videos. She is a brilliant builder and has a Sims save file where she has renovated every world in The Sims 4. It’s amazing.

I use the lilsimsie save for my games now. I’m also a bit of a custom content addict now, my favourite cc is the Pufferhead pack which features Harry Potter inspired content. It has a seriously excellent variety and stuff and Create-a-Sim content. It’s EXCELLENT and I use stuff from it everywhere in my builds now. Especially the ‘clutter’ like the snow globes and postcards that help make homes feel more lived in.


My Current Attempt at Building a Harry Potter Themed Home

I’m trying to build a Harry Potter inspired haven for one of Sims families at the moment. This is their Hufflepuff inspired dorm room:

I am in love with this room because it feels so cosy. It also has balcony attached which is full of plants-perfect for a Hufflepuff to escape to nature.

For the living room I went with a Gryffindor common room vibe:

At the moment I am also working on a Slytherin dorm room and a Ravenclaw themed tower room for hobbies. Developing their home is super fun.


The Family

The family living in my HP wonderland is two siblings. Both of them are witches who have moved in together to concentrate on controlling their powers while also taking up creative pursuits.

Alice

First we have Alice who is a writer by trade. She writes children’s books. Alice is kind of a mix between a grownup Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Her traits are: art lover, cheerful and creative. She’s also gregarious.

Alistair

Alistair, meanwhile, is an artist by trade but he would like to become an actor. His traits are loner, neat and creative. He is also a muser. He is happiest when he’s left alone to be creative but he does enjoy his sister’s company.

Luckily, they live in quite a large house so it’s not too difficult for Alice to give him some space when he needs it.

They are a very positive and cheerful family unit. Both of them enjoy creative outlets and hobbies so between them they are constantly generating bits of art. I can’t wait to keep playing with them and develop their story.

I’m hoping to give them a dog soon which should make things even funner around the house.


Do you play The Sims 4? Let me know in the comments.

Lauren x


Thoughts on Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Posted October 25, 2019 by Fictional Fox in Book Review / 0 Comments

Thoughts on Swordspoint by Ellen KushnerSwordspoint (Riverside, #1) by Ellen Kushner
Published by Spectra on December 18, 2007
Pages: 363
Goodreads
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless- until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead a of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye . . .

In the highly stratified world of Kushner's nameless old city, the aristocrats living in fine mansions on the Hill settle their differences by sending to the thieves' den of Riverside for swordsmen who will fight to the death for a point of someone else's honor.

Young Lord Michael Godwin is so taken by these romantic figures that he studies the art himself until challenged by the best of them.

Master of the Sword, Richard St. Vier is picky in his contracts and precise in his killing but he nevertheless becomes embroiled in the nobility's political, social and sexual intrigues. When his lover Alec is kidnapped by Lord Horn, St. Vier must take drastic action.

When a book is amazing I find reviewing incredibly hard. I don’t ever feel satisfied with what I’ve written because I can’t come near to doing the book justice. Part of me just wants to just to say: ‘Trust me, read it.”

So I’m not going to call this a review, strictly speaking. I’ll never post it otherwise. Let’s call this some ‘thoughts on’ Swordspoint and the story it tells about Alec (a former student) and Richard (a reputable swordsman) who live together and get into trouble on the rough side of the city, known as Riverside.


This is one of those fabulous stories that makes you want to flip right back to the first page as soon as you finish it. The world and characters are sumptuous. Like Alec at the end of the novel turning up at Richard’s door with fish in hand as if nothing has changed, the lure of Riverside is hard to resist as a reader.

For me Swordspoint is the perfect book to pick up for a slice of escapism. I’ve read it a few times and it never fails to be engrossing. I don’t like to read it quickly, though. I like to savour it. Soaking up the character building is the best part of this reading experience.

The domestic moments that depart from the main plot are my favourites. Example: Alec and Richard’s cat. It all starts when Alec talks to Richard about being annoyed by some cats yowling on the roof.

Alec says:

“I think we should get a cat of our own. We could train it to fight. It could chase them away.”

His idea for how to source a cat is to:

“Save it’s life- pull a thorn out of its paw or something- and it would be forever grateful.”

A few chapters later there is suddenly ‘a small grey kitten’ in their room:

“The neighbourhood cat lady had foistered [it] on them in return for a gift of wood (‘Removing the poor thing from evil influences,’ Alec had said, accepting)”

And so the cat remains with them for the rest of the novel. The cat is referenced in scenes here and there, being petted while Alec reads or following the point of Richard’s sword while he practices.

The cat offers a string of subplot that helps feed into our growing picture of Alec as a person. Alec presents himself as a dropout student, slumming it in Riverside and constantly asking for trouble, but getting away with it thanks to Richard. Through Alec’s actions he is shown to be playing a complex game of his own making.

On the other side of the city we are shown evidence of the scope of Duchess Tremontaine’s influence and power. Michael Godwin and Lord Ferris are case studies of this as we see their futures shaped by her hand. Alec plays these same games, just on a smaller stage. His pawns being the cats and people of Riverside. One of his favourite and most exciting chess pieces is Richard, the swordsman.

The relationship between Alec and Richard is very interesting. Richard knows that Alec hides a lot from him but he doesn’t generally care to delve too deep without invitation, though he often gives Alec gifts befitting the station Richard suspects he comes from. Richard also knows that part of the appeal of the relationship to Alec is that it holds an element of danger. There’s an underlying game between them where Alec puts his life on the line and Richard has to fight to keep it safe.

I don’t think I can do Alec and Richard’s relationship justice in this post. It needs a space of its own to be discussed properly. The same goes for Richard himself. St Vier is a celebrity in his own right. We hear of his reputation and the way others perceive him. We also get to dive in close and follow him ourselves, giving us a glimpse of both his interior and exterior life. He is a brilliant swordsman with a strict code of honour. He is not the only one available on the swordsman market but he comes across a rare and peculiarly strict beast even in that arena.

St Vier’s high standards of honour are contrasted with that of the nobles. ‘My honour isn’t worth your attention’ he thinks at one point when he finds himself being judged by them.

The perceived split between the world of Riverside and the world of the nobles is often showed up best in the characters that walk in between them, like Richard and Alec. In these characters we are given grounds to argue that the two worlds aren’t always quite as different or separate as they would like to believe. There are kingmakers like Alec and the Duchess and players like St Vier and Lord Ferris in both. When one group harms the other the governing system struggles to reconcile the two worlds as existing under the same umbrella with, at the very base of it all, the same underlying codes of justice and revenge. I love the complex politics at play in this novel.

There are so many interesting discussion to have about Swordspoint. I could go on about it in depth in several posts (and I just might). Today I wanted to take a moment to demonstrate how interesting and brilliant it is, and I hope anyone who finds the ideas discussed here even mildly interesting will consider giving Swordspoint a go.


Lauren x

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Occult Edition, Chapter Two

Posted October 24, 2019 by Fictional Fox in Bookish Adventures / 0 Comments

If you haven’t read my previous post on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic then check out this link for some background on my history with Sabrina and my thoughts on chapter one of the series.

Today I’m reflecting on chapter two of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book series. This chapter puts Madame Satan centre stage. I thought chapter one was dark, but the dark twists and scenes are ramped up even more in chapter two. Which makes sense now that we’re focusing on someone who is going to bring trouble into Sabrina’s life.

Still, the premise of someone’s face being torn off and worn as a mask is a little bit out of my comfort zone. I’m going to put my hands up here and say I haven’t got a lot of experience with horror media. I am a wimp. Nevertheless I’m sticking with this story. Sabrina was one of the idols of my childhood so I’m embracing the horror turn that the team behind this series are going for.

In this chapter Madame Satan demonstrates just how much of a demonic presence she is. She kills, maims and torments people on her way to Sabrina. Before she gets decides to find her though, she takes a detour to Sabrina’s parents and punishes them individually. The punishment of the Edward and Diana also involved flashbacks to the past which helped build up Sabrina’s origins further from the first chapter.

By the end of chapter two I feel that enough foundations are in place for the true wickedness to start in the next chapter. Especially as it ends with Sabrina and Madame Satan in the same space.

It’s not all about Madam Satan in chapter two. We still get peaks into what’s going on with Sabrina along the way. The Sabrina sections helped to temper the darkness of Madame Satan’s adventures because they are fairly light-hearted in comparison.

We see Sabrina trying to audition for a part in a school production, with a bit of help from a celebrity who also happens to be a witch. This is the sort of plot line that harks back to traditional Sabrina. We’ve got Harvey in the background, mean girls trying to bring Sabrina down and Salem back home making snarky comments.

I’m glad to see that the story is continuing to keep some upbeats in it. It will be interesting to see how the dark and light sides of the story are worked together going forward.


Lauren x


My Plan For Recovering From A Bad Day

Posted October 23, 2019 by Fictional Fox in Personal / 1 Comment

Today is Wednesday. Apparently Wednesday is cursed because the last two have been super rough. Today involved crying in a changing room at work. Crying in front of people is not fun.

Luckily I’m off work tomorrow so I have some time to concentrate on myself and recover before I go back to work on Friday 😂.

These are my plans for winding down tomorrow:

Spend time with my puppy

My dog is my happy place. I’m going to take her for a nice long walk tomorrow and generally make a big fuss of her. Being around my pup always helps me feel stronger. She’s also really good at giving you kisses when you need them most. I am sure my dog is secretly a unicorn.

Read one of my favourite novels

What I need is a comfort read- something known and familiar to enjoy. I could even just flick between my favourite scenes. Maybe Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones, or The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

I might listen to an audiobook as well. Having stories read to me has always been a comforting and calming.

Watch a Disney movie

Some house of mouse magic would do me good. I’m thinking Hercules or Monsters Inc. (maybe both?).

Eat chocolate

Just because. I particularly love the big bars of white Cadbury chocolate.

Nestle in my teddy bedding

I’m getting a teddy bedding set delivered tomorrow. I can’t wait to get it on my bed so I can snuggle in it. I think my dog might get in and never come out, it will be that cosy.

Pamper myself

I’m thinking a nice, long shower. I’ll use a hair mask and I’ll straighten my hair after I’ve blow-dried it.

Taking some quality time to take care of myself helps settle my mind. If I can properly refresh myself before going to work on Friday it will help me face the day.

Sleep

I think the best way to recharge my batteries is to get some good quality sleep. I’m thinking that I can stick a film on, climb into my teddy bedding, snuggle my dog, and drift off to sleep. That would be my optimum afternoon activities of choice.


What do you recommend as good ways of winding down after a hard day?

Lauren x


TOP TEN BOOKS I’D GIVE DIFFERENT TITLES TO

Posted October 22, 2019 by Fictional Fox in Top Ten Tuesday / 4 Comments

This is posted as part of Top Ten Tuesday, a blog feature where That Artsy Reader Girl provides weekly prompts for top ten lists.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

That Artsy Reader Girl

Today’s topic is about discussing books I would give different titles to. I do like the original titles of the books below, but I thought I’d have a bit of fun and imagine alternatives.


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, AKA The Tragic End of Basil Hallward

Basil deserved better. I will die on this hill.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, AKA Don’t Take Sweets From Strangers

You know, what I’m talking about, Edmund.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, AKA We’re All Mad Here

I love the book but this is true. It comes straight from the cat’s mouth *shrug*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, AKA Harry Potter and the Year of Sass

Harry’s always strong when it comes to comebacks but I personally felt he was on top form in book five.

Persuasion by Jane Austen, AKA Regrets

Bang. One word title exchanged for another. It’s all you need, sometimes. Why mess with the formula of the original? I feel like the characters are swayed as much by regret as they are by persuasion in this novel, so it works for me.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, AKA The Green Light

I’m going to be honest and admit that I feel a bit cheap with my alternative title. It’s a bit on the nose, perhaps?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, AKA Sydney Carton

Considering what Sydney goes through I think he deserves to have the book named after him (there are a few examples out there of Dicken’s naming books after characters so it wouldn’t be an off-brand move).

Lord of the Flies by William Golding, AKA The Kids Aren’t Alright 

Perhaps an understatement?

Emma by Jane Austen, AKA Meddling and Misunderstanding

Emma, Emma, Emma. She’s not the easiest character to get along with sometimes.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, AKA The Dragon

I think Smaug deserved more recognition.


If you could rename any of the books above, what titles would you pick?

Lauren x