Some of my ever growing plant family. I am really into plants at the moment since I have learnt the art of not killing them! At the moment I'm sticking to the easy stuff i.e succulents but I've managed to find some really cool ones. 

A couple of weeks ago I helped my sister with some decorating and whilst in B&Q got some Pantone samples just because *shrugs* I am sure there is something crafty I could do with them. I also got a sample of a wallpaper they had which was of old romance comics and I'm going to make some framed prints with it. 

I recently started a new semester at uni so have been trying to get back into the routine of studying after a long Summer off. I am full time now so I am hoping I've made the right decision. Also I found this cute squishy ghost in Poundland which makes a perfect stressball! Not that I'm getting stressed or anything *squeezes ghost*

My 7 year old sister brought back a load of papers she'd printed off and said she had been pressing auto-correct to make a story. This was one of the pages which I found hilarious. 

New pyjamas! It's Autumn my favourite time of year. Cosy-ness,  blankets, books, big mugs of coffee, film nights. Perfect.

 Speaking of which here was one of my rock'n'roll evenings. Comics, coffee, cookies. The three C's. Pro tip: warm cookies up in the microwave so they taste freshly baked.

My first Halloween purchase. I am sad and got them for the cute packaging. 

This months subscriber cover for Empire was very cool. So many exciting films coming up too.

Finally a cliched Autumn picture of fallen leaves. Following on from this post I took the bus to a nearby town on my own to try and kick my current bout of anxiety in the butt. I had a walk around the charity shops, got a couple of books, bumped into someone I used to work with and came back. Now I need to keep up the momentum.

New books.

Here's some new books I've recently acquired...

I've been really enjoying books involving cults lately and The Roanoke Girls has been on my radar for ages so I finally picked it up and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I also finally picked up Thirteen Reasons Why. This has been on my to read list for years as I am always interested in books to do with mental illness. Since the mixed reactions to the Netflix adaption I am even more intrigued. 

As soon as I heard about Moxie I knew I had to get it! It's a YA about a girl sick of the sexism at her school and inspired by her riot grrl Mum decides to start a feminist zine. Dumplin' is another book that's been on my radar for a long time. It's about body positivity with a fat positive main character and I have heard great things about this. You Will Know Me is a new thriller from Megan Abbott and A Place Called Perfect is a middle grade book about a girl who moves to a town where everything and everyone is perfect- and then her Dad goes missing and she starts to question everything (also: look at that beautiful cover!)

A couple of books I was kindly sent for review... 

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester
'Diana is young and uneasy in a new relationship when she leaves America and moves halfway around the world to Tokyo seeking adventure. In Japan she takes a job as a nanny to two-year-old Yuki Yoshimura and sets about adapting to a routine of English practice, ballet and swimming lessons, and Japanese cooking.
But as Diana becomes increasingly attached to Yuki she also becomes aware that everything in the Yoshimura household isn't as it first seemed. Before long, she must ask herself if she is brave enough to put everything on the line for the child under her care, confronting her own demons at every step of the way.
Yuki Means Happiness is a rich and powerfully illuminating portrait of the intense relationship between a young woman and her small charge, as well as one woman's journey to discover her true self.'

Can You Hear Me by Elena Varvello
'In the August of 1978, the summer I met Anna Trabuio, my father took a girl into the woods...
I was sixteen.
He had been gone a long time already, but that was it - not even a year after he lost his job and that boy disappeared - that was when everything broke.
Ponte, a small community in Northern Italy. An unbearably hot summer like many others.
Elia Furenti is sixteen, living an unremarkable life of moderate unhappiness, until the day the beautiful, damaged Anna returns to Ponte and firmly propels Elia to the edge of adulthood.
But then everything starts to unravel.
Elia's father, Ettore, is let go from his job and loses himself in the darkest corners of his mind.
A young boy is murdered.
And a girl climbs into a van and vanishes in the deep, dark woods...'

Without a Word by Kate McQualie
'Lillian had phoned telling her to get Skype up and running. 'I have so much to tell you.' Then, the knock on the door. 'Sorry Orla, I'd better see who it is' she said. Orla waited. Seconds became minutes. She didn't know how long she waited before she realised that something terrible had happened.
For more than a decade, Lillian's disappearance has remained unsolved, and Orla has found it impossible to move on.
Then she receives an unexpected visit from Ned Moynihan, the detective who led the original investigation into her friend's vanishing. Moynihan has been receiving anonymous notes accusing him of having failed to investigate the case properly. He assumes the notes are coming from Orla, yet Orla knows nothing of these letters.
Is somebody trying to tell them the truth about what really happened to Lillian that night?'

I also pre-ordered There's Someone Inside Your House which is a slasher type thriller about a girl who moves to a new school and finds that one by one the students are dying!

Finally one of my most anticipated books of the year the new Celeste Ng book! I am extra chuffed to me taking part in the blog tour for this next month.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
'Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost...'

This sounds amazing! 

Shell's guide to... Catwoman

I have decided to start a new series on my blog entitled 'Shell's guide to...' in which I give you a little guide to certain comic book characters. I am starting with DC comics as I tend to prefer and read more of their stuff.  My first guide to is about my favourite comic book character: Catwoman!

1. Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman was one of DC's original comic book characters. She made her first appearance in Batman #1 in 1942- introduced as 'the cat'. Back then she was a mysterious jewel thief.

2. Over the years Catwoman and Batman have had a complicated relationship. A combination of antagonistic and attraction. Even back in that first issue it seems Batman lets Catwoman get away.

3. Over the next few decades Catwoman has some erratic storylines. At one point she reveals she was a flight attendant who after suffering from amnesia turns to crime. Later she claims this was a lie to get Batman to let her off the hook. She also spends a few years reformed working alongside Batman. 

4. In the 1970s DC introduced Earth 2 storylines, which took place in a parallel universe. In those stories Selina and Bruce Wayne (Batman) got married and had a daughter Helena Wayne who later became The Huntress.

5. Like most comic book characters Selina has had a number of different origin stories to explain how she became Catwoman. The first one featured her escaping an abusive husband and stealing her jewellery back. This leads her to become a cat burglar after enjoying the experience. 

6. In 1987 Frank Millers Batman Year One rewrote the Batman origin story and featured Selina as a dominatrix living in the red light district (of course- it's Frank Miller!). She is inspired after seeing Batman at work and makes a cat costume "If a bat, why not a cat?".

7. This Catwoman is very protective of the prostitutes of Gotham's east End, particularly a young woman called Holly whom she takes under her wing, and helps to overcome her drug addiction. Selina steals Robin Hood style in order to help the poor of the East End, as well as protecting them the best she can.

8. Selina's childhood is also a big part of her backstory. Her alcoholic father beat and abused her mother. They both died when she was young and she was sent to an orphanage. Depending on the origin she also has a sister called Magdalena who became a nun. 

9. Recent comics tell the story of Selina being bullied and alone in the orphanage with only stray cats for company. Catwoman: Election Night depicts Selina running away after her cats clawed and attacked a bully in her defence. 

10. Selina grew up on the streets of Gotham and used her wits to get by. Her alter ego Catwoman eventually made her rich and she lives in luxury although she never stops looking after the women of the East End.

11. Catwoman is known for her high intellect and gymnast skills which make her a great burglar. She is also a skilled fighter and was trained by a boxer. She is fiercely independent and tends to prefer to work alone although she has been known to team up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (see Gotham City Sirens), she often works with Batman, and also Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. She is also good friends with Dr Leslie Thompkins who patches Selina up and helps the women of the East End at her free clinic. 

12. Batman is one of the few people to know of Catwoman's true identity and Selina/ Bruce have had a long running on/off relationship. In Batman Hush Selina also learnt of Batman's true identity as well. Batman has always had a soft spot for Catwoman and often lets her off for her crimes. Likewise Catwoman often protects Batman and they have each others trust.

13. Lets face it Batman can be a bit of a dick and every time they get close he tends to push Catwoman away. Selina isn't the type of person to put up with his shit though and never stands for his fuckboy behaviour!

14. Over the years Catwoman has had a number of looks. In the comics she has always been depicted as having black hair and usually has green eyes. Her original costume was a long purple dress with a green belt and cape and a purple cowl. Her weapon of choice is usually a whip.

15. In the early 90's Catwoman was given her own standalone comic book series where she was also given a new look- a purple catsuit and black boots and gloves with claws on. This series ran until the 94th issue and was drawn by Jim Balent.  

16. In 2001 Catwoman was given a reboot and her new look was designed by Darwyn Cooke. The costume is perhaps her most iconic and features the black catsuit and goggles look. Ed Brubaker wrote Catwoman as a crime noir and the ongoing series took her character right up to The New 52 (where all of Dc Comics titles were 'reset' back to the beginning allowing new fans a place to jump on). She also regularly featured in Batman comics.

17. 2011 was the start of The New 52 and focuses on Selina's earlier exploits as Catwoman. It also rewrites her origin story and is very much inspired by her origins depicted in the (amazing) 1992 film Batman Returns.

18. The ongoing Catwoman series ran right up until October 2016 and is collected in 8 trade paperbacks. 

19. In 2016 DC Comics had another reboot called Rebirth. Although as yet Selina doesn't have her own solo series she has featured in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, DC Bombshells, and has had her own one shot issue entitled Catwoman: Election Night. She has also featured heavily in the Batman comic, most recently featuring in a big storyline where Batman proposes to Catwoman! 

So that brings up to present day! Now here are some of my recommended reading (and watching) for Catwoman...

1. Catwoman by Jim Balent book one (here) This collects the first 14 issues of Catwoman's first solo comic series starting in 1993. You can also find the single issues on ebay for reasonable prices.
2. Catwoman: When in Rome (here) This is a great graphic novel bridging her story over to the new run in which Selina investigates her past.
3. Catwoman: The Trial of Catwoman (here) This is a big collected book featuring the first chunk of the Ed Brubaker stories. I highly recommend this as it's brilliant reading.
4. Batman: Hush (here) This is my favourite Batman graphic novel and is about the mysterious Hush. It features a who's who of Batman's rogue gallery but I especially love it as Catwoman is a main player in the story and it really gets into her and Batmans relationship. Catwoman is also totally badass in this!
5. Gotham City Sirens (here) You can read the complete story in two complete books and this sees Selina teaming up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to cause some trouble.
6. Catwoman: The Game (here) If you want a good jumping on point then this is the first volume of The New 52.

1. Batman '66 (here) The Iconic Adam West Batman TV show from the 60s featured Catwoman's first on screen appearance played brilliantly by Julie Newmar. Throughout the show she was also played by Lee Meriwether and Ertha Kitt who all added their own spin to the role.
2. Batman Returns (here) This 1992 film is a classic (and one of my favourite ever films!) Directed by Tim Burton this gives Catwoman a new origin by making Selina a meek secretary who after meeting Batman and getting killed by her evil boss is them brought back to life by a bunch of stray cats (yeah I know, but it works!) She then dons her alter ego Catwoman and she is perfectly played by Michelle Pfeiffer. 
3. Gotham (available o Netflix). Gotham is a show set just after the events of Bruce Waynes parents being murdered and tells reworked stories of lots of villains and allies of Batman fro the comics. Camren Bicondova plays a young Selina Kyle- a street smart and badass thief who befriends a young Bruce. This show is well worth a watch!

So that's my guide to Catwoman! I hope you enjoyed it. Next time: Batgirl.

World Mental Health Day 2017.

This years theme for World Mental Health Day is workplace wellbeing.

Today I will be sharing some tips from Mind for staying well in work...

1. Talk about the way you feel.
2. Eat healthily.
3. Get plenty of sleep.
4. Build relationships.
5. Do something for other people.
6. Stay active.
7. Try something new.
8. Learn to accept yourself.
9. Set yourself goals.
10. Take time to relax.

Hop over to Mind for ways to get involved, as well as tips and other stuff and head here for info and advice about stress, relaxation, sleep problems, food and more.

Text 'MIND' to 70660 and give £3 to Mind today.
(texts cost £3 plus your standard network charge. Mind receives 100% of your donation.)


This is an update of sorts. I don't know if anyone particularly cares but seeing as I write quite a lot of blog posts about mental health I though it made sense to write an honest one about when I'm not doing so well. I write a lot of advice and tips posts but that doesn't mean that I have everything under control. I am still learning.

I started off the year doing well, I was stable and had a good combination of meds that were working well for me. Unfortunately in April I was at work one night (I work in a convenience store) and I was behind the counter on my own when two armed men jumped over the counter and robbed the place. Honestly it was fucking petrifying. I took two weeks off work and then went back- my colleagues were all lovely and my boss was great. I was surprised with how quickly I recovered but the truth was I hadn't. I was burying my anxiety and forcing myself to be "brave" as I didn't want to let people down and didn't want the twats that robbed the place to ruin my job which I enjoyed. 

The months after, my anxiety got worse and worse and I was still in denial. I had a couple of suppressed panic attacks at work and the robbery was constantly on my mind. I was petrified it would happen again. The men were arrested and I was told I would need to appear in court. Because of my mental health conditions my Doctor wrote to the court saying I couldn't attend. I spent a week in bed. I realised how bad my anxiety has got when I was at home by myself for a weekend. I couldn't sleep, constantly walking round the house during the night turning lights on and off so it would put of potential burglars. I have hardly left the house and have taken sick leave from work. I am trying really hard to keep it together as I don't want to spiral. I am in a good place, doing well in my studies and I want to keep that up. So I am gradually pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I am going to get some counselling for PTSD and I have been volunteering at a local mental health charity. 

Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel- negative thinking is all too easy. Thinking of all the positive things in my life has kept me going. A few years ago before my bipolar diagnosis I was almost totally agoraphobic, I have come a long way since then and there is no way I want to start going backwards. 

I suppose the message of this post is that having a mental illness is a constant battle. Even after diagnosis and medication you still have to take every day at a time. You have to fight hard and there will always be bad times but there will be lots of good times too.  

Things that have been helping a lot...
comics and books (escapism ftw)
my family
stress relievers (my post)

(I have added a Kofi button on the sidebar. If you enjoy my posts then you can buy me a cup of coffee if you want. Coffee is my fuel so it's much appreciated!)