Black Girl Reads

Since I started getting back into reading last year, I decided to make two changes to my reading habits. First, to read a more diverse range of books, which has lead me to comics, thrillers and science fiction.

For the second, I was inspired by an article by Gal-Dem, which had a list of comics with  BME protagonists. (I’ve now read all the comics on this list but that’s a post for another day) It made me think about my favourite authors and books, how many of them had been an black or Asian? Probably about 5%. I started using an account called wellreadblackgirl  to explore books written by black women.

I know there’ll be those people that will say does race matter when reading or writing a book? And the answer is yes, as with everything, equal representation matters and it makes a difference if you see or can imagine people like yourself doing things you want to do.

If fiction is about alternate realities then why can’t those characters be black or Asian?

So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite some of my favourite BME authors and characters.

9781400095209The list begins with the living legend Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  A Nigerian author who has achieved so much in these last few years. She’s been featured in Beyonce’s epic album Lemonade; quoted at UN meetings; and of course released some pretty amazing novels. She takes pride in her Nigerian heritage and centers a number of her novels around this. I actually read Half a Yellow Sun a couple of years ago but it’s still relevant! There’s also a feature film starring Thandie Newton.

The book focuses on two very different sisters Olanna and Kainene and is set just before the civil war in Nigeria, when for a short moment in history, Biafra existed within it. It explores this dynamic of tradition vs modernity, a common theme in many contemporary Nigerian novels.

81+Sf+bNqULSaga is a beautiful graphic novel, it was one of the comics I picked up from that Gal-Dem article. I was reluctant to read at first but I’ve completely fallen in love with the series. I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while now because I have so many praises to sing and would thoroughly recommend this to all! It’s created by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

It focuses on an interracial/inter-species couple and their mixed child. Science fiction has this habit of commenting on reality in subtleties and metaphors and this series does that in such an eloquent way.  It’s illustrations and multi-strand plot gives it a lively and cinematic feel.

Stay-With-MeStay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀  is another on my list. I found this book by chance, I went to the town library that I don’t normally go to and in the entrance there was a carousel of books with shiny gold stickers. These books were all nominations for the Baileys prize award, for fiction written by women (Naomi Alderman’s The Power won). Nigerian authors seem to be really making a splash, I must find more Zimbabwean stuff!

If there was any overarching message from this it’s that communication is key and without it things fall apart. It deals with themes of infidelity, superstition and motherhood. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a very good commentary on the dynamics in Nigerian relationships – the pressures applied by mothers/families on a couple.

 

If you want some more ideas of what to read, check out my Goodreads! I’m currently on book 57/100 and only slightly nervous I won’t meet my goal.

 

Lynn x

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Review: LUSH’s Jelly Facemask, Just To Clarify

LUSH always make interesting innovative products, from their play-dough textured FUN to their solid deodorants that are both super handy for travelling. And now they have reinvented some of their classics and given us some entirely new weird and wonderful products. Their hot oil treatments have been revamped and extended and some of the year-round gifts have been repackaged (but the old Honey Bee packaging came with a beautiful knot wrap) They have also created jelly face masks and jelly bath bombs!

I was sceptical of the Jelly Face Masks because I prefer masks that end up drying on the face than the ones that remain wet.  BUT I have been pushing myself to do and try more things so I made a purchase.

The range includes 5 different face masks all with appropriately LUSHie names.

Just to Clarify, FOMO, Bunny Moon, 1000 Millihelens, The Birth Of Venus

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I tried out Just To Clarify, which has brightening Papaya and Bamboo stem for exfoliation Grapefruit and Bergamot to pick you up. I chose this because all though I have managed to get rid of my acne it’s the scars and blemishes that still remain and bother me quite a bit and I love masks that work as scrub too.

The mask smelled amazing, and its texture is every bit as wobbly as you would expect. I was skeptical as to what kind of coverage it would offer as I usually like to lay on my mask quite thick. In the website description, it says that the mask foams as you rub it between your hands. I think I had expected it to properly foam up like mouse but it wasn’t really there. It also dries up quite quickly which made it harder to get a thick, even coverage.

 

It was easy to remove and I think the Carrageenan extract (Seaweed), gave it a moisturizing aspect which made my skin feel super soft and supple.

 

Overall, I’d give a 3/5 the texture was fun and exciting but ultimately nothing really made it feel any different from the other masks. I’ll continue to use this in my weekly routine and update you on the effects in a month or two.

 

I

haven’t managed to get one of the Jelly Bath Bombs yet but there are 3 available:

The Big Sleep

Marmalade

Green Coconut

I did get myself a cute little rocket ship bath bomb called Rocket Science, it’s a citrusy bath bomb that has Sicilian Lemon Oil and Bergamot Oil as its main scents. In the bath it was amazing, probably one of the longest fizzers.

I’m Starting a Book Club

So it’s been a pretty busy few months! I went to Paris, for a quick birthday weekend for my boyfriend. Then I went on the longest flight of my life to Hong Kong. It was the first in my three-week holiday in Asia. We also visited Singapore and Bali, Indonesia. I’ll have a separate post coming up about where we went and of course, what we ate.

Now back to the books! I have fallen behind schedule with my reading challenge and needed a little kick to help me finish on time. I  decided to start a book club with my good friend Viki who runs her own dedicated book blog!
Each month we will pick a novel and a comic, that we’ll then review together!

These are our August picks:

Can I have extra guac with that? 6 Places to have lunch in Sheffield

It’s officially my last week in Sheffield. My three years of media studies have come to an end in this gloriously green city. I hadn’t made the most of my time here and in one of my previous posts decided to embark on a Sheffield bucket list; most of the places were food related of course.

Sheffield has a great independent culture and the people here support that small businesses. This means there’s a lot of variety and specialities.  Whenever I go on holiday to a new city, I always look out for the best and most unique places to eat but I guess when you live somewhere you get complacent or forget how much there is where you are.

This year I lived on the cross section of two of Sheffield’s busiest roads for food; Abbeydale Road and London Road. On Abbeydale you’ll find a variety of cafes and eateries like The Forge Bakehouse, whilst on London Road you’ll find a scope of ethnic food from indian street food to sushi. With so many options its easy to forget some great places but I spent the last couple months trying out some new places.

Bragazzis

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224-226 Abbeydale Rd, Sheffield S7 1FL

This is an italian deli/cafe that makes the best sandwiches. It has an open and inviting atmosphere and is styled in a way that reads somewhere between hipster and vintage.  It offers a range of imported italian goods; coffee beans, wines and cured meat. It’s reasonable priced with sandwiches around £3-4 and staff are eager to help confused looking customers and offer their recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

Marmadukes

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22A Norfolk Row, Sheffield S1 2PA

This little cafe is located down one of Sheffield cutest cobble stone roads. It claims to model itself after the Danish lifestyle trend of Hygge. Which is a pretty accurate description of the design and atmosphere, which are very cosy and minimalist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steam Yard

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Aberdeen Court, 95-101 Division St, Sheffield S1 4GE

This is such a cute coffee shop; Sheffield as a whole is pretty big on the minimalist, independent business. It fosters a really friendly and open atmosphere throughout the city. I usually find it difficult to order in coffee shops because I feel bad for not ordering hot drinks. I had a delectable pastrami bagel and then their infamous ice-cream donut.

 

 

 

Kosta’s Greek Deli

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214 Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1 4ST

 

Kosta’s is a great little take away that does the BEST gyros in Sheffield. It costs around £6 for a meal deal and that is more than enough to fill you up. Kosta himself is a really lovely guy and you can usually find him in the store during the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bungalow and Bears

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Old Fire Station, 50 Division Street, Sheffield, S1 4GF

 

This is a great place, you can get tasty burgers, buy cocktails and if you stay late enough you can watch performances from the likes of Mick Jenkins and Babeheaven. Although the burgers aren’t amazing, their chicken wings are damn tasty. Our sides were served in takeaway boxes which was kind of annoying as it made sharing a little difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Gatsby

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73-75 Division St, Sheffield S1 4GE

Mexican-style cantina that serves wicked cocktails. Their soft shell tacos are to die for! First time we tried tacos and they were so good. Nachos were the best I’ve had (nacho connoisseur right here) but still tasty AND they gave us extra guacamole. It’s set on a road with a lot of stiff competition. Especially from the likes of Lucky fox and Bungalow and Bears that also host gigs.

30 things to do before 30

I have nearly come to the end of my degree, which means I’m about to enter the proper adult world of council tax and no 3 month summer holidays. It’s been daunting but exciting, I’ll gain a new kind of freedom that I’ve never had before. No support from student finance and hopefully less from mum.

I began making a list around january time of things I wanted to do with my life before, I kind of become grounded in anyone place. A bucket list of sorts but also kind of personal development plan. I’m going to do some things I definitely don’t want to but will, just to conquer that fear. Some things just for the fun of it and others to gain a broader perspective on life.

  1. Have had at least 7 different hair colours
  2. Visit 30 different countries
  3. Buy a Marc Jacobs bag
  4. Live alone
  5. Live abroad
  6. Bungee jump
  7. Read 5 of the classics
  8. Watch all of the imdb top 100 films
  9. Conquer fear of snakes/ touch snake for at least 10 seconds without running away
  10. See the Northern Lights
  11. Swim/jump into a waterfall
  12. Visit New York
  13. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
  14. Build a treehouse
  15. Have a spa day
  16. Go to Zimbabwe and meet my family
  17. Grow a Willow tree
  18. Watch the sunrise
  19. Surprise my mum with something amazing
  20. Meet Kanye West
  21. Go to a concert of one of my favourite artists
  22. Have a body/mindset you love wholeheartedly
  23. Go on a spontaneous trip to a random destination
  24. Throw an amazing 30th birthday party
  25. Learn to speak semi-fluent Spanish/German
  26. Star a pension fund
  27. Grow my natural hair at least 10 inches long

It’s not a full 30 but I thought I would save a little space for things that might pop up in the future. You never know what will happen or where you will end up but it’s still nice to have little goals to work towards and I guess that’s what these are. I’ll keep you updated,and do seperate posts on each, to tell you more about why I want to do these things.

The next upcoming one will probably be a new hair colour. I have a holiday coming up and have been thinking about wither going ombre pink or a deep forest green.

 

Lynn ‘xo

My very first spa experience

Last year I had planned to take myself on a little spa day for my birthday but as you can tell from the title, it fell through. But this year I have been fortunate enough to  have the opportunity to go the LUSH Spa in Leeds.
I’ve been to Leeds only a handful of times, most of which have been spent in my bestfriends room, hanging out. But I’d arrived super early to my appointment, which gave me time to just roam (get lost) in the city centre. It is so clean and modern! And really uses the northern hilliness to it’s advantage.

I went for the Synesthesia treatment which is a full body massage. Each treatment is tailored to you and includes a consultation where you pick a words that describe what you want from the experience and how you want it to make you feel. It was all very vintage and Alice in Wonderlandish with the small bottles engraved with curious words.

I’ve never been for any kind if massage or spa treatments and was apprehensive when they said I would have a male masseuse. But it all worked out fine! He had a very calming voice and was super professional so I always felt comfortable. 

They play a soundtrack of birds in the countryside. Taking you from early morning chirping to the late night soothing songs. It’s intended to give the illusion of time passing; which it really does do! They also match hand movements to the beat.

 As much as I tried to stay awake, I was just so relaxed and warm (heated bed/blanket) that I fell asleep somewhere towards the end. 

I loved it so much I’m already planning my next Spa experience. Potentially getting The Planets treatment which is even longer and also includes a facial! 

4 books down, only 96 to go

I had been making slow progress with my reading, as my boyfriend pointed out I should be reading around 8 books a month to make my goal. I was in a bit of a panic after week two, I was back at work, back at uni and I was trying to sort out myself into a simple routine. Which I have nailed down now ! You might have seen my instagram post, showing my new daily planner. This has been super helpful in managing my time and creating weekly goals.

But now I’m ready to share my progress and mini reviews of the books I’ve read so far.

coverThe Sun Is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

This was the first book I read in the new year. I fell in love with Nicola Yoon’s books after I dazed through Everything Everything. Nicola Yoon writes about interracial couples and I love it! When I read YA books I usually picture the protagonist being a white american female, and of course I can relate but it’s nice to imagine someone a little bit closer to me. The book debates fate, science  and of course true love The characters could use more depth and rounding out but I guess we only see a snapshot of their lives.

US – David Nicholls6a0105368f4fef970b01a3fd4185be970b

David Nicholls is the author of one of my favorite books One Day. Which, I personally feel is one the greatest and saddest love stories. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Us, would it be this great romancing or perhaps a sad tale of separation. What is was instead was something much more realistic and human. Sometimes separation isn’t so clear or always permanent and this book address that in a less fantasized way. The hopeless romantic in me wanted a fairytale happy ending but was content with the final product.

8f4e2d9196babe3781cdbbdf0e75ec89The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I have been trying to branch out with my reading and came across this whilst looking for upcoming TV shows (I’ll be writing a post on this too!). The book is set in a dystopian America, which is a mix between Amish and the 18th century. By this I mean women have almost no rights and are mostly used for baby making.  I like the narrative but always felt like there was a lot of information missing. Hopefully this will be addressed in the TV show.

We Were On a Break – Lindsey Kelk9780007582419

This is a nice light book. The kind you would take on holiday to read in the sun. I enjoy reading Lindsey Kelk especially the I heart series but this didn’t quite grip you in the same way.  It was well written but definitely won’t be winning any awards any time soon.

Riverdale – Next Gen 


So today Netflix/the CW released the first episode of the their darker and edgier take on the classic come Archie comics I know. 

The show features an immensely beautiful cast of teens. It even has Cole Sprouse from Suite Life!

It’s set in suburban America and within the first episode we get a potential murder between seemingly incestuous twins, a teacher-student affair and of course a little bit of money laundering. 

I’m looking forward to seeing out this show pans out and I’ll get update you all around episode 5. For now I leave you with the trailer.

Part 4: A conclusion to our discussion on AI

And so I have come to the end of my four part series on AI. It’s been an interesting and eye opening journey, I have learnt the meaning of true Artificial Intelligence and the various forms it can take and discussed how it has been implemented in the present and the way it may shape our society in the future. And so, in this final post I will summarise all the information together, and hopefully come to some sort of conclusion.

I have found out that Artificial Intelligence is unavoidable and will continue to develop. It will likely one day take a physical form very close to our own. It’s the human condition to always want to improve and better ourselves and technology is no exception to this. Industry professionals and experts like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have also warned of the dangers of AI technology and emphasised the need to regulate and monitor its development.

Many theorists and experts in the technology field, say we are still  20 – 50 years away from fully functional and autonomous General Purpose AI, but I think the reality of this is much closer. Companies like Hanson robotics are a prime example of this, and a reason why we need to have actions in place ready for when these AI are fully functional and are so seamlessly integrated in society.

So before we reach that step, we should be creating precautionary measures that protect those that may be left behind by this progress. By this I mean the workers and people who would be displaced by these growing intelligences. Sam Harris, predicts that in the future, we will have an extensively wide gap between the rich and the poor; the poor most likely being those displaced workers and by having say a universal income for all we can protect ourselves from such a fate. This is something that has recently been suggested in Switzerland and will be piloted other European countries will be testing this year.

But it is also important that this technology is not hindered by governance and is allowed to grow and develop. As seen in some of the videos, AI technology has the potential for so much good, researchers have said it has the potential to solve many world problems. And maybe in this case the potential good outweighs the bad.

 

Part 3: So, who’s responsible for all this fancy tech?

Artificial Intelligence is already responsible for making a number of decisions that have implications on real people’s lives. There is an ongoing debate, with people discussing how much control should be given to these machines and whether it is at all ethical that these machines have so much power over human lives.

Technology is something that has always been very difficult to govern, there is no better example of this than the internet. The internet, is something nobody really predicted, it has taken of and become a massive entity of communication, participation, and more. It was hard to predict what would come from it and near impossible to police. When asked whether the internet would or has become unmanageable by humans, Sandra Braman – an expert on the effects of digital technology on society –  replied yes. She explained that because of the way it is increasingly complex and evolving it has reached “a moment of ungovernability”. Current laws are still not fully reflective of the capabilities of the internet but are slowly adapting. One example of this is Cyber Bullying, it is one term used to describe an incredibly broad range of actions, which is both good and bad.

Similarly, we have taken a backseat in governance and policing of AI technology. This has been great for the development of technology but it has also left a gaping hole in what is legal and ethical. One example that really gripped me is in an episode of The Good Wife , they are given a complex lawsuit where a self-driving car, with a driver/passenger is involved in an accident. They are faced with the problem of who to sue on behalf of the injured party; who takes responsibility, is it the driver who wasn’t actually driving the car, the manufacturers, who should have fixed the faults or the programmers?

We need to take measures and creating clear laws and regulation that define who takes responsibility for this AI technology, in the case of events such as this. This has already been started by the Google DeepMind, which have created an AI ethics board to begin addressing the issues confronted by AI technology.

In an article about AI decision making Byron Spice says “Machine-learning algorithms increasingly make decisions about credit, medical diagnoses, personalized recommendations, advertising and job opportunities, among other things”. Which is a surprising amount of things considering most companies are not transparent or upfront about their use of the decision making algorithms. The article also says the algorithms can “introduce or perpetuate racial or sex discrimination or other social harms”, which highlights the dangers of AI. In some ways it takes out the humanity of the decision making process. Yes, it means that most of the decisions will based on facts and statistics but sometimes an individual situation is difficult to articulate through pure data and needs that extra human interaction to be fully appreciated.