30 November 2016

Read in November


A one-to-watch fantasy trilogy, time travel, and teen pregnancy are what you'll find in this post

I didn't read too much this month because exams basically took up the first half of November, but now I'm free from everything Uni so I should be on my way to putting up more book reviews soon. The three books I did read this month I actually all enjoyed, so here are the reviews...


The Baby by Lisa Drakeford
Published by Chicken House on 1 July 2015
3.5 Stars

The Baby opens with a party scene where a teenage girl is giving birth on her friend's bathroom floor. The best bit is she didn't even know she was pregnant. This book follows the perspectives of five people - Olivia, Ben, Jonty, Alice and Nicola, and each person has a chapter of their own. They all have their own struggles going on and it's an eye-opening realisation that you don't know everything that's going on in a person's life. One of the main themes addressed in this book is obviously teen pregnancy, and it's a refreshing and interesting take on the topic. There are other themes such as domestic violence, bullying and sexuality.

I always love multiple perspectives in books, and as this one was very short (200 pages), it was nice to have a chapter with each person's perspective. I particularly loved Alice's chapter, who is eleven years old and the younger sister of one of the older characters. I loved her voice and it was a very sweet story to read about. I don't read much from children's voices but really enjoyed that. While this is a very basic novel, I liked how it dealt with several topics and as I said before, showed that you don't know what is going on in everyone's minds, family life, and what's happened in their past.


The Last Beginning by Lauren James*
Published by Walker Books on 1 October 2016
4 Stars

This is the second and final book of Lauren James' series which follows Katherine and Matthew throughout history. I won't say too much because this is the second book, but there's been a big time leap since the last book finished. In this book we essentially follow Clove Sutcliffe, who is trying to find out what happened to her parents. There is time travel involved which is very cool and gives you Back to The Future vibes, and there's more romance but now between two other people.

There are many questions that weren't answered in the first book that are now answered in the second, you'll be pleased to know. I liked how we could still continue with Katherine and Matthew's story but through a different character. So much more of the history was explored and everything was tied up nicely. I loved reading a little bit of fantasy after reading mostly contemporary this year. I would really recommend this series if you're in YA - it's well written, with nice touches, and interesting ideas - like all that time travel and how love connects two people.


The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen*, RRP: $37.00
Published by Penguin on 28 November 2016
4 Stars

The Fate of the Tearling is the conclusion to the Tearling trilogy - I read the first two books about a year ago. The second book was a stand-out for me in particular so I knew I wanted to get into the third as soon as possible. The series is fantasy and science fiction, incorporating magic into it, interesting characters, and has a complex world and history. The first book follows the future Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea, as she travels from her adoptive parent's home to the Tearling's castle where she will rule. I won't say too much about the plot of book two and three, but if you get into the books, they're addictive and epic.

I'd have to say this was probably my favourite read of the month! I've missed reading fantasy and this has got me into it more. This book explained so much more of the history of the whole world and made sense of many, many things. I have loved Kelsea as a character from the beginning - she has been a very interesting and refreshing character, with lots and lots of character development. I actually find this series to be have feminist elements to it as well. I enjoyed this book probably the most out of the three, until the ending. I definitely do think this series is well worth a read, however I was disappointed and this would have been a 5 star read! I won't say anymore, but I'm just waiting until someone I know finishes this book so I can discuss it with them. I loved this series so much and am going to miss it - it's bittersweet!



-Emma

*Sent to me for review
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28 November 2016

A Festive November Favourites


It's time to start celebrating all things spicy scented, glow inducing, and vampy shaded


Jo Malone Orange Bitters Cologne
I've lusted over Jo Malone scents since beauty YouTubers started raving about them. One of my favourite things about these perfumes, I've discovered since owning one, is that the scent lingers a very long time and is not match for those cheaper perfumes. This has a very festive, citrus and spicy scent which kind of smells like a man's cologne, but I tend to really like those anyway. This has been the perfect thing to get me in a more festive mood and embrace Autumn while it's Spring in New Zealand.

Lush Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb
This is one of my favourite bath bombs, maybe even my favourite. I absolutely love the spicy, woody scent it has - but it's almost like nothing I've smelt before. It turns the water an amazing bright green/blue and pink and smells so divine in the process. I believe this is actually a Halloween bath bomb, however Lush NZ at least has transitioned this over to the Christmas period and is still selling it. This is definitely one to try at this time of the year!

Maybelline Colour Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Colour in 695 Divine Wine
This has been my favourite lipstick discovery this month - if not for the colour, but for the formula. I'm sure you could find many shades which you'll love in this range - I am all about the matte lips all year round if I'm honest. This produces a very bold, opaque long-lasting colour that really stays put. I think this shade, 695 Divine Wine, really suits me and it's basically the darkest lipstick I own. I am all about those dark, vampy shades at the moment.

Glossier Coconut Balm Dotcom Universal Skin Salve
Shoutout to Sophie for giving this to me as a birthday present - I've been wanting to try Glossier for a little while after seeing all the amazing packaging (hmm.. is that a good reason?). The beautiful packaging isn't the only nice thing though, as this skin salve which I'm using as a lip balm at the moment, is lovely. For starters, it really smells like coconut - no artificial stuff here - it smells so good! It also works as a nice lip balm to rival my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, as it melts into the lips and nourishes them.

Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Radiance Serum
I haven't been trying out a whole lot of new skincare recently, but I have tried out this product and it's been an absolute winner for me. I've previously only tried the peeling mask from Manuka Doctor, but this is great as well. I've been needing a new serum in my life to use before my moisturiser, and this perfectly fits the bill, as it's quite a liquidy cream texture that sinks into the skin nicely and leaves my complexion feeling really soft. This is a very silky serum and it's great for adding a bit of extra moisture to the skin.

The Body Shop Spiced Apple Body Butter
I shall leave you with a last hit of festivity and rave about The Body Shop's new limited edition Spiced Apple Body Butter. This smells absolutely amazing! It smells very fresh but spicy at the same time and is such a treat to use. I love The Body Shop's body butters as they leave you with amazingly moisturised, soft skin. I honestly can't stop smelling this any time I have it near me, so I definitely recommend heading to a shop near you to give it a sniff! I really want the Spiced Apple candle too..



What festive products have been your favourite at this time of the year?

-Emma

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25 November 2016

Bases For Pale Skin




The best products for pale skin

I've finally got around to sharing with you the foundations and concealers I use for my super pale skin. I don't just mean light, I mean really pale. It's hard for me to find really good colour matches but I have a few products that do the job for me.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia
This is my number one foundation - as well as the formula and finish being really lovely, it's pale enough to not make me look like a cheeto. The shade I have is the lightest and is quite yellow toned. In all honesty I'm not entirely sure if my skin is yellow or pink based but this works wonders. It really cancels out redness in the skin and has enough coverage that sometimes I don't have to use concealer. I thought I'd also mention the NARS Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, which is a very light concealer perfect for people with pale skin. I think more high end brands actually cater for a wider range of skin tones.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Concealer in 010 Porcelain
I've been using this concealer on and off for a few months and I find this is really good for covering up marks or blemishes on the skin. I think it does cling to dry patches a little bit, so it could be good for more oily/combination skin types. With some brands, the lightest concealer shade can often be really orange or just not pale at all, but this one is a nice light shade. The only thing with this is that it comes in a pot, so if you're concerned about hygiene that could be a turn off.

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation in 010 Light Porcelain
As you can see, I think Rimmel does a fairy good pale base. I think this was the first foundation I tried and used it religiously because it was very light toned. This one is much more pink based than the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, so if you're very yellow toned this probably isn't the best option. I find it works well for me though - it's a nice and liquidy foundation (the NARS one is too) which makes it quite easy to blend and it produces a dewy glow. This also has SPF included in it which makes it a nice every day foundation.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Light
I'm sure everyone has heard of this concealer, but it is amazing for pale skin tones. It is a fairy thick formula, but blendable, which makes it perfect for concealing blemishes. I don't like using this under my eyes as it's a thicker consistency as I said. This is definitely my number one concealer option because it looks faultless on the skin and doesn't make me look orange at all. I need to pick up another one of these - they're so cheap too!


-Emma

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23 November 2016

November Music Recommendations


Bands to fill the hole in your indie heart

I've discovered quite a lot of new music recently which has been great, because for the past couple of months (heck, the past year) I've been listening to the exact same two bands. Let's see if you can guess... anyway, here I have some fresh new music recommendations, and I won't lie, it's mostly down the the fab Liv and her recent record collection video - I swear we have very similar music taste and I'm lovin' it. Without further ado, here are a few new artists to check out...


Blossoms
This is exactly the type of band which ticks all the boxes for me - catchy indie pop, but with something a little moody, with organ and guitar to boot. Blossoms is an English band made up of four members and they're pegged to be something like a mix of The Doors and the Arctic Monkeys, which can only be good in my books. So they're everything from groovy and spooky, to the classic Brit pop style.

My favourite songs are: Charlemagne, Texia, You Pulled a Gun on Me.


Temples
There's one band I want to compare Temples to, and that is Tame Impala. They have a psychedelic air about them - actually - rather full-on psychedelic pop that has something a bit experimental about them. For some reason they're almost giving me a The Beatles vibe, but with something cooler. They are also a four piece British band, but there's something inherently cool about them that doesn't exactly place them in the standard British indie pop box.

My favourite songs are: Shelter Song, Mesmerise, Sun Structures.


The Last Shadow Puppets
Okay, so this isn't a new-to-me band, in fact they're one of my ultimate favourites, however I thought I'd mention their new covers which are coming out. They've so far released Is This What You Wanted - a Leonard Cohen cover - and Les Cactus - a Jacques Dutronc cover. There are more to be released and they so far they've all come with a brand spanking new music video, which features Alex Turner's amazing dad dance moves. Not complaining. I pre-ordered the limited edition red vinyl of this new EP release and I'm itching for it to arrive. If you've never listened to TLSP before, expect dark, theatrical but rocky tunes that are a tad eccentric to a newbie.

My favourite songs are: Is This What You Wanted and The Dream Synopsis, with more to be released soon.


Beach Baby
Your answer to accessible indie, beachy tunes, Beach Baby is one of my new favourites. No surprises here, but this band is another four-piece entirely made up of dudes and they specialise in melodic indie rock with post-punk flavour (according to Spotify, that is). Their latest release and debut album - No Mind No Money - practically has me dancing all over the place and I can't get enough of them. They're slightly dreamy sounding, very addictive, and a whole lotta cool.

My favourite songs are: Limousine and Ladybird.



I've put together a playlist with all my faves...




What have you been listening to recently?

-Emma

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21 November 2016

Products For Frizz Free Hair


Say hello to nourished, soft hair with these two new-to-me hair saviours

I've been on somewhat of a haircare finding mission lately. In the last few months I've tried out things which I've liked and continued to use, but recently I've come across a couple of products that are complete game changers in the frizz free hair department.

Pureology Strength Cure Conditioner*
I've heard things about Pureology hair products here and there, but never tried anything, so when I got the chance to take it home as a gift from work, I was chuffed. This stuff is honestly amazing. It's the best conditioner I've tried and that's understandable because it's a more expensive hair product whereas I usually use fairly cheap haircare. It makes your hair feel like silk and really nourishes the ends - when you wash it off it feels like heaven. This has definitely improved my hair and made it feel less dry.

Moroccan Oil Blow Dry Concentrate*
I've been using a couple of oils on damp hair recently, but they don't really compare to this product. I've been wanting to try Moroccan Oil products out for a long time, and this is a great one to start with. I believe my hairdresser uses this as it has the same smell - I'm so happy I can use it with every wash now because it makes a huge difference to my hair. When applied just before blow drying the hair, it makes everything look smoother and less frizzy once dry. Once I've straightened my hair as well, I've pretty much achieved Cher from Clueless hair goals.



Have you tried anything from these two brands? I'm in love with what I've tried so far!

-Emma


*Gifted
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17 November 2016

How I Edit My Instagram + Blog Photos


I personally always find it fascinating to hear about behind the scenes processes, especially when it comes to editing photos - whether that be blog photos or instagram. I've put together a post like this before, but it's a little outdated. So I'm revisiting this topic and I'll get into it right now...

Blog Photos

- When I take photos, I usually make sure everything looks as bright and clear looking as I can, without everything washing out. I use my ISO to brighten up everything before I actually take the picture, something you can't do with iPhones, which really helps. My camera is a beginner level DLSR (Canon 1100D) which shows that you don't need a really expensive camera to take decent photos. I bought a new lens earlier this year - Canon 50mm f/1.8 - which is really nice for blog photos/product shots. For the photo I'm demonstrating with today, my camera settings were ISO 800, f/ 5.6 (aperture) 1/100. I'm no expert, but I just play around a little until it looks good.

- I will upload the pictures from my SD card to Adobe Bridge which makes reviewing the photos really easy. I '5 Star' the one or two photos I'm likely to use for a post, and get editing.


- First, I edit from Adobe Bridge by opening it in 'Camera Raw'. I sort out the basics here - adjusting the temperature if it's too warm or cool toned and up the exposure. To make this easy each time, I have saved a preset which means this step can be done with one click. The preset I used here is called 'blog' as you can see in the screenshot below.


- Next, I open the image in Photoshop. The main thing I do here is adjust the curves to make it even brighter and fresh looking. You'll see that I've dragged the bar upwards towards the top right. This automatically does wonders and is one of the main editing tools I'd recommend, especially if you want white, bright photos. Levels is also useful to increase the white, grey and black in an image - just don't go overboard.


- There will be a few more adjustments I'll make if I feel like I need to, but that's basically it. I can edit a photo in a few minutes, so I've got my process down.

The final result...



Now for Instagram...

- I tend to be quite pendantic with my instagram. I often want things to look quite white and fresh, but not all the time. The one and pretty much only app I use to edit photos, along with hundreds of other bloggers & instagrammers alike, is VSCO.


- As you can see from the photo comparisons, the left one is really quite dark with many shadows. Usually my photos would tend to look a little brighter than this to begin with, but this comparison really shows how much a difference editing makes.

- First, I have adjusted the exposure to +5. Depending on the photo, this could be lower but I always brighten something up at least by one or two.

- Next, I've adjusted this photo +2 contrast. I'll usually up the contrast by one or two because it gives definition to the photo and doesn't wash out the objects.

- I will use the temperature setting if I need to, to make it less cool or warm. In this case I haven't adjusted that, even though the photo looks quite warm, I liked the look of it.

- The filter I've used is A6, and this is the main one I'll use. I also like HB1 and HB2. I'll most likely put the filter around 8+ or 10+ so it's not too intense, but it really depends.

- Photos with a darker background/not on a white surface will be quite different to edit but I still love using those above filters I've mentioned for basically everything.

-Make sure you make the most of natural light because a good photo to begin with means less work when it comes to editing!


Hope you may have found this slightly interesting or useful..

-Emma
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14 November 2016

Autumn Lip Picks From A Girl in the Southern Hemisphere


Seven affordable dark lip products for autumn

I thought I'd sneak right in with some of my Autumn makeup picks before the season's up for good. I wish it was Autumn right now in NZ, but alas it's not. I personally am just loving dark lips right now even though we're going into summer, but who cares about makeup rules?! Not me.

1. L'Oreal Infallible Matte Max Lipstick in 007 Say My Name*
This is one of two reds I'm featuring in this post, and this one is more of a bright, classic red. I generally like the formula of this range, apart from the purple colour which is patchy. This however, is not. It's a very lightweight, fairly sheer lip product that has a powder finish. It sounds pretty weird, but these feel like nothing on the lips and is such a low maintenance option. You can build this up to give a nice opaque finish.

2. Rimmel London Lasting Finish By Kate Lipstick in 107
The classic Rimmel 107. This red is darker and more of a berry shade than the L'Oreal option and a lovely matte formula. You'll rarely see me without a matte lip, and this Rimmel lipstick isn't too drying on the lips. I've had this product for absolutely ages and it's been really quite faithful to me - the perfect option if you're after a standard berry red lipstick.

3. Rimmel London Lasting Finish By Kate Lipstick in 30
This is one of the few non matte shades I have to share, but I love this one for the gorgeous plum purple colour. If you're not into everything matte, it's definitely worth trying this lipstick or any number from the Lasting Finish By Kate range - I think from what I've heard, generally everyone loves them and you can't really go wrong.

4. Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in 45 Possessed Plum*
This is similar to the shade above but in the liquid lipstick form everyone is loving at the moment. This is a fairy new addition to my collection but from what I've tried so far these seem to be fairy long lasting. One gripe I have is that they're not completely matte, even after waiting for it to dry down. They look quite glossy on the lips, but this can be solved by blotting the very top layer. I like the applicator of this as dark lipsticks are pretty hard to apply with a normal bullet.

5. Maybelline Colour Blur Lipstick in Plum, Please*
As you can see from the name, this one is a very similar shade to the two previous lipsticks I've mentioned. This colour and formula definitely reminds me of the Maybelline Colour Drama Lip Pencils which are often compared to the NARS Lip Pencils. This definitely has a very vivid, bold formula which I love, however I'm not sure I like the blurring smudger on the other end of the stick as I've never used it and it's a bit gimmicky.

6. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Budapest
I would describe this shade as a slightly desaturated purple that's verging on a burgandy brown colour. This has to be one of my favourites because the NYX Soft Matte Cream formulas are great, as I'm sure you'll know if you've read my blog before. This lip product is lightweight on the lips and doesn't look patchy. It dries down nicely and while you'll probably need to touch it up after a while, it works really well.

7. Maybelline Colour Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Colour in 695 Divine Wine*
This is a new addition and it's already such a favourite! I wore this out for a long dinner and it lasted really well. This is the darkest shade of the bunch - a reddy purple matte. The formula of this is so good - it goes on so smoothly and gives a bold, opaque result. It's what I was wearing in a recent instagram post in case you're wondering. Don't be surprised if this turns up in my November favourites..


I'd love to know if you love dark lipstick like me and what are your favourites?


-Emma



*Gifted to me by a friend/work - the L'Oreal Matte Max is a PR sample
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7 November 2016

A Book Wishlist


What I'd put into my basket right now if I had the chance...

I'm waiting for the day when I'm completely free of Uni (so, 4 days) when I can finally make a Book Depository order and get my reading on! I haven't had my head in a book for a little while so I'm going to absolutely relish it over summer and my Europe trip in December. There's a little bit of everything here, from a classic to contemporary & beyond.


Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits & Leanne Shapton
After listening to Dawn O'Porter's podcast Get it On all about what people wear and why, the prospect of this book sounded wonderful. It's all about how the clothes we put on define and shape our lives, and how talking about what we wear can be a deeper subject. Women such as Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham, Roxane Gay and Molly Ringwald feature in this book, so if that's anything to go by... As Dawn O'Porter emphasises in her podcast, I think it's so wonderful how personal style can become something so empowering and fun.

Not Working by Lisa Owens
The books I've found to read all apparently emerge from podcasts, because I heard about this book from Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon when she interviewed Lisa Owens, who is a writer and was once an editor for a publishing company. In the podcast she talked about how she wanted to write about an adult relationship where for once the two participants weren't unhappy in their marriage. This book is fiction, but Lisa draws inspiration from her own life where she found she was confused about what exactly she wanted to do with her life. In this book Claire quits her job in order to discover what it is she really wants to do.

Emma by Jane Austen
I promise I don't just want to read this book because the title is my name and it has a pretty cover... I've been itching to read some classics and overall widen my reading sphere a little. I've read about a third of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but that's just about all I've read in the classics section. I find that there's something so romantic and cozy about reading books set in this time and I do love a period drama on Netflix. If anyone has other recommendations for classics maybe like this one I'd love to know?

London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning
After Hannah Witton recommended this in her latest favourites video, I really want to get this because it sounds right up my street. Basically from what I can gather, the main character Sunny goes on an adventure/mission across London after she finds out her boyfriend has cheated on her - and it all happens in a 12 hour period. I'm going to London at the start of next year so this would probably be really nice to read to learn a little bit more about London, I'm assuming.


Do you like the sound of any of these, or have you read any of them?

-Emma

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