30 January 2017

Overseas Adventures: England


Carrying on with what I got up to in the United Kingdom, we stayed about 4 days in and around Bath, and another 4 days in London. I absolutely adored all the little towns and villages we looked around briefly near Bath. It was often really sunny with blue skies as far as the eye could see, super frosty and very cold, and wandering around little lanes and such was really beautiful.


In Bath itself, we wandered around shops, and we also had to visit the Roman Baths while we were there. I have always been fascinated with ancient Roman and Greek history, and even though it can get a little touristy, this was a place worth visiting.

Cirencester / Salisbury

The Roman Baths / London!

Buckingham Palace / Gloomy London

London, of course..


The 4 days we spent in London were some of my favourite, I think. We stayed in an apartment in a lovely street in Kensington. I also somehow loved the tube, as it was so convenient and a thousand times better than Auckland's public transport. I'm pretty chuffed I worked out how to get places and even worked out the Paris metro system, but that's for another post.

I loved London. In some ways it was what I expected, but not quite! It's really weird when you have expectations of a city and when you actually get a chance to visit it. One of the days in London was such a lovely, sunny day and probably one of my favourite days of the trip. We went up the (way overpriced) Shard, visited The Tower of London, went to several pubs and went out for dinner with some family we have over there! London is such a big place so it was hard to know exactly what to do, but we sticked to one area a day and that seemed to work well. Shopping on Oxford Street was pretty great too, but then I remembered I completely forgot to go into the big Lush store there - fail!



Even though these posts aren't very extensive, I guess it's nice to document things in some way.. the next post in this series will be Paris!

-Emma

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27 January 2017

Recently Read | December & January


I feel like I read quite a lot at this time of year, and I really want to be on my game before Uni begins and I inevitably run out of time. Since this is my first proper books post of 2017, I'll preface this by saying my reading goal for this year is 50 books - 10 more than last year. Reading for fun is always something I need to prioritise! Anyway, enough rambling, let's get on with some reviews for the last two months.

This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire
Published by Penguin on 11 August 2016

Admittedly, this was the only book I got through in December - not sure how that happened, but life gets in the way I suppose. I enjoyed flicking through this immensely, mostly when I was in a bath filled to the brim with bubbles. I got this book for my birthday, and I feel like it's such a nice gift. This is a very short read, but it's poignant and understated, and nice to dip in and out of. I particularly loved the first third of the book where there were letters to people's crushes because I'm fond of beginnings and the initial excitement of something (if that even makes sense?).

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole
Published by Orion Publishing Co on 5 February 2016

I always love delving into feminist non fiction now and again, and I really do try to read a variety of things. I had heard a couple of people rave about this whose opinions I really trust, and I wasn't disappointed. Girls Will Be Girls is a little bit more scholarship filled than some books like this, however I found it fascinating to learn about gender and feminism from someone who is a professional. Don't worry, this wasn't hard to read and instead I found it quite accessible. She also shared personal anecdotes throughout, some of which have really stuck with me. If you are into reading about feminism and more so, gender, definitely pick this one up.

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane
Published by Harper Collins on 1 January 2014

This is a book I picked up on a whim after reading and thoroughly enjoying Mhairi's newest book, Who's That Girl? Her writing has a very similar feel to it and explores similar themes, but I found this one particularly explored what it's like to get over someone and deal with someone when they cheat on you. There's a sense of feminism or girl power, if you will, in this book, and I loved the main character, Delia's fighting spirit and humour. I think this book did fall slightly short in the wow factor for me personally, but there were some nice elements to it, which always makes me enjoy Mhairi's books. If you're after a new author to try who writes contemporary 'women's fiction' you should check her out.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay*
Published by Hachette on 10 January 2017

You may know Roxane Gay from her book Bad Feminist, or at least I do. I'm still yet to read that book, but my ears perked up when I heard she was coming out with a new book, Difficult Women. It's a collection of short stories, some more like vignettes, that explores themes surrounding the modern woman. I'm not going to lie, this wasn't light reading. The stories explore a number of themes such as child loss, abuse and sex, and various types of women - women who don't think they deserve love, women who find pain a coping mechanism, women who feel like they can't go on at the loss of a child. One of the things I loved about this book was the way Roxane Gay was able to completely absorb me in some of the story lines and characters - she created fully formed lives in just a few pages, with simple but effective prose. I definitely recommend reading one story at a time so the full weight of it sinks in. This is a sad, and at times draining book, but one I'm glad I read.

London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning
Published by Hot Key Books on 2 June 2016

I had looked forward to reading this book for a while as I've heard it's such a fun, short read. There have been some exciting YA titles coming out recently and I would say this is one of them. This is the perfect beach read that doesn't contain anything like insta love or cheesy romance. I love that the main character, Sunny, has a love affair with London, and not a person. She essentially parades around the city with two French boys in search of her cheating boyfriend. It takes place over just one night, and is just the thing to get you back into reading if you need a nudge.



-Emma




*Review Copy
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25 January 2017

Overseas Adventures: Scotland

Loch Ness

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Scotland - from Edinburgh (one of my favourite places I've ever visited, I've decided) - to further north seeking out the Loch Ness monster, I could quite happily spend more of my days exploring rolling green hills and quaint cobbled streets.
We spent a few days in Edinburgh all up, walking around the Royal Mile, visiting the castle and going shopping. On our first proper day there, it was the sunniest day ever - Edinburgh's so gorgeous when the sun is shining. We were quite lucky with the weather!
Christmas in Edinburgh / Inverness

Being there for New Years was perfect timing and such a cool experience (or a very noisy experience, if you look at it another way), as the apartment we were in had a view of one of the New Year's Eve concerts that were going on - the stage was literally right there when you looked out the window. Not my finest night's sleep, but it was memorable.
The apartment & the concert / Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle

Apart from Edinburgh, we stopped off in a few little places and explored bits and pieces - a castle here, a castle there - and during our road trip further north we stopped off at hidden lunch spots, and admittedly got lost with the GPS. We stayed a few nights in Inverness, which is a really lovely little town near Loch Ness (not a fan of the drive there, to be honest! Car sickness, no thank you!). One thing that amazes me about many places in the UK or a little further afield, is that there are so many lovely old buildings and streets to look at and take about a million pictures of. You just don't get the same kind of old world history in New Zealand.
Inverness at sunset / Grandtully (the middle of nowhere basically!)

Stirling Castle / Urquhart Castle

Told you these posts weren't going to be particularly exciting or lengthy! But it's nice to look back on what I did and reflect about it just a little bit. Next up on the list is England - where we went to London, Bath and a few little towns! I'll be putting the next post up in a little while.


-Emma
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23 January 2017

New in Beauty | January


..Or 'Beauty shit I bought and like looking at and swatching' as my fellow blogger Albertine told me I should name this post. Granted, I didn't buy very much makeup when I was away in the UK/Europe, but I did really like all the things I picked up, so I thought I'd put together a little post with all the details. I feel like I'm less inclined to buy loads of new makeup these days, because I mainly use the same stuff every day and I don't need all those new releases. I feel like that calls for some particularly ~thoughtful~ purchases.

When I realised Paris had Sephora, I knew I had to go and spend my remaining Euros. So, I bought the gorgeous Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette. From it's lilac velvet casing to the warm toned berry hues inside, this palette is seriously what dreams are made of. I've recently got into eyeshadow, before never really giving it a go because I tend to make myself look like I have a bruised eye, but with the right stuff I can achieve something sort of okay.. These eyeshadows have incredible pay off, and you'd hope so for the price. From what I've tried so far, I find the texture of these shadows are blendable, creamy and go on very opaque. Already, I'd highly recommend this palette, especially if you're a fan of autumnal colours like I am. I'll be testing this out lots more over the coming months though.


After having a root around Boots, I knew the only items I wanted to pick up were from Soap and Glory because it's a brand not that readily available in New Zealand (although Mecca now stocks the body care range). I've heard some bloggers talk about a few of the makeup items, and it's not often I'm in the UK (read: never apart from this one time) so I picked up the Soap and Glory Solar Powder Bronzer, Soap and Glory One Heck Of A Blot Powder and Soap and Glory Supercat Eyeliner. I can't vouch for the powder just yet as I haven't tried it out properly, but I am in love with the bronzer as it doesn't look horrific on my pale skin, and the eyeliner is so easy to use and the pay off is really decent. The latter is definitely my new go-to addition to my makeup routine, and I'm pretty fussy with my eyeliner.

The last little item (or rather quite sizeable) is the Wet n Wild To Reflect Shimmer Palette which my sister actually bought for me when I was stuck sick in a Chicago hotel room. I use this as a blush and highlighter combination, and while it's not very pigmented, it adds a nice little something to the skin. You can't really go heavy handed with this one.




Have you tried any of these products? x

-Emma
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21 January 2017

Overseas Adventures: Ireland

If you're already conjuring up images of grey and rain in your head at the mention of Ireland, packing up the ol' suitcase and going to the UK in winter really wasn't horrific. I am known to love a rainy day or two (just not when it results in make-up running down my face), so spending a month in relatively cold weather was rather lovely - cue shearling coat and that huge scarf I can never wear in comparatively warm NZ. Boring weather chat over, I'll extend a hand and say ~hello~! I have been relatively lax on the blogging front during the last few weeks and I have relatively good reason I should think... Side note - In case you hadn't realised, the blog has had a lick of paint so to speak and it feels great to shake things up a little. I'm excited to dream up new ideas for this little corner of the internet this year - Happy 2017 !

Somewhere in the countryside

Now if you think this month long venture was all smooth sailing you'd be wrong - unfortunately luck wasn't on our side once we'd set foot in the US to make our connecting flight to Europe. I'll spare you the details, but it went something like this.. plane mechanical failure, being stuck in the US for 5 days for a few reasons including a snow storm and minus 22 degree temperatures, a stomach bug, and lost baggage! Wowee, fun! When we actually got to start our holiday a week into the trip (can you sense the cynicism) albeit a few lost days our first stop was Ireland. A warning now, I'm not going to write a huge amount of what we got up to in these travel posts, rather share a few subpar iPhone photos and chat through the highlights.

Dublin on Christmas Day - completely empty! (Not that you can exactly see)

I was still feeling horrifically ill at this point of the trip, so it took me a few days to shake out of my daze and actually half start enjoying myself. We had a brief stint in Dublin which involved waiting for our suitcases which never turned up (until Christmas Eve a few days later...) but the main place we visited and worth mentioning was Kilkenny. A relatively small, festive town, I was all heart eyes over the Christmas lights and the cosy atmosphere. If you ever visit Ireland, this is such a lovely place to spend a few days - whether it be walking aimlessly around the cobbled streets seeing where it takes you, or doing a few touristy things like the brewery tour and Kilkenny Castle. We basically did all of that, and the castle was a stand out for me. Fascinating history and extravagantly decorated rooms? Yes please.

Kilkenny - pretty lights everywhere!

There's a lack of festivity in New Zealand that makes me a little sad I don't live on the other side of the world. I know so many people online, whether that be from blogs or YouTube, who live in the UK so I always have slight envy when their cosy autumn, Christmas & winter time rolls around! Essentially I really enjoyed being in Europe before, during and after Christmas because it just gave me all those ~festive~ vibes.

Kilkenny Castle at Christmas, and in the rain oddly enough.

Christmas involved eating takeaway pizza in our hotel room as everything was closed, but luckily I'm not so much a fan of the big day that I was devastated to not have a traditional dinner. It's a bit weird to have a non event for Christmas, but a lot of the trip was a bit weird for me - travelling does weird things to you and makes you feel things! The start was kind of hard going (okay, legit one of the worst times in my life) - also kind of hilarious - I was waiting for someone to jump out and say 'You've been Punk'd!', but going away for a month seeing so many different things and feeling a tad out of my comfort zone is really invaluable if you think about it. This holiday definitely gave me experience, and most of that experience was how to navigate airports, ngl. Joking aside, I feel like a part of me has changed just a smidge.


Ireland was short & sweet, but in my next post I'll be delving into ~Scotland~, which *spoiler alert* is one of my fave places.



-Emma
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4 January 2017

My Favourite Books of 2016


If you need a new book to read, look no further!

This is probably my favourite post to compile every year (well, I haven't been doing it that long) because I, and you, get to see what my favourite reads were from the entire year. That's a pretty big deal, as I tend to read quite a lot and get sent a few. There's a lot of YA in here which is perfect if you're a fan of that - also never underestimate young adult fiction because there are some amazing ideas and stories that come from these books. I also have a couple of books not pictured here as I don't own a copy but had to include them. I gave most of these books 5/5 stars on my Good Reads. Let me know if you're intrigued by any of these reads and if you'll pick them up!




Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow*
When I started reading this, I really had no idea what to expect - the summary was very vague. It turns out this is somewhat of a cross between Orange is the New Black and Girl Interrupted. A girl who is at a psychiatric ward has had a very difficult past, and because she doesn't know how to live normally or how to face the outside world, she quite relishes being left inside. This is an incredibly moving and gripping story about how a girl gets back on her own feet and learns to live again. This book isn't cliche or anything, I find it incredibly raw and, at times, an intense read. It was very realistic, hard-hitting and just such a good book. This could be triggering for some people who have a mental illness though, so be careful.


The Memory Book by Lara Avery*
This book felt like a wild ride (more like a sad, emotional rollercoaster) as I read it in about a day and a half. This rarely happens with me, but for some reason I couldn't put this down. The start doesn't immediately suck you in, but as you get further in it certainly does. I think I was having an emotional day when I read this (haha) and it just goes to show if you read something at the right time it can be amazing! This book basically follows a girl who has a life-threatening disease (not as cliche as it sounds) and we know this right at the beginning of the book. She essentially writes to herself on her laptop, and that's what the book is - full of everything she does and remembers. The format is pretty much like a normal book with normal chapters, but there's something about the way it's written which is really intimate and makes you get inside the main character's head. This made me laugh, cry, and think a lot.




Radio Silence by Alice Oseman*
If you've read my book posts before I may sound like a broken record, but I love Alice Oseman's writing. There's something very realistic about it, and she really knows what it's like to be a teenager. You know when adults write and try and be down with the kids, all cliche and stuff? None of that here. I especially loved the interesting characters in this book and the amazing diversity it offered. Until reading this, I don't think I'd really considered the importance of diverse characters (with different sexualities and race), but when I'd finished the book I saw just how great YA could be. This is essentially about a girl called Frances who is a bit of a study-machine and feels quite pressured with school, but she ends up meeting the creator of this big internet podcast show she's a huge fan of, and their friendship unlocks something different in Frances. There's a lot of depth to the characters and there's more than meets the eye.


What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne*
I had to include one of Holly Bourne's books because she's been one of my favourite authors this year. I equally loved How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne but What's a Girl Gotta Do? spoke to me a little bit more because of the way it included so much emphasis on feminism - basically the whole book is about feminism! It follows a girl called Lottie who wonders what it would be like if she called out every instance of sexism she sees. I know it can feel like you see the word feminism plastered everywhere right now, but it's so important to see it's more than just a trend. While this book doesn't handle intersectional feminism so much (which is important!) it definitely acknowledges that it's not the answer to everything, it's just a start. It makes me so happy that this will open young people's eyes to gendered issues in such an accessible way. Well done, Holly Bourne *hands clapping emoji*.



Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema*
This was another book which I read really quickly - probably in about a day or two. If you need a laugh and something light to read this is utterly perfect. I always say the cover makes it look like it's for children, but I'm 20 and I really liked it! It reminds me a little bit of Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging which I actually love. This is written by a comedian which I think really helps because it's really funny and light-hearted. In this book, a girl basically teaches three boys from her school how to do synchronised swimming for a nation-wide talent show. There's something about this which I absolutely loved, I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's such an easy, entertaining read for young adults.


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
This was hands down up there with one of my absolute favourite reads of this year and probably ever. I'm not entirely sure why, but there's something so badass, subtle and interesting about this book that I love it. As it's young adult, it's super easy to read and so accessible, but I don't think it's silly or has any basic message like YA is sometimes looked to be. This is about a girl called Frankie who attends a fancy school which used to be an all boy's school. She discovers more about the history of the school, and starts to question why things are the way they are (wow, so articulate, Emma!) I would say just read this one yourself because I have a special place for it in my heart. This has some of my favourite quotes from a book and I'm dying to write them here but I won't spoil the good bits. I am definitely going to reread this soon.




Who's That Girl? By Mhairi McFarlane*
I only have a proof copy of this book, so that's not what the cover looks like, but 'What's the one thing you don't do at a wedding?' is quite an intriguing question, no? This book is definitely more adult fiction than YA, and it follows a woman who gets caught up in a scandal at a wedding and has to regain her own self-worth and reputation. In the story, she ends up getting sent to interview one of the most famous celebrities in the world. This book is unapologetically British, and was really entertaining and funny. Mhairi writes books which can be utterly devoured and I really recommend this one!


The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham*
When I think back to reading this book, it's one I wish I could forget and read again. I absolutely loved the idea and execution of this book - it follows four girls living in London who all have different lives and concerns. One of them creates a club called 'The Moonlight Dreamers' where you have to get an invitation to attend meetings and they all meet each other this way. I love that this book was written in four different perspectives from each girl because it really made you see that you don't know every thing that's going on in someone's life and you should embrace differences. This was such an easy, accessible and enjoyable read.


Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon
Despite not owning a copy, I had to include this fabulous book in this line up. If you're going to read one non-fiction book next year, definitely pick this up because it's brilliant. Emma Gannon has a blog,  a podcast, and she's a bit of an internet fan. In this book, she talks about what it was like to grow up online, including all of her funny experiences. She discusses such important topics within this book, and it's really hard to put it down. Anyone will enjoy reading this book, and chances are you will relate with most of what she's saying especially if you are a little bit older and had MSN, etc. There's a load of different topics, from feminism to catfishing.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This book follows a teenage boy called Simon - he's gay, but no one really knows it apart from Blue, an anonymous someone who he talks to online via email. Basically, someone starts blackmailing him and if he isn't careful his sexuality will be broadcasted to everyone he knows. I found this book to be incredibly cute and funny, I honestly loved this book so much - I stayed up until 2am to finish it which is rare. I think you could say my heart exploded in my chest when I finished this. It was genuinely funny, really well-written as it made me really believe Simon's character, and it had the sweetest romantic touches to it which I completely died over. I legitimately cried.


I hoped you liked this post, writing it has made me want to reread all of these because they're so good!

-Emma

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