11 November 2018

Recently Read


The last time I talked through the books I've read was in June! The year is slipping by so fast and I do find it hard to read often, but of the books I have actually read recently, I have really liked all of them. Without further ado, here's what I've read from July through to now.

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland
I read this absolutely ages ago, so my memory is slightly rusty on this one however I remember thinking this was such a cosy read. It actually deals with some hard-hitting topics though, so while Lost For Words definitely isn't a happy book, I think people who enjoy book stores and books in general will like this. Loveday Cardew prefers books to people (relatable) and she likes to spend her time working in a book shop and sheltering herself away from the world. But suddenly her past comes knocking and she can no longer ignore the things that are causing her so much pain. Loveday was a very spiky, witty character which I found refreshing and the unfolding mystery was intriguing and touching.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I feel like I've talked about Celeste Ng a fair bit on this blog, but her books are really amazing. It did take me a little while to get through this, but it is so well written and the way she tells stories is incredible. The characters are so immersive and believable. When the eccentric artist Mia Warren and her daughter come to live in Shaker Heights, an orderly and progressive suburb, she changes the lives of The Richardson's family forever. I think this a book many different people would like!

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham*
Siobhan Curham writes really great young adult books and I always enjoy reading them. Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow highlights some important and topical issues through the two main characters, Fourteen-year-old Stevie and Hafiz. Stevie is having a tough time at home, tiptoeing her way around her mum's depression and family's financial situation. Hafiz is a Syrian refugee, who has travelled a difficult journey away from from his parents and now he has to try and fit in at high school in England. They form a friendship at a time when they feel alone and help each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. I read this in a day and really enjoyed it. It's such a sweet, unique story that I think all young people should read.


Lou Out of Luck by Nat Luurtsema
I was really looking forward to reading Lou Out of Luck as it's the sequel to one of my favourite young adult books, Girl Out of Water. It follows Lou Brown as she comes down from her brief moment of TV super-stardom and tries to deal with the fact she actually has a proper boyfriend who she really likes. But it's not all plain sailing and things aren't quite going to plan - she's losing her best friend, both her parents are out of work, and her sister Lav is having troubles of her own. While there's a special place in my heart for the first book, I did still enjoy reading this - it's a light and funny read that really makes you smile.

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman*
I've already talked about Am I Ugly? a short while ago in a book haul, but I've since finished it. It was so refreshing to read non-fiction for a change and I loved getting immersed in someone else's story. Following Michelle's inspiring journey of self acceptance (still ongoing), it's a lesson to all of us to love our bodies for what they are. Though easier said than done, this book did make an impact and reaffirmed that we need to broaden our definitions of beauty.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
I've left the best until last and I'll use the next 30 seconds to tell you how much I think you should read Sally Rooney's novels. She always has something to say about modern relationships, and in this case how two people can fall in love so deeply it transcends everything. The premise of this book actually sounds pretty cheesy, but trust me, it's anything but. This isn't a love story as such, it's more just about how people change, how relationships work, how they're messy and confusing. Reading Normal People was such an experience; I stayed in a bubble with these characters the entire weekend I read it and felt like I was in their heads. It's probably best I stop rambling and just tell you to go buy it because it's amazing and something I can't exactly explain!


What have you read recently?

-Emma


*Review copy
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31 October 2018

October Playlist


What can I say about the music I listened to in October? At the beginning of the month I rewatched Stranger Things season two and naturally got obsessed with the soundtrack all over again, hence inclusions from the likes of The Romantics and The Runaways. I've been too busy to stumble across any new artists, but I have been listening to The Smiths non-stop - morbid and so good. And that's pretty much it, but I'll let the music speak for itself! Have a listen here:



What have you been listening to recently?

-Emma

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13 October 2018

September Book Haul


Regretfully it's been a few months since I've chatted books on this blog - and I guess that happens when you don't have much time to read (snooze!). While I'm planning to do a round up of things I've recently read soon, I thought I'd first talk about a few books I've bought recently (or very kindly received!) lately. But I'm always posting updates about what books I'm reading on my Instagram - and have been changing up my photos recently as I was getting bored with the same old backgrounds, etc. It feels good to get back into the reading game again and I'm excited to pick up these...


Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber*
From the outset this looks like your standard YA book about a girl and guy falling in love, but I have high hopes as this is from the author of Wing Jones which I really liked. The Californian desert is an escape from Reiko's claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets, but then she meets Seth. Their summer fling doesn't look like it's going to last, but Reiko learns something about herself along the way. I have literally no expectations for this, but it seems like a nice summer read.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
I've gone on and on about Sally Rooney's first book Conversations With Friends, which I read and loved last year. Her new book Normal People was released recently so I knew I had to buy it. Connell and Marianne are very different people despite having grown up in the same small town in rural Ireland. This is a love story about how a person can change another person's life, and how difficult it is to talk about how we feel. If her first book is anything to go by, this will be an interesting and unique read.


Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne*
This has very recently been optioned for TV, so you might be hearing a bit more about it! This book is about a teenager called Olive who joins a summer camp called Camp Reset, after finding herself in a dark place. Olive wants to solve all the world's problems, but how can she do that when she can't even fix herself? I always find Holly Bourne's books a pleasure to read and love that she tackles such important topics.

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman*
My current read. This is a non-fiction book written by Michelle Elman who is a body-positive activist. In her childhood she experienced some serious life-threatening health issues where she had to have fifteen surgeries, which left her physically and mentally scarred. Later in the book I presume she’ll talk about how damaging striving for a perfect body can be, and how social media is very focused on how we look – so far, it’s a really compelling story and I’m enjoying it.


Are you going to add any of these to your to-read list?


-Emma


*Review copy

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30 September 2018

September Playlist


I've been looking forward to collating this month's playlist as I missed Augusts'. I've been obsessed with listening to Lana Del Rey recently, in particular her older songs from the Ultraviolence album. But I've also been enjoying her new releases, mostly Venice Bitch. Funnily enough I've been listening to some pretty gloomy, slow songs but towards the end of September I definitely ramped it up a bit with some 80s classics because I can't go a month without getting all nostalgic. Friday I'm In Love has practically been my anthem the last two weeks as I'm back working full time and forever wishing it was the weekend. Here's September's playlist...






-Emma

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22 September 2018

Overseas Beauty Haul


I've just returned from a three week trip to Canada and it's crazy how some time away can rejuvenate my creativity and have me raring to go when it comes to blogging. In the last couple of months I've debated whether to stop blogging altogether as at it was beginning to feel like a chore to me and something that was simply taking up my weekends when I could be relaxing instead. But something has changed after a month break and I'm more inspired than ever to create beautiful images and write about the things I love, which has been my goal since I started this blog almost five years ago. If something isn't making you happy, I think it's important to re-evaluate everything and go with your gut. I'm content with my blog being just for fun, I'm not here to make money or 'influence' people and that's why my posts may not be as regular as the average blogger, something I am totally okay with. I've also given my blog a little makeover which always makes me more inspired.

With that long ramble over with, I thought I'd share the handful of products I picked up overseas in Sephora and the drugstore. I didn't actually buy that much and looking back I probably could have bought a few more things, but I kind of didn't see the need when most of the products I wanted are available in New Zealand anyway. There are a few things here that are pretty hard to get hold of here, which is exactly why I got them in the first place. God knows how I'm going to acquire them again if they end up becoming holy grails, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

First up, I've been wanting to buy a new bronzer for a few months and I've had my eye on Benefit Hoola Lite, but for one reason or another I've procrastinated buying it. But when I saw the Physicians Formula stand at the drugstore, I knew I wanted to pick up the Butter Bronzer because I've heard good things about it. Because I have a pretty pale complexion, I can't get away with using your standard bronzer. I wanted one that was almost like a face powder in a darker shade, and I think that's a good way to describe the Physicians Formula bronzer in shade Light. After using it pretty much every day for the working week, I'm glad I picked it up.


Next, I headed to Sephora. It's always an exciting moment to step into one overseas because we don't have that luxury in New Zealand, even though some of the brands are still available here. On this trip I was running out of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown, so even though it was a boring repurchase, I knew it would be a good idea to stock up. I haven't used anything else on my brows in years and it will forever be a favourite. It mimics real hairs and I don't think I could go a day without applying it.

I was excited to get my hands on some Milk Makeup products after hearing American and Canadian bloggers rave about the brand. I mean they have such pretty packaging anyway, I probably wouldn't care if the products themselves weren't amazing. I did originally want to buy the cream bronzer, but instead decided to just get the KUSH High Volume Mascara. I had heard this made it look like you had lash extensions so I was pretty excited. Having tried this out for a decent amount of time now, I'm actually not totally convinced. While in theory I like the idea of having long and fluttery, natural looking eyelashes, I find this smudges on me way too much (and I have never been one to have a problem with mascaras smudging). I will still keep using this but that's something to keep in mind if you want to try this one out!

On search of a new setting powder that would control my exceedingly oily skin at the moment, I decided to try the Charlotte Tilbury Loose Setting Powder in Translucent. I believe it's a cult favourite among bloggers and YouTubers and it's the one brand that's actually quite difficult to buy from New Zealand. I actually think this may have been discontinued recently (correct me if I'm wrong), but I can't find it anywhere online. I have previously talked about using the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder, but it's not very effective for oily or combination skin types. While I will still use this one when I have a more matte base, the Laura Mercier one is going straight into my every day makeup bag as it's more effective at keeping oil at bay. I'll see how I get on with this one, but first impressions are that it's a nice finely-milled powder.

So was it actually worth doing a post about four products, one of which I've already tried? I'm not sure, but I don't splurge on beauty every week so it's hard to do huge hauls. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this and I'll see you back soon for another post!

-Emma

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19 August 2018

My Travel Beauty Essentials


I'm sure no one has noticed but I haven't been posting on my blog that much recently. Having started a full time job a month ago hasn't given me much time to get creative and feel inspired. I've noticed a few people have been saying they're stuck in a rut with their blog and I think I'm the same. Luckily there are no rules when it comes to blogging, so I will continue writing but definitely less often. From now until the end of September I won't be posting at all because I'm going on a three and a half week trip to Canada! I'm completely okay with that because I really want a detox from social media and blogging.

With that boring life admin out of the way, I thought I'd chat through some of the beauty products I'm taking away with me on my trip and why I've picked them specifically...


Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk
I've never had the desire to fake tan because I don't want to have to live up to some ridiculous beauty ideal. However I wanted to try a gradual tanning milk to give my body slightly more colour during the warmer months. Having used this Bondi Sands one a few times already, I've found it's the perfect kind of fake tan for me - it's easy enough to do and gives subtle results. I would definitely recommend this to any pale skinned girls out there! I'm going to take this away with me and apply it maybe every second day or whenever I feel like it really.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
I wanted to take a lip balm that would go the distance and be hydrating enough for any potentially chapped lips. The Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream has always been my go-to as it stops my lips from feeling dry and sore. The only thing I don't love about it is the smell, but I can look past that.

Soap and Glory Clean On Me Shower Gel Mini
I picked this up in Mecca a few weeks ago as I thought it would be perfect to take away. I've actually never tried any of Soap and Glory's body products however I've heard great things, especially about the scents. This one smells fresh and citrusy which I love!


IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream
For one reason or another I've been on a bit of a mission to find a new foundation. Recently I tried Benefit's Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation which I really rate, but this CC cream takes the cake. The Hello Happy Foundation gives much less coverage and is great for summer, but this IT Cosmetics one is really versatile because it has buildable coverage. When I first applied this, I was quite shocked at how it looked very skin-like and quite natural, but still provided amazing coverage. It also has SPF 50 sun protection which is just what I need on holiday. If you're after a new foundation I would 100 percent recommend this one! The only downside is the shade range is not great.

I'm also taking away a few samples I've collected over the last few months, including Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder, Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay, and Glam Glow SuperMud Clearing Treatment - all of which will be great when my skin is feeling congested.


What are some of the key beauty products you take on holiday?


-Emma

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4 August 2018

July Playlist


I think it's safe to say my music taste can be pretty diverse sometimes. For instance, throughout July I listened to everything from the very mellow and melancholy Cigarettes After Sex to the Mamma Mia soundtrack - which has been on repeat I should add. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that brightens my mood more than ABBA. This playlist has all the usual suspects and more so feel free to have a listen if you're in need of some new tunes!





-Emma

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22 July 2018

My Skin Journey


Acne is something I've had to put up with since the age of sixteen. It started with hormonal breakouts dotted on my chin and along my jawline and over the years it's migrated to the rest of my face - the only area spared is my forehead. Looking back, the acne I had really wasn't as bad as I thought it was but it still takes a toll on how you feel about yourself. Earlier this year my skin was the worst it's ever been, but by this point I was just used to having spotty skin and trying more and more products to get rid of it to no avail. It's not like acne is the worst thing that could happen to me but it's an annoyance I've carried through to my twenties and it has likely made me even more insecure about myself.

I think you'll agree when I say it can be extremely difficult to track the cause of breakouts - is it my diet, my hormones, my genetics, the foundation I apply daily that makes it worse? What skincare products are actually helping and what is just making it worse? With so many beauty products available these days, it's so easy to get overwhelmed and give up all together. It's also hard when there are so many 'miracle' products targeted to acne skin that in the end do nothing at all.

A couple of months ago I decided to visit my doctor and ask what could be done about it, and I'm seriously kicking myself for not having done it earlier. I don't know about you, but I felt really nervous asking about something so superficial as acne like I was wasting his time. But there is really no reason why someone shouldn't ask for professional help whether that is visiting a doctor or dermatologist because you never know if something might work for you.

I was prescribed Doxycycline which I assume is given to everyone as a starting point - it may work for some people but others will have to try a stronger drug. Along with this, you use a gel called Differin which you apply to the affected areas at night after washing your face. I didn't have any idea what to expect, but in the first three weeks I noticed my skin texture was a lot smoother and no huge breakouts had surfaced. Even though I was really pleased during the first few weeks, I had two huge pimples (the kind that scar) show up on each cheek. This was super annoying because it felt like I was starting from the beginning again, but with patience and absolutely no picking, I waited for them to go down and heal. I had maybe one or two more breakouts after that, but overall I have noticed an improvement in my skin and I'm happy with how it's going. I'm not sure if it will continue to work or if I'll have to try something different in the future, but it's so nice to see at least a little change.


While I don't think mainstream skincare products have the ability to cure my skin, I still like trying new beauty products as long as I don't go overboard. There are a handful that have aided me during this time when my skin has been extra red and dry.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
I am in no way a super-fan of the infamous Cetaphil cleanser, but it's what I've been using the last few months. It isn't the most powerful cleanser, but it removes surface grime and isn't too potent - which is vital for me right now as my skin is extremely sensitive. A couple of weeks ago I had a strange reaction to one of my previous favourite cleansers - my skin was stinging and went red like I'd been sunburned which signals to me that I have to go back to basics with my cleansing routine.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Plus
I had never tried anything from the French skincare brand but I knew I had to start with the cult-favourite Effaclar Duo. I've now been using this for at least two months and it acts as the perfect soothing product to apply before I do my makeup. Since using it I have noticed a small change in the appearance of my acne scars, but above all it's a non-offensive, fragrance-free cream that smooths textured skin. I think La Roche Posay is a pretty safe brand to go with when it comes to skincare because the formulas are designed for sensitive skin.

Ultraceuticals Ultra A Skin Perfecting Serum
I had no idea how expensive this was until I just looked it up, but luckily I received this at work. Although I haven't tried this one extensively, I thought I'd mention it because I've heard it is amazing for pigmentation and acne scars. While the amount of active breakouts I have are slowly decreasing, I still have a lot of scarring. I won't be using it until I'm off medication because it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight and that is not exactly what I need right now!


Sand & Sky Exfoliating Treatment
Sand & Sky is famous for their Pink Clay Mask but I have been liking the Exfoliating Treatment. As my skin has been flaky in some areas, exfoliation is extremely important and stops my foundation from looking so terrible. Described as an exfoliator and a mask in one, you apply it to skin, massage in and leave on for 5 minutes. It helps absorb excess oil yet leaves your skin radiant and smooth.

Goodness Every Week Face Scrub
The other exfoliator I've been using is this one. Goodness is an affordable brand made in New Zealand that harnesses the power of natural ingredients. While I'm not too fussed on everything 'natural', this is a really decent scrub that works. It's perhaps less heavy-duty than the Sand & Sky one so I use this when I want something gentle.

Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser SPF15
I'm really glad I tried this day cream because it's exactly what I've been after. As I've mentioned, my skin can get drier than the Sahara desert yet is very oily by day's end. This ticks all the boxes because it's richly moisturising, sits well under makeup and provides SPF protection - I can't get caught out in the sun otherwise my skin will literally come up in blisters!


My skin is in no way fixed but at least I'm headed in the right direction. Hopefully this struck a chord with someone out there and made you feel slightly less alone!


-Emma

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18 July 2018

Book Haul


Most of the time I try to keep my to-read pile pretty minimal as it's easy to get overwhelmed with choice. At the moment, I have just six books to read when I get round to them in the coming months. I'm so glad I made the decision to get rid of my reading goal and just read as much as I want to, especially now that the second half of my year is looking busier. In this stack there's a mix of contemporary, young adult and fantasy - something for everyone!

Lou Out of Luck by Nat Luurtsema
It may seem like an unlikely choice but one of my favourite reads of 2016 was Girl Out of Water - I've read it multiple times and it never fails to entertain and amuse me. Lou Out of Luck is the follow-up. I've always said the first book gave me Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging vibes, with the main character being quite awkward and unpopular. When Lou's dreams of swimming at an Olympic level are crushed, she finds herself teaching synchronised swimming to a trio of boys at her school so they can compete on a national talent show. There's something so realistic, heartwarming, and above all, funny about this oddball story and it's exactly the type of thing I want made into a movie - the cheesier the better. I won't give too much away about the second book in case you want to read the first, but clearly I'm super excited to find out what happens to Lou next.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock*
While the thriller genre isn't something I'm necessarily into, reading the synopsis of White Rabbit, Red Wolf definitely left me intrigued. I was again curious when one of my favourite authors said she'd stayed up past midnight to finish it. It's about a teen math prodigy with an extreme anxiety disorder who finds himself caught in a web of lies after an assassination attempt on his mother - how could I resist with that summary? As well as having thriller elements, this young adult book explores mental health as a topic so I'm looking forward to seeing how those two things integrate. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Despite not knowing much about this book, I have heard wonderful things about it here and there. I don't pick up too many fantasy novels but my sister recommended this one. It's set in a village where once every ten years, the Dragon (or wizard who rules over the land) comes and picks a seventeen year-old girl and takes her to his palace. The summary is pretty vague for a reason I suspect, but people have called it enthralling, enchanting and magical. I'm looking forward to reading this when I'm in the mood for it!

The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill
When I heard Louise O'Neill was doing a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, I was like I'm there. I think it's really interesting when the fairytales we know and love are turned on their head and reinvented; this one is apparently pretty dark and different from the original story. There's not much more I can say about this one - I'll have to see if it lives up to my expectations!

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne
For some reason I end up mentioning Holly Bourne in a lot of my book posts, but if you didn't know I love her young adult books and now she's released her first adult novel. I've heard this is a more realistic (or less problematic, more like) Bridget Jones and it's exactly the type of story I love to read. Tori Bailey is a bestselling author and has inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. The reality is that Tori is living a lie - she feels like she's being left behind as she approaches her thirtieth birthday. I'm expecting this to be an honest and funny book that everyone can relate to.

Circe by Madeline Miller
Mythology is something I've never read about, apart from when I did Classics in high school, but I've had this recommended to me and it's received some great reviews so far. Apparently this is a modern retelling of Circe's journey. If you like stories with the whole shebang - adventure, betrayal, magic, monsters, and bloodshed - you will probably enjoy this.


Are you planning to read any of these?

-Emma


*Review Copy
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7 July 2018

July Makeup Haul


While I haven't been trying too many beauty products lately, there is still the occasional time where I'm willing to hand over my wallet so to speak and try out a handful of new things. Last month I picked up a couple of products from Mecca Maxima that are more on the luxe side of things (but nothing too crazy), and a few bits and pieces from makeup.co.nz, which is one of my favourite sites to buy makeup from mainly because it has fast shipping. Although I have a new foundation on the way and I soon want to talk about how my skin has been while on acne medication, for this beauty instalment I'll be talking through these new products and telling you my first thoughts on them.


In the last couple of months I've really noticed how oily my skin has become. I would say it's definitely more combination, but the foundation I've been using makes my skin incredibly shiny by the end of the day, and as much as I like a dewy glow, I have to say it's just not that cute. I've never really been a fan of powder because the ones I've tried make my skin look dry and cakey at times and I've steered clear until now. I had heard how finely milled the Hourglass powders were, so when I saw the brand had a new loose setting powder out I thought I would give it a go even with it's sizeable price tag. Clearly I was having a 'fuck it' moment...

The Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder is described as an ultra-refined, weightless finishing powder that instantly blurs imperfections and sets makeup in place, resulting in a flawless, airbrushed finish. As this isn't a heavy, matte powder I thought it would be ideal for my temperamental skin when I need to set my makeup and touch up my T-zone mid-afternoon. It's also free from talc which I've heard is bad for acne-prone skin. I'm pretty happy with this purchase so far because it doesn't look like too much on the skin and still leaves my skin with some glow. It by no means stops the oil from creeping in by the end of the day, but with a quick touch-up it works for me. I'm sure there are a few other setting powders out there that will do a similar job but I'm glad I've finally jumped on the bandwagon.


Annoyingly I had to spend a couple more dollars to get free shipping so I decided to throw in another one of the Stila Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eye Shadows (great logic when I could just go into the physical store, but whatever). These really appealed to me when they were released, more so than the glittery versions. I had seen how pretty the shade Cloud was so I went for that one, although in hindsight it probably wasn't the best match for my skin tone. This lavender colour would look gorgeous on medium to dark skin tones, however I still like how it looks on myself. My favourite way to wear these is to blend a matte eyeshadow in the crease and put the liquid eye shadow all over the lid. In the time I've used these, it's amazing to see that they don't crease or fade throughout the day and are so easy to blend. The darker colours really appeal to me, but I won't lie, are a little intimidating.


While I didn't pick up anything too exciting from makeup.co.nz, I did have to stock up on the essentials. I have recently used up two mascaras that I loved but were either too hard to get hold of or too expensive, so naturally I went back to an old favourite, Maybelline Lash Sensational. This mascara thickens and darkens lashes, giving them a fanned out, doe-eyed appearance. It has quite a wet formula to begin with, which I find is ideal to give lashes length and a decent curl. My only gripe with it is it's quite hard to remove - especially if you're in a rush, or are just lazy like me. But I can't get enough of the Twiggy-esque eyelashes it produces.


I also picked up the Real Techniques Setting Brush as I was after a small powder brush that I could use to set my foundation. While this is nothing special, I have used these brushes for years and they are good quality without being hugely expensive. Lastly, I bought the LA Girl HD Pro Concealer on a whim because I needed a new one to use under my eyes. On reflection, this probably wasn't the best purchase ever because it's a pretty high coverage, matte concealer and I prefer a lighter, more radiant concealer. Not all is lost though because it does the job and I'll still use it. On a different note, it does make me laugh how the lightest shade, Porcelain, still looks orange despite the packaging online looking light. Oh how I wish some brands would make better shades!


In the last year and a half I've tried to really consider my makeup purchases even though some products can still disappoint me. It's quite frightening how much a person can spend on makeup, and clothes for that matter, in such a short space of time but I try and buy products that I need rather than want, and have come recommended from someone I trust. I hope you enjoyed this little haul - let me know if you will try any of these!

-Emma

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2 July 2018

June Reads


Even though I'm 21 (eek) I still find myself gravitating back to young adult fiction. Every year, more great books from this category get released and it's all about sifting through the ~crap~ to find those hidden gems. This month I read three YA books and I enjoyed each of them for different reasons; they explore different but at times similar themes. As always, I hope you enjoy reading these reviews and let me know if you'll pick any up!

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
This book is pretty well known within the YA community and I've always wanted to read it. From the beginning I fell in love with the two main characters, who seem to be opposites of each other, but it turns out they have way more in common than they thought. Declan comes across a letter written by Juliet to her dead mother at a grave where he does community service, and he feels compelled to write back. Gradually, Juliet and Declan find out they aren't so different from one another as they exchange letters anonymously. Soon, Declan is sharing his pain with a stranger, except they're not really strangers at all. While Declan could have been seen as a typical 'bad boy', I think his character was much more complex than that, and Juliet comes to realise this. I think what I liked about this book was that it wasn't so much about romance, but about grief and family. The majority of the book explores the characters' past and internal pain rather than their romantic relationship. Unlike some other books, the characters don't fix or rescue each other which I really appreciated. Overall, this was a pretty good book (but not necessarily my favourite) that I would recommend if you love YA. 4 Stars.


Clean by Juno Dawson
Juno Dawson writes about a number of topics, but this time she's explored addiction. I've never read about drug addiction, especially from the perspective of a rich teenage socialite. Described as a bit like a dark Gossip Girl, Clean follows Lexi as she hits rock bottom. From here, she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility with other young, rich addicts. It's not just drug overdose that these patients are in for, also everything from eating disorders to alcohol addiction. In here, she gradually gets to know the other inmates even though she doesn't want to and would rather get back to her old life. For the first time she realises the effect her privileged life has had on her mental state, and how she should probably let go of those unhealthy, damaging relationships she left behind. In the midst of everything, she is drawn to the mysterious Brady. What I loved about this book was the variety of interesting characters and how through everything Lexi can relate to them even though they seem so different at the beginning. I did think the book could have been slightly shorter as I found the ending slightly unnecessary. One thing it did well was show that setbacks are part of life and recovering from addiction doesn't happen at the click of fingers. If you're looking for something new and interesting, give this a go! 4 Stars.


The Way Back From Broken by Amber J. Keyser*
Although this book looks pretty inconspicuous from the front, I was so pleasantly surprised by it and it's become one of my favourite reads from the year. I was initially drawn to it because it takes place in the Canadian wilderness and I'm going to Canada next month; since reading I can confirm the setting sounds absolutely beautiful and Amber's writing made me feel like I was there. This book isn't really about the scenery though, it follows Rakmen Cannon who is swamped with grief and guilt after his baby sister died in his arms. He's shipped off to a cabin in Canada with ten-year-old Jacey and her mother, who go to his support group. Although he initially finds Jacey annoying and the cabin suffocating, he starts coming around to her and spending more time in the wilderness. This is a really short book but I found it was actually the perfect length for the story. I didn't know there was going to be quite so much adventure and suspense by the end of the book; by the time you're halfway through, you won't be able to stop reading. I could say a lot more about it, but I'll just say I think this is definitely a hidden gem. Even though you've probably never heard of this, I would SO recommend you pick this up. 5 Stars.


*Review Copy


-Emma

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28 June 2018

June Playlist


Last month I almost had too much to talk about when it came to new music. June is a slightly different story, but there are a couple of new releases amongst old favourites. The launch of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino had me blasting some older Arctic Monkeys songs and I've been listening to more of Rex Orange County too. Apart from discovering the entirely wonderfully song Don't Delete the Kisses by Wolf Alice, I've been on a bit of a '60s and '70s binge, because what else would you expect from me? This playlist is a bit all over the place but I hope you enjoy listening to some truly great tunes ~





-Emma

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24 June 2018

My Favourite Books of 2018 So Far


Now that we're six months into the year, I thought it would be a great time to talk about the books I've loved most so far. My best reading month was definitely January - I read the most books, and three of them are featured here. If you'd like to see what I read in the future, follow me on goodreads. From the best in young adult fiction to modern classics and everything in between, here are my favourite reads of 2018 so far.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
A lot of young adult fiction tends to be extremely repetitive, sometimes cringey and also tends to focus on romance. Holly Bourne has always been one to subject norms when it comes to teen romances and incorporates feminist ideals into her books. The main character, Audrey is studying the rom com genre at school and through her research finds endless cliches when it comes to people falling in love. She doesn't expect to fall for Harry, a typical bad boy who makes zombie films. But she soon finds out that not all romances are like the movies - it's awkward, painful and confusing. Perfectly written for a younger audience, this was funny, realistic and at times pretty surprising. If you want to read something easy and entertaining, but are sick of typical love stories I would definitely recommend this.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Sometimes if I read a book over just a day or two I end up loving it a lot more. This is one of those books that's best read quickly because it intensifies the story. While I didn't expect to connect with it much, it has become one of my favourite reads because of the way it explores different topics - sexual assault, race and privilege. Visiting her home country from the United States, a rich woman gets kidnapped in Haiti and undergoes the toughest couple of weeks while her wealthy father refuses to pay ransom. There's a lot to this story, and it really makes you think about the world but also personal relationships. It's extremely intense and absorbing; almost making you feel like you were there in the situation yourself. I don't think An Untamed State is very well known, but it's definitely my favourite novel from Roxane Gay.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Conversations With Friends is a book about friendships, relationships, love, pleasure and purpose. Frances is a twenty-one year old aspiring writer who performs spoken word poetry with her best friend Bobbi. Melissa, a journalist who discovers their work and writes a story about the pair, is married to actor Nick, who Frances eventually starts an intense affair with. Slowly she starts to lose control of these relationships, becoming self-destructive and unhappy. Read like one big conversation, this book was surprising, incredibly thought-provoking and like nothing I've ever read before. While reading this, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly raw and real the characters are; at times they are not at all likeable, but I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I never expected to fall in love with this book, but there was something so intriguing and different about it.

P is For Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones
This is by far one of the best young adult books I've read in a while - I devoured it in a couple of days and just wanted more. P is for Pearl is a slow-moving, yet addictive read that draws you in really fast. It explores topics such as mental health and grief in such a simple yet amazingly poignant way. Gwen, who was called Pearl by her now dead mum, lives in a small, seaside town in Australia. She runs along the beach and hangs out with her two best friends, Loretta and Gordon to try and forget about her mum's death. But when two intriguing siblings move to the town, she realises that people aren't as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell. This was another surprising book as I never expected to connect with it so much. It's really easy to read, but is complex and authentic.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book is extremely popular and I can definitely see why. A girl called Lydia goes missing in a small town in Ohio, but her family doesn't know how she died; all they find is her body in a lake. The book goes back in time as we find out more about her parents and what previously happened in Lydia's childhood. What I loved was how it showed that we all keep secrets; husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons all struggle to understand each other. Everyone will find a way to relate to this addictive and emotional book.


Will you read any of these?
-Emma

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18 June 2018

What I've Been Watching


I have been obsessed with crime documentaries lately and it's become a slightly unhealthy obsession. *Cue lying awake at night thinking someone is about to murder me* But I can't help being fascinated by it all. It does mean I need some light relief afterwards, so I have been binge-watching a few sitcoms and indulging in some good old reality TV - I can't help it, it's my guilty pleasure. There's a real mix of shows here, but I can't recommend them enough!

Evil Genius

Netflix are doing amazing things in the true crime category. Once I had watched one episode of Evil Genius I was entranced and pretty much didn't stop until I had finished. It starts in 2003, when an attempted bank robbery in America made news headlines across the country. But there's more to it - the crime suddenly turns into a very public murder. The man who was killed was a pizza delivery driver who had a bomb attached to his neck, but it wasn't clear if he was coerced into it or he knew the plan all along. This show was really intense and engaging. It's also pretty sinister so I would recommend watching a comedy afterwards!

The Staircase

Just when I thought Evil Genius was good, The Staircase comes along. This show was actually aired back in 2004, but there's been an update to the story which means three new episodes have been added. In 2001, Michael Peterson's wife was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. He claimed she had fallen down the stairs, but the medical examiner ruled she had been beaten to death. Much like Making a Murderer, it goes into the American criminal justice system and why it could be flawed. It goes into detail about the evidence that was found and also how some of it was possibly tampered with. The defence lawyer in this show is amazing and I'm convinced Michael Peterson is innocent. Out of all of these suggestions, I would watch this above anything else - it's so interesting!

The Office

Call me crazy but I had never watched The Office until very recently. I've started with the US version as I've heard it's better, but I'll definitely get around to watching the UK version too. This show is the perfect thing to put on in the background or at the end of a busy day when you want something lighthearted and fun. I don't have much more to say about it because I'm sure everyone has at least heard of it.

The It Crowd

I'm sure I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I'm a big fan of The It Crowd. This month I found myself rewatching it because it gives me such a comforting feeling. I finished it really quickly and was surprised how short the seasons actually are. I wish the show was longer, but I guess all good things must come to an end - there is going to be a US remake though, which I'm a bit skeptical about! If you've never watched this show, I'd highly recommend it - it's so easy to watch and my fave Richard Ayoade is in it.

Love Island

It feels a bit silly putting this here, but I thought I'd mention Love Island. It's genuinely one of my favourite shows - yes it's trashy and at times problematic but it's such a good watch if you take it light heartedly. This year there's actually an Australian version too, so I've been alternating between watching that and the UK one. New Zealand has it's own version, Heartbreak Island, and it's legitimately the most cringe thing I've ever watched! I'll stick to the original show, thanks.


Have you watched any of these?

-Emma
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4 June 2018

May Reads


I'm finally getting round to reading some of my most anticipated books of the year, and it's always interesting to see if they live up to the hype. May was a pretty good reading month for me - all in all the books I read had some dark themes but managed to present important messages. If you've been looking for something new to read, maybe one of these will appeal...

Almost Love by Louise O'Neill
Louise O'Neill is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Her books explore some incredibly dark topics and are always told in an incredibly realistic, gripping way. Almost Love is about toxic relationships and learning to find worth in yourself. When Sarah starts seeing Matthew, in secret, she gets addicted to being desired by him and believes love is supposed to hurt. She distances herself from her friends and family, and is on the verge of losing her job - slowly she starts sacrificing everything to be with him. I found this book refreshing because we don't see enough unlikeable women in fiction - we're much more accustomed to tolerating male anti-heroes. I think what I like most about Louise O'Neill's books is how she doesn't always present a happy ending, as that's not always real life. Here we have a woman trying to navigate life and her relationships - she may make bad decisions but real people screw up and make mistakes. This book really doesn't sugarcoat love and romance, and I think for that reason it's an important story.

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman*
Radio Silence became one of my favourite books, so I was thrilled to get my hands on Alice Oseman's latest release. This one is about Angel Rahimi, who is obsessed with a pop-rock trio of teenage boys, The Ark, who are incredibly famous. It also follows the perspective of the group's frontman, Jimmy, who is transgender and suffers from anxiety. The two are unexpectedly thrust together and it turns out they can learn something from each other. This book explores modern teenage life and on the other hand the effect fame can have on someone so young and vulnerable. The themes in Alice Oseman's books are always incredibly fresh and interesting - I loved seeing the perspective of a band member, one that it is rarely portrayed. Diversity in books is also so important, and I love how different religions and genders were represented here. However, I didn't so much enjoy the actual plot line of this because I found it pretty farfetched and too jumbled. I loved the idea of this book more than the actual story, but in saying that I still think it's worth a read as it explores really important and interesting themes.

Honor Code by Kiersi Buckhart*
I love reading books about boarding schools, but this one explores the darker side of those institutions. Starting off like any young adult book, I didn't think there was anything too special about it to start off with, however once the main storyline gets underway I found myself captivated. Starting her first year at Edwards Academy, Sam is determined to work hard in order to get into Harvard, but her dream is sacrificed when something terrible happens to her on campus. I've read a few books about teenagers who are sexually assaulted and silenced, but I found this one was pretty realistic to what would happen to victims in real life (the sad reality). Despite being somewhat mundane at the beginning, it really picked up speed in the second half and had a surprising twist at the end. This story opens up discussion and shows how rape victims are harassed and silenced, and sometimes due to power and privilege, justice isn't served.


*Review Copy

-Emma
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31 May 2018

Book Mail


Now that it's winter where I live, there's nothing I love more than sinking into a hot bath with a good book. I have plenty to choose from, including the latest Juno Dawson and Celeste Ng's next book (you know I enjoyed Everything I Never Told You a lot!). Here's everything that's made it's way to my letter box recently (or you know, the old-fashioned way by book store)... open your goodreads app stat!

Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan*
Judging by the title and the cover, this book is right up my street. Robert is a struggling author who often visits Paris to spend some time away from his wife and daughters. But when he vanishes for a significant time period, his family escapes to the city to try and find him. They turn to a manuscript Robert left behind and books set in Paris to help them on their journey to locating him, picking up more clues as they go. As Paris is such a romantic, gorgeous city I am looking forward to reading this, if only for the setting.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland
Coincidentally this story has similarities to the above, in that it involves a bookstore and some sort of mystery from what I can gather. Reading the line "Loveday Cardew prefers books to people" certainly caught my attention. The story starts off at a York bookshop where Loveday works and finds refuge in. However, something disrupts her routined life and everything changes. Apparently this is emotional and heart-rending, so I'm very intrigued about Lost for Words.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I feel like many people love and relate to Celeste Ng's books. Since finishing Everything I Never Told You, I've been eager to get my hands on her next release, Little Fires Everywhere. I'm hoping it will be as moving and captivating. Set in a suburb called Shaker Heights where everything is seemingly perfect and full of successful people, a new resident arrives and the carefully ordered community is shaken up. This has so many glowing reviews, including from Matt Haig and Reese Witherspoon.

Clean by Juno Dawson
Even though this is far from what I usually read about, I love Juno Dawson's writing so much it was hard to resist buying Clean. Described as something along the lines of Gossip Girl mixed with Girl, Interrupted, the story follows teen socialite Lexi as she enters rehab for her drug addiction. In a podcast I was listening to with Juno as a guest, she described how she wanted to write something very different from what she has in the past. I'm sure it will be amazing, because I find Juno's writing to be so compelling and easy to read.


Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
I have just started reading this, and I already like the premise and the characters. Juliet writes letter to her mother who has passed away, placing them at her grave every few days. One day, Declan, a guy who is doing community service at the graveyard, comes across one of the letters and he can't resist writing back. They open up to each other, not aware that they actually know each other at high school. This sounds like a pretty easy read but one that should hopefully have some emotional impact!

*Review Copy


Do you like the sound of any of these books?

-Emma
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27 May 2018

May Playlist


There have been so many amazing album releases this month that I found it hard to pick just one or two songs from each artist. It started off with Beach House and their wonderfully atmospherical album 7, however Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino has stolen the show for me. As I'm sure you'll know if you're an Arctic Monkeys fan, it's a very different album but it's a change I've welcomed with open arms. Being a fan of The Last Shadow Puppets, it makes for a much easier transition into album number six. I could go on for ages about Alex Turner's lyrics and creative ideas, but it's enough to say it's been on repeat for two weeks now, and it just gets better with every listen - my favourite songs are American Sports and the title track. Otherwise, Dirty Computer is a fantastic listen and I looove it. I also can't stop playing James Bay's song Pink Lemonade, closely followed by Wasted On Each Other which has the perfect beat to walk home to ~because I'm cool like that~. Lastly, I'll give my girl FKA Twigs a mention as I've been listening to her EP here and there. Time to release new music, I think?! That's it from me, here's the playlist...





-Emma
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12 May 2018

New in Beauty: May


Generally, I try and limit my beauty purchases each month but recently I've picked up a few essentials you could probably classify as 'boring', however they've proved pretty practical so far! My skincare routine has had a bit of an uplift, I've added a new beauty tool to the mix, and I've switched up my hair washing regime.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
This iconic Cetaphil cleanser has been around for absolutely ages and I'm almost certain you'll know someone who has it in their bathroom cabinet. I have heard both good and bad things about it, but decided to buy a small bottle because my skin was having a freak out. I actually used to use this a few years ago, and while it didn't give me drastic results, it did keep my skin looking calm. I felt the cleansers I was using before either dried my skin out or were too heavy for use in the morning. I'm sure there's a better alternative out there, but until I find it I'll keep using this in the morning and an oil cleanser at night.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
I have heard amazing things about this cream over the past few years and I've always wanted to try it but it has never been readily available in New Zealand until recently. It sounds slightly crazy, but after just one use I could tell a difference in my skin; nothing drastic, but my complexion and breakouts were less red looking. I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and I'm really impressed. I use it in place of my morning moisturiser and it works as such a great makeup base because it smoothes out pores and leaves skin feeling incredibly soft. As my skin gets quite oily during the day, this really appealed because it somewhat mattifies skin without drying it out. It's not like this has cured me of all pimples, but the existing scars I have on my face have noticeably gone down.

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo
Although this was a slightly expensive purchase (for a shampoo) I really wanted to try it after, again, hearing great things. Over the last few months I've noticed my hair gets really oily at the roots and dry at the ends, so I thought I could benefit from using a cleansing shampoo weekly to get rid of any product build-up and generally make things more squeaky clean. I've used this a couple of times in the last two weeks and I've found it does make my hair less slippy and oily, and it also does a good job at reducing frizz which I didn't expect. Overall, a thumbs up from me.

Morphe MB31 Angled Buffer Brush
While I still occasionally use a Beauty Blender with my foundation, I've been loving switching back to brushes because it buffs product in so much better. I knew my Real Techniques Buffer Brush really needed to be replaced, so I decided to try one of the Morphe brushes. While I could have gone for one of the more expensive ones, I'm really chuffed with this one. The synthetic bristles are unbelievably soft and I find the angled shape works well in places like around the nose and chin. I'd be interested to know what their other brushes are like.


Have you tried any of these products?

-Emma

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3 May 2018

April Reads


I think it's a really exciting time to be an avid reader, with so many good releases set for the coming months. Along with new releases, I've been trying to buy and read books that I've heard really great things about - you know the books that everyone goes on about? In doing so I think I found one of my favourite books I've ever read. I've also tried to read a mix of non-fiction and fiction as I can get pretty stuck in my ways and read the same type of books over and over. I finally tackled Richard Ayoade's The Grip of Film, which I've been meaning to read since it's release and She, a book about some of the world's most well-known and unknown renegade women. If you're looking for a new read, sit tight! Here's everything I read last month...

She: A Celebration of Renegade Women by Harriet Hall
Harriet Hall, a journalist who mainly writes about fashion and feminism, was a guest on Emma Gannon's podcast Ctrl Alt Delete, and I really enjoyed hearing about the process of writing this book. She was commissioned to write a book about famous rebellious and traitorous women who defied the odds in one way or another. There's a real mix of women in here, from the very well-known to the women you've never heard of - and she makes an effort to make the book as diverse as possible. As each women gets just one page of writing, this is really easy and accessible to read and you hardly get bored hearing about the amazing things women have done throughout history despite men sometimes getting all the credit. This is such a lovely coffee table type book with it's beautiful cover and lovely illustrations, but equally very substantial and well researched - in other words it's not just a pretty book.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
When I saw the title of this book, I was very intrigued for obvious reasons, and as I delved into it, I could see what an interesting and unique concept it was. Set in an alternate world, a company called Death-Cast calls people to tell them they will die some time that day, so they can say their goodbyes and enjoy their last day alive. An app called 'Last Friend' allows strangers to connect for comfort on their last day, and this is how the two main characters meet. Both teen boys have different backgrounds and are almost opposites of each other - one is anxious and scared of the world, and the other has had a hard life and more of a careless attitude. Personally, I found the idea more compelling than the actual book - parts of it did drag slightly, although near the end it really picked up and was more thrilling. There are some interesting elements to this book and it's still one that keeps you guessing, but this didn't necessarily give me the emotional impact I was looking for unfortunately.


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This is one of those books that I think so many people would enjoy - it explores themes that we can all relate to and it grabs you from the beginning. Set in the 1970s in small-town Ohio, the book follows a Chinese American family. When parents Marilyn and James Lee discover their daughter Lydia has been found dead in a lake, their family is thrown into chaos. Written so we see the perspective of the whole Lee family, everyone starts to question what really happened to Lydia as they explore their past and the secrets they've kept. I found it was so easy to get into, and even the more slow-moving parts were gripping and interesting. Ultimately it made me think about how we never really know what is going on in someone else's head, even someone you live with and see every day. This book was written beautifully and bought up all kinds of emotions in me, so I couldn't give it anything other than 5 stars - definitely one to add to my 'favourite books of all time' list.

The Grip of Film by Richard Ayoade
This is a tricky one, because while I really love Richard Ayoade and I get the idea behind it, I can't say I enjoyed reading this book. It's 'written' by Gordy Lasure (but actually by Richard himself), a misogynistic Scottish film buff who gives his take on what makes a good movie. Richard's (or Gordy's) humour is quite peculiar and the references are hard to follow sometimes which made me feel lost most of the time when reading. The humour is also very, very repetitive - Gordy is quite the character! There were some parts I found funny, but I guess it depends if you like satire or not. I'm still happy I own this book because the cover is amazing - (could I have it in poster form please?)


Do you want to read any of these books?

-Emma

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28 April 2018

April Playlist


Already this year is shaping up to be a great one for music. With three of my favourite bands set to release albums in the next month - Arctic Monkeys I'm looking at you - I almost can't contain my excitement. My April playlist consists of more dark and moody songs c/o Beach House and my new love Cigarettes After Sex. With very similar vibes, I know I'll be pressing play on their albums for some time to come. Blossoms, of course, have just released their second album. I fell in love with the relatively new band last year when their self-titled debut album came out and even bought the vinyl - a sure sign I'm a fan. Having had a listen through Cool Like You, my favourite songs so far are Stranger Still and Giving Up The Ghost. In other news, I've discovered Declan McKenna and more recently, Twin Shadow, after his song with HAIM caught my eye. Exciting times! With that small recap over and done with, here's April's playlist...





-Emma

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