Thursday, 16 November 2017

Blogging on a Budget




Hello again guys; I’m sure that many of you who have been reading my blog for a while will have realised that I mention being a budget a lot of the time. I’m not ashamed of being on a budget, a part of life is learning how to look after your money. However, I have to admit many bloggers and YouTubers make it seem like lots of money is needed to be successful and this post is about showing you that you can be a blogger and on a budget! It's not fun to be on a budget, but it is definitely something that it a part of growing older and reaching the age where saving needs to be more important than splurging. I don't make any money from my blog, so I'm very aware of the importance of keeping the costs low but the content great for my blog. All of these little tips are applicable to another blog, they're just little things that I've learnt through trial and error over the part eighteen months of blogging.

A creative mind

The one thing that any blogger definitely needs is a creative mind; you need to be able to think of content, take decent photos and write eloquently. However, all of those things also come from time, passion and practise. No blogger starts off as a complete professional, with thousands of views and it’s important to remind yourself that each blog and therefore blogger is unique, so avoid comparing yourself and your blog to others. Concentrate instead on wanting to improve your content for yourself and your readers, rather than giving up because someone else is more established so therefore more competent in various areas. This is something that I have to tell myself in a regular basis, as I always feel like my blog isn't professional or perfect enough, so I know how hard it is. However, I like to remind myself that no one else has a blog like mine and that is the beauty of blogging.

A decent camera

During one of my very poor times, I regrettably sold my canon DSLR on eBay and although I miss it, I can manage to live without it. One of my life’s vices is my iPhone; for all of my blog photography I use the camera of my iPhone 7 Plus and use free editing apps to change the brightness, contrast, depth of field and add some cute lens flares. I studied photography at university and I do want to reinvest in a DSLR, but that’s more because I miss the one I used to have more than because my phone camera isn’t up to scratch (the camera on my iPhone is more than adequate for taking photographs). It’s more about the layout of the image than anything else; it’s difficult to tell what camera anyone uses as all of the cameras are of excellent quality these days, even on phones or other portable devices. 





Blog photo props

For my blog, I like to use a variety of props around the centrepiece of the photo (which is usually a book). I use perfume bottles, books, makeup brushes and eyeshadow palettes; in fact, all of those things are fairly affordable. You can buy empty perfume bottles for as little as 99p (minus postage costs) on eBay and I’ve done that myself in the past - one of my favourite props is a £70 bottle that I paid 99p for and no one has ever noticed that it is empty because the bottle alone looks fabulous! All of my props are laid out on a fluffy cream rug that I paid £8 for and it’s perfect as it’s both pretty and neutral to use as a background as it goes with everything. It’s super easy to fake a photogenic lifestyle whilst spending as little as possible, although it is important to be resourceful. I've heard of other bloggers photographing flatlays on tiles or squares of wood, too, which if you buy a sample size is very affordable and looks really effective against the bright colours and aesthetic goodness of products and perfume bottles.

Unique ideas

Probably the most important part for the creation of a blog is to have the ability to think of excellent content. If every blogger was posting the same opinion, topics or images then nobody would want to read it, so it is very important to try and create a range of idea that are uniquely yours. For many weeks I had my 'Happy Things' series which was a great way to talk about the positive side of life and in turn, my issues with mental health. It wasn't something I'd seen another blogger do (although I'm sure that someone, somewhere in the world will have done something similar) and it was also very important to me, personally. It's important to post regularly but not constantly repeat the same ideas; variety is key. Don't limit yourself to a niche, for example fashion as that's how you lose the creative side to blogging.

Passion

This is something that is completely free; to start a blog is very easy, all you need to do is turn on a device make an account on blogger, wordpress or something similar and then write. However, in reality it is actually a lot of time and effort to keep up writing a blog and you really need to be passionate about what you do. It's so important to remember that blogging isn't about making money; it's about wanting to share your ideas and to an extent, yourself with the world.







Tuesday, 14 November 2017

New In: Make Up



Hello guys; it feels like it’s been ages since I did a beauty related post, although that’s also likely to be because I haven’t bought too many beauty items recently. However, I’m a bit of a nosy person myself and so I love seeing what other people have bought so I thought I’d share my purchases with you, too. There’s not many items, but that is realistic for someone like me, who lives on a budget month in, month out. As it’s getting colder, I decided to refresh my make up collection a little to reflect the season; basically, I wanted some red, plum and nude in there somewhere as the festive season is almost upon us and it’s always good to experiment!

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer - Ivory

This is actually fast becoming an everyday make up staple for me; good value for money priced as £7.99, as a little product does go a long way too. The packaging isn’t ugly, but definitely isn’t my favourite either, but the concealer is a good consistency and covers up any spots, blemishes or dark circles really well and it lasts a good 12+ hours, which is a bonus as I’m not a fan of reapplying throughout the working day. The only thing that bothers me about this product is that even ivory (which is the lightest shade) is slightly too dark for my skin tone, which is a shame as I would definitely repurchase this concealer if they made a porcelain version.

Maybelline The Rocket Volum’ Express Mascara - Waterproof

To anyone who read my blog regularly, you will know how much I love this mascara, although this is the first time that I’ve tried the waterproof version. One of the reasons why I love this mascara so much is that for £7.99, it’s not only cheap but it also does wat it sets out to; whenever I use this mascara on my eyelashes they looks super volumised and separated which is the kind of effect I want to achieve with any mascara. The waterproof version does dry faster than the regular version so it’s harder to add multiple coats without creating clumpiness, which is annoying but the waterproof version is much better for the colder weather as once it’s on, it doesn’t come off! The only difference in the packaging is that the text is a light blue to the dark blue bottle which looks lovely; Maybelline always have lovely packaging for mascaras.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lipstickk - Plum This Show, Moca, Fire Starter

In all honesty, I have become an absolute addict to liquid lipsticks over the past year; I love how once they’re applied they rarely come off. On the whole, I do tend to gravitate towards nude shades as I like to look fairly natural when I wear a full face of make up, which is why I chose to purchase Moca after seeing various YouTube videos raving about it. It’s definitely the shade that I’ll be using the most often as it’s so versatile; it can be worn for any occasion. Each lipstick is £5.99, so fairly affordable for the pockets too. Moca needs only one coat to fully cover the lips, but unfortunately Plum This Way needs two or three coat as it’s a little more patchy on application. However, the formula is the same, so I’m assuming that’s because of the colour being more intense; often dark berry toned lipsticks need a second coat or so to make the product fully cover the lips so I wasn’t surprised by that. Whereas Fire Starter is a bright red, but a blue toned red so it suits my pale, pink toned skin well. Unlike Plum This Way, Fire Starter doesn’t need multiple coast as it’s opaque from the first coat so overall you use less product, which is a bonus. All of three lipsticks have the same formula and it feels nice and light on the lips; it does dry out the lips a little, but nothing unexpected or unmanageable. Just wear some lip balm before application to minimise the dryness. These are really lovely quality, in terms of both the packaging and the formula; they’re great value for money and definitely going to be in my make up bag for the rest of this season.

Sleek iDivine Eyeshadow Palette - All Night Long

Sleek as a make up brand are one that I’ve had varying degrees of success with; the products are always excellent quality, but as I’m so pale, occasionally there isn’t a shade pale enough for me. However, they’re always amazingly affordable, for example this eyeshadow palette is priced at £8.99 and comes with twelve different shades, including neutral tones, mattes, shimmers and berry/bronze tones. It’s perfect for this season as it’s range of shades are definitely aimed at more bold, experimental looks and I can’t wait to play with these colours more over the next couple of months. They’re blendable and buildable, although I’m not a fan of the brush that comes in the palette, unfortunately, but that’s such a small detail it’s not a problem. Definitely going to be trying out some smoky eye looks with the bronze shades using some different sized brushes to create a smudged, messy but flawless look.




Saturday, 11 November 2017

Ways to care for your Mental Health




Hello again guys; today’s post is about a fairly important topic. Mental health is no laughing matter and actually many more people suffer from some form of mental illness than they even realise themselves. Anxiety is a massive issue for many people, myself included and so I think that it’s super important to talk about it and also share some advice, some tips that actually helped improve my life in a variety of ways. All of these little additions to my daily, weekly or monthly routines have really helped shaped my mental health over the past year or so and I really want to make a difference if I can. Raising awareness involves talking about things and I do try to be really honest with whoever reads my blog, so here we are;

Find a hobby

This is probably the one thing that really changed my life. I started this blog (with a different name) back when I was at university and unsurprisingly, like many of my projects back in the day, it got shelved. However, roughly a year afterward I decided to give the blog a major overhaul with a new design, name and focus and I haven’t looked back. I don’t stick to a religious upload schedule but instead I post what I want, when I want. I’ve always loved photography, being creative and reading and this blog represents all of those things. Another hobby is reading; I used to read a lot as a child but had never read as an adult, but I've found that it is a great way to pass some time positively. A hobby can be something as simple as reading on the journey to work, anything that will ultimately help you to relax and bring some enjoyment into some of your free time.

Exercise

This isn’t as scary as it sounds; I’m definitely not the most active of people, but I do try and go for a walk every so often to clear my mind and think freely. I enjoy seeing the cityscape and noticing changes across the landscape as I walk. Often, I'll take some photographs of the landscape as I walk to remind myself of why I enjoy seeing the world and how it can change in just a few months or years. Having a good walk does help you to reflect on life and think about the changes you can make to improve how you feel about your life, too. If I'm walking alone I like to put headphones in and listen to music to create a kind of rhythm between my body and my mind.

Talk to people

There is always someone out there who will listen to you; even as an adult I constantly have to remind myself that it is not about how many friends I have, it's how many of them are great friends to me. I don't tell people how I feel often enough, although I'm slowly learning to talk about how I feel much more often, even if talking involves saying that I’m not feeling my best via blog post or tweet; that is much better than simply ignoring how I feel. It’s so important to be aware of how you feel and telling someone, anyone that you’re having a problem is the only way that you can start to rebuild yourself and take control of the negative thoughts and feelings.

Let it all out

Life isn't easy and every person struggles at some point. The important thing is to remember that someone cares about you. If you don't want to talk to someone, write your feelings down in a diary or on a laptop then simply forget about it; the idea is to let it out without involving another person if you don't want to, so you can be as personal as you'd like and no one has to know if you don't want them to.

Just Breathe

It sounds like an easy thing, but sometimes stress and feeling down affect your physical health too; it is so important to take the time to simply breathe. When I'm not feeling my best I try to count to ten carefully breathing in and out to regulate my breathing and stop a panic attack arising. Sometimes without even realising you don’t breathe properly and it is seriously important to think about your physical health as equally important as your mental health as they work together; you have to look after yourself in every way, not just one way.







Friday, 10 November 2017

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things



On the whole, I'm fascinated by remarkable debut novels; particularly when they are both complicated and beautifully written. Ruth Hogan definitely achieves both of things with this book; the title and cover artwork are incredibly eye-catching, encouraging you to notice it whenever and wherever it sits on a shelf. Anthony Peardew has a fantastic and extensive collection of lost things. An author whose life was deeply affected by grief and loss, collecting lost items became a vice of sorts; he also began to write short stories based on the items that he collected. He carefully labelled all of his collection individually with dates, times and locations in the hope that one day he would be able to reunite the items with their owners. Unfortunately, old age does make it difficult and so he makes plans to leave his house and his collection to Laura, his housekeeper. Naturally, this results in a variety of gossip that puts poor Laura at the centre of attention in the village, but what comes with the deal is that she begins the process of returning the lost things to their rightful owners.

Anthony leaves her a letter explaining all of this, as well as suggesting that she befriends a neighbour but instead her neighbour asks Laura to be friends. Of all of the characters, I fell in love with Sunshine. Her namesake is the perfect representation of the happiness she brings out in those around her. Alongside Freddy, the gardener and Carrot, a rescue dog, the companions start creating a website depicting all of the lost things and their stories in the hope that people will begin to claim them and therefore bring some happiness to Andrew's memory. Padua, now Laura's home (thanks to Andrew) and forever her sanctuary after escaping an unhappy marriage, also houses the love and loss of Andrew and Therese, who the reader learns more about as the story progresses. Sunshine, seems to understand things that both Freddy and Laura don't, about Therese, the lost things and even the companions themselves. They discover the reason behind Anthony's collection and attempt to seek out the item to no avail, although they do begin having success with the lost things, even adding their own items (at Sunshine's suggestion) to the collection as time goes on.

There is also a parallel narrative side to the story; one that describes the loving friendship of two people, Eunice and Bomber. These two have a fantastic relationship, one that can only be seen as the best kind, although sadly without the romance that Eunice craved. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses their relationship develop from the tender age of 21 until old age, alongside some tragedies that happen along the way. Their relationship is actually a complicated one as they work together at a Publishers and remain best friends in all areas of their lives, throwing off taunts from Bomber's immature sister, watching his father struggle with Dementia and his mother die, whilst never forgetting to enjoy themselves through watching films or going to Brighton together. Bomber's dogs, Douglas and Baby Jane also add to the story; both rescue dogs and eventually laid to rest with their owner, were great additions to the plot, often being described in such detail that they were super imaginable. Bomber and Eunice's shared love of dogs and the simple things in life really accentuated how beautiful their friendship really was.

Eventually the two time-lines overlap, through the present and that too, is a beautiful moment. All of the characters have their own little mannerisms and opinions, yet each one seems completely realistic, almost like someone that you could know in your own life. Overall, it was a story of broken people, each one of them had some kind of pain that they were going through, as well as love, which was what kept them alive. The two stories were really well interwoven, which is something that was unexpected right until the end; all of the main characters from each story were lovable, but not perfect as their faults were clearly laid out. The four legged friends were lovely additions, Baby Jane in particular seemed to take parts of the novel into her own with her protection of her loved ones. It was lovely to read a story which put a young girl with Down's Syndrome at the forefront of it in a good light; Sunshine was an extraordinary character who really worked well alongside her companions. Her character was written sensitively and I felt she was the best part of the novel. This novel was a pleasure to read, it captured so many emotions and themes whilst flowing beautifully; keeping my engagement with every turn of a page. I also loved the simplistic nature of the lost things, the idea that everything has a story, regardless of how mundane it looks from the outside. Highly recommend reading this book.




Thursday, 9 November 2017

November Moodboard

Hello again guys; I’m actually really looking forward to the end of this month as I’m going to Amsterdam with my boyfriend and some our friends, which is super exciting. As much as I’m not a fan of flying, it is only an hour and the city looks absolutely beautiful. There’s so much to see and do that I doubt I’ll be able to fit it all in, but we’ll see, haha. All of the images below are from Pinterest using the tags Amsterdam, November and Ear Piercing. Just a little disclaimer: I don’t own any of these images. It’s definitely getting a lot darker and colder, which can be a bit stressful in terms of mental health, but in the other hand, having a lie in snuggled up under a warm duvet feels like heaven in the colder months, so sometimes it’s about finding the little things that really matter. At the moment I’m really inspired to revamp my earrings and have a kind of set style; I’m in love with dainty gold jewellery so I’m on the hunt for some, fingers crossed I’ll be starting with my rook as it doesn’t match the other jewellery at all. I’m also debating what to get for my next piercing, Pinterest is amazing for finding inspiration for a variety of things. What kinds of things are inspiring you this month? Let me know in the comments! :)









Saturday, 4 November 2017

Book Review: All the Bright Places




Recently, I’ve been indulging Young Adult fiction more regularly; although this is fairly unintentional. I decided to read All the Bright Places after seeing various reviews comparing the novel to The Fault in Our Stars, a novel that is extremely famous within the YA community, and one that I enjoyed. However, I disagree that the two novels are similar as they explore death in very different ways. I was almost immediately intrigued by the idea that the novel is about ‘the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die’. Within teenagers, depression is something that is common but not widely treated so its nice to see two characters with different live and perspectives suffering from it; I also liked that the two characters were different genders as that added to the idea that depression can affect anyone, male or female and from any walk of life as one character is privileged and the other fairly underprivileged. The running themes of identity, mental health and relationships are handled carefully by the author, not exaggerated and seem like believable issues for not only teenagers, as they are problems that can arise in many people so therefore the novel is fairly easy to relate to on a personal level.

Violet struggles to live because of a car accident that she survived; in many ways her suffering can be described as survivor’s guilt, whereas Theodore (Finch) has had a troubled upbringing which has really affected his ability to live. They become attached to each other after they somehow save each others life, therefore forming an unbreakable bond. Finch is fascinated by death, near constantly dreaming up ways of committing suicide and weighing up the pros and cons of various ways of doing so. In some ways this seems like a coping mechanism, a way of finding a reason to be alive. Both teenagers are seeing therapists but still struggle with living a day to day life for different reasons. The pair truly brought out the best within each other; Violet became more outgoing, Finch learnt to find happiness through living his version of a perfect day, encouraged by Violet.

This book is somewhat unique because even the ‘perfect day’ was essentially having good company and exploring, travelling and finding even the most obscure of places to represent what somewhere (and something) can mean to someone. It references the powerful feelings of first love as well as loss. Forever is simply a few months or years. Violet and Theo (Finch) definitely believe that love can fix everything, that it can cover all of cracks caused by emotional pain and suffering but as time goes on, they also realise that life isn’t quite as simple as that, but regardless they try so hard to fight for the other through their shared love. Life and death are the raw themes of the novel and coupled with teenage angst, the subjects are explored well. The constant attempts to find reasons to stay alive, focusing on each other, the time they spend with each other and the want to complete all of their life goals before it is too late are some of the most important elements to the plot.

Some novels are difficult to read because of complicated prose, others for their difficult subject matters. This novel is one that is hard to put down as you become so engaged with the two main characters and actually they have a beautiful love story. However, I did find this book exhausting. It was hard to see Violet and Finch really seem to find something in one another, only for it to swiftly end; love doesn’t always cover the cracks in life’s other areas, unfortunately. Their love is pretty intense, as love can often be but overall I felt like the author did an excellent job of recreating the feelings of teenage love, loss and angst. I actually become so engrossed in their backstories, their reasons for being so depressed and eventually in their love story that I genuinely believed that their love would be enough, although it wasn’t. This novel explored a range of themes well and I truly felt so engaged with the plot to the point that I was genuinely upset at various points, particularly with how the story ended. Many have suggested that this novel glamourises death, but i disagree; to me, it felt like the novel was portraying life as positive and death as negative. Overall, I felt as though the novel had an overriding message that it is of utmost importance to not gloss over mental health; that you should never be afraid to cry for help if you need it, which is why I found it to be so powerful. Generally, I do enjoy books that encourage you to think and also stick in your mind; this novel is one that achieves both of those things and therefore why I recommend reading it.





Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Snippets of Life: September // October

Hello again guys; this post is a summary of my last couple of months. Autumn and Spring are the months that I usually prefer as I don’t like to be too cold or too hot (yes, I’m one of those people!) I actually hadn’t realised how little I’d been posting over the past month but I don’t really have a schedule to stick to I guess that’s hardly surprising. September was a good month, I spent a lot of it living my life and not worrying about taking photos or documenting what I did. I definitely was trying to be more spontaneous during that month, whereas October has been more of a reflective month. I’ve spent the last few months (trying to) not worry about my weight and instead focus on enjoying food and drink and company, which actually was refreshing. Probably the best part of the last two months was visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour; I absolutely loved it and I made some great memories that day. Plus, it was like reliving all of my childhood dreams in one day! I definitely plan on going again as there’s so much to see and do it’s impossible to take it all in with one visit. I’ve had a good couple of months but I feel like I want to document my life a bit more again; for two months of photos I feel like I don’t have many memories to look back on. One of the best things about blogging is that you document all of the little things and I feel like I’ve been forgetting to do that recently. So here’s to having a great November and I’ll be posting again soon! :)







Sunday, 29 October 2017

Book Review: Never Let Me Go




Kazuo Ishiguro is one of those contemporary authors who never ceases to write; it feels like his books are everywhere and that everyone has heard of him. Never Let Me Go is a novel that I have been meaning to read for a long time; many years ago I watched the film but I’ve never managed to find the time to read the book until now. To say that this novel is beautifully written is an understatement; Kathy is a great narrator, appearing to be both reliable and engaging with a fantastic memory for any amount of small details. However, as the novel progresses the reader does begin to question whether Kathy is too easy to accept their fate; too quick to provide excuses and too happy to concentrate on the positive parts of their lives. Kathy rarely discusses her own feelings, often preferring to remember the past and describing how others felt. This book opens up many questions about both morality and mortality and not all of them are pleasant; in fact this novel is hard to read at times as it does hint at some uncomfortable subjects. In ethical terms, you could argue that there are many issues present; raising children to be very intelligent and then suddenly give up their lives, to have no opportunities to have a real future creates a range of questions and I’m not sure that I agree with the notion at all.

Kathy is a ‘carer’ and so we as readers see the worlds from her perspective, including her memories. Many of her memories contain some fond thoughts about her childhood, in particular her friends, acquaintances and guardians (who are fairly similar to teachers and parents in one) at her School, Hailsham which can be compared to a Boarding School except they don’t have holidays or ever leave, in fact. In all honesty, the majority of the memories that Kathy shares are not the happiest, although she seems to treasure them, probably because they are all she has and many of her childhood friends have ‘completed’ which is alternative way of describing death. Kathy explains (via her various recollective memories) that much of their teaching throughout their schooling is based around them being donors. Effectively, all of them are cloned, intended to donate organs for those who need transplants for various illnesses. Donation is something that is often mentioned and often in a way that suggests all of them are afraid of the future as it is so unknown to them. Many of them struggle past the second donation, however Kathy does explain that it does depend on the individual. Tommy seems quite proud of reaching a fourth donation, almost as though it is an honour. I got the impression that Kathy was afraid to be a donor herself, much preferring to be a carer. Being a carer definitely suits her personality, she’s naturally a sensitive soul.

Carers are trained to look after those who are recovering after making donations, which is Kathy’s role; considering that the majority of her childhood friends and acquaintances are guardians (who are fairly similar to teachers and parents in one) at her School, Hailsham which can be compared to a Boarding School except they don’t have holidays or ever leave, in fact. In all honesty, the majority of the memories that Kathy shares are not the happiest, although she seems to treasure them, probably because they are all she has and many of her childhood friends have ‘completed’ which is alternative way of describing death. Kathy explains (via her various recollective memories) that much of their teaching throughout their schooling is based around them being donors. Effectively, all of them are cloned, intended to donate organs for those who need transplants for various illnesses.
Carers are trained to look after those who are recovering after making donations, which is Kathy’s role; considering that the majority of her childhood friends and acquaintances are donors from what she describes. In fact, she even considers herself an excellent carer, having cared for many years. This novel is a sad one; I found it hard to read. It is almost impossible to understand how difficult it must have been for these children to reach adulthood and realise not only what they are, but that they have been lied to. I cant even fathom how it must be to realise that you are so different to the outside world; the characters in this novel are not only complex, but also incredibly really to deal with their difficult lives, they’re so brave in many ways. Many people go through life believing that they are alive for a purpose, although that purpose is usually dependant on choice whereas the characters in this novel are alive for a singular, unavoidable purpose with no choices at all.

Overall, I really loved this book; as much as it was difficult to read due to some of the morality and mortality questions that bothered me, the writing is undeniably beautiful. In general I do love a book that makes me think, that encourages me to question the truth of what I’m reading as well as think more about social issues. One of reasons why I adored this book so much is that the underlying morality issues were carefully described; the subtlety of the prose made the meaning behind the words  even more haunting to me. In terms of length, this book isn’t unreasonably short, but it isn’t long either so in a sense it is an easy read, although one that is very hard going in terms of subject matter. Ishiguro’s characterisation and the narrative voice of Kathy were excellent, particularly as there was a sense of mystery, until the big reveal which turned out not to matter anymore. Naturally many ethical questions arose after reading this novel, but ultimately I do recommend it as I couldn’t stop thinking about it during reading and still after reading it, which is always the sign of a fantastic read.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Favourite YouTubers #9

Hello again guys; I can’t believe how far into October it is already! Like it’s actually amazing how quickly this year is flying past, before I know it it’ll be new year at this rate... One thing that I do enjoy about October is watching vlogs on YouTube during that month. I love getting nice and cozy in bed and snuggling up to watch various Vlogtober series’. There are a few YouTubers that I watch every year and genuinely enjoy seeing life through their eyes for a month. I love the behind the scenes, no filter, all honesty videos and blogs at a fantastic way to get to know a person, rather than a planned 15  minute video. Aside from vlogs, I do also like watching book bloggers at the moment; I like seeing what other people are reading and what they recommend.




ExtraSunbeamsJess

Jessie is a YouTuber who I admire for her honesty; I love that YouTube comes second to her studies and so I do enjoy her vlogtober series every year as although she doesn’t seem to do much other than study, it’s realistic and I find her vlogs calming. Jess comes across as very chilled but also very dedicated to her work; I wish I had been as dedicated to my studies, oops. I also like how her vlogs include little titbits like outfits of the day, room tours and talks about what books she’s currently reading and if she likes the content and writing style. At the moment she’s got a lot of montages of her day with not massive amounts of talking or activities other than studying, but I like the realism of seeing her days so simply.




MandevilleVlogs

I’d previously been enjoying the MandevWeekly series that they had on their main channel, but actually I’m enjoying their daily vlogging channel more. I like how they’re mixed in more than other daily vlogging channels as they each vlog their day so every other day you get to see a different sister, with a different life and a different editing style. Grace is definitely the sister with the very cool home and cooking shots, whereas Amelia tends to vlog going out to clubs and pubs with friends but both of them are equally interesting. Where the sisters are currently partaking in daily vlogging, I doubt they’ll be doing vlogtober or vlogmas as they seem dedicated to keeping up the consistent uploads and I’m enjoying seeing their different personalities, lives and friendships.



RhiannonAshleeVlogs

I’ve mentioned Rhiannon so often in my monthly YouTuber favourites, but honestly I do really love her vlogs. Personally, I really enjoy seeing how other people choose to live their lives and as someone who is childless, I never thought that I would find a family vlogger interesting, but I do. I subscribed to her vlogging channel back when she was known as Fashionrocksmysocks and obviously a lot has changed since then. I’m addicted to her vlogtober videos at the moment; it’s so relaxing to watch her and she seems so down to earth and determined to be an excellent mother. Her daughter is so sweet, especially now she’s starting to develop her own little personality and talking! Here’s hoping that she partakes in vlogmas with her lovely family.




LostInGringotts

I originally found Morgan through her range of Harry Potter related videos and I instantly liked her videos. She seems so lovely and down to earth; this month I’ve been binge watching her channel and I’ve watched a lot of content that really appeals to me. She’s a book, beauty, lifestyle and fashion based YouTuber, but my favourite content is the Harry Potter content, with videos including ‘how to make a butterbeer milkshake’, ‘huge Harry Potter book collection’ and ‘Ravenclaw merchandise collection’ to name a few that are not only interesting but also original. She also vlogs occasionally, although she’s not participating in vlogtober, it does look likely that she’ll be creating content for vlogmas which I look forward to.




Thursday, 26 October 2017

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child




As an avid Harry Potter fan (thank you, 1990-2000s childhood) I was naturally extremely excited when this novel was announced and I immediately pre-ordered it; however when I realised it was a play script and not the eighth novel that I had been anticipating I literally sat it on my bookshelf and ignored it. Growing up, during my education I was never a fan of reading plays so it’s fairly unsurprising that I was massively disappointed but recently I decided to just give in and read it, regardless of how much I was expecting to dislike the written format. As expected, I did struggle for the first fifty pages or so with the written format, but after that I did manage to forge that it is a play and simply concentrate on the action, rather than the format of the writing. Split into two parts, the first part is incredibly similar to what many fans will remember from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and also from the eighteen years later segment in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as it’s all about the all important first day of starting Hogwarts. I liked the idea that Mrs Weasley really influenced Harry’s life in a motherly way to the extent that “best do it at a run, if you’re nervous” is repeated by Harry to his son on his own first day of School, although I found that through the play format the reinforcement of this father/son (mother/son) bonding moment didn’t transfer as clearly.

One thing to remember is that where this script was always written with the intent of being a play, acted out onstage, it does speed through life as we see Albus and the other characters mature incredibly quickly. As a reader, you start off seeing his first day at Hogwarts and before long he’s suddenly in his fourth year; in a lot of ways the story would’ve been more successful as a second series of books but that was never going to happen, sadly. Ultimately, we see Rose, Albus and Scorpius start their first year together and we watch them develop as characters as well as wizards; almost immediately, Rose takes a dislike to Scorpius not only because he’s a Malfoy, but also because there are many strange rumours surrounding him and leaves her cousin, Albus with Scorpius in the compartment of the Hogwarts Express, deciding she wants to make better connected friends; you see a lot of Hermione’s intelligence and ambition in her characteristics. Due to Scorpius being a Malfoy, there is a definite expectation early on that he will have very anti-muggle born and generally unwelcome views, when in fact it is clear that he has been raised well; he becomes a favourite character very quickly as he’s both generous and kind, consistently looking out for Albus throughout the play. Both boys struggle to live up to a legacy that they don’t want; Scorpius struggles with the rumours surrounding his family and Albus naturally struggles due to his famous parents, and even his aunt and uncles, as Hermione is the Minister for Magic and Harry the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Even Ron, was famous due to his work with George with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes for their business was booming.

Within the first chapter, Albus is very different to the child you would expect; as one characters says after his sorting: “A Potter? In Slytherin? No way!” Which, although cruel isn’t really a surprising remark, particularly as his cousin and elder brother are both in Gryffindor, however he is in the same house as Scorpius so he does have a good friend with him. Later on in the play, his younger sister, Lily is also sorted into Gryffindor too, so it does seem like Albus is very different to his family, something which is explored within the script. Much of the script and overall plot focuses on how much Harry and Albus struggle to understand each other; Harry is definitely very different as a father as I would’ve expected him to be. There were many points where I was a bit frustrated with how Harry talks to other characters, for example Professor McGonagall, who he once truly respected. However, I think that you do have to remember that he is a successful Ministry man, one who has seen and done it all, so to speak and he is older, so therefore he wasn’t going to be the Harry everyone remembers. Ginny and Ron were characters who I really wanted to see more of; Ginny seemed too timid and Ron was too immature and took on the joker role; which personally, I was disappointed with. Hermione and Harry were definitely the more dominant characters in the play. Draco was a surprise, as he was actually a fantastic father figure and very supportive of both Scorpius and Albus; I liked how they kept the rivalry between him and the trio as that definitely seemed to true to the past. Some things will never change, it seems.

Overall, I really enjoyed this play, once I got past the awkward format there was a lot of information and action which did live up to expectations. Naturally, it was never going to be as good as the original series but obviously that was still a little disappointing, but arguably most of the disappointment stemmed from how different the characters seemed, particularly Harry; however all of the characters seemed to have exaggerated personality traits in some ways from what many fans would remember. That said, he, Harry and the other characters were teenagers during the original series and people do change with age, so in fairness it is highly plausible that their personalities woul have changed, as much as this is a bit of an adjustment. I think that the majority of fans from the original series will enjoy this script, although I’m sure that there will be some that won’t, but that’s because of its super fast paced plot line but ultimately it’s something to indulge in and enjoy. Honestly, I’m praying that one day I’ll be able to afford tickets to the pay as this script was definitely made to be seen and not read, but either way I loved it.




Saturday, 21 October 2017

October Playlist




1. Payphone - Maroon 5 (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
2. Sorry Not Sorry - Demi Lovato
3. Speakerphone - Rixton
4. Dusk Till Dawn - Zayn (feat. Sia)
5. Up - Olly Murs (feat. Demi Lovato)
6. Million Reasons - Lady GaGa
7. Black Magic - Little Mix
8. Crying in the Club - Camilla Cabello
9. Upredictable - Olly Murs & Louisa Johnson
10. It Ain’t Me - Kygo & Selena Gomez
11. Heart Attack - Demi Lovato
12. Helium - Sia
13. I Don’t Wanna Live Forever - Zayn & Taylor Swift
14. What About Us - P!nk
15. Touch - Little Mix

Hello again guys; it’s that time of the month where I collate fifteen songs that I’ve been loving to listen to on my journeys to and from work. As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while now will know, I always use an old iPod rather than my iPhone as I just find it easier; not only does it save some space on my iPhone, it also means I don’t have to drag a huge iPhone out of my bag to change songs, this iPod is small and lightweight so easily fits in my coat pocket, ready to be shuffled if I want to do so. I do have a fairly eclectic taste in music as I do listen to a huge variety of artists; what I choose to listen to is definitely influenced by my mood. During October, I’ve been enjoying high tempo, quite angsty music with some dance which is a bit random, but I’ve been loving these songs. Let me know in the comments what music you’ve been loving this month! :)




Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Book Review: The Miniaturist



After reading The Muse by Jessie Burton, I knew that I wanted to read her debut. I wasn’t disappointed, I love the whimsical, yet factual way that she writes. The Miniaturist takes inspiration from one of the many doll’s houses on display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Owned by Petronella Oortman, it then corresponds well with the main character of the novel. Nella arrives at her new home, her marital home with only herself and her pet bird, expecting to be greeted by her new husband before seeing only two servants and her new sister-in-law. She’s only just eighteen, but as a reader you have to remind yourself that this is a fairly ordinary situation for a seventeenth century young girl to put in. Her father has died and left her family very poor so as the eldest child, Nella has been expected to marry well to save her siblings. However, her new life seems to be a house full of secrets and not a single person welcomes her, especially not her new husband Johannes. Nella describes how her mother has given her an expectation of what married life will be like, but hers seems to be not at all what she expects, spending every night and many of her days alone and wondering why her husband is rarely at the house.

However, Nella is arguable lucky because she has married into the rich Brandt merchant family so her social standing is relatively high for such a young girl, although that it partly due to the fact that Johannes is at least twenty years older than she is. Johannes commissions a Cabinet (a doll’s house) which is a miniature model of her marital house as a wedding gift and she is given money from Marin, her sister-in-law to furnish the cabinet with which is where the Miniaturist becomes a player in the novel. Nella writes and commissions the Miniaturist for a few items, which she receives; however in the coming months she begins receiving items that she didn’t ask for. Cornelia, the maid and Marin believe the superstitions that miniatures bring bad luck, but Nella believes that they are leading the way, that there is something she must discover from the cryptic clues that she is being given. For such a young girl, Nella has a remarkable amount of strength. She is determined to be a good wife, regardless of what that means or how difficult it is; in time, her household do come to respect her and the decisions that she makes on behalf of them at various points in the novel.

There are many key players in this novel including Nella, Johannes, Cornelia, Marin and finally Otto, the manservant of the house, alongside the Meermans and the Miniaturist. Otto is the one charcter who stands of physically as he is African; there are many descriptions of him being treated differently and Nella is astounded to see him upon her arrival at her marital home. Through the range of characters as readers we witness a variety themes being explored, such as homophobia, sexuality, feminism, racism and sin. Early on, Nella realised that her dreams of having children are unlikely to ever happen and so some of the twists later on in the novel are completely unexpected. The house of secrets slowly unfolds and we are able to witness a range of unexpected events; somehow, over time, Nella does eventually become the official mistress of the house and often takes charge, which showed to the reader just how much she matured as the novel progressed. In fact, it was interested to see how much her character developed from a innocent child to a strong woman in the space of a few hundred pages. Whereas Johannes and Marin seemed to trust Nella more as time went on, almost encouraging her to think and work for herself, to protect their household. 

Overall, I really loved this book; Jessie Burton is a fantastic storyteller and honestly, I was surprised that this is a debut novel as it’s more or less flawlessly devised. However, one issue that I had with this novel is that the ends were not fully tied; too much was left to the readers imagination and on the one hand, that’s enjoyable as it does make you think, but on the other hand it’s also incredibly frustrating as I (and I’m sure many others) wanted full closure after so many tragic events. This novel drew me in very quickly as I loved the writing style and the plot line in general. There were a few discrepancies, however; for example I was fairly confused by where the Miniaturist came into the story, it felt like her character wasn’t really explored or developed enough and so neither was the suggested idea of superstition and witchcraft surrounding her craftsmanship which was a disappointment for me as I found the cabinet to be a key player in the overall plot for the majority of the novel. I suppose, in fairness that this discrepancy also fits with the lack of tying ends; perhaps I was expecting far too much as I enjoyed this novel so much. Even with the few disappointments, it was written beautifully enough that I can happily excuse Burton and encourage anyone reading this review to read this novel as it is a delight. I love the idea that everyone has secrets hidden in plain view.




Saturday, 14 October 2017

Harry Potter Studio Tour Haul



Hello guys; I thought that I would show you the things that I bought from the Harry Potter Studio Tour as I love reading or watching Hal’s myself and I have to say, I think I was fairly well behaved considering how much stuff I wanted to buy from the shop! I was literally like a child in a sweetshop, I’ve never seen so many different things that I want. I’m not usually a huge merchandise person, but to be honest it was impossible to resist in that shop. Not pictured is a photo of me in Gryffindor robes riding a broomstick, which was £14 so fairly expensive but I’d say it was worth it as I’ll always remember this visit when I look at it. Also missing from the photograph are two fridge magnets, one of Diagon Alley and one of the view of Hogwarts from the boats; they were £4 each and one of the more affordable items available. Throughout the tour, there are several different shops and not all items are available in each one, which was a shame as there were some things that I wish I had bought that I couldn’t as I decided to wait until the end shop (the largest) and it was so annoying that each shop is slightly different as I really wanted a Christmas decoration that I’d seen but then couldn’t find in the final shop. 

I decided to pay a little extra and buy Butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream for £6.95 each; the reason it was more expensive was because I wanted to be able to keep the dishes, which shows how deeply I am when it comes to Harry Potter haha! The butterbeer was horrible, but the ice cream was lovely so in a way I wish I’d only bought the ice cream, oops. Whilst in the gift shop I felt like a child in a sweet shop and when it came to the Honeydukes section it was literally a dream; the packaging designs were so lovely! I knew as soon as I saw the Chocolate Frogs that I had to have one, however for £8.95 it was fairly expensive but it wasn’t hollow and it was huge. Plus, I’m now using the packaging for display on a bookshelf and it came with a card... I’m still gutted that I got Salazar Slytherin as I desperately wanted Dumbledore. For my family I also bought a pack of all Butter Toffees which were surprisingly good value for money as not only is the box massive but it was fairly reasonably priced at £7.95 and not only did my family enjoy them but I was allowed to keep the packaging for display too which was nice. The pink and green graphics are so eye-catching too, I love how they stand out against the books on my bookshelf.

I bought a Pygmy Puff keychain in purple for myself which I thought was actually good value for money, priced at £6.95; especially when you consider that is cheaper than the edible items. I chose the purple because I liked it more than the pink, although if I do revisit the tour I’m tempted to buy a pink cuddly toy version of my keyring. It’s currently holding my house keys and I love it. I also bought my boyfriend a keychain, (whoops not pictured) a Gryffindor lion themes chain, red and gold and the lion spins around. It’s actually excellent quality, it’s really heavy and feels substantial and for the price of £7.95 I’m really happy for it and it was a great choice for a gift, he definitely liked it as it’s currently on his house keys! I also gave into my inner child and bought the Triwizard Cup which is probably my favourite item from the whole haul. It’s actually really big, and it lights up blue just like the film prop does, which is lovely. For £14.95 I was easily tempted; as soon as I saw it I really liked it, it’s sitting proudly on a bookshelf alongside some of the other items from this haul, haha. It’s so intricately designed and I do think it looks really cool in the house, haha. Finally, I couldn’t resist buying the Offical Tour Guide which wasn’t badly priced at £9.95; whenever I visit anywhere I do like to collect a souvenir guide and at the Studio Tour there’s so much to see and do that I really wanted to have something that I could look back at and remember all the different parts to it. That’s all for this post, let me know in the comments if you liked what I bought - did you any of you buy anything similar? :)




Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hello again guys; I have to admit that I have had no second thoughts on not participating in blogtober. As much as I would love to blog every day for a month, in all honesty I’m simply not organised enough for that, especially when you consider that the inspiration for this post is from a trip on the last day of September. For the last few years I’d been desperately wishing to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour, something that I’m therory should be easy for me, considering the fact that I live in London (the tour is also in London). However, I either never seemed to have the money or anyone to go with. On September 30th I went with some workmates and honestly... Any Harry Potter fan seriously needs to consider going; it isn’t cheap, but it is worth every penny. I actually want to visit again at some point as there’s so much to see that you can’t take it all in just once. Plus, the gift shop is enough to literally want to revisit; it’s an actual childhood dream! Below are a variety of photographs that I took on the day, have any of you visited the studios? How did you like it? :)










Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star



After reading Nicola Yoon’s debut I had incredibly high hopes for this novel; once again, I rapidly found myself enjoying her characters and also her writing style. This novel is almost entirely focussed on two people who meet by chance and take the time to see where life and time are able to lead them for a day. The writing style is great, once you take some time to adjust to it’s unconventionality; the name of either Daniel, Natasha or another (lesser) character tops the start of a chapter alongside a small illustration which was a nice way of definitively knowing which perspective was going to be put across to the reader. Similarly, some chapters contained small bursts of information, which was made clear through a small illustration and a brief sub heading before the descriptive and explanative text that followed that chapter. These small bursts were actually rather key to the understanding of the overall plot; it’s a really cleverly used literary technique. The chapters were excellent in terms of length; long enough to garner interest but never so long that you lost interest, which made this book one that can only be described as difficult to put down.

The two main characters, Daniel and Natasha are as different as two people can possibly be. In terms of physically, Daniel is of Asian heritage, more specifically Korean and Natasha is Jamaican, however I loved how the author used each character to describe the author. It was a great way to understand how they’re each perceived by the world. Mentally, they’re also very different. Daniel is a dreamer, desperate to persue a creative flair that flows inside him, Limited by a family who expects a medical expert. Natasha has an incredibly scientific mind, driven to solve a problem and prevent any future problems, although we see her own creativity in the her sense of style and musical choice. Much of the story is delivered through their thoughts, how they get to know each other over the course of a day. Natasha is due to be deported that night, Daniel is supposed to be applying for Yale to become a Doctor. This is a novel that explores the idea of love at first sight; that you can meet someone by chance and have an instant connection with them, although in this case it’s arguably not meant to be.

Throughout their day spent together, Daniel realises that he really doesn’t want to become a Doctor, regardless of what his parents will think. From that moment, he intends to make his own way in the world. In a sense, this sudden decision after months and years of obeying seems to have influenced by Natasha’s fate. He knows he’s lucky enough to be able to have a choice, she isn’t so lucky to have a choice of staying in America, no matter how much she tries to fight for herself. One thing that I really liked about the writing style of this book, is that although Daniel and Natasha were the main narrators, we were given glimpses into some of the smaller characters minds in some chapters; these small snippets of information are actually very sad, often explaining the reasons why some of the characters are hard to crack. This novel does tackle some difficult themes, such as deportation, racism, depression and relationships. It explores them on different levels, often through situations or uncomfortable conversations but it’s a shame that some of the themes weren’t covered a little more; this novel definitely seemed a little short, it could’ve explored some points and tied up some ends more clearly. This is a tale of cynicism versus romanticism and the boy meets girl cliché is handled well, it’s not exaggerated.

Overall, I liked this book because it surprised me. I enjoy being surprised, I thought I had guessed the ending and the point of this novel within the first few pages but I was wrong, which is always a good thing. The twist was a shock, actually and definitely stayed true to the cynical side of this book. Life is never easy, but you have to keep going even if you sometimes don’t want to. I liked how Yoon left a lot of this book to the imagination of the reader, including the ending; at times it was very sad but that’s not a bad thing. Life isn’t always perfect and this novel definitely emphasised that idea, I was surprised by that, as the majority of Young Adult fiction often stays on the positive side of life, but this novel was very realistic, particularly with regards to deportation. Of the two novels that I’ve read by Yoon, I preferred this one simply because it felt more believable; yes, it does reference a lot to chance and love at first sight, but that being said, most of themes tackled were done realistically and with an understanding that sometimes things are beyond your control. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys unusual writing styles or wants to read a story that’s cute but not exactly full of happiness; it’s definitely a coming of a age novel.





Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Harry Potter Haul #2

Hey guys, this is a fairly recent selection of some Harry Potter related items that I’ve purchased recently; I went to Primark in the hopes of finding a cauldron mug that I’d set my heart on but sadly it was nowhere to be seen. On the plus side, I found a lovely Gryffindor cushion that was an absolute bargain for £4, as well as three pairs of Harry Potter socks for £4 too. The socks caught my eye as I wanted some that didn’t have the houses on, it’s nice to mix it up a bit. I’ve always loved the view of the castle an the lightning bolt is an absolute classic so I knew I had to buy them. The Primark Harry Potter range is actually really lovely quality for such a pocket friendly price too. I bought some Fantastic Beasts items too; two books from eBay, the first is a making of  movie book which I snapped up for about £3 and the second is the screenplay book, also from eBay for roughly £4. I was really happy for the value for money from these books, especially as the screenplay cover design is so beautiful. The Oblivate Notebook was bought for me by my boyfriend for £7.99 from Waterstones and it’s so cute and also has a lovely cover design.

I’ve been purchasing a lot of Harry Potter books lately, I like the idea of collecting unusual or rare editions, but I’ve been mostly buying second hand via eBay or amazon for excellent prices. The Expecto Patronum Notebook is something that I had my eyes on for a while but I’d been persuading myself that it was an unnecessary purchase but for £13 I ended up giving in due to free delivery... I have no regrets as it’s a Moleskine notebook so the quality of the paper and the cover is incredible and definitely worth every penny. Plus, the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite book so it’s a great way to pay homage to that. My next purchase was the Slytherin cover edition of the 20th Anniversary Philosopher’s Stone. I managed to find it for £8 on eBay and that was fantastic as it’s a first edition. I’m a Gryffindor, but I’m planning to collect all four of the house cover in hardback and I know I’m getting the Gryffindor one as a present, so I decided to buy the Slytherin one first. I like how each edition has information about the house and some beautiful illustrations at the beginning of the book and at the start of each chapter. Ravenclaw is definitely next on the list.

Finally, I have two other editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; a paperback and a hardback. I bought them both from eBay and they’re technically both first editions. The paperback is a Bloomsbury printed edition; technically a first edition but it’s a late print (around 30+) but it is a 1997 original, with Dumbledore on the back. This edition is exactly like the version I read as a child, before I lent it out and never got it back. For £5 it was a bargain considering it’s age and the condition is great, it looks unread. The hardback version is a little more unusual. It’s a first edition and first printing, but it was printed by Ted Smart for the Book People in 1998 and it is essentially a copy of the original 1997 Bloomsbury first edition. For example, the Dumbledore on the back is a young wizard, not the elderly wizard that we all know and love. I bought this for an absolute steal of £3 from eBay, which is insane considering the rarity of this book; I doubt there were many made of this. Let me know in the comments what you think of my purchases and I’ll see you guys very soon! :)




Gryffindor Pillow - Set of 3 Harry Potter Socks 




Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them - Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay - Insights Obliviate A5 Journal 




Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Slytherin Hardback Edition - Moleskine Expecto Patronum Limited Edition Notebook - Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Ted Smart 1st Edition




Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Slytherin Hardback Edition - Moleskine Expecto Patronum Limited Edition Notebook - Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Ted Smart 1st Edition - Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1997 Bloomsbury Publishing Paperback






Tuesday, 3 October 2017

October Moodboard

Hello again guys; once again I’m starting the month off with a moodbaord based on a variety of images that I found on Pinterest (no hate please, I know it’s bad there’s just so much inspiration to be found from there) using the search keywords Halloween, Autumn, Autumn fashion, Halloween DIY and October. I don’t own any of these images but they can all be found on Pinterest using the same search keywords. I really, really love the autumn and fall colours, the orange, reds and yellows are simply beautiful and honestly I can’t wait for the leaves to start falling properly, even if I’m not a fan of the darker nights and shorter days. Another thing that I’ve been getting excited over is decorating interiors for the upcoming seasons as the one thing that is super enjoyable about the autumn and winter seasons is having cute decorations all over the house and I like seeing the house looking a little more cozy and warm in the colder months. I’m definitely tempted to buy some more big cozy jumpers as it is starting to get more cold in the mornings and evenings now, so maybe I’ll take some inspiration from the colour schemes that can be found in some of these images. Is there anything that is getting you excited about October? Let me know in the comments :)










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