A Book and Film Blog

Sunday, 24 December 2017

chick lit, another term we should leave behind in 2017

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A couple of years ago, a friend of mine said I didn't strike him as someone who reads chick-lit. And yes if you were wondering, it was meant to be shady.  It's no secret that I love me some Sophie Kinsella, Nicholas Sparks and Emily Giffin. But in that moment, I was really embarrassed and I imagine, tried to salvage the situation by talking about more "serious" books I read.

Anywho, I literally just googled "Define Chick Lit" and got "Noun, derogatory: literature which appeals to young women" ....... πŸ˜’πŸ˜’

This isn't news though is it. We all know the connotations the genre has. For instance on Mostly Lit (fab podcast would 100% recommend) Derek essentially trolls Rai for liking Jane Austen. c So yes, chick lit is used in a derogatory way. It's not "real" literature. It's "fluffy". Oh and not only is it an insult, it's also like a legit category you'll find in bookshops. What takes all of this bullshit to the next level, is that all this negativity is because chick lit is often by women, about women and understood as exclusively for women.

Another definition: "the genre often addresses issues of modern womanhood – from romantic relationships to female friendships to matters in the workplace – in humorous and lighthearted ways." If it's funny why not just put it in the humour section. Men enjoy humour too? I could simply replace women with men and the connotations wouldn't be derogatory.

Now I'll hold my hands up and say that while I enjoy the genre, a lot of chick lit (much like rom-coms) are trash. I've had to read a lot of it before finding books or author s I absolutely love. But couldn't you say that about a lot of genres? Why is it, that if a story is about women, it is trivial and one dimensional? There is an entire genre, considered subordinate to other genres simply because it has women in it. And why are we trying to box in what all women should be reading anyway? Women obviously read and write genres other than fluffy romances so why try and limit us to one genre.

It is void and does nothing productive for the book industry. Can we just leave it in 2017 please, thanks.


Favourite Blogs in 2017

 I've read more blogs this year than any other year and it has been the greatest motivation ! I'd definitely recommend getting Blogosphere Magazine too, you really get a showcase of some of the best blogs out there and, I think this month's edition as a book blog chapter which wasn't there before ! Can't wait to get it. Anyway, while I've been reading and loving all kinds of posts throughout the year, these are the ones I've been going back to time and time again. 

Sian, who runs A Film Club, also has a blog where she writes about life, travel, mental health, creativity and well being. And this blog is honestly one of the most genuine blogs I read. Sian it seems , is really in touch with herself and writes so articulately and with insight on mental health. I personally find it really hard to talk about my mental health, which I've been struggling with for the best part of a 10 years and this year hasn't been any easier. But I feel like her blog has been a  sort of safe space for me ♡ She's also like the nicest online person I've met and, takes the most beautiful photos. Do check it out, and join A Film Club why the hell not?!

I was reading Becky's blog last year but only really started paying attention this year and all her content (Becky has a fab YouTube channel too) has really changed the way I think about how my choices impact the environment. I still think that cruelty-free makeup options for people of colour are very limited/almost non-existent which is such a shame. But the biggest change is now being conscious of how I shop, particularly with clothes and books. And I've definitely been looking at those "I spent £1000 on ASOS !" videos in a whole new light. Becky's videos and posts are also both practical and so aesthetically pleasing.

Lucy's back blogging !! If you haven't heard of Lucy Moon, she's a 20 something year-old YouTuber who essentially chronicles what it's like to be a 20 something thorough really creative and different videos. She started blogging again as well and I really love her writing style. It's so personal and chatty and I'm always on there, waiting to see if she's written anything new. 

This is the only beauty blog I'd actually consult because Jasmine really knows her stuff when it comes to skincare and makeup. Her posts are so indepth and not only do I feel like I'm learning stuff all the time, she gives a good range of drugstore to high end beauty.

Another blog I talk about a lot. Lifestyle blogs aren't really what they used to be. Nowadays it's a lot more about escapism - everything is ultra glam and I'm just not convinced that a.anyone lives like that or b. it's attainable. And it's hard to know who's being authentic and who isn't. Anyway with Imii's blog, I feel like she keeps it 100% while at the same time giving you top quality beaut content.

Novel Ink
Novel Ink is fab if you want diverse book recommendations. They don't just talk about 1000 YA romances (though I do dabble in the occasional YA romance don't @ me). Madalyn and Bee I think do good in showcasing all sorts of genres and writers ! 

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This is going to be another short and sweet review because I think you have to go into this one knowing as little as possible. I actually got this because I'd seen the cover everywhere, I really knew nothing. And what you end up finding out is so unexpected and twisted ! Like, Dr Phil level twisted.

Where do I even start with The Roanoke Girls?! We follow Lane Roanoke, a fifteen year old who's mum commits suicide meaning she has to move to a rural Kansas estate and live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra. And for the first couple of years everything seems great and she's really embracing her new life. But at the same time, something about her family and the town doesn't quite sit right. A few years later after her cousin has run away, she discovers a really dark family secret. And all of a sudden, everything begins to unravel
... and that's all you need to know !

Amy Engel wrote a dystopian YA series which I reviewed and honestly, it was alright. The plot wasn't that original and I had nothing striking to say about her writing style. The Roanoke Girls was a vast improvement. If you go in knowing very little I think the twist will shock you. And rather than explicitly telling us the twist, we find out through chapters authored by earlier generations of the family.  Even when I started to realise what had been happening for years in this family,  I did still think ... surely not?! No ...

But like I said, I really had no idea what the book was even supposed to be about, and didn't really expect a book like this from Amy Engel. Most readers I reckon will clock on pretty quickly. And that  won't necessarily ruin the reading experience because it is quite nicely executed, very much a slow burn with a lot of unexpected details you won't guess.

I'd say my main hangup about the book was it's ending. WE HAD SUCH A GOOD CREATIVE BUILD UP AND THEN ... everyone just reacted exactly how we'd expect them too. That would've been the perfect opportunity to have some characters do some crazy shiz. Instead the whole story just fizzled out and justice isn't really served. SO unsatisfying.



it's Disney's world and we're all just living in it

unsplash-logoSaksham Gangwar

Those of us who enjoy a good Disney movie binge on Netflix are going to have to make other plans because as we all now know, Disney are trying to take over the world. In August of this year, CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s plans to launch its own streaming service and all of its properties – so yes that’s Marvel and Star Wars are going with it. And then a couple of weeks ago they bought Fox for $52 billion. I can't even imagine what that number would look like. Anywho this is all quite quite exciting because it might mean XMen and Fantastic Four go back to Marvel !! I don't know does it?!

I digress.TV has undeniably changed. And that’s not only due to Netflix and the introduction of binge-watching but also the growing number of Hollywood execs, directors and actors making their way back to the small screen in favour of high quality, long form story telling. Now, the calibre is higher than it was even 5 years ago. And so when streaming services produce original content, a lot of us are willing to pay.

Now the only Disney films I watch are the ones I find for free on YouTube, and I don't know if parents would fork out for the service when they already pay for say Disney Channel. But with additional talk of exclusive TV series and plans for 4 never-before-seen movies exclusive to the service, some of us may feel inclined to sign up. This live action Mulan film we’ve all been waiting for? A Star Wars TV series?! These are just a few possibilities that we could find are only available on the service. Obviously Disney is no longer just Mickey Mouse, ya know?

If you’re an avid Netflix watcher you’d have also noticed the rate at which its been bringing out original content this. And with Apple recently announcing its own plans to invest $1 billion in original movies, it would seem that while cinema experiences a slump in creativity – bringing out reboot after reboot (and a sequel thrown in here or there); studios and companies are starting to see the value in investing in smaller more original projects – and audiences are responding.

While we can’t exactly map the future of TV, it would seem the possibilities are endless. What is perhaps less clear is what digital, would mean for satellite TV.

For instance in 2016, the BBC and ITV announced their plans to merge and create a subscription service highlighting the best of British TV, arguably an attempt to tap into international viewership of shows such as Doctor Who and Broadchurch and, keep up with the digital world. What isn’t helping their cause is at the same time, both channels tightened their regulations on iPlayer. So now as you may be aware, if you’re not living at home where your parents likely pay TV licencing, you can’t legally catch up online. Students are arguably then, more likely to pay for a Netflix/Amazon Prime account and carry that habit even after we graduate. If we’re all getting used to having access to BAFTA and Emmy award winning shows, we can skip titles and watch them at our own pace, will we ever go back to satellite?

I don't know why I wrote this but I'm just very excited about the future of TV πŸŽ‰ There have been seen so many amazing shows this year and, Disney buying Fox I reckon has started a trend whereby we're going to be seeing a lot more blockbusters on the small screen. 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Anticipated 2018 Reads

I've got a little list here of books coming out next year that are on my radar:

The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon

A book about navigating this new technology age and using it to your advantage to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit, and become a jack of all trades. 

Heads of the Colored People Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
A collection of stories about black identity and the middle class in this "post-racial" era. 

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
In his forthcoming book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

Are there any books you're looking forward to next year? I think I've finally accepted that the majority of my reading will be non-fiction 😊 But I'm really really excited about Heads of Colored People and Freshwater !

Friday, 15 December 2017

Best Podcasts on Relationships #2

unsplash-logoBen Rosett
Relationship podcasts make the most mundane of tasks that much more interesting. They're just the best to have on in the background because when you have to really concentrate on a task, they're often so chill with docile tones ya know? Just sets up a great vibe. the best re the best to have in the background when you have to really concentrate on a task, because they're often so chill, with docile tones ya know, sets up a vibe? At least mine do.

More Serious
Dear Sugar Radio
Sheryl Strayed and Steve Almond wrote the very famous New York Times column of the same name, Dear Sugar and have essentially carried the concept on into  podcast form. The structure is as follows: Steve and Sheryl pick a letter they've received, read it, give their advice and get another perspective from someone, often in the public eye, who has experienced a similar issue and can offer some insight. Who doesn't love an advice column! Dear Sugar has also had the likes of Oprah and Hilary fricking Clinton giving their advice so ya know, the advice is good. 

Sheryl Strayed and Steve Almond have also had so much life experience between them and, I really get the sense that they understand and value the importance of their work here. Each response is treated with so much care and compassion, no matter the issue. They've had episodes on bullying, a really three part series on cheating from the perspective of all parties involved πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€ all the way to PTSD from childhood trauma. 

Where Shall We Begin by Esther Perell
I'm actually really nosy, which is why Where Shall We Begin is perfect for the likes of people like me ! Each episode is a real life counselling session with her clients ?! It is  honesty and vulnerability  in it's purest form is what makes this podcast so fascinating. There was one about a couple who wanted to stay together but the husband wanted kids and his wife didn't ... so she suggested having an open marriage. And then it turned out she actually did want kids but felt too old to an essentially, she had some deep rooted issues that all came to the surface in this counselling session ! What's also great about this, as opposed to getting letters, is that no-one has had time to filter or edit what they want to say or how the wanna to be perceived. So you're getting real time emotions and reactions. 


Anna Faris is Unqualified
This is possibly my  favourite podcast of 2017. I know, big claims. Anna, and her best friend and producer Sim will have a guest on every week. They play a series of situational games that involve a lot of improv on Anna's part. And then they move on to callers ! The first part is definitely the more fun, chilled section. Because the callers actually have legit problems and Anna and her guests take it quite seriously and try to give good, well thought through advice - and they do succeed I should add . A personal favourite was Sharon Stone's episode because noone expected her to give such incredible insightful advice, I think everyone in the room and everyone listening was shocked. Who knew?!

You Had Me At Hello 
This is more of a rom/com podcast ... but the two are loosely related I suppose. It's presented by a couple, who take film couples and analyse and give a breakdown of their relationship. So in doing so, we do end up with an analysis of relationships in general. And I personally love it. 

I've just realised pretty much  all the podcasts I listen to are American so do leave some recommendations below if you have any, especially if they're British !

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Will I ever write a novel?

I've noticed a lot of bookTubers and book bloggers plan to or have started writing a novel. And I guess it makes sense? The more you read, the bigger your love of literature, the more likely you are to be inspired to write yourself, especially if you're creative anyway. And the advice is you want to write a novel is to read a lot right?

It's something I've been thinking about a lot over the last few months because I've never had an urge to write, even a short story. Or even a paragraph of a story. In fact writing stories was my least favourite thing about English lessons, literally from the first time I had to write one in Year 4.

I love writing and of course love writing on this blog but writing I find is such a labour. I was talking to a couple of blogger pals at Blog Soc and we were all lamenting over how unnecessarily long it seems to take to write even a blog post. A bit like this one, which I'd envisioned myself writing in my 25 minute break from coursework, and that was 3 days ago. To enjoy writing you have to enjoy, have an appreciation and have patience for the process itself. And I imagine that in being consistent you've got to be prepared to write even when you don't feel like it.

So the short answer is yes, one day I will try writing something. Unlikely that it'd be a novel given that I've never been drawn to exploring that whole art form. I actually really want to write a collection of essays ! I have no idea what they'd be about but I love writing essays in general (even though writing them doesn't come naturally to me at all) and as is probably evident from the reviews on this blog, they're my favourite genre to read. I'm also really intrigued by plays and screenplays - because I just love the idea of being able to just write dialogue that then goes through this whole production process and the end product being something so visual.


tv chats on Screen Lounge

Hope the weekend is treating ya well ! I've been doing this thing where I wake up suuuuper early every day at the same time and by super early  I mean 6.45 but ya know, early for me. It was torture in the beginning but now it's great  because by 10 am you've already got so much done and the day has not even begun like wot?!

Anyway, a more interesting thing I do on Saturdays is Student Radio! This is a bit of a doss post but I just wanted to do a bit of shameless plugging and fill you in. It's pretty clear by now that my TV chat on this blog is pretty non-existent, mainly because of laziness. But TV is still one of my greatest loves and I actually have a lot to say, which is why Screen Lounge (my live show) is so fab.

Every Saturday at 3 pm on the URN website, we talk all things TV news, reviews, trailer thoughts, and hidden gems. Today's actually our last show before Christmas (boooo) and we're talking about our favourite episodes of series in 2017. So do listen to find out what mine were !

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

"Pac said Thug Life stood for 'The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody'"

I finished The Hate You Give a little earlier in the year and was so moved and so impressed by Angie Thomas' debut book. Months later, it was announced that the book is being adapted into a film with a cast including Amandla Stanberg, Anthony Mackie, Common (!!) and Issa Fricking Rae?! Sooo I essentially need you to read this book if you haven't already before the end of this year so we can all get excited about the upcoming release ! And besides, we'll probably all be hearing the whole "the book was better than the film" speel so let's all do better and read the book first.

The Hate You Give is about Starr Carter, a 16 year old growing up in a working class neighbourhood, and schooling in a middle class, predominantly white neighbourhood. The story is told from her perspective and the very beginning, she seems perfectly well adjusted. Everything changes after one evening when she's in the passenger seat of a car with her older friend Khalil driving. He's inexplicably stopped and searched by a police officer during their journey and, in an unfortunate set of events we know all too well, is shot and killed by the police. Khalil was unarmed.

His death becomes a headline and again, in a narrative we know all too well , the press call him a thug, a drug dealer and these names are used as justification for such violence at the hands of the police.

The story isn't about the shooting itself but rather what follows. We really get to understand the very complex ramifications this shooting is going to have on two different neighbourhoods in terms of, how it's interpreted and how it affects gangs, the media and local families. But because we get this beautiful first person narrative, all of this is portrayed through Starr's eyes. At 16, she's learning to navigate the world and trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs given that she's been growing up in 2 completely different neighbourhoods. And now, has to also deal with the really violent death of her best friend, one that she witnessed. Thrown into the mix are all sorts of funky family dynamics. And so what Angie Thomas gives us is a really well fleshed out story, with incredible attention to detail and feels so authentic.

Often, stories like these (either in the press or in literature) would focus on the event itself. And while I'm so fortunate to have never experienced anything like this, the book is like stepping right into Starr's life at this moment in time. Because of course when someone dies (and I imagine especially in this way) there are about 1000 emotions those they left behind would be going through, and this story is really faithful to that.

There are quite a few people who are significant to Starr's world who hence, we have to get to know quite well, but everyone is given a lot of attention by the author which meant I get a really good insight into who everyone is, flaws and all. The author is also a big Tupac fan and I loved loved loved how both he and the story of hip hop form are interwoven into the story and the fabric of Starr's character and the relationship she has with her dad. 

It was just one of the most emotional books I've read this year I think because Angie Thomas' writing is incredibly visceral. The Hate You Give is about family, family, community, finding yourself and also empowering those around you.  I say do yourself a service and pick it up before the end of the year. 


Saturday, 25 November 2017


You may have noticed things have changed a little bit on the blog! So hi again, been a while.

As I write this post, I'm currently buzzing.  I just presented a radio show (Listen! http://urn1350.net every Saturday at 3pm) and we talk about TV shows. One of my fave friends joined me and it was just bants we had so much fun! But I have gone through a bit of a rough patch personally over the last month and I'm still sort of getting over it. I've been ill, quite overwhelmed, and out of my comfort zone nearly everyday.

Final year just hasn't been easy. I am having fun and i'd still say it's the best uni year so far but it's quite intense. And that's not even just because of the workload. I think the biggest challenge of university  is going to seminars, doing the work, looking after yourself, balancing your friendships, doing stuff outside of your course so you don't drive yourself crazy being in the library all day long, applying for jobs, maybe doing a part time job ... it's a lot.

Sometimes I wonder if I've taken a bit too much on and can't keep up, or this is how everyone feels. This semester has me in a bit of a funny head space because I've been second guessing myself a lot recently. I'm just not sure what I'm really doing in life and I've been making a lot of mistakes and bad decisions .... Adulting is just hard 😭

But back to the blog,  though I'm really happy with the new name and the little tweeks I've made,  I initially felt a lot of shame surrounding having to change the blog name once again. When I no longer like something, I'm quick to change it but it sometimes feels like you've failed when you can't stick to a decision. But a good friend of mine said the other day that growing up is uncomfortable, and I'd add sometimes painful. Being a creature of habit, the prospect of things changing gives me major anxiety and I've felt a bit rubbish when things aren't going my way or I've had to make like 12 bad decisions to before finding a solution.  I'm learning that there's no shame in sticking to your gut and changing your mind, and owning those decisions. It's also pretty inevitable.

So I say all this to say, I'm still going to be blogging about books and film and occasionally TV but I think the vibe is changing slightly so do come back ! I'm really excited about my future posts xo

Friday, 10 November 2017

Best Podcasts on Film & TV

Image of Bedside Table With Blogosphere Magazines Reed Diffuser and Speakers
current bedside table vibes

My new speakers are a current life favourite and given all the podcasts I'm constantly downloading, it means I now always have one on. They help me switch off after long days on campus and keep my company through the mundane everyday tasks.

Now, I think I download about 10 new podcast episodes each week and I do want to share them all. But I get that not everyone is interested so what I'll do is break up the posts. Film and TV podcasts seemed like a good place to start because they were essentially my introduction into the podcast world and, I've been listening to most of these for the best part of two years.

Collider Movie Talk

The show's panellists all work in the film industry in some capacity and their love of cinema just exudes I lav it. It means you'll not only get film trailer analysis and solid reviews; you'll also get a lot of in-depth conversations and analysis about the industry and the film making process.

Because they're also critics, they normally get to see films before their official release dates meaning, exclusives and juicy interviews with vip. The best part! there are different podcast shows within the Collider family: Collider Movie Talk which is a daily show so I'm pretty much always behind (a great problem to have) and other shows weekly shows Collider TV Talk, Collider Hereos, Collider Nightmares and Jedi Council.

So yeah, they produce a LOT of content. I'd say Movie Talk is a good way in if you don't know where to start but yeah, you'll essentially never get bored. This is a nice geeky one for those who like backstage news.

Kermode and Mayo Film Review
If you like film, you need to be listening to Kermode and Mayo. I used to read Mark Kermode's reviews but it's so much more fun to just listen and hear him bounce off Simon Mayo. Their wittering at the beginning used to really get on my nerves in the beginning but once you get used to it and just get on board, its the best πŸ’—

Other reasons to listen include:
- reviews from Mark Kermode
- good chats
-listener emails ! the show has what must be some of the most intelligent young listeners and some of the reviews that get emailed in from like 12 year olds are actually pretty astonishing.

Back Row Podcast
Rhianna Dhillon reviewed films for Greg James on BBC Radio 1 and her reviews were the only time I ever tuned into his show. No shade, I'm just a not a fan of daytime radio (unless it's Clara Amfo though I wish she'd talk more and play less music). I digress. Then I missed about 3 weeks, came back and she was GONE. But then she came back with her own film podcast with her boyfriend Mike. Not only do I love their banter but it's also a nice, juicy, really long podcast - nearly 2 hours.

They only review new releases over the fortnight as opposed to hearing the same reviews on every film in the top 10 and there's also a lot of chit chat about films that are not in the top 10 and TV shows.

The haven't uploaded an episode in a hot minute which make me sad but it's definetly one worth going back to and listening from the beginning.

Reality Steve

If you watch The Bachelor/The Bachelorette - this one's for you.
You might know Steve as the guy who's entire career is essentially to find out what happens before it airs and leak the info and spoil the season on his blog wohooo (I live for Reality TV spoilers I don't care). On this podcast are Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants literally from Season 1.

You'll find out all the backstage gossip which is actually really interesting on a show like The Bachelor where a. everyone is essentially coerced by producers and b. is so heavily heavily edited and; an insight into the contestant's life outside the show which is just quite interesting for a nosy person like myself.

Insecure is going down on my list of 2017's highlights and if you haven't seen any of it, the year is not yet over, you still have time, you can still salvage the situation.

Now I never thought I'd be someone who enjoyed a recap show. I tried listening to Afterdale and M is for Maple (both Riverdale podcasts if you hadn't guessed) but Riverdale I suppose isn't the type of show that requires further analysis. I also find that although I love it, the more I hear people describing the show, the more I realise how ridiculous the entire premise is - especially this season. So those two didn't stick.

But each episode of Insecure juggles themes that warrant further discussion whether that's: complex friendships, being a black woman in a predominately white office or finding the right counsellor.

The podcasts' hosts are also best friends so their vibe is natural and they genuinely love the show and get excited talking about it!All these components make this podcast absolute magic and I enjoy it nearly as much as the show itself.

Share more TV/Film podcasts in the comments - I'm always on the hunt for new ones !


Friday, 20 October 2017

to my 16 year old self

I actually look about 16 here now that I think about it but no no, this was taken last year

#selflove #glowup #snatchedforthegods - confidence has become such an Instagrammable thing now hasn't it? And that by the way, is so welcomed by me. If there's one great thing that's come from social media and actually 2017 in general, it's that as an online community, we're really into lifting each other up and feeling ourselves. 

   It's also a very millennial (currently loving and owning this word but I'm aware I over use it so that might change) thing; I think because we're all still recovering from the utter discomfort and awkwardness of our teenage years. Obviously I see the value (now) of going through secondary school and puberty and bullies and friendships that only last 2 months max and GCSE's and Nickelodean and the Sims and Tamagotchis. And  yeah yeah, there are some good memories but on a whole if my teenage-hood was a film, it'd get like an an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
   Being a cringe or being super awkward and needy aren't even the reasons why growing for me was not so smooth (though both were true), it's more so that I was so uncomfortable and unhappy in my own skin and almost embarrassed to be myself. 

I've since grown up, been through some shizz, come to my senses and genuinely really like the person I'm becoming. And I have to say this fairly-new found confidence is SUPER freeing. It's the freedom to ...

  • Pursue hobbies I want to, even if noone else I know has similar interests. 
  • To talk in front of people and stumble over my words and make mistakes and know, that it's really not that deep.
  • To freely laugh and not worry about what the rest of my face and body is doing (I'm a very .... physical laugher. If you know, you know)
  • To eat in front of people. Seriously what is this hang up even about?! We can all agree that food is amazing and is best enjoyed in the company of others ... outside your parents who question why you eat so quickly and leave your vegetables.
  • To sit alone in public places. I actually love my own company. But seriously do you remember how embarrassing it was to be seen sitting alone in school? How times have changed.
  • Truly accept my body because I'm not here on earth to be physically pleasing to anyone but myself. #wonthedoit And besides I have a beaut, completely abled body - I am beyond blessed. 
  • To be bold and not hide my faith because I've been saavveeed and that is good news !

So to my 16 year old self,

♡  It'll get better. Anxiety is not going to ruin your life.

♡  You can't buy friendship. And they are not your friends. 

♡  You're going to find out that you are really good at certain things.

♡  Be nicer to your brother, he's going to be your life ally.

♡  One day, you will speak French ... without stopping every other word to conjugate it mate how are you not tired.

♡ Stop using Mummy's Iman foundation to powder compact. It's been like, 2 years is that even hygienic? 

♡ Money isn't everything.

♡ Your skin is beautiful. 

♡ Your boobs aren't going to grow anymore and you need to rejoice in that and move on to other concerns. 

♡ You don't have to explain your hair choices to anyone. And everyone and their sister needs to stop rooting your hair.  

♡  Don't quit because it's hard. You're even going to find the very things you enjoy hard and don't be ashamed about it! There's nothing wrong with someone who has to work hard to see results. It's a trait of yours that's about to come in very handy.

♡  Speak up.

♡ Just because you can't draw (and girl you can't, don't force it) doesn't mean you're not creative.

♡ Susan, you're about to spend your hard earned money, and I mean haarrd (worked in a stockroom that played Sean Kingston on loop in my last summer of secondary school - 10 hours shifts imagine) on overpriced foundation that does NOT match you babes. But take heart because Fenty beauty is coming with affordable foundation  and 40 shades?! And soon every high street brand will copy them and you'll be buying £10 foundation from like, Superdrug. In the meantime, maybe stick to that Iman compact, at least it's your shade.

♡  This is the last year you'll play the Sims. The computer is going to break and noone is going to try and fix it to encourage your addiction girl so enjoy it while you can.


Friday, 13 October 2017

Currently Reading: Books, Blogs, Articles etc

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This post is essentially an accumulation of bits and bobs I've been reading - both in book form but also gems I've found and have been loving online over the past few weeks. Hopefully you get a little bit of inspo or simply some weekend duvet reading.

Eat Sweat Play

Admittedly, I haven't read much of this yet but it's got me thinking about my relationship with sport (which I stopped playing when I turned about 16) and challenged my preconceptions of my body. I'll talk more about it when I finish (probably on Instagram) so stay tuned. So far so good. 

The Roanoke Girls

I read Amy Engel's dystopian dualogy last year and to be honest, I was quite underwhelmed. The review's over here if you care. But I've seen The Roanoke Girls all over the blogs and Booktube, and everyone seems to be saying that it's full of twists and turns which is why I thought, I'll give Amy Engel another go.

It dips in and out of different time periods so arguably hella confusing but, I am sticking with it because the two main characters, cousins Lane and Allegra, have been written so well.

The writing in general is just such an improvement since The Book of Ivy - it's better paced, and the structure - although a bit all over the place at times, is far more original. At that point I'm at in the book,Allegra's missing and because she's such a seemingly unstable, unreliable character, I need to know what's gone down.

Cruelty Free Becky 
I've featured this blog in every single post I've written about blogs I'm loving so basically, I'm a fan. It's a good one to just peruse and educate yourself, be inspired, consider how your lifestyle choices impact the environment and just look at nice photos  because ya know, that's important too.  She also has an equally great YouTube channel which you should definitely take time to check out.

Nettle and Blackberry 
If I had like really really had to pick my favourite favourite blog - it'd be this one. It's everything a great lifestyle blog should be! It's so beautiful, it's so personal (and I feel as a reader that you get little updates into her life), it's so well written and I really trust her reviews and insight. I normally go to different blogs to get these different aspects be it: great photos, personal writing and good reviews. But it's all here on this one amazingly curated blog.
Nah this blog is the goal.

Hello Glow
If Hygee was a blog, this is what it'd look like. I've been trying to get in touch with my body, listen to it take care it of and all that kumbuya shizz and, stumbled across this post about hormones and balancing them. Worth a read.

The Real Life RD
With all that being said, I'm SUPER conscious about taking health advice from the internet and unless it's the literal NHS website, I'd rather not. You have to be really careful, especially blogs that give nutritional advice because while most of the bloggers mean well, they're unqualified. And it's really easy to get sucked in and get obsessive over "health" advice that isn't even correct.
Robyn of The Real Life RD however is a registered nurse and dietitian so I do feel much more at ease with her health related posts - which are grounded in science πŸ‘. This is a great post about what your period can tell you about your health !

It's also a lifestyle blog and the posts have a really chatty, open, relaxed and friendly feel to them. And actually,  my favourite thing to do at the moment is catch up on them in bed on Saturday mornings.

Share some gems and blog links down below too ♡♡♡

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Binge by Tyler Oakley

Firstly halo ! How's it going? I'm back at uni and it's all very busy and a bit stressful and slightly chaotic but wonderful but also did I mention a bit stressful? It normally takes me quite a long time to settle in anywhere as I do not like change so I'm  quite resistant to it and maybe subconsciously, I don't want to settle in?  But a week after moving in, I'm feeling pretty chill despite everything that's going on around me so yeah, #blessed and all that. 

Today I bring you a mini review of Binge by Tyler Oakley - by far the best book cover on my shelf. Go find yourself a copy and just feel that ish up. Thank me later. 

You may know Tyler as a YouTuber but at this point in his career, he's also a presenter, social rights activist and arguably one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ voices on the internet. I'll also add, that this is one of my favourite essay collections. I spend a good chunk of my time reading personal essays - they're pretty much all I've reviewed in the past year so maybe you guessed as much. An essay collection of course has to be engaging and thought provoking but what sets a good one apart from a great one, is its ability to form a personal connection with the reader. 

Whether you know who Tyler is or you don't, his personality and voice jumps straight out of the page from the get go. It's as if he's adopted the role of your best friend and you're having all these really long deep chats and he's laying on the pearls of wisdom and insight and its all so heartfelt. But this is also your best friend let's not forget so you're also laughing for a good amount of time - life isn't always super deep. 

And what makes Binge so much more genuine, is that it isn't trying to be preachy or a self-help book. He just writes with a confidence and sense of authority essentially about experiences that have made him who he is. Everything from suicide, abusive relationships, hyper masculinity, eating disorders are covered and all, written with such care and substance. At the same time, there are essays about internships and coming out and who the Top 10 Hottest Disney Princes are (of which we'll have to just  agree to disagree, to be honest because some people were overlooked and I'm still in my feelings).  

It's also offers a necessary and important narrative about eating disorders among men, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. And it's one more voice that is normalising this conversation. 



Saturday, 23 September 2017

Finding time to Blog

... and do just about anything else I enjoy doing. 

Impact Magazine Nottingham Flat Lay

 I've been getting increasingly unhappy and frustrated at myself, for never getting stuff done or done well or done on time. 15 minutes ago, I had one of my routine meltdowns and as I write this post, I feel incredibly overwhelmed by everything I have to do by the end of next week.

When push comes to shove, everything urgent and pressing always gets completed. At this point in my life, that's normally work for uni. Yet I still feel so unhappy with myself because everything I love doing gets neglected due to; being a scatterbrain, procrastination and frankly laziness. I love blogging but never make time for it and, it's taking me SO LONG to finish any book I pick up. FRUSTRATION. There's no other word I can use to describe it.

And this isn't a new feeling either. Year after year I feel this way and nothing changes and I just find myself sinking into a pit of anxiety and low moods then I binge watch TV and binge eat and forget for a while and then I remember and this is my life and I'm doing this to myself !

Uni starts on Monday and already, everything has caught up with me. I said yes to way too many commitments and fooled myself into thinking I have all the time in the world and now here we are. Final year. I don't want to be here this time next year, in the exact same mental space I'm in now ... plus I'll probably be unemployed?! Nah. I've devised a life plan to sort my head out a bit.

Sleeping early waking up early.
Even after sleeping for 10 hours I STILL do not enjoy waking up before 8am. But that's all going to have to change. I hate myself every time I wake up early but it always feels so good about an hour later. You can actually seize the day because there is more of the day to seize?! Revelation.  And I call myself a night owl but you just can't do that when you actually have places to be in the morning. I woke up in the worst possible mood this morning (I'm actually still dead inside if you must know) and it I think sleeping late all the time, doesn't give me the right mindset to do anything well the next day.

Do all the fun things, first thing
My days of waking up and doing uni work and struggling at it while also struggling to even open my eyes at 6 in the morning are ovaa. I'm going to try writing for 40 minutes, four times a week. Might be blogging, might be just writing. But writing is one of my favourite things to do and I just think it'll put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Plus I need something to look forward to, to be able to consistently wake up early.

Plan before going to bed.
I've recently started planning things in the order I'm going to do them in the next day, on my phone. What we may call, a list. I have a love/hate relationship with lists. I started obsessively making them when I was about 9; to the point where I planned every last detail of my day and then when I couldn't complete them because they were frankly ridiculous, I would have a little mental breakdown. And then I tried again the next day. And then the next and the next. Now I do them on my phone (so out of sight and can easily be deleted)  and only put 6 things down. Too early to say whether it's actually working but we'll see.

Eat better
When I eat badly I just feel really guilty and decide to continue eating badly and be a slob  for the rest of the day and make it up to myself. I'm now taking meal planning a lot more seriously because it feels really destructive when I don't eat properly.

Choose to read
Issa choice guys and recently I've been choosing YouTube. Now I'm reading books that would take me about 3 days, 3-4 weeks. And it's not even fun anymore. Reading 2 pages and then falling asleep or getting distracted by Twitter takes the fun out of reading and half the time I don't even know what's happening. So we're not doing that anymore. Susan 2.0 reads 40 minutes before bed and hides her phone and laptop - AMEN.

Am I having a quarter life crisis? Sure does feel like one.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Hunger by Roxane Gay + the body positive movement

Hunger by Roxane Gay Flat Lay

Where do I even begin with this book? It is honest and raw and gritty and acutely self aware and beautiful. It is all those adjectives to the 100th degree ... and then some. Yes I'm being very extra right now, because even after a month of finishing it, I still can't really articulate/process everything I felt reading this, but I'm really going to try.

Hunger is a memoir of the author's body. At 12 years old, Roxane was gang raped by a group of boys from school. Ashamed, she kept this attack a secret for the best part of thirty years. Life went on and one hand, she prospered in many areas of her life. At the same time, she was going through depression, gaining weight and battling eating disorders.

The book is about how trauma has changed her; how its changed the relationship she has with her body. It's also about how she treats her body, how she nourishes it and how she can be so brutally cruel to it. It's the story of everything her body has gone through. As she puts it, it's also "a confession. These are the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me. This is my truth. This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard."

Roxane Gay's writing, especially in Hunger is so fearless and unflinching and if you've never read anything by her before, treat yo self. Now I'm going to preface this by saying, the body positivity movement is an amazing movement that has really been a source of consolation during some of my darkest days. What I don't see or read a lot of, are accounts that really delve into the darkest parts of ourselves. I guess noone wants to revel in all that negativity. I don't think Roxane Gay "revels" in her struggle. She just digs really deep and explores what feels like every painful nook and cranny of her body image issues and, what it feels like to carry and bare it all. There are a chapters that feel like she's made progress and is feeling better but then; they're followed by chapters that almost seem repetitive, that draw you back into her despair at what she describes as her "unruly" body. Her frustration and exhaustion at her own body is something that leaps of the page and I felt like I was taking on a lot of the emotions as I reading this book.

She also talks about the societal pressure no woman can really escape to be slender and small, petite and dainty, seen not heard and the body being a way of rebelling against this.

Whether I like it or not, my body is so linked to how I see myself. It is the vessel that houses well, me. And while it's pretty hard to see someone talk about their body in the way this book does, we've all been there. The things you say to your body, the way you treat it; I'm not overweight but I do relate to being really cruel to your body. I don't particularly like my body. It's not something I'm really preoccupied with but when I really think about it, I don't think I do like it. I pinch at it, pick at it, peel it, sometimes I deprive it of food and then stuff it with sugar the very next day. And that's quite hard to have to admit to myself and pretty cringe. But, it's also quite sobering.

Narratives that thoroughly acknowledge and reflect on our pain and trauma are just as important and can be just as powerful in challenging us to really see ourselves. In talking to myself the way I do, I feel like I've let myself down. I'm not really sure where I go from here but I am pledging this term (ooo "pledging"look at me) first and foremost to nourish my body properly and not punish it. I did feel as though Roxane Gay is beginning to heal by the very last chapter but it's almost as though she had to go through this process and lay it all out there first. Funnily enough, I did also walk away from this book feeling really empowered. Our bodies are pretty badass; they go through a lot but mine is still fully functioning πŸ™Œ, getting me places, keeping me safe and has essentially survived. πŸ’—<3 p="">



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Reflections on No Filter by Grace Victory + new September blog series !

It's September already ?! Madness. On the plus side  - AUTUMN IS COMING πŸƒπŸ‚πŸƒπŸ‚ I'm not allowed candles in my flat next year, I don't think so currently trying to figure out how I'll be getting round that one.

I decided to do a little series on the blog this month about body positivity, self care and all that good stuff. As it's that time of the year when I start to get ready for uni , I pay a lot more attention to my mental health, how I'm talking to myself and so on. It just so happened that last month, I bought 3 books that address body image, self care and mental + physical health. So I thought once a week this month, I'll talk about one here (ofc there are 4 weeks so I've added one 1 read in 2016 and lovedd!) and share a few thoughts. Now, as this woman was on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour yesterday and killed the interview (guys she  mentioned bleached arseholes in porn on Radio 4 ugh love it so strong so pure), what better book to start with than No Filter by Grace Victory.

Grace has been pinned as "the internet's big sister". On her blog and YouTube channel, she talks about beauty, fashion, mental health, body image, sex, being a girl boss - everything. So how would I describe No Filter? It's essentially a memoir + advice/reference book written by the wiser big sister who's been there-done that-knows what she's talking about, that you wish you had. It's the kind of book I wish I read when I was like, 13. It's the kind of book that at 13, will let you know how the world is and give you a few pointers on how to navigate it. So I'm so glad it exists and is in the world for younger girls (school libraries better be stocking this you know) but even as someone in my 20's, I was still really touched by this book. Grace opens up SO much; everything from her childhood trauma, eating disorder and her career made for really raw and candid reading which I loved. At the end of each chapter are lessons to take away from her experiences, as well as resources if you need help in a particular area be it, domestic violence or bullying.

One thing I really didn't know much about, was Grace's career before YouTube, the blog, the documentaries - as a social worker for younger kids. Her love and passion for the emotional,physical wellbeing of these, puts her whole vibe into so much context ! This is someone who takes on her role as an influencer and title as "the internet's big sister" really seriously and genuinely cares about her audience. I'm a fan. Could you tell? Here are few other thoughts/lessons I had when reading this book:

- Don't hold on to painful memories and bury them.

- Grace says she didn't grow up with role models but I'm growing up with Grace as one and I'm so grateful.

- Kids are mean. I didn't need this book to know that I mean, I went to school too lol. But wow I'm so glad those years are overrr

- She went out with  Aaron Taylor Johnson guys !! 
Impromptu story time: I was reading this on my Kindle. So when she mentions that she was going out with this child actor and he'd had a few big staring roles, she named a film and said his name was Aaron ... I thought 😯 .... is this Aaron Taylor Johnson ?! Tweeted it because I tweet before I think. Then googled it to verify, twas true, tweeted again because in case you didn't know, here I was having done my detective work and sharing with you all. Put my phone down to continue reading, it was on the next page. Don't read with your phone folks. 

- Self harm manifests itself in multiple forms. Was very ignorant about this. 

- So do eating disorders.

- Daniel Radcliffe, what a top guy,

- Female friendships are so great and powerful and don't let anyone or the media make you think otherwise. I also love how that this book gives so many shout outs to strong women doing amazing things. 

- As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

- The pressure to be perfect is really debilitating and I've wasted so much of my life being bothered by that it.

- Listen to your body and eat accordingly :) 

- Do NOT wallow in self pity. Okay sometimes you need like, a moment to do so, but then pick yourself up.

- Your body in't there to please anyone. Look after it and it'll look after you. It's there to help you move around and be free and happy. More about this in this video by Grace. 


Friday, 1 September 2017

Film Review: The Big Sick

All the crap weather we've had this week and will probably continue to have for the rest of the week #optimist reallyyy draws a line under the fab bank holiday weekend that was, last weekend! Mine was filled with good food, friends, fab music and top films.

I saw The Big Sick in an offensively expensive independent cinema so you now, stakes were high because I was like already a bit pissed off going in. And it didn't disappoint! It's been a hot minute since I saw a good rom-com and this film has made its way onto my all time favourite list.

The film's writer Kumail Nanjiani plays a younger version of himself, a struggling comedian and part time Uber driver living in Chicago. He was raised in a traditional Pakistani Muslim family who at this stage of his life, are trying to arrange a marriage for him. There are these really funny scenes pretty much throughout the film, where women "spontaneously" turn up for dinner at Kumail's family home,  just "passing through the neighbourhood" as his mum puts it. He does seem to separate this part of his life from his life as a comedian . During one his shows, he's heckled by Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) a woman in the audience. Long story short, they hook up, begin to date and not before long, fall in love. This all comes crashing down when Emily realises that Kumail is not prepared to a. meet her family or b. tell his family about her - scared that they'd disapprove and disown him.

A few days after they break up, Emily's rushed into hospital and put in a medically induced coma and suddenly, Kumail has to face his biggest fears all at once:  his two worlds colliding, meeting her parents and, the prospect that he can't live without her.

The Big Sick is a really sharp comedy in the way it navigates  that strange dichotomy of being raised at home in one culture and growing up in another. Issues surrounding family, love, personal identity and health are conjured, giving us a film that slips into being quite serious and intense at times, yet always underlined with a sense of warmth thanks to the top performances of its two leads: Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan. Kazan is at her best here, she's funny, vulnerable and smart, has a quiet confidence, all rolled into one. But as she's in a coma for a good chunk of the film, I'd say it's  very much Nanjiani's story. After all, he's the one who has to navigate these social and cultural barriers.

The film also gives a really measured portrayal of arranged marriages. While it's clear from the onset that its not for Kumail, we still see two really positive portrayals of successful, loving relationships in Kumail's brother and sister in law, and his parents - both of whom had been arranged. It just goes to show again why diversity in the industry is so important. Writers of colour, writing about their own experiences, telling their own stories, are the only way we as an audience, can trust that these are told faithfully !

Go watch this film, it'll make your heart burst with - it's that good ♡



Monday, 21 August 2017

Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips is a British Labour Party MP for Birmingham Yardley and an MP who's reputation definitely precedes her. She's known for being a staunch feminist who speaks her mind and so going into this book, I knew it'd be boldly written. When I started reading it though, I quickly how little I knew about her own story and work.

'Everywoman' is a hybrid between a biography and a feminist manifesto; each chapter entitled "The Truth about ... Speaking Up ... Equality ... Violence ... Sisterhood etc. Drawing on her experiences in her personal life, work with Women's Aid, work as an MP; she sheds light on gender inequality in different domains in society.

It's fascinating to have an insight into life in Westminster and I felt like she really humanises the political process. And because of her work with Women's Aid and, growing up in a working class background, I felt like she speaks with real authority on the ways we as a country have to go to gain social and economic parity.

It may not be the best written of boks; parts of it felt quite clunky and I didn't always understand the way in which the book had been divided - for instance the whole book really is about speaking up and equality and yet the two also have their own chapters. So at times it was hard to know what this book is really supposed to be.

But she writes with such clarity and honesty. Her voice is unapologetic and her frustrations, hopes for the future and urgency for change leap from the page. It's a quick read, very refreshing and one that left me feeling really empowered.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Film Review: Spider-Man Homecoming (Spoiler Free)

Spider-Man fans everywhere I reckon were beside themselves when we found out Spidey was coming back home to Marvel. Following the not-so-successful 'Amazing Spider Man 2' which saw Andrew Garfield in the titular role; Sony and Marvel had finally managed to broker a deal that would see Peter Parker, introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As someone who's actually enjoyed previous Spiderman films and frankly sick of the constant rebooting, I was apprehensive going into this screening. Peter Parker's origin story has been done what feels like time and time again. What other angle could one possibly add? What more needs to be said?  The film's target audience know who Aunt May is, are aware his parents and Uncle Ben have died and know exactly how Peter Parker got his powers to become the Spider-Man. Studio executives have fortunately caught on and while the film still gives us an origin story, it skips all this jargon. The appropriate information is alluded too but we're given far more space and time to get an essence of who this Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) is.

In 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' we have an origin story that feels lighthearted and fun - as to not exclude a perhaps new and younger generation of viewers, while remaining fresh and loyal to its source material - something for the die hard fans.

The films picks up where the last 'Avengers' film left off following the Battle of New York. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keeton) has been contracted to clean up the city but, given the more supernatural elements left in the debris, Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) US Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C) take over, leaving Toomes out of work. Out of work and frustrated, he and his associates decide to steal some of the technology to sell advanced weapons on the black market. It's with this technology that he's able to develop a specialised flying mechanical suit to become the 'Vulture' - a suit he wears to carry out more sophisticated criminal activity.  

Fast forward eight years and we meet a 14 year old Peter Parker. Stark isn't convinced he's ready to be an Avenger and in a quest to convince him otherwise; Peter spends his days fighting local petty crime in hopes of being invited back into the fold. All this is going on while he's trying to juggle his high school woes: staying on the decathlon team, getting the attention of his crush Liz and warding off high school bully - Flash. One night "on mission", he stumbles across one of Toomes' associates selling weapons. As events unfold, it doesn't take long for Peter to realise Toomes' plan to hijack a D.O.D.C plane transporting weapons from the Avengers' Tower to the new team's headquarters.

Many failed attempts, injuries and Tony Stark bailing him out later; the film's events come to a head when Spider-Man is faced against the Vulture where he has to realise and tap into his full capabilities to defeat Toomes.

As well as the very evident coming of age/identity themes, there's  a strong father/son dynamic between Stark and Parker that plays out really well. It's not glaringly obvious as to why exactly Tony Stark has made it his mission to be Peter Parker's mentor but as the film unloads, we realise there are so many parallels between himself Peter and Tony's origin stories and it begins to make total sense. Stark still wrestles with his own absent-father issues, the guilt and great responsibility he feels as a superhero and we're subtly reminded of the identity crisis -  very much tied to his suit. As he helps Peter navigate through some of these problems - in often laugh out loud sequences - Stark is given  a bit of character development which, nicely moves the cinematic universe forward while still very much being a Spider-Man movie. There's a very fine line to be drawn with a personality as big as Robert Downey Jr who it seemed, the studio was relying on too heavily to promote the film. If he had been in even one more scene, it would've been too much - too gimmicky  and one less and it'd have been pointless. Luckily the film know it's limits and he's not overused. 

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' does a lot of other things right too. Most superhero films suffer from having a third act that's way too long, over-relying on one character to pass the six laugh test and a 2-Dimensional villain. This film addresses and rectifies all these issues. Humour is distributed equally and well among the characters, all of whom at some point mould Peter's character. Keaton is delightful as Toomes, not only for the juicy plot twist you'll have to watch yourself to find out (!) but his strife and frustrtaion is understandable. His faults are what make him human and this human-like quality is what makes him that much more real and menacing as a villain. Having a short and sharp final act between the two of them make far more sense than having say, a Thanos like super-villain after this 14 year old boy because; this movie  is far more about setting up Peter in this universe and developing his character, than it is about him saving the world. And for this reason, Marvel nail what they do best; delivering strong genre movies. In this Spider-Man, we have a feel good, teen movie. 


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