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Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

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In June this year, I bought and downloaded ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi onto my tablet, and I finally completed it today and it was such a different book from the ones I normally read and very relevant for the UK’s Black History Month that I wanted to talk about it. It is an amazing piece of literature definitely deserving a review. 

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist and Homegoing is her debut novel. At only 26 she has already won awards for this novel and of course, they are well deserved. According to her Wikipedia, Homegoing was inspired by a trip to her home country of Ghana, that she had not visited since being an infant. Homegoing is a phrase used for African-American funerals and is a big part of the culture and history. Back in the days of the slave trade, slaves believed death meant their soul would ‘go home’ and return to their native place in Africa. Of course, as the novel starts in the 18th century and explores the theme of slavery so raw and bluntly, I can see why Gyasi used this as a title. Of course, when I started reading I knew deep down this book was going to be more educational to me than it would ever be empathetic because this is a book of black history and the suffering, discrimination and such African people went through from 18th century onwards. I think it is a good idea for white people to read stories like this as it’s stories that are true and need to be told. Not forgotten. So many people went through so many things to even get to where we are today and in recent stories such as the rise of Black Lives Matters, the obvious problem of racism in many industries and shootings of black youth by police – it’s very important to remember we’ve still got a long way to go in learning from our ancestor’s discrimination and cruelty.


Admittedly I was terrible with keeping up on my reading on the first few chapters of Homegoing but I don’t put that down to the writing or topic at all. I’m very bad for procrastinating reading. But recently I picked up Homegoing again and got sucked back in and even between University classes or on the tram home I have found myself wishing I had more time to ‘just finish this chapter’ or ‘find out who the next character is’. Each character was so different but I loved how you could trace back the relatives and descendants to the original characters of Effia and Esi. Family/ancestors are an important theme in this story. It also explores two regions of Ghana, the Ashanti people and the Fante. From reading this I am so in love and amazed by Gyasi’s knowledge and research of her culture and the past of Ghana. Even at the end of the book I looked at her list of references and was incredibly impressed. The passion to spread the knowledge and history of Ghana is so amazing and Gyasi is an incredible author and writes each character so beautifully and makes each of their stories so unique, that you find yourself glued to the book intrigued.

Gyasi does not spare anything writing the honest past of these characters and how some of them lived through well-known history including the African Slave Trade, the Plantation era, segregation in the US, riots, war on drugs etc., it left me feeling like I had gotten a more honest and powerful insight to how people of colour experienced these times. A quote that stood out to me massively about half way through the book was:

“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” 

This stood out because I think it’s a quote and question to ask yourself even now. What’s in the history books in school in the US isn’t always correct. Things are missed out, people are missed out. Think of the Ferguson riots and many other riots after innocent black youth had been killed after. Thankfully on Twitter, people are lot more quick to notice the anomalies, but there was so many call outs for ‘trustworthy’ media ignoring important facts or honest stories from black witnesses. Media would paint the white policeman as a victim and the barely even adolescent black child as not. In this day and age, racism is systematic and history is changed to suit those who are in charge.


As I prepared to write this review, I actually scanned over other people’s reviews and one talked about how most ‘the past of slavery’ centered books tend to just be there to shock and upset. I don’t really agree and I definitely think Homegoing is different from that. It doesn’t give you a bird’s eye view, it puts you right there in the character’s shoes. It takes you through generations to see how, even though the African slave trade is in the past, things still effect people of colour today. There is still lasting effects and that we shouldn’t ever forget about it. It’s not something we can brush under a rug or let a white leader convince us that it’s all ‘over and done with’.

I wanted to make this a spoiler-free review but I’ll mention briefly, the ending characters who close the book for me were based in the 21st century, I’m guessing around 2001. The final female character, Marjorie, takes our final male character Marcus back to Ghana where she grew up, more specifically, the Cape Coast. The story itself starts with fire and fire is actually a prominent theme throughout the story, however as the two characters stand on the beach in the sun there is this one paragraph:

She walked to where he stood, where the fire met the water. He took her hand and they both looked out into the abyss of it. The fear that Marcus had felt inside the castle was still there, but he knew it was like the fire, a wild thing that could still be controlled, contained.”

I thought this was such an amazing little scene that I actually wrote it down. I loved the contrasting symbolism of starting with a fire and ending with water. I can never spot or decipher exactly what this symbolism could have meant to the author but I feel it was to maybe be a metaphor for the character’s futures. The vast, big sea on the coast of Ghana, the character’s ancestors homes – where it all started. To show despite all of the anger, distress, brutality, violence and suffering the characters go through during the book, they are still there. They are still strong and part of the Earth. Their ancestries are important stories to the Earth and despite how horrible the world can be, people will keep fighting. The ocean scene is almost like a healing scene compared to the rest of the book, although it is clear you are meant to understand that racism and discrimination is still rampant, the two characters are given a moment of peace and clarity, of happiness.

I think this is definitely a novel to pick up this year and read as it is so educational and relevant even now. The cover art I have seen for it is also beautifully illustrated and it’s just such a raw, enthralling book that I might consider getting a physical copy for myself to read again in the future.

Thank you for reading, Homegoing is currently available here on Amazon UK

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can you have both a glass is half-full mindset and a half-empty mindset?

I recently stumbled upon a spoken word video/poetry video from a poet speaking about how the world has gone to chaos and such and how ‘this world should end’. His background of choice was a broken, abandoned house in the middle of nowhere and he sat on what he could make out of the rubble and spoke about how this world should end because the air is polluted, water contaminated, our food is genetically processed and our governments are greedy. Now at first my instant emotion was to feel depressed. To feel a heavy sigh in my chest and to not really want to watch the whole thing because of the sour mood it would inevitability put me in. I didn’t want it to feel like I was discrediting the poet or ignoring his message because his message was the kind of thing all humans need to know, especially the ones who have more power to make change. This poet was releasing extreme truths and things that could hit anyone of any background close to home and I am proud of him for speaking out and was, obviously, inspired by what he said because it got me thinking – what is the better option in this current generation? To think optimistically or to think pessimistically?

As soon as I closed out Facebook to try and soften the blow of sadness that some posts on that website can inflict, I went downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. Equipped with a warm bed robe just taken off the radiator and strolled past my cat who was warm and content next to the stairs. I gave him a stroke and turned on the kettle and started thinking – is it bad to praise the good things in the world? The world is shit and I agree. As a kid who grew up with intense fear of global warming and environmental damage from a weirdly young age, I couldn’t agree more with the fact that humans have messed up the environment we’ve been given. We should have done more to look after it before it got too late for some animal species and plant species. We should be putting more effort into safe energy and more effort into decreasing harmful emissions. But as I sat there letting the kettle brew, I ranted to myself in my head that it’s even more depressing and ignorant to sit by and just accept the doom of a shitty world. There are positives to the generation I live in.

If I was a child in the 19th century, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to have my parents or older family members around now, people I know or even myself may have died from an illness or injury that, in this generation, I could have been easily cured of due to the evolution of healthcare and medical studies. There has been so much progression in technology and science discoveries that can benefit people and animals. We have discovered new species and creatures due to that advancement and I think that’s amazing. In this current generation, although it is still debatable and there is still prejudice and hate crimes, people are working more and more to get LGBT people the safety and equality they deserve but it’s not even been long since it was decriminalised. Racism and racial prejudice is still prominent in so many countries around the world including the UK and US but the internet and communities work so hard to oppose and call out systematic racism. If it wasn’t for the internet and people talking about Black Lives Matter, I may have not even been educated on police systematic racism. Some people would call the internet a downfall of our generation, saying children don’t get the right childhood anymore because of the internet but you could look at the internet positively by saying news is spread much more fast than it was in the past. The internet can also hold many communities that benefit people. If a teenager is feeling lost in their own world they can turn to the internet to discover hobbies, games, music or forums that create distractions for them and may even benefit them and make them happy. More and more people are switching to vegetarian and vegan diets in this current year to which shows a progression for dietary and animal rights.

Of course, when I was thinking that there are so many positives to this world now that people may overlook in the spiral of depression and hatred that there is currently, I didn’t want to be the ignorant one. I don’t want to turn a blind eye to the world’s negatives or what stuff we need to change. If I could ask for wishes about the world I would ask for so much instantly. I want everyone to switch to safer, environmentally friendly energy choices. I want people to create materials that decompose and are safer for the environment. I want people to learn the harm of systematic oppression and racism and educate others. But what can I do if I sit there and just wallow in the fact that the world is ‘shit’? How are any of us going to change if we just accept that the world is shit and wait for our lives to finish?

Would everyone thinking with just a half full or just a half empty mindset help anyone? I think people need to discuss and share the positives of everyday life just as much as we’re quick to share a poem or video about how shit the world is. I think the world could change if we try to look for positive progress as much as negative things. Because if there is negativity, there is no point in sitting behind a computer and complaining but then not doing anything and just accepting it. What do you guys think? Do you think I’m mad for even trying to think of positives? Do you think it makes me ignorant? I’d love to hear people talk more on what they think about trying to make a change for our world, even if its small things.

Thanks for reading my ramblings,

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Little Update Regarding Sanitary Donations

Hey guys,

So if you’ve been following my posts, you know a while back I looked into the fact that an increasing number of people in the UK are finding it harder to access sanitary products and that some school children have had to miss days of education or makeshift products just so they can go about their day as they can’t afford or access sanitary products. I also did my own little survey to see what kind of periods people I know go through – how long their cycle is, if they’ve ever had to makeshift or use something that isn’t a sanitary product to clean up/absorb menstruation. Then, from there, I made my own Just Giving page (that is now closed) to raise some money so I could get together lots of products and donate them out to a couple of organisations that I believe are great organisations and causes who are out there trying to get sanitary products, help and comfort to people who cannot access them – especially in this social climate where youth homelessness is on the rise!

So I was going to save this for the big post I was going to make, but I was so grateful that by the end of my Just Giving page closing – we raised £35! I know my target was £100, but anything is so much better than nothing and I can’t thank the people who came forward and donated enough! You are such lovely people.

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So last week, when the money had reached my Paypal, I sat down and split up where the money was going and in the end the four organisations I am giving to is

Monthly Gift MCR

The Booths Centre in Manchester

Every Month MCR

Bloody Good Period

I have linked to their pages, where you can look for yourself in detail about how you can donate and what they do.

So, without spoiling much for the big blog post where I talk about it, I have already gone and sorted out the donations for 3 of these organisations and it was so uplifting sorting it out. Unfortunately, you may have heard about the incident in Manchester the past week. It was absolutely horrible what happened and absolutely heartbreaking to think of the parents who have lost their beautiful children in what happened. It’s been a few days since and I am only now just feeling comfortable about going back into Manchester City Centre and feeling safe – the community of Manchester is definitely what makes you feel safe. Hearing the news about queues at blood banks, queues at tattoo studios for the Manchester tattoo appeal, the amount of donations and money raised, the outcomes for vigils – it’s all so amazing and really shows how close Manchester is and it makes me proud that I was born and raised here.

The last organisation I need to sort out donations for is in Manchester City Centre you see, so I have not yet got the chance or felt up for going into the Arndale and getting all the bits together and taking it to the donation box. Monthly Gift have a lovely pink bin situated in the shop Oklahoma in Northern Quarter and that’s where all the donations will be taken, so because of the fact it’s not something I can do online, that’s the reason for my delay. I know it’s a terrible reason and hopefully this coming week I will be able to go into town.

Once again, I can’t thank everyone enough who donated or shared my Just Giving page – every little helps makes a small difference!

Have a lovely weekend,

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Teenagers in UK not being able to access sanitary products?

Despite the on and off stigma of periods and talking about them that you grow up with if you are a vagina bearer, periods are still a thing that half of the population get and cannot just turn off at the switch of a button. Everybody’s periods are different – they can range in how long they’re around for, how heavy they are, different intensity of period cramps, different period symptoms/PMS to go alongside it and the time between them can be different too. But almost every person with a menstrual cycle invests in some sort of sanitary product. Whether it’s towels, tampons, reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups etc. etc. It’s a necessity to bring comfort, hygiene and peace of mind to the person on their period. So how come access to sanitary products is starting to become harder for school girls in Leeds?

It’s not the first people have heard of teenagers missing out on education or school because of their body’s natural cycle. In rural Uganda girls miss around eight days of school due to lack of resources, in Garissa, Kenya 86% report missing school due to periods and in India 23% of girls drop out when they start menstruating. Isn’t that crazy? Girls/young people with vaginas should not miss out on getting an education just because of how their body works. Nobody chooses to have a period, right? This kind of problem is slowly creeping up on our doorstep! It’s been reported recently that in Britain, specifically Leeds, students are relying on their teachers to provide sanitary products or not coming to school at all during their period. Some of the students approached in this research explained they come from families maybe with a single parent or multiple siblings and when short on money it can be hard to get the sanitary products needed when they are on their periods.

I found this news quite sad because like I mentioned, nobody chooses to have a period and it must be quite upsetting to get into trouble for attendance when it’s just your body doing what it’s meant to do! So I decided I wanted to do something, even if it’s just blog posts to raise awareness, or get people talking more about periods and sanitary products, or try and raise some money to send off products to charities that specialize in providing people who have limited or no access to products with said products!

Today I put up a survey on my Facebook asking people to fill in a couple of questions that cover how many products you use on one period, have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve had to makeshift something when you’re bleeding and can’t access a product, what age did you start requiring them and such. I got such a good response back, I’m so unbelievably happy and surprised! I hope to write a blogpost tomorrow, properly going over the numbers but so far I’ve noticed one common pattern – everybody agrees people should have access to free sanitary products and almost everyone feels like their high school didn’t do much to provide access to products/feel comfortable asking. Which made me kind of sad but more determined to start a discussion.

My survey is here to fill in! It’s only 10 questions and any response is useful! 

So what do I plan to try and do? Well tomorrow/Monday I will write up properly my findings on it! As well as that I’m trying to contact some local organisations that take in donations of pads/sanitary products for tips on raising awareness! Watch this space!
Thank you for reading,

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21.01.17 – Central Vegan Festival

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Hello lovely world,

So today me and my gorgeous friend Natt popped into Manchester to visit the Central Vegan Festival that was taking place! Manchester was extremely busy today and I’m glad to know one of the many things going on today was the Women’s March taking place. Now I’m gutted I couldn’t go, mainly cause I left it to late in the day to make it and my anxiety was acting up a bit so I was wary about going into big crowds but I hope in future I can attend more marches. Of course, Manchester’s march wasn’t as massive as Washington’s but I am so proud to see how many people attended the march in my hometown. It makes me so proud and even feel a little bit more optimistic that I know so many women of all types – black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, white, disabled, gay, bisexual, trans, cisgender, mothers, single women, elderly women, teenagers etc. etc. are standing strong and looking out for each other after the news of Trump coming into presidency in the US. All the images and videos of marches around the world fill me with hope that so many people want to fight against the despairing, patriarchal presidency taking place.

I recommend taking a look at the images and videos on social media just by searching #WhyIMarch or #WomensMarch. It’s truly inspiring.

The vegan festival also took place in Manchester today and it’s my first proper vegan festival that I’ve attended. It was quite small and humble but very crowded and well-attended! It had that festival feeling where you’re shuffling around slowly and taking everything in, but I really enjoyed it despite the slow movement! There was tons of food stalls serving fresh vegan meals and although I couldn’t eat things from every stall I managed to try a gorgeous slice of ‘pepperoni’ pizza from Vegan Pizza Co.’s stall and I also treated myself to a batch of loaded nachos from Mex It Up‘s stall.

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The staff at both stalls were also super lovely! Next up me and Natt had a lovely look around the other stalls, I recognised a stall for Wear Your Voice UK, who do really nice vegan and anti-cruelty prints on t-shirts and jumpers. I already own two that I’ve bought online but it was really exciting seeing them at a stall in person.

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There was also a very cute stall there from a shop named Rogue Gypsy who did crystals and crystal jewellery. Now I’m a sucker for anything with crystals on so I had to buy something and me and Natt ended up deciding to get matching necklaces (cause we cute)! The man at the stall was super lovely and even told us about the crystals on our necklaces, and gave us a little slip with facts about the crystal with our necklaces.

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Finally, of course, comes the snack haul – because I love food and I can’t help hauling vegan snacks. I managed to nab up some vegan sweet treats from Ananda Food‘s and Forgot the Egg‘s stall which was exciting, as well as picking up some other treats as seen below!

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From left to right: two ‘Wheaty chorizo spacebars’ (they remind me of pepperamis but way better), Raw Cacao Ombar Buttons,, Ananda’s Choca Mocha marshmallows, a Marshmallow pop from Ananda’s, a gingerbread man from Forgot the Eggs and V-Bite’s dairy free Fudgee bites.

All in all I am extremely excited to try some of the stuff I picked up today and fully recommend popping to a vegan festival in future, even if you eat meat and you are curious about the food and such!

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day,

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a little Moana (2016) Review

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Growing up I was always enamoured by the aesthetic and art of Lilo and Stitch, there was never a Disney film quite like it. Lilo and Nani stood out as characters with their unique beauty and personalities. Admittedly a flaw of Disney female characters is they do tend to conform to western beauty standards of thin, hourglass figure with skin as pale as winter snow (no offence, Snow White!). The lovely Nani in Lilo and Stitch was definitely a good turn in direction for female character design and one of the first things I fell in love with in Moana was the character design because it brought me back to how much I adored Lilo and Stitch.

The list of what I loved in Moana is exceedingly long, and I imagine if I was to see it again I would find more and more little details that I absolutely adore. Moana’s character design for a start was gorgeous and she has definitely hit top spot of favourite female characters. She has so much personality and curiosity. Right from the start when ‘crazy grandma’ – Grandma Tala is telling the young babies of Motunui the story of demigod Maui and the heart of Te Fiti, you instantly spot Moana’s unique charm as she is the adorable baby sat at the front taking everything in with intrigue. The beginning sequence of baby Moana wandering off on her own and looking after the little turtle back to shore made me fall in love with her as a character. Boy, do I want a kid with that kind of adoration for her environment. I was literally squee-ing into my hands watching that whole sequence as not only was it adorable, but it made me excited to see the rest of the story. The art also put it right out there, that you could be damn sure the rest of the film was going to be stunning.

The soundtrack was an absolute dream, to be blunt. Every time a musical piece started up, a smile instantly lit up on my face. ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen might as well be forgotten and dead because ‘How Far I’ll Go’ is absolutely beautiful. I’m going to be listening it to weeks at this rate, so if you ever see me on public transport trying my best not to dramatically dance? I’m probably listening to that. Maui’s solo ‘You’re Welcome’ also brought a grin to my face, which leads me to one of the other good points of this film. I absolutely loved the Rock playing Maui, he played the character so well and really brought Maui to life. As well as Auli’i Cravalho playing Moana. It really surprised me to learn that Auli’i hasn’t been in anything else and didn’t even think of auditioning for her? I’m so glad she did because I couldn’t imagine Moana with any other voice!

The other characters stood out as well, despite Moana and Maui being the mains. I loved Moana’s grandma and thought her little parts in songs were really sweet, they even gave me goosebumps. The mascot characters were hilarious too and didn’t get old, although I would of loved to have seen more of Moana’s pet pig Pua.

Would I recommend Moana for all ages? Of course! Maybe I am biased because of my eternal love for Disney musical films and awesome female characters but I think Moana is my favourite film for 2016. It has such a good message that you should follow your dreams but not forget your roots or where you come from. I would definitely take my nieces to see it because I think they would equally fall in love with Moana and Maui. There are some parts in the underwater world thing, when Moana and Maui seek out Maui’s hook, where the ‘evil creatures’ seem quite spooky because of the ‘bioluminescence’ style colouring but aside from that the film is so amazing for both children humour and adult humour alike.

If you’re looking for a lovely film to see this weekend with your partner, family, friends or even just taking yourself to see a film, I definitely recommend Moana for a heart-warming, inspiring tale with humour and an amazing soundtrack!

Have you seen it already?

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2017 Wishes: January

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Hello it’s me! Long time, no blog!

Happy New Year to everyone, I have a feeling this year will be better than the last. Last year had it’s ups and downs, it felt more of a year of downs in general but I hope this year will be a lot more positive for everyone I love.

A lot of cynics will take the new year resolution tradition as a ‘pointless gimmick’ but I’ve always liked the idea of making goals and resolutions at the beginning of the year, admittedly I never stick to them but it’s nice to sort out your priorities and know what you want by the end of the year. Admittedly I’m terrible at sticking to one idea at a time and always change my mind every month let alone year. I’m very impulsive and get inspired easily which is both a weakness of mine and a strength. So I thought this year I’d start off by making ‘wishes’ or goals for the first month of January – not the whole year. I want to take one month at a time to try and get to where I want to be.

Photo 02-01-2017, 21 19 38.jpgSo where am I starting? Of course, I want to get back into my vegetarian lifestyle. I am massively inspired by the cause Veganuary, in which people go vegan for just a month but as I am living back at home for the first month, it’s a bit harder when my parents buy the food and I’m very against turning away food. It’s a lot easier on me and my family to request to be vegetarian for the first month of 2017, plus hopefully if I succeed at this, I can transition to a more vegan lifestyle later in the year! As well as a more healthy, meat-free diet, I would love to incorporate a nice exercise routine into my every day life. I’ve always been rubbish at having an exercise routine but swimming has always been appealing to me. If I can build up the guts to visit my local leisure centre or the one at my University, I think swimming laps in the pool a couple of times week for just an hour a day would be a great health benefit.

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For Christmas my parents got me this beautiful Paperchase Planner as seen on the left and a cute dainty little bee-themed (spot on, mum) notepad with a bee pen and it’s inspired me to keep a lot more organised and jot down as much things as possible to keep me up to date with my own life. I was the most unorganised person last year and obviously it hasn’t changed over night (I mean I did wake up at 1pm today), so I hope to start using my planner to start making baby steps to a more sorted life. This planner has a pages for my diary, budget planner, meal planner, shopping list and notes. My lovely little C3PO is attached to it as well to give it my own personal touch!

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Organised work ethics are something I aspire to have this month as well. I’ve got my first University exam coming up, as well as revising for a performance in the drama society I love being a part of and I’ll be going back to work and generally throwing myself back into a busy bee lifestyle, after a good two weeks of napping more than usual and eating my own body weight in chocolates and leftovers. If I can go an entire month without accidentally napping through rehearsals or having 100% attendance at my classes I’d be so proud of myself. I know I can do it, I just need a good kick up the arse.

And finally as you can see, I want to write more blog posts. Last year whenever I heard people say they’ve read my post or they like reading what I write or even accompanying my writing/blogging to me, it’d give me such a warm feeling inside. I really enjoy my writing and I’ve missed it so much in the past few months and I’m sad I got so overwhelmed that I’d push my blog away from me and avoid trying to write. I hope this month I get a good few posts done.

Oh and of course, I started Mass Effect 3 and I want to finish it, wee!

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Happy New Year my lovelies!

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