Thursday, 31 July 2014

July in Books

July, July, July. You came, you went, you left a very melancholy impression. 

I'm not often that relieved to see the end of a month roll around, but in this instance I am. July has been a mixed month, with some seriously happy days and some seriously not so happy. You win some, you lose some I suppose. I did a fair amount of what I would really consider to be comfort reading this month. Reverting back to my old favourites from the Golden Age of detective fiction was an absolute joy, and I (shock/horror) read two YA books (although I'm not sure the Connolly is technically YA - feel free to enlighten me). I talked about comfort reading a while ago and I think I may actually talk about it again in the near future because reading really is the best thing to turn to when in need of a little comfort.

July Reads...

42. The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

43. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
44. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L Sayers
45. We Were Liars by E Lockhart
46. I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant (kindle single)
47. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Book of the Month: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (more Christie, please!)

I did sneak in a cheeky Russian read this month for O's Russian Literature event. It's only taken me the better part of six months to get around to going Russian. The Double was a really interesting, dark and chilling read and it has definitely piqued my interest in Dostoyevsky. On a side note, has anyone out there seen the Wallace and Gromit episode where Gromit is reading a book by Dogstoyevsky? That scene has stuck with me ever since I first saw it (we're talking a long time), and I still think of it every time I see Dostoyevsky written down. I'm silently chuckling to myself this very moment.

July has been a very quiet month around here (apart from the Moranalong). My enthusiasm has been waning a little with my energy, but I'm hoping it's on its way back for August. I actually think I'm lying when I say my enthusiasm is waning. It's more that my thoughts are in such a muddle I can't seem to write anything remotely coherent, let alone interesting. A week in Italy is just what the doctor ordered.

At the moment I'm finishing off How To Build a Girl and I'm also reading Lady Audley's Secret which is making me crave some more Wilkie. 

How has your July been? What was your book of the month?

Early morning run on my birthday. Lovely.


Monday, 28 July 2014

How To Build a Girl: Part 3

How To Build a Girl
Caitlin Moran

Readalong hosted by the awesome Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!)

'I am on the last train home, being trouble.'

I may go so far as to say that this third part has been my favourite section of the book to date. It's full of lols, wow-moments, 'yes, Moran' moments, and some pretty deep moments. Basically everything you ever wanted and could ever hope for from a Caitlin Moran novel. 

Part three starts with Johanna experiencing flying for the first time. There is much excitement and this:

'I am getting incredibly high on a single, astounding fact: that it's always sunny above the clouds. Always. That every day on earth - every day I have ever had - was secretly sunny, after all.'

For some reason that bit made me feel unbelievably happy (almost as happy as Johanna). I've flown a fair few times, but as much as I always take sneaky pictures of the clouds, it's never occurred to me that the sun is there. It just is. Three cheers for learning new ways of looking at the world.

Anyway, the main element that stuck out for me in this part is John Kite. Not only does he have a cool name, he is also the rock star that I always dreamed of as a teenager when I spent hours mooning over singers and bassists and drummers from all manner of emo bands. Sexy, yet intellectual. But is he? That, for now, still remains to be seen. There is a slightly dodgy age difference going on here but he says the cutest stuff and I just like him (don't you dare hurt her, Kite, else I'm coming for you).

'John. He was not a beautiful boy, nor a tall one. He was round, like a barrel, in a shabby brown suit - and his hair was neither one colour nor the other.'

'John Kite was the first person I'd ever met who made me feel normal.'

Their night together is just perfect (even him peeing as she dozes in the bath).

I've finally decided I do not like her Dad much, though. When she carries a 'gift-wrapped' Guinness all the way back from Dublin for him and all he can say is 'Christ. That's flat', I just wanted to punch him and tell him that nobody treats Johanna like that. So yeh, we're officially over.

And then the worst happens, the thing that Johanna basically developed an anxiety disorder worrying about: their benefits are cut.

'The truth is, when you are very poor, that 11 percent bites into the very bones of your existence. Eleven percent less means choosing between electricity and food - electricity and food that is already rationed, and fretted over. Eleven percent is not very much - but, when you are very poor, it may form the bedrock of your survival.'

I can't seem to properly process all the class elements in this section, but my goodness are they powerful, eye-opening and sad.

And then John Kite says this and we all love him that little bit more:

'You must never, never forget when you talk to someone poor, that it takes ten times the effort to get anywhere from a bad postcode. It's a miracle when someone tom a bad postcode gets anywhere, son. A miracle they do anything at all.'

There is a lot in these chapters, too much to fit into one post. Before wrapping up though, I'd like to do a quick shout out to a few standout moments, in bullet form:
  • Johanna drinking Mad Dog
  • Johanna considering why smoking is useful in awkward social situations and coming up with the same answers I always have (and that would persuade me if I wasn't so anti-smoking)
  • Satanwankgate
  • Krissi being Krissi and therefore being awesome
  • Johanna at the industry party doing some seriously cringey stuff but still managing to get through it with her reputation intact
Part 3 was awesome, can part 4 possibly get any better?

You can pre-order the book from The Odyssey Bookshop here (US), or buy it from Foyles here (UK).


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Kindle Needs You

I have a massive request for you all, if you will oblige. In just under two weeks time I'll be jetting off to bella Italia for a week with my family (so excited) in the sun (fractionally less excited, more apprehensive). I have a few bits and bobs on my kindle that I'd like to read, but recently I've been really craving books of the unputdownable sort. Christie's And Then There Were None was a perfect specimen, as was We Were Liars by E Lockhart. I would like to ask you guys for some holiday reading recommendations that fit the bill. I'm thinking the sort of book that will keep me up desperate to finish, the sort that will have me charging my kindle mid-week because I've just done that much reading.

Can you recommend anything? Something that I can read splayed out on a deck chair, fanning myself vigorously with whatever comes to hand (except the kindle) and trying not to die in the heat. 

I'm open to any genre - chuck me a classic, a crime, a thriller, a mystery, even a YA (god forbid) providing it's of an exceptional sort. 

I'll be eternally grateful.


Monday, 21 July 2014

How To Build a Girl: Part 2

How To Build a Girl
Caitlin Moran

Readalong hosted by the awesome Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!)

'I am branding me'

I read chapters 5-10 in one sitting (definitely whilst star-fished on my bed trying not to die in the heat - I know that's an image you guys want to imagine). It was good. In fact, it was pretty darn good. But also, it was a let down. Actually it's hard to say it was a let down because in truth it wasn't, but it does pale in comparison to the first part. It's like reading the PHEW after something really intense, only it's quite a long PHEW. I guess in a way it balances out the extremes of the first part, and gives us a glimpse of a more subdued Johanna as she gets into the nitty gritty and begins to create herself.

We begin part two, not with a death as threatened at the end of part one, but with a rebirth. It turns out that Johanna does not want to die, she just doesn't want to be herself:

'I just...want to not be me anymore. Everything I am now is not working.'

Johanna reels through a list of potential names in the hope of finding the perfect persona to 'fly it all the way down to London, to my future'. I'm personally a fan of Eleanor Vulpine, though I'm almost certainly biased. So she settles on Dolly Wilde who happened to be the niece of Oscar Wilde and brought her own scandalous life to the Wilde family tree. After changing her name, Johanna becomes a writer for a music magazine and this is the journey we follow her own through this section.

Dolly Wilde is Johanna's 'early 1990s prototype Tamagotchi' (who else remembers these?! I could never keep them alive). She blu-tack's lists of attributes she would like Dolly to have to her wall (a 'this is who I am' mood board in effect) and literally re-creates herself physically - think black eyeliner, dyed black hair, a whole lotta black clothing and a top hat. The top hat is my favourite thing, particularly when she's desperately trying to keep it on her head during the gig.

'I can see where I've drawn Dolly Wilde on top of my own face - the two uneasily co-existing - but perhaps others can't.'

I'm going to take a wee little trip down memory lane at this point, feel free to scroll on by if the inner-angst of a nineties baby does not appeal. I've remade myself so many times I sometimes forget who I was before I started making adjustments. I've been the drama nerd, the goth girl (there may have been an emo stage in there at some point), the best-friends-with-all-guys girl, the bookworm, the quiet one, and the one who doesn't care what happens on stage as long as they're on stage. I was constantly reinventing myself to find the person I was meant to be or work out which persona was the most fun and the most popular. Then when I hit sixteen and went to sixth form college, I changed my name. I'd always been known as Ellie or Eleanor, but suddenly I decided that was boring, she was the old me and I was going to go to college and have ALL THE FRIENDS and ALL THE FUN (yeh, maybe not). So I introduced myself as Nell. But Nell actually became my worst enemy. She was shy, she couldn't cope with new people or new places and the big wide world of college was just that, too big and too wide. Perhaps I should have changed my name to Marian Halcombe and taken on the world, one mystery and one devious Count at a time. There's always next time...

Basically, I'm just saying that I still love Johanna and I still love Moran for writing the girl that many girls were/are/will be - desperate to be liked, loved, successful, special and, yes, just a little bit beautiful.

Anyway, moving onto my favourite bit of this section:

'Rock music needs very supportive bras'

Hell yes it does! It also needs a raincoat from all the beer and sweat flying around those tiny venues. I loved Johanna's first gig experience and her decision to be an 'onlooker of youth culture' instead of an 'animal'. It's awesome, funny, and just a little bit entirely true.

You can pre-order the book from The Odyssey Bookshop here (US), or buy it from Foyles here (UK).

By the by, if you've not seen this video please watch it now.


Monday, 14 July 2014

How To Build a Girl: Part 1

How To Build a Girl
Caitlin Moran

Readalong hosted by the awesome Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!)

'I want to live for something, instead - as men do'

What to say? Part one of How To Build a Girl feels very introductory. Not in a boring-get-on-with-the-story kind of way, but in a hello-this-is-me-and-this-is-how-this-story-will-be kind of way. You know? Please be warned, I'm about to spill some spoilers (alliteration high five!).

We're introduced to Johanna, our protagonist, and her slightly dysfunctional family who are waiting for that something that will rocket them to riches (or just any money, really):

'The future always has different names, and different clothes, but the same thing happens, time after time: the future only comes to our house when it is drunk.'

The future we're introduced to is in the form of Rock Perry, a record label talent scout who turns out to only be a cutlery salesman. The first of many let downs.

As with everything Moran has written, How To Build a Girl is extremely to the point. She does not shy away from subjects that have unfortunately become somewhat taboo in our culture. Namely, masturbation. Yes, there's lots of that going on from the very first page. But it's good. It's about time that teenage female sexuality is included in novels (and not in a dirty, self-abuse, or perverted way) and Moran is the perfect person to hopefully get that trend in motion. Girls want sex too dammit.

Moran also has some words of wisdom to share about growing up (apparently it's about 'keeping secrets and pretending everything is fine'), and poverty (writing is one of 'the few things poverty, and lack of connections, cannot stop you doing').

Then there's this:

'Because my biggest secret of all - the one I would rather die than tell, the one I wouldn't put in my diary - is that I really, truly, in my heart, want to be beautiful. I want to be beautiful so much - because it will keep me safe, and keep me lucky, and it's too exhausting not to be.'

SOB. I'm sure there are very few girls/women on earth who cannot relate to this. As a short, frizzy haired, red cheeked and genetically-large-arsed-thunder-thighed-girl, I can seriously relate. When I was in my teens with raging hormones and some very slender and beautiful friends, I was constantly aware of my looks. I was also constantly unhappy with my looks (still working on it). In that school situation it always felt that the pretty, skinny, talented girls had it all, but now, retrospectively at least, I am so convinced that true beauty comes from within and all that other stuff is just that - stuff. This is what I love about Moran. She doesn't write unrealistic women, she writes us all. She writes about the small things that seem huge to a fourteen year old, the sexy things that are so often ignored, the body/beauty/life things that define how so many women grow up. Caitlin, don't ever stop, for all the girls out there. 

There's just one other quote I want to share, purely for the fact that's it's so damn real (for me, at least). She hits the nail on the head when she describes anxiety:

'Boiling in this quicksilver, electrocized soup forever, nerves jangling like the tiny bell over an empty shop door just after a nuclear explosion has left the shop full of the dead, and me the only one standing.'

Just, yes. 

And the final line of part one? Well, hello there, angsty cliffhanger.

'There are no two ways about it: I am going to have to die.'

Onwards and upwards!

You can pre-order the book from The Odyssey Bookshop here (US), or buy it from Foyles here (UK).


Friday, 11 July 2014

Lit Nerd Recommends: Detective Fiction

For some reason this week I have been on a detective/mystery fiction binge (with moments of Moran-filled clarity). It started when the lovely Charlotte recommended Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None as the perfect seriously unputdownable book. It really was seriously unputdownable. So, last night when it came to choosing my next read, it was difficult to look past the Lord Peter Wimsey novel waving at me (loving it so far). 

Here is a round up of my favourite detective novels - including those with actual sleuths and those where as a reader you're invited to do some sleuthing of your own.

The Fiction:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Will I ever stop talking about Wilkie? Not likely. Sargeant Cuff (and his roses) happens to be one of my favourite literary detectives.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club/Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Ah Peter Wimsey, you may almost certainly be suffering from PTSD but you still manage a jolly good show. It's hard to say quite how much I adore Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is one that is not technically detective fiction (the lines are a bit blurry), but there is still an investigation. Plus it's super creepy. As a side recommendation, it's definitely worth reading Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin.

Anything involving Miss Marple
My love for Agatha Christie was well and truly rekindled this week by And Then There Were None. I don't actually remember reading any of her works that don't involve Miss Marple (who, though at times a giant pain, I do love), so I feel it's time to spread out and enjoy some Poirot too (let me know where to start!).

The Hound of the Baskervilles
No list would be complete without England's favourite addict detective, Sherlock Holmes. The Hound is one of my favourites purely because of its setting (hello scary moor I spent a lot of time on as a teen).

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Jackson Brodie is my favourite contemporary detective. Especially when he is played by Jason Isaacs in the BBC series.

The Non-Fiction:

Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
I studied Dorothy L. Sayers at uni and read this to get a bit more information about the genre. It's a really good non-fiction read, both for study and personal interest. I really enjoyed the section on the Golden Age (obviously).

The One(s) to Read:

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
I just feel it's a must.

One of the Albert Campion mysteries by Margery Allingham
I can't deny that I love a good gentleman sleuth.

Anyone else out there secretly wish they could sleuth like a pro? Let me know who is your favourite literary detective.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

'Everyone gets damaged by war. You don't have to be in it to be damaged.'

'He noticed that the word for truth meant, precisely, not forgotten. A lethea. Not in the Lethe, the river of forgetting. Is that what the truth is? What you don't forget? What does that mean? Well, for a start it means everybody has a different truth...He thought about Calypso, the sex maniac who kept Odysseus prisoner in her cave for seven years; he thought about how Odysseus, in disguise, testing his wife, felt so strongly for her grief as she wept over the husband she thought was dead, yet he kept his eyes dry as pieces of horn beneath his lids. He thought about trust, and how when the ships of Odysseus' fleet moored in the safe-seeming inlet to sleep, every man aboard those ships was killed, and only Odysseus' own ship survived, because Odysseus had moored outside: he had not trusted. He thought of the fire step, sentries, all night, awake. Of the modern ways he had used to keep awake: nightclubs, cocaine, prostitutes, jazz. And of the Sirens, who sang of the truth of the battlefield.
                Truth itself a drug, he thought, an addiction. A man could lose his life after war by wanting and needing to know the truth of what happened. Harking on the past. Am I doing that? Or am I drowning the truth? It's not that I don't know what happened - I don't understand. I don't understand.'

In Three Words: harrowing, thoughtful, moving

Read this review by A Life in Books

Will you be reading this sequel to My Dear I Wanted to Tell You?


Monday, 7 July 2014

Readalong Intro: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Today marks the start of the How to Build a Girl readalong hosted by the lovely Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads). Am I excited? Of course! The minute Emily announced the readalong and said British bloggers could join in, I was there, typing an email faster than my fingers usually allow. 

I love Caitlin Moran and have done for what feels like the longest time. She is beyond intelligent, amazingly witty and she has hair to die for. Her articles in The Times magazine never failed to perk me up, make me laugh, make me rail at the world or make me think 'hell yeh, feminism!'. When I was still living at home my parents would buy The Times and plonk it straight down on the kitchen table, basically ready for pillaging. I would swoop straight in and grab the magazine and the review section before either had time to blink. Occasionally I didn't get there first and I'd have to listen to my Mum chuckling her way through Moran's column before I could get my hands on it. Needless to say, I got pretty good at getting in there first.

After many years of 'have you read this week's column?' or 'listen to this quote' or 'this is so funny/true you just have to read it now', How to be a Woman was released. Clearly this was heavenly for my Mother and I. Then, following hot on its heels, came Moranthology, a collection of Moran's articles on everything under the sun. And now, NOW, we have a novel. How to Build a Girl is currently being advertised at my nearest tube station. Meaning that every day when I step out of the lift, as well as being confronted by the horrendous heat of the underground, I'm also confronted with the cover image of the novel complete with this quote: 'Imagine the Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and The Happy Mondays.' It doesn't get better than that. 

For those of you joining in who don't know me, my name is Ellie and I am generally ridiculously over-enthusiastic about books. There is often gushing and, behind the screen, much gesticulating and fast-talking.

So for the next few Mondays I'll be posting, along with all the other lovely bloggers involved, about each section of How to Build a Girl as we read. Stick around for some feminism, fist pumping and endless giggles. 

A massive thank you to Emily and Harper Collins for organising this readalong. You can pre-order the book from The Odyssey Bookshop here (US). 


Friday, 4 July 2014

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton
Published 3rd July 2014

'Women don't build anything, let alone their fates,'

This book gave me the chills. It also gave me sunburn, but that's a whole other matter. I read The Miniaturist in two days. Bookish folk often talk about not being able to put down a book and this is one situation where this really applies. I don't think I let go of it for an entire weekend, sneakily reading a few pages whenever I could grab a minute. 

Synopsis from Picador:

"On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways.

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?"
I mentioned this book a while ago after I'd returned from Amsterdam and was craving a little more of the canal life. The premise immediately captured me and I was not disappointed. This is a really impressive debut, not in the least because of the story behind it being published (I think there's a bidding war in there somewhere). 

Even though I'd read about comparisons to Sarah Waters, I wasn't quite expecting the slightly magical quality that pervaded the novel. The minute this strand was introduced it was like the novel took a different turn, but it is a turn that is completely necessary. Without it, I don't think The Miniaturist would be quite so compelling. 

There are a couple of things that didn't quite sit with me in The Miniaturist. Although I'm hardly clued up on Amsterdam's history, I do think some of the history was a little off. The characters, particularly the female characters, seemed a bit too progressive, almost like our 21st century feminism was being projected backwards onto them. I personally liked this because I do like my women feisty, but I do also like historical accuracy. The other thing that slightly irked me was the ambiguity. I feel like a strand of the narrative was not quite rounded off and didn't come to a satisfactory climax. Basically, I finished it with questions that I doubt will ever get answered. And yet, I still can't deny that I loved this novel. 

Having said all that, Nella's feminist feistiness and the sections which looked at Amsterdam's history and culture were some of my favourite bits (hey, I'm full of contradictions). Nella is very aware of her role as wife and why she was required to marry - it is very much a business transaction. The doll house is full of wonderful symbolism and Nella's own reaction to it speaks to her progressive ideas:

'it is a monument to her powerlessness, her arrested womanhood'

Burton's writing (as the above demonstrates) is polished to perfection. Some passages had me reeling and my kindle almost died from the highlighting that was going on. She manages to create a sense of normalcy, a growing unease and a mystical realness simultaneously. 

This is a book I'd recommend to fans of Sarah Waters and Tracey Chevalier. It has that same magical quality Waters is so well-known for and the characterisation Chevalier is so wonderful at. There are one or two flaws (this is a debut), but they do not change how I feel about it in the slightest. It is full of twists that keep you guessing and the sense of unease that appears on pages one grows and grows as each piece of the mystery is revealed. 

Has anyone else read The Miniaturist? I'm dying to chat about it!

Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Her Privates We by Frederic Manning

Her Privates We by Frederic Manning 

'He closed his eyes and had a vision of men advancing under a rain of shells. They had seemed so toy-like, so trivial and ineffective when opposed to that overwhelming wrath, and yet that had moved forward mechanically as though they were hypnotised or fascinated by some superior will.'

'After all, the dead are quiet.'

''I suppose it's war,' answered Reynolds with a touch of fatalism'

In Three Words: dark, anti-war, honest

Read this review by Universe in Words

This has recently been brought back into print by Serpent's Tail and is, I think, a difficult but necessary read to further understand the horrors and the stagnant feeling of WW1.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

July Reading

As I often tend to towards the end of the month, I spent Monday night sorting through my bookshelves and trying to decide on a few goals for the next month. I love to do this and usually several books jump out shouting 'read me, read me'. Last night though, I faced a slight conundrum when approximately 90% of my bookshelves demanded to be read. That's a significant number of books, far more than I can read in a lifetime (slight exaggeration), let alone a month.

Faced with this situation I decided to declare July as a 'free reading' month. Aside from a very exciting readalong I'm joining in on, I don't have any specific challenges or topics to focus on this month or any books I really should be reading and reviewing. In the spirit of that then, I'm going to read whatever the hell I like. 

Perhaps I'll fancy a stroll with Wilkie (obviously), or maybe it's time to re-read an old favourite. It could be that the mood suddenly strikes to tackle one of the more intimidating classics on my Classics Club list. I may be swept away into another flurry of World War One reading and knock one or two books off my War Books Challenge - it is the countdown to the big day now after all. There is even a likelihood that I spend some time with a Russian author or two. Or maybe, ignoring all that, I will decide to read lighter, more summery reads. 

Only time will tell.

In the meantime I will carry on with The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky which I picked up in Spitalfields Market on Sunday and started straight away. Three cheers for spontaneous bookish purchases.

I would love any recommendations for things to read as I shimmy my way through July. You know if I'm encouraged to read Wilkie, I most definitely will. 


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

25 before 25

1.  Read War and Peace
2. Learn a new language
3. Run a half marathon in 1hr 50
4. Get a job I enjoy

5. Go to the top of the Shard (without panicking)

6. Read something out of my comfort zone

7. Learn a new skill

8. Visit a new country

9. Go to five new cities/towns in the UK

10. Get a new tattoo

11. Do a tough mudder/mud run

12. Listen to a new genre of music

13. Walk over the Millennium Dome (again, without panicking)

14. Try a new sport

15. Plan a WW1 battlefield tour

16. Watch a Quentin Tarantino film

17. Watch The Lion King on stage

18. Go on a bookish trip

19. Climb a mountain

20. Go on a solo trip

21. Make a new friend

22. Complete a creative writing project

23. Re-learn the cello

24. Re-read all my childhood favourites

25. Finish reading the complete works of Wilkie Collins

Today is my 24th birthday. In the run up to the big two-four I've been thinking a lot about what I've achieved so far (a fair bit) and what there is left that I want to achieve (oh so much). As a lover of lists, goals and deadlines I've decided to create a list of 25 things I want to do before I turn 25 on 1st July 2015. As it is only a year I've tried to set myself reasonable goals but, inevitably, I got a bit carried away. Let's see how I do - I'm hoping that it being on the interwebz will help with the ol' motivation.

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