The Cull

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That is a really aggressive title to come back with, but I can assure you that it is all book related and we are starting with a little reassessment of this year’s reading challenge, before I come at you people with an excessive amount of book reviews. Seriously, that is all that will be appearing on here for at least 10 days. I’ve read a lot of books what can I say?

I’ve read a lot of books that also aren’t currently ‘scheduled’ as it were. I didn’t even own a lot of them before they ended up just in my hands, being paid for and then being instantly read. This means that I’ve been doing a lot of contributing to my reading goal of 70 books this year, but it also means that I’ve been neglecting some books that I was ‘supposed’ to read.

Currently my 2018 Reading Challenge shelf on Goodreads is at 75. Don’t get me wrong, I can still maybe do that (even though I seem to be eternally 2 books behind schedule right now and have been since War Storm) but also there are 5 extra books on that list that I don’t need to read this year.

And that’s got me thinking about where I can potentially cut some stuff out…and also I know for a fact that I’m adding another book in there because I can’t not read it right now and there will be more on that later. So there’s some stuff that I don’t necessarily need to read this year…for some of them maybe never. Or at least not soon.

The books at risk are as follows (oh yeah, the list is here):

1) The Grapes of Wrath – This really does not feel like the place to start with when it comes to Steinbeck and also it’s so damn long. I want to read it, I really do, but then also I think I should start smaller when it comes to Steinbeck and this ain’t that book.

2) Legendary – Don’t get me wrong, I want to read this book really bad because I love, love, loved the first one. However, the paperback of this book isn’t due out this year and my Red Queen series is not consistent between paperback and hardback and I didn’t think that would bother me, but it did (and still kinda does) and so apparently I cannot bring myself to get this in hardback. Which is maybe the pettiest reason to not read a book, but the consistency thing is apparently a big deal for me.

3) The Kids Are Alright – I don’t really think I care about reading this book. I can’t even really remembering my reasoning for putting it on here other than the fact that it had ended up on my to-read shelf in the first place. I don’t have a burning desire to remove it of there…I probably won’t.

4) I am the Messenger –  I pre-ordered a completely different Zusak book that is being published later this year and so I might just switch them out. I might read both. I dunno, I’m only sure that I’m gonna own one of them.

5) Generation X – I don’t think I care enough to read this tbh. I have no idea what it’s about, or why it’s there and I don’t really know what to do with it and I’m probably just going to say no altogether.

6) The Crucible –  I was always skeptical about this play, I have heard things about this play. Also I have the second Fantastic Beasts  script already on pre-order so I can switch out plays and be just fine…

7) Sense and Sensibility – Right, there are some classics that I think I am just more destined to watch then read. This is one of them. Which is odd because I love Austen, but I am just not feeling this. Also me of January called that this would get scrapped, so at least I know myself.

Okay, so these are currently all the books that are facing the chop. They are the ones that I do not care if they get read this year or not. They’ll stay on the shelf for now, but I’m not actively thinking about them. Also, these aren’t even all the ones that are facing the cut. I reassessed this list and there are defo some more that can get got. Also, I am fully aware that the math might not fully work out to get to 70, but in my head I have some subs and a couple of other books that I wanna get read which will bump it up (also I have book 1 of a series and we all know how that could turn out).

I will read 70 books this year. I will.

Anyway, that’s where we’re at with this reading challenge this year. We’re over halfway it felt like a good time to reassess.

Parentheses count: 4. See you tomorrow!

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Number 13

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There is a part of me that thinks if I speak things into the universe then I more likely to hold myself accountable for them. I don’t necessarily always do it, but that’s mainly because I then don’t try and follow them up again with myself because if I don’t follow up then I can just pretend that it doesn’t happen.

But this month I have a plan.

It’s related to one of my goals for the year. It’s number 13.

It’s also the one that I failed the most last year. And the one that I want to really get to grips with this year. But I’m serious about it this year.

I’ve already started making a start with trying to get things a little bit more under control. Not that they were crazy out of control or anything, because I still live at home and don’t have to pay rent/bills yet (but I would like to be able to be in the position to do that soon-ish) but I’ve kind of not been truly paying attention to where the hell my money is going. It’s like I have it and then it’s gone. But I’m challenging that now.

I’ve made a list of all the payments that come out of my bank account on a monthly basis and an estimate date as to when they leave their little house. What doing that taught me was that more things leave my bank account automatically then I thought. It also made me truly accept that I need to cancel my magazine subscriptions because the pile of ones that I’ve not read yet is excessive (some of them date to July 2017…). It also taught me that by some stroke of luck most of them go out around pay day which I think is a good thing. Currently it feels right.

Christmas also helped me tip the balance back in my favour for my monthly travel card which remains my biggest expense each month and now falls three days after pay day. Win!

Anyway, back to my point, which I think I have lost slightly over the way, this month I am cutting down my spending to needs must only. Things like food, toiletries, all the expenses that automatically leave (which I do now know and have ended if necessary) are pretty much the only thing that I will be spending money. But I am allowing for the odd occasion that I might get a life.

I will be real, there was a part of me that had little to no faith in myself, but then I was on one of my fave sites of all time, Fabletics, because the February collection dropped and was wondering whether anything was drawing me in and there were a couple of things. Then I remembered that you get reward points whenever you buy something and if you get enough you can convert them into credit against your account. And I was 200 odd shy of that.

Then I discovered that you can also get points if you review things. There are a lot of things sitting on my account waiting to be reviewed. And well, to cut a long story short, I spent a lot of yesterday reviewing this and now I can choose a pair of leggings of my choosing and get them pretty much for free which will satisfy that itch in me that wants a new pair…

I also have a shit ton of Boots Advantage points that I can redeem against stuff (when I figure out the very complicated system that allows you to actually buy things with your Advantage card…) so I can pick up some of the stuff that I know I need that way.

We’re on day 3 of this though and so while this feels like a promising start, I’ve also been in this position before where it’s been great for a few days but then goes to shit real quick. But I want to really be in a position where come the end of the month I can make an accurate assessment as to how much I can actually afford to out into my savings account and not just put some money in there and then move it back out a couple of weeks later. I also want to be able to close my overdraft completely and know that I don’t need it as a safety net anymore.

So, I’m speaking it into the universe. As well as trying to cut back down on sugar (which I’m not doing to hot on right now, but again day 3) and starting to meditate more I am also going to curb and really reassess my spending (and only be a little bit better that my monthly travel card has gone up by nearly a tenner…)

Parentheses count: 5. See you tomorrow!

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2018 Goals

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We are now pretty firmly into this year, 2018 and like I did last year I have set myself some goals for the year. Unlike last year where there were 6 quite broad goals that could kind of encompass anything that I wanted it to,  this year they are a tad more specific. They are something that I can actually aspire to and that could maybe be something a little more tangible. They cover an array of things and they are the kind of things that I am hoping to form into habits.  I may or may not do updates on this as the year goes on, I quite liked it last year because it forced me to check in on them and see where I was and whether I was putting any effort into them, so I probably will (and I’ll be better at tracking them over the year).

1) Learn how to fuck with eyeshadow

I am being legit about this. I have kind of gotten better at make up over the past couple of years. I mean I do the same face each and every time but just switch out the lipstick out and my eyeliner never really matches, but I can contour now and am really nailing the whole highlighter thing, but I also don’t trust myself with any kind of eyebrow product that isn’t a gel with a spoolie. So I think that if I learn how to actually do things with eyeshadow then I can actually make it look like I have a different face on whenever I do put make up.

2) Learn how to do a full pull up

Listen I have minimal upper body strength and am also tall as hell. The idea of being able to do a pull up sounds almost unachievable to me, but it is also something that I want to be able to do. I’m not even aiming high. I just want to be able to do one.

3) Be able to a full push up

I can manage this when I am on my knees, but when I am going full push up I can get about half of the way down before my arms feel like they are going to give up and so I push back up to avoid smashing my face onto the floor. I want to change that. I’m aiming up for this one, I want to be able to multiple reps for this.

4) Read 70 books

Okay I know the challenge is officially set at 65, but for some reason, probably because I exceed last year’s one, I want to see if I can push it that little bit further. I already have two other books that I started reading and have carried over to this year… I’m sure I can find another 3 from somewhere.

5) Lift heavier

So for this Lift class of mine (it’s literally called that) the heaviest I have on my barbell is for the squat tracks and it’s 13kg, then for any kind of clean and presses and rows it’s 10kg, biceps and triceps it’s 8kg. All this means that I am classified as an intermediate. And I can just about cope with this at the moment, I think the problem with that one is that I went up in weight and then became really sporadic with when I went which meant that it was harder to get consistent with it and move up with the weights. Which I want to change. I want to be a strong lifter. If I’m meaning really ambitious then I would say seasoned pro, but I’m a realist, so I’m just aiming for strong.

6) Eat more fruit and veg

You know that whole recommended intake of fruit and veg? Yeah I think I get about 2 on an average day, 3-5 when I’m really conscious of it. I want to be more conscious of it at all times until it just becomes a habit and the idea of doing it isn’t even something I think about anymore.

7) Cook More

I used to cook all the time and then my dad changed shifts at work and it went back to him so I pretty much only do it on weekends if I’m feeling inspired enough to do more than just pasta, which is rare because I am so out of the habit of it. But even when I did cook, I pretty much only ever cooked the same 7 dishes just on a rotation and so I want to expand that. And cook more. This is the year that I want to make some tweaks to my diet and cooking is a pretty good way to get that into my control.

8) Finish the damn book

As in writing it. I want a first draft of this thing done by the end of the year. I want to final be able to say that I have finished a novel because I have so many half written ones in my life that have lost their way somewhere in the middle and I want to change that.

9) Write for half an hour a day

This kind of links to the above one, but is also just a general thing. By the end of the year the only writing I did was for this blog and even then I stopped doing that come December, which is fine, it’s still writing, but I want to more creatively. I have a built in hour of my day where I usually read (sometimes I don’t but they are the exception to the rule) on my commute to and from work/gym and I want to carve out a half hour of my day where I write. I think at first I might literally have to set a timer for half an hour and close any possible distractions, but I want it to become a habit. I can’t finish the damn book if I never write anything.

10) Get better organised

This is back, but I’m serious about this time. I have way too much time that I just spend aimlessly and then never have ‘time’ to do the things that I want to do which is bullshit. The time is there I’m just not utilising it properly. I have a shit ton of unused notebooks that I bought because they were pretty and that 2018 organiser of mine, they’re gonna get used and I’m gonna become a better organiser of the time I have that isn’t spent at work. Although even there I’m gonna get a clearer level of organisation in too.

11) Get my Peak score to 800

I talked about this at some point last year, I downloaded the Peak brain training app at the back end of 2016 and am now on a 376 day streak or something like that, but the score that I have has been hovering between 770-780 for months now and I want it to break 800, it means I have to take more care around the board for all the games and stuff, but that’s my aim

12) Meditate more

Headspace literally asks for 10 minutes out of your day and I used to give it to them, but then I stopped and kind of undid all the work that I had done with it. On the one hand it was because I was treating exercise as a kind of meditation but also I just wasn’t making it a priority, which I want to change. It’s just 10 minutes and it makes such a difference.

13) Save, save, save

I know this was also on the list last year and it was an epic fail but I’m serious about it this year. I’m gonna start keeping better track of all my expenses and try and not buy things that I really do not need. I want to be able to completely close my overdraft, ideally by summer time, but definitely by the end of the year.

14) Put more effort into blogging

I used to be relatively good with this. I would think about what I was doing more and I was good at sharing my posts and I had finally fallen into a habit of interacting with other blogs and then I just stopped all that. Posts came together really quickly and they were literally only shared once when it auto shares at posting. I want to get better at utilising Tweetdeck and reading other blogs and commenting on them and get back into the blogging community.

15) The Masters

Just as I was heavily considering actually making my way through the application, work got really hectic and left me feeling incredibly drained. On the one hand I think I used that as an excuse for not doing it this year, but on the other I knew deep within me that I wasn’t prepared to put the time into the application because I wasn’t ready for it. But I do still want to do it, so when the time comes later in the year I’m going to put the effort in and let the chips fall where they may.

And those are the 15 things that I want to work towards this year.

What about you, are there any things that you’re working towards or want to achieve this year?

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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2018 Reading Challenge

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So, now that last year’s has been wrapped up in a slightly messy, bow it is time to move on to the next one. Which has somehow ended up bigger than last year’s, which I did finish but still didn’t finish a book that was technically on the list…again, but I blindly went through my ‘to read’ shelf on Goodreads and just added ones that sounded interesting to me at the time, which was the last week of 2017. I also had to add a bunch of books that I impulsively bought on Boxing Day because I had heard good things and I wanted them in my life. And then there are the pre-orders.

Anyway, the list currently stands at 65. Noticed how I said currently…yeah I hate that too but that is where we’re are. Also, you may notice that there is literally only one play on here working in almost complete opposite to this post, but that’s where we are at with that.

Be warned this is going to be lengthy, there are 65 books on the list:

1) Red QueenVictoria Aveyard –  The whole damn series of this book will be read this year. They are all on the list, given that this is book one we are obviously going to start with this one.

2) Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard – Yeah, they’re all coming back to back. I’m gonna start as I mean to go on. And this will be the year that I complete not one, but 3, whole series and don’t just leave the first book hanging as I am prone to do.

3) King’s Cage, Victoria Aveyard – There’s the third one.

4) War Storm, Victoria Aveyard – Not gonna lie, I forgot that there was going to be a fourth one to this series and so this was added after I had thought the list was complete and knew that this list was probably going to be ever lengthening. It’s gonna involve a lot of deep breaths, it’s gonna be fine.

5) Cruel Crown, Victoria Aveyard – And we conclude this whole series. First 5 books down.

6) London Fields, Martin Amis – This feels like it might be a little heavy hitting, although I don’t actually know what it’s about, but the cover seems a tad intense and yes I am judging it by that.

7) The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millwood Hargrave – I’m looking forward to reading this actually, I had kind of forgotten about it, but then I remembered how much people liked it and it got me excited again.

8) Fight Cub, Chuck Palahniuk – Kinda looking forward to going back to Palahniuk’s writing, it was something that I enjoyed the first time.

9) A Darker Shade of Magic, VE Schwab – I am far too stressed about the fact that this does have me leaving a first book hanging again, which I kind of knew would happen when I bought it on a whim in the first place.

10) Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher – I’m both apprehensive and hyped to read this.

11) Postcards From the Edge, Carrie Fisher –  I’m gonna read 3 of her books this year. And it’s probably still not going to feel like enough.

12) The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher – I don’t think I wanna read this for reasons, but also I need to read it.

13) Big Little Lies, Lianne Moriarty – This is one of those books that I am looking forward to reading because I loved the show so much and I wanna see how they differ.

14) The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood –  This is gonna be intense. I just know it. Headspace is gonna be everything when I go to read this.

15) the princess saves herself in this one, amanda lovelace – I really do need to read more poetry. And this is currently the only one that I have.

16) the witch doesn’t burn in this one, amanda lovelace – I discovered while I was compiling the list that there was a sequel of sorts to the other one and so here we are adding another poetry collection to the list.

17) The Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks – I forgot about this book and had to tag it on. It raised the number again.

18) The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron – I’m intrigued by this book, looking forward to reading it.

19) Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas – Yet another book I’m gonna leave hanging. I have so many open ended series on the go that I read the first book from and then never appear to return to no matter how much I want to.

20) All That She Can See, Carrie Hope Fletcher – I am curious as to where this is going and figuring out further how I feel about her style of writing.

21) When the Curtain Falls, Carrie Hope Fletcher – Apparently though I am not going to wait to have read that book before buying her next one because it’s already on pre-order…

22) The Little Friend, Donna Tartt – I have missed Tartt’s writing, going back to it will be great..

23) Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert – It’s time to figure out the hype.

24) Now I Rise, Kiersten White – I loved the first one, looking forward to getting back to these characters.

25) Bright We Burn, Kiersten White – And this will be another series that I can marked as finished when this gets published. Again, I forgot about this and had to add it to the list, which ticked it up ever higher.

26) Godsgrave, Jay Kristoff  – If the next book for this series comes out this year, I don’t wanna know about it.

27) Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen – I’m almost tempted to scrap this off the list, just because I’ve put it off for so long what’s a little longer? I’m not, but there is a part of me that is thinking about it.

28) The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck – Same as above.

29) The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas – I have heard so many great things about this book I just have to read it.

30) Legendary, Stephanie Garber – This may be the quickest turnaround for the reading of a second book that I have ever scheduled for when I haven’t gone in to outright read the whole series from start to finish. But loved it so much I need to know what is happening with these characters.

31) Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton – For some reason I just haven’t got around to reading this series yet, even though it seems like it would be right up my street. So this is the year that I’m gonna do the whole thing in one.

32) Traitor to the Throne, Alwyn Hamilton – There’s the second.

33) Hero of the Fall, Alwyn Hamilton – And fortunately for me the 3rd book gets published this year and so I can complete it all. Yay.

34) Everless, Sara Holland – This book came onto my radar and I was hella intrigued hella fast and before I knew it I was putting it on my list and preordering it.

35) The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho – I do not get how I have never read this before and so I am going to do now, when the book arrives in my life.

36) Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman – I had never heard of this book until the film and then it was everywhere and obviously my interest was piqued and so here we are.

37) History is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera – I’m reading both the books by Silvera that are on my radar, I was only going to read one but I couldn’t decide so I picked both. They are already on their way to me.

38) They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera – Here’s the second one. I’m excited to read both.

39) The Belles, Dohnielle Clayton – I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews regarding this book and the cover is all kinds of stunning and so I am gonna get ‘er done and pretend I’m not starting yet another series…

40) Runaways, Rainbow Rowell – I will read anything written by Rowell, that’s it.

41) The Sun and her Flowers, Rupi Kaur – Her first collection was heavy, I’m interested as to what her second will bring.

42) The Virgin Suicides, Jeffery Eugenides – I was gonna read this like 7 years ago and then just didn’t, so now is the time.

43) The Kids Are All Right,  Diana Welch – I’ve no idea what to expect from this book, but it was on my to-read shelf on Goodreads and the title intrigued me so here we are.

44) Seriously…I’m Kidding, Ellen Degeneres – I love Ellen and yet I’ve never read anything she’s written, so I’m starting here for the time being.

45) The Burning World, Isaac Marion – I found out recently that there was a sequel to Warm Bodies and well that got me interested because I can’t think of where it will go and I need to find out.

46) Simon vs the Homo Spaiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli – This has been on my radar for years and was fully bumped up after I watched the trailer for the film.

47) Hunger, Roxane Gay – This will also be the year of reading Roxane Gay work. This is one of 3 books.

48) Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay – The second.

49) Difficult Women, Roxane Gay – And the last one. There is a theme I know.

50) I Am the Messenger, Markus Zusak – We all know how I feel about the other Zusak work I have read. I wanna know what else he has to offer.

51) My So Called Freelance Life, Michelle Goodman – I discovered as I was going through my ‘to read’ shelf that I have a lot of these kind of non-fiction/self help books on there and so I have shifted a lot of them onto this year’s reading challenge shelf. I think this might be a useful read for me.

52) Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher – I want to read this book before the second season of the show comes out and also see where they differ, because from what I understand there are some drastic differences.

53) The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, Sarah Knight – I could have really done with this book last year, but better late than never.

54) The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla – I need to read this book. That’s all I’ve got on this.

55) The Crucible, Arthur Miller – And here we have the one and only play scheduled for reading this year. It’s nice and easy.

56) Carol, Patricia Highsmith – There are a fair amount of LGBT stories on this list, I’ve made that a conscious effort this year. And trying to read from POC writers, which I feel I’ve been less successful at. Better, but not as good as it could have been.

57) Everyday Sexism, Laura Bates – This book has been on my radar for a while now, so now it is finally time to read it.

58) Girl Up, Laura Bates – And this one. I am also very aware that Bates has a third book coming out this year, but I’m gonna wait until it has a paperback before I even think about reading it.

59) Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari – I have a great appreciation for this man and so I am looking forward to reading this.

60) Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling – I loved her first book and so I am looking forward to reading her second one.

61) A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood – I love the film adaptation of this and have just been very slow to read the book.

62) The Defining Decade, Meg Jay – I turn 25 in a couple of weeks and the past few years have kind of been a bit of a mental clusterfuck and kinda draining so the idea that this is the defining decade kind of makes sense but is also kind of terrifying. And I’m hoping this book will do something to make sense of it all.

63) It’s Not Me, It’s You, Mhairi McFarland – I’m in this for the title. Kinda. And also the contents.

64) Generation X, Douglas Coupland – I don’t even really know what this book is but the title interested me as I was going through my to-read shelf and so it shifted to this list.

65) Lost Boy, Christina Henry – The concept of Peter Pan is being played around with here, I am only so strong. And I quite liked the concept of Alice which I read last year and for the most part it is I liked the way it was written.

And that is my year in books. It’s nice and small. Totally doesn’t have the potential to get longer at all.

It’s fine.

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

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Welcome Back

Hi, Hey, Hello!

Happy 2018! Hope you are all well.

It’s been a while.

And now we are in a new year and just like that I am back at work and back on the daily grind.

The thing about the Christmas period is that it warps time in this weird way. I’ve been off work a little bit over a week and yet it feels like I have been away for months. This happened as well with working out. I went to Pilates on Friday (which in itself feels like a lifetime ago) and while I was walking to the studio I was trying to remember when I last went because it felt like it had been ages, it had only been a week. My body had just adapted to that Christmas living real quick and my muscles had been given a chance to fully, fully recover and then I went and stretched them all out and worked them in the quietest way possible and my body thanked me for it.

It was a good workout to end the year with in one that for the past few months had included workouts that were pretty much all go, go, go. It wasn’t that that was bad, but my body did enjoy the slightly lower tempo, even though my lats on Saturday were not messing about. It was pleasant though.

Christmas was just spent with the family and we played Trivial Pursuit and I drank a lot of Baileys Chocolate Luxe and ate sooo much food. I pretty much did not stop eating for the whole week until Friday and then I started trying to balance it a little more. I didn’t balance it very much but I started to tip the scales to being balanced more than it had been. It was mainly because I am aware that over the next week I am going to get it back to normal and I didn’t want it to be a whole 180 shock for my body when it happens.

New Year’s was uneventful, mainly because Aunt Flo felt the need to wake me up and then wiped me out until about 4pm. I had a shower and then lay back in bed with my dressing gown and felt sorry for myself whilst watching La La Land (which I liked, but didn’t love, but I can get why there was hype around it). When I finally started feeling a little bit more human I took to tidying up a little. I decluttered my make up bag and organised it a little better. I threw out all old beauty products that I had stocked up before I then overhauled my entire skin care routine (I didn’t even know I had some of the stuff that I found which maybe shows that I have a hoarding problem) thus making them redundant. I cleaned my make up brushes. I felt like I accomplished something and it didn’t take as long as I had feared.

Actually I said it was uneventful mainly because of that, that’s a lie. I never do anything for New Year’s other than sit in my house and watch the fireworks on TV while drinking and for the past couple years eating a massive Indian. That’s it. The day is pretty much just the same as any other for me. Buying into the hype is just stress that I don’t need in my life.

I’ve also spent the last week trying to think about what I want to achieve this year and that post will come shortly as well as some other little reflective pieces about the year that has passed. There are also some books to finish reviewing from last year before I get into this year’s reading challenge, which I have already pretty much set…so that will be the next few days on this blog.

That is pretty much it from me now.

How was your festive period? Have you set any goals for the year yet?

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