36 Before 36

36 Before 36

It’s time to unveil my new birthday list! For the unitiated amongst you, I’ve been writing a birthday list since the year I turned 28. I pick a number of things that I would like to achieve between my birthdays, and inevitably fail to cross a large number of them off…

Unbelievably, this is my ninth list! It gets harder and harder every year, because of course, the number increases by one every time I make the lists! But I’m pretty pleased with this year’s goals.

It’s been a bit delayed, due to the fractured wrist that I have had to deal with, so I now have only a little over 11 months to complete these goals. But I’m nothing if not a tryer!

  • Visit Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library.
  • Watch a film for every year I’ve been alive (1982-2018).
  • Keep a bullet journal.
  • Film a second a day for three months.
  • Record a podcast.
  • Send 12 Postcrossing postcards.
  • Go to Bath.
  • Get a third tattoo.
  • Go to Ballie Ballerson.
  • Get a piercing.
  • Climb the O2.
  • Visit Sky Garden.
  • Give blood.
  • Cook one new recipe a month.
  • Read five from The Book of Forgotten Authors.
  • Work on my family tree.
  • Visit five new museums.
  • Read five Christmas books.
  • Increase my Instagram following by 15% (currently at 518)
  • Send birthday presents/cards to all my family members and friends.
  • Buy five poetry books.
  • Volunteer.
  • Plan something amazing for my sister’s 50th birthday.
  • Have watched 30 from the BFI 100 Thrillers to See Before You Die list.
  • Read all ten from the Guardian Top 10 books on Rural America.
  • Read all ten from the Guardian Top 10 modern epistolary novels.
  • Take a trip to a new town or city every month with Hannah.
  • Bake ten cakes.
  • Meet up with my teenage best friend.
  • Start a newsletter.
  • Take a driving test.
  • Buy no new clothes for an entire month.
  • Ask twenty people to recommend a book, and read them all.
  • Attend a film festival.
  • Leave the country for a holiday or mini-break.
  • Re-decorate my bedroom.

Wish me luck!

 

35 Before 35 ~ The Results

Another year has passed, and we find ourselves here, with me bemoaning the fact that a) I haven’t ticked off many of my birthday goals, and b) I haven’t got around to blogging about most of the ones I did tick off.

My excuse this year is that I was on a roll just before my birthday with some posts about the ones I did tick off, and then disaster struck. I fell over whilst rollerskating and fractured my wrist on the day before my birthday, and typing is not the easiest thing in the world right now. But I’m perservering, in the hopes of getting this post written, and a new list up before too much time elapses!

Firstly, a roundup of the ones I completed but didn’t blog about…

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I dyed my hair! Well, kinda. I wanted to try something like a pastel colour, or maybe go grey, but it didn’t happen. But I did a sort of dip dye on the ends of my hair with a Bleach London kit, and I really like the results! So I’m calling it a win.

I managed to photograph 50 Blue Plaques. It was always a bit problematic as to how I was going to write a whole blog post about all 50 without it being the dullest thing in the world, so I’ll just say here that I did it with a few days to spare, and I’m going to continue on my Blue Plaque quest!

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I’m so annoyed that I didn’t get around to blogging about the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – it happened in May for goodness’ sake! I may still write a post about it (I probably won’t), but suffice to say, I went and had a fabulous time (again).

I also saved up for and bought my camera. I saved five pound notes for months, but ended up putting a hefty chunk towards it straight out of my pocket, because I wanted it before I went on holiday.

Theatre Pins

 

I made pin displays, inspired by something I’d seen on Instagram – I bought some cork place mats, spray painted them, and then cut them into cloud shapes. They aren’t hanging up like I wanted them to be, but it’s still a win.

The theatre trip was already in the offing when I made the list, and I ended up going to see Half a Sixpence with my best friends. Very good it was too!20214429_331006903993994_8025098950367248384_n

Finally, another one that I’m really annoyed that I didn’t get to blog about; I visited Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Known to many as the Hovis Hill, from the old television advert, it’s where my Granddad was born, so I’ve wanted to go for years. It was just as special as I expected it to be.

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Then there are the two (!) that I managed to blog about; I got new glasses, and I threw a Gilmore Girls party.

I tried to compile a top 50 songs list – I started it on New Year’s Eve, and never finished it. I failed miserably at reading more diversely, I think of all the books I’ve read this year, only two have been written by people of colour, and I can’t find any other diversity amongst them at all. That’s seriously shocking, and something I need to address.

I started listening to an album a week, but didn’t get very far with it. It’s a series I want to continue with, but I won’t be adding it to my next list. I managed a further six films on the Film4 Musicals list, but was still short of of 40 films, at 27.

So my final tally was a meagre nine out of 35. Not a great result, but the joy is as much in making the list and trying to tick them off as it is in actually achieving them!

 

Birthday Club 2018

The rules of birthday club are simple. You sign up, you get assigned a random partner; on their birthday you send them a present, and on your birthday they send you a present. I started this gift exchange last year, and it seems to have worked well, for the most part, so I’m hoping to get lots of people involved again!

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So if you’d like to join in, please fill in this form, and I’ll pair you up with another person. You will then buy a small selection of gifts for that person (based on some information they give you about themselves), and post them off, ready to open on their birthday. A reasonable amount to spend is £10-12, before postage.

Sign-ups will close on 10th December, meaning that anyone paired with an early January birthday should have plenty of time to buy and post a gift. I will endeavour to send a reminder to everyone a couple of weeks before the birthday of your partner, though I am pretty rubbish at things like this, so I make no promises!

Book Blog Tour ~ Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere is an engrossing read, set in what at first glance appears to be a surburban paradise. A cast of fully engaging, perfectly rounded-out characters make for a compelling but slow-moving story.

Elena Richardson is a journalist, a homemaker, a wife and mother, and Shaker Heights, the suburb of Cleveland where she grew up and is raising her family, is her perfect habitat. Everything is meticulously planned, and everyone plays by the rules, even when they don’t.

Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, arrives to rent a house from the Richardsons, and moves in with her teenage duaghter Pearl. Very soon, the two families, so different in their make-up and outlook, begin to weave themselves into each others’ lives; Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children, Mia begins domestic work for the family, and develops a relationship with Izzie, the youngest Richardson daughter, long since marked out as the black sheep.

The novel begins with a fire destroying the Richardson house, and from there the action takes us back to the day that Mia and Pearl arrived in Shaker Heights. The story weaves a slow-moving and insightful journey through the six months that elapse between their arrival and the fire, and the reader is left guessing as to what will come next. A custody battle involving a Chinese-American baby provides the catalyst for the drama, leaving Elena and Mia on opposing sides of what they see as a moral battle.

This is the first Celeste Ng book I have read, despite hearing nothing but praise for her debut novel Everything I Never Told You. I just love how absorbing this story is; all the time I was reading it, whenever I had to put it down to do something I else, I just wanted to head back to spend time with these characters. They aren’t all likable, but they are so well written that they feel entirely real. The setting of Shaker Heights feels just slightly oppressive, but is written about with a knowing tone; the idea that you’d get a fine for leaving your lawn uncut for too long is written about humourously and we are encouraged to roll our eyes at this kind of autocratic dictate.

Now that I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for Ng’s writing, I’m going to be seeking out Everything I Never Told You.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Publication Date: 9th November 2017
ISBN: 9781408709719
Little Brown
Provided by publisher

August & September 2017 Books

August-&-September-Books

This is how behind I am with every single blog post that I have been meaning to write – these are the books I read in August and September. It’s now November!

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz*
This is the second Horowitz book I’ve read this year, having previously enjoyed Magpie Murders. This is another unusual set-up; though it’s a work of fiction, Horowitz inserts himself as a character into the story. The character in the story is approached by a former detective, who is working as a consultant on a murder, and wants a book written about it. It may seem gimmicky, but it really worked for me. The murder mystery itself was compelling, and kept me guessing – all in all an enjoyable read!

Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Tin Man is a beautiful book; it took me just a day to finish it , because I found it very hard to put down once I had become immersed in the story. It’s an incredibly moving story about life, love and loss, with characters who became so real to me that they have remained with me even at a distance of months. It’s a captivating story that doesn’t honestly have a huge amount of plot, but weaves a beautiful story all the same.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal*
One of my 35 Before 35 items was to try and read more diversely. I have failed miserably in this; despite trying hard I have let myself down! When this popped up on Netgalley, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did – trying to read more diversely is about opening my eyes to ideas, cultures, histories and experiences that are different from my own. This was a fun and silly book, but it gave me an insight into the way that British Sikhs live that I didn’t have before.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
I spotted Pax in Waterstones when I was out shopping one Saturday morning, and it immediately appealed to me. It’s the story of a fox and his boy companion; Peter rescued Pax as a kit, and developed a strong bond, as they had both recently lost their mothers. The book follows them both as they are separated from one another, and trying to find each other again. The writing is beautiful, with the foxes in particuarly being characterised quite wonderfully, and it also includes some lovely illustrations. But I have to confess that I was a little disappointed with the ending.

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve recently renewed my Audible subscription, and this was the first book that I downloaded. I had seen such a lot of hype about this Young Adult book about the D.C. Comics character that I was keen to read it. It tells the story of a young woman from modern day New York, who ends up crashing onto Themyscira, home to the Amazons, and Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman. When Diana discovers that Alia is the Warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy and destined to bring about the end of the world, she takes it upon herself to save Alia, therefore saving the world.
It took me a while to get into this, and I wonder if it’s because I was listening rather than reading, or if it did indeed take a while to get going. I ended up really enjoying it though; this may have had something to do with just how much I loved the recent Wonder Woman film, but that notwithstanding, it’s a dynamic story, set partly on Theymyscira, and partly in our world. It’s an exciting and well-written story that I would highly recommend to anyone, regardless of your comic book background.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 30

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