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The Devil’s in the Details: An analysis of Proctor’s physique (strictly for scientific purposes)

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This post contains spoilers with regards to the plot/scenes of The Crucible, so if you are yet to see the play, I suggest you give it a miss.

It also a shameless fangirl approach to Armitage/Proctor, so if you’re sensitive to the issue of RA objectification, I’d give it a miss too 😉

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Now that my adventure is well and truly over, I guess The Crucible genie is out of the bottle and there are so many thought I’d like to share.

There have been a few post requests here and there, so I would consider it rude not to fulfill my obligations as a raving fangirl, take one for the team and lay some issues to rest.

I’d like to try to give you a thorough head to tail toe analysis strictly for the sake of you understanding the character of Proctor better 😉

 Let me also tell you about one of my most favorite scenes and have it serve as a backdrop to some Armitage musing if that’s alright by you…

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Proctor is by far the largest physical presence on stage, and I’m including the metal frame bed and large wooden table 😉

This is no doubt exaggerated by how tiny (TINY, I tell you!) all the actresses are and the ease with which he throws them around the stage like ragged dolls (I’ve never been one for liking it rough, but this play has brought to light a new fetish…).

The costumes and minimalistic set design, not to mention the choreography, create an air that can be described in no other terms than haunting, but I’m not letting myself get distracted by rambling on about how beautiful it all is, so let me proceed…

Richard’s hair is closely cropped, I’d venture a guess that it’s his natural hair colour although I noticed no silver threads, so either he’s lucky or has given his mane a helping hand.

For those interested in the thickness, it looked pretty darn run-your-fingers-through-it worthy, even when wet.

Beard is thick and luscious, eyes piercing and those lines running vertically down his forehead very pronounced.

Nose suits his face beautifully, even if there may be a tad less of it than a year or so ago (allegedly).

BTW, if you’re wondering what accent comes flying out of his mouth, I’d say it’s most reminiscent of John Standring.

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Proctor wears a heavy coat, ever so slightly reminiscent of Lucas North’s peacock coat, that accentuates his huge physique.

The coat has clearly been mended on the back (a detail I greatly enjoyed) and the mean part of me had a passing thought: Sure, poor Goody Proctor was probably sat by the fire mending it as her not-so-goodie husband was rolling in the hay with Abigail 😉

Let me give you a moment to contemplate the image of John and Abi rolling in the hay… yup, Ok, let’s move on…

The scarf is a nice touch as I do enjoy a man who can accessorize and it’s all about the colour coordination, people!

Richard Armitage as John Proctor

Anyway, under the coat you can see a dark grey shirt, loose enough to allow a quick peek at the chest situation.

As I was quite fortunate to have Richard stand centimeters away from me as he delivered his lines on more than one occasion (and yes, I did get a fair amount of RA spittle on me, not complaining), I could take a closer look at the neck and chest situation.

Very hairy. Very very hairy.

Although I’m a fan of a nicely shaved chest, something tells me waxing wasn’t that big in Salem at the time and Richard certainly kept it authentic in that regard.

Also hairy- his arms, although I think any fangirl worth her salt knew that already, the hairs on his arms are quite light, so it’s only when they catch the light can you fully appreciate the manly jungle 😉

I also couldn’t help but notice something I’d focused on in RA pics before- how his middle finger is not much longer than his index or ring finger.

I think (although I can’t say for certain as I did have an intense play to focus on at the same time and there’s only so much I can register at any given time) that it’s more pronounced in one hand.

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I’d get a good look at the thumb and especially the thumb joint as Richard would have his hand clenched in a fist, probably ready to punch those nasty faux witches!

Left the binoculars at home, so can’t say much about the nails, sorry…

We’ve done the north, let’s proceed south.

Pants baggy, baggy, bloody baggy, much to my disappointment.

It wasn’t really until Richard got physical on stage (and luckily there’s no shortage of those moments) that you can spy on a thunder thigh muscle, an outline of the Armi buttock.

If I could change one thing about the play, I’d ask the costume designer to rethink the shape of those trousers to a more viewer-friendly line 😉

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Boots- oh, those boots, with the legs of the hip hop pants tucked in!

I’m not sure whether I found them so alluring because we’ve seem Richard sporting a similar pair in RL, but there’s just something about a big BIG man wearing sturdy weathered footwear.

He takes them off and throws them around a tad, much to the horror of the people sitting closest to the line of fire of said boots.

Bare feet- anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a foot person.

If you’re big enough to use them for walking, that’s my cue to start ignoring them, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Let’s just say as men’s feet go, these aren’t bad.

By the time Proctor takes his boot off, his sockless feet are a tad squashed and knackered, but I found nothing offensive there perhaps a small bunion developing on one foot and that’s high praise from me.

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Now, onto one of my favorite Proctor/RA scenes (unfortunately no visuals):

It starts with John’s wife Goody (short for Good Wife) Proctor carrying a big water jug and filling a big bowl.

The scene is quite powerful as she pours the water slowly and you can hear it trickling and splashing.

She then proceeds to take a lamp and go upstairs.

Proctor returns home after working in the fields all day, put’s his gun and whip down, tastes his wife’s cooking, scowls and proceeds to add salt to it.

It’s actually quite funny as he later in the scene compliments her on how well the dish has been seasoned, cheeky beggar 😉

Not that it’s important, but the food is real and you can clearly smell it as it’s stirred in the pot and later served up on a plate.

I wondered whether it’s one of those microwave meals that they heat up right before and whether they serve up a different one every so often.

For Richard’s sake I hope they do (although the smell was the same on both nights) because he does end up taking at least 3 spoonfuls before the scene ends.

It smelt quite meaty, but then I guess it’d be weird to get a whiff of chicken tandoori considering the historic context.

As a joke they should serve sushi one night, a good ol’ california rolls that Proctor ends up having to add wasabi and soya sauce to 😉

Talking about smells, I’ve always wondered what RA might smell of.

I’d heard about fresh linen and soap, but needed to verify it for purely scientific purpose, you understand.

Throughout the play whenever the actors would move closer I’d get this lovely smell of cologne.

I was beyond excited that Richard seemed to have broken his usual perfume pattern, or non-perfume pattern as the case may be, as I like a man who smells yummy and I do come from a family of perfumers.

It wasn’t until the end of the night when I leaned in to give the lovely Ms H a goodbye hug did I realise it was actually her, sat 2 seats away, that smelled so beautifully.

Oh well, I’m just happy someone made the effort 😉

Anyway, let’s get back to business:

Proctor walks in, clearly knackered after a day in the fields and proceed to take off his heavy coat, boots and shirt.

He walks up to the bowl and kneels in front of it.

Now, if the water was heated prior to the scene, the chances are it had cooled down in the process, poor Richard, but then he only washes the top half of his body, so he should be thankful for that, the audience not so much.

Anyway, the scene was quite beautiful from the front and, better still, there was nothing else happening on stage at that time, so I didn’t feel at all guilty gawking at Richard (really, how long can you stare at a wooden table and chair…).

If I may digress, I’m not the only one who felt guilty following Richard throughout the play and would, on occasion, divert my attention  onto someone else, out of human decency if nothing else, especially seeing as the other actors were all worthy of attention.

Anyway, Proctor gives his neck, face and chest a good scrub, no soap, and then proceeds to give the ol’ armpits a wash, Lucas North style.

This moment is unbelievably intimate as your eyes follow his hands while trying to drink up the outline of his silhouette and curves.

As I had mentioned before, Richard is simply huge on stage and this is exemplified by the fact that he’s kneeling by and crouched over a large bowl.

The shoulders are incredibly strong, as is the chest (seriously, where has he been hiding it all these years!) and the dripping wet hair which doesn’t fully dry throughout the scene made me wish someone would switch the sprinklers on throughout the play.

After he’s done, he wipes himself down with a towel, not very thoroughly though, and proceeds to put on a light white shirt.

Now, I don’t need to describe what the end result of wet RA body+linen shirt is, let’s just say if this were a wet T-shirt competition, Richard would be my winner, hands down 😉

I had the pleasure (and believe me, pleasure it was!) to see this scene from the other side and I can’t lie, it made an even bigger impression on me.

You can see him crouched over the bowl, back so wide you could pitch a tent on it (although I’m not sure why you’d want to…), the action of kneeling accentuating his thighs and rump.

If seeing a beautiful man wash from the front was powerful, Yowza!, it was staggeringly intimate from the back.

I won’t ever publicly reveal my exact thought that stormed through my mind as I watched (probably with my gob wide open drawing flies), only that it occurred to me this is an angle that probably only lovers get to see of one another.

As I tried to find at least one picture available online that would illustrate this scene and found none, it hit me that they’d keep it close to their chest (pun intended) and use it to knock the female part of the audience out.

And that they did…

That’s all for today’s RA leering, hope you enjoyed it and I shall be back to write more about Richard’s interaction with the female cast which is truly worthy of a mention 😉

AgzyM does London or Ramblings of a textbook fat, white, middle-aged RA Fan

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This is a mammoth of a post, but I didn’t want to chop it up, but it definitely wins the award for most words AgzyM has ever tried to squeeze in at one time.

I make no apologies for the rambling nature of this post and understand completely if you skim it and get to the good stuff (meaning RA pics).

For that purpose I have separated the post into parts so you can just omit the sections that are yawn-inducing to you.

I just wanted to save as many thoughts on my stay in London in one place, therefore it’s quite emotionally masturbatory in it’s nature 😉

I will also be focusing on the Armitage angle of the play which certainly DOES NOT mean that the other cast members were not phenomenal, especially the female leads.

If you follow me on Twitter (@AgzyM) you’ll have probably seen most of the pics before.

Obviously, any pictures from the play itself are not my own.

EDIT: The title of this post is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the reviewer who had described RA fans as fat, middle-aged white women.

Although I don’t necessarily feel I subscribe to that idea, nor do I agree that there is a common denominator for all RA fans other than admiring Richard Armitage, if that’s the way some people wish to describe me/us and being a proud Armitage admirer, so be it 🙂

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I’ve been back from London for a couple of days now, nursing my feet back to health after walking thousands of miles, trying to sift through (and wrap my brain around) all the wonderful experiences I’ve been fortunate to accumulate.

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As many of you may know in April I was lucky enough to receive tickets for 2 consecutive performances of The Crucible at The Old Vic for my Name’s Day (see, it’s good to be Polish sometimes…).

Well actually I was asked what I’d like to get this year, I said I really can’t afford to see Richard on stage, but I really can’t afford not to and my family rallied around me to make it happen.

Because I was arranging the tickets pretty early on, I had my pick of seating and I must admit I chose pretty bloody well…but more about that later.

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I flew in to London on the 6th early morning so had the whole Sunday free from any Armitage onslaught, but I did decide to check out The Old Vic (as any good soldier preparing for battle would) and my commute to and from the venue.

I had scheduled to do my shopping that day (didn’t buy anything from my list), then made my obligatory visit to the National Portrait Gallery and slowly crossed the Thames and walked to Waterloo Station.

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Dunno about you, but I wouldn’t mind all cities being adorned by RA images (so if you’re a politician make it happen if you want my vote…).

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The mind boggles how many people have actually touched, fondles and licked these posters, just to be on the safe side I restrained myself and only snapped away at them 😉

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I have to admit I did not encounter any Crucible posters around London, so seeing them proudly displayed around the theatre made my heart (and other parts of me…) swell.

We had stayed at a hotel just down the road from The Old Vic in December 2012 when we flew in to see The Hobbit: AUJ and every time we passed it I’d lose my fangirling shizz because it is the place of The 24-hour Play Richard had taken part in a few years prior (I’d also go all gooey when passing the Dorchester too, so I’m quite an embarrassment to be seen in public with ).

It was a mind trip to know I would actually be seeing the man himself in the flesh in the same place a year and a half later (see kids, dreams do come true!).

While I was checking out The Vic I also made a mental note of the stage door which looks harmless and innocent by daylight, but let me tell you the mood changes somewhat once Richard steps out of the door 😉

Also, don’t you feel a tad jealous of that parking meter that gets to check out Richard 6 times a week, usually the back of him?

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Anyway, the following day I planned my museum/art gallery schedule so I could swing by the Vic to pick up my tickets earlier, so I first headed to Tate Modern for the Matisse Cut Out exhibition (which I highly recommend), then walked to The Cut.

I felt like a lucky bugger as I picked up my tickets, especially seeing that since the plan had been forged I was on the lookout for some catastrophe that would see everything go up in smoke- lost reservations, delayed/cancelled flights, understudy performing on the night etc.

I had become so superstitious in the days months leading up to my London trip I dared not do anything to mess up my juju.

When I got this baby in my grubby hands I didn’t want to let go… but then I did out of fear that my sweaty hands would smudge the ink 😉

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As the nice lady was handing me my ticket, she told me that they were only just printing the Tuesday ones and they were on the letter “J” so I’d have to come back later to collect it.

Now, the ticket clearly asks you to make sure all the info is correct and everything is in order before you leave, which is easier said than done when you hold this precious in your grasp.

Long story short, turned out later that my Tuesday ticket had been printed out automatically and was attached to the other.

Oooppss, must pay closer attention in future…

Anyway, there I was thinking:

Willy Wonka, eat your heart out! I’ve got my golden tickets right here!

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 I proceeded to going down my exhibitions list for the day (Human Factor at the Hayward Gallery, you can give it a miss, Victoria & Albert Museum, which has a very interesting history of fashion display and my absolute favorite- Banksy The Unauthorised Retrospective at Sotheby’s which I highly recommend).

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I was to meet a fellow RA Admirer at the Pit Bar in the theatre before the play, so I took no chances of being late and headed that way around 6pm.

I ordered a glass of Merlot (hell, I was celebrating, right?!? although, in hindsight, a mixture of fangirl excitement, Richard Armitage and booze maybe wasn’t the smartest) and waited for Ms H, her daughter and a friend.

Unfortunately, as the crowds descended we missed each other and didn’t end up meeting until we were seated inside the theatre.

Let me just say that I truly regret not spending more time as Ms H is the type of person I could probably chat for 6 hours with without even making a dent in the topics we could cover.

I was extremely lucky to get an absolutely beautiful seat, first row, smack in the middle.

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The play started at 7.30 sharp, with the fog machine switched on and lights dimmed.

The stage (which isn’t a stage at all, just a large opening in the middle between seats) consisted of nothing but wooden chairs.

As the actors entered from the aisle opposite me, I was straining my eyes to see the bearded beauty.

He was one of the last members of cast to enter, but there was no mistaking that silhouette in the fog, I have after all spent a few hours of my life (Ok, maybe a bit more than a few…) paying close attention to images of Richard, so I felt quite well versed 😉

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I’m not going to offer a play review, I feel there are many who can do the job much better than I, but I can in turn offer some random thoughts.

The man is HUGE on stage!

It’s like he takes up most of the space and towers over everyone, exuding a force that you can’t help but be both drawn to and frightened of.

Everything from his costume (a heavy coat with patched holes, very sexy boots and unfortunately baggy pants, then he strips to pants and a loose shirt) to his voice (which wasn’t as deep as I thought it would be for the first part of the play, which was probably due to some throat issues he had apparently been experiencing) screams strength.

Richard Armitage in The Crucible at the Old Vic

If ever there was a part suited for Armitage post Thorin, John Proctor is it.

What I found interesting was catching small glimpses of other RA characters in his performance.

The accent brought to mind John Standring, some scowls were very John Thornton and Thorin.

It was like tiny visits from old friends and I was joking that it’d make a great drinking game: a shot of vodka every time an RA character would pop up.

Let’s just say I’d leave the theatre well and truly sloshed 😉

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BTW, I am in no way alluding that Proctor is anything but a well thought through independent Armitage character, it’s just when you’ve spent so much time watching various RA roles and certain mannerisms tend to creep up, a fan can’t help but notice.

Truth be told, because I was sitting in the first row with no barriers between me and the actors (seriously, I had to watch my feet so the cast wouldn’t step on them), it took a while for my brain to process that I’m actually not watching this on TV or on my laptop, that this was really happening then and there, mere meters from me.

The benefit of first row seats, especially the one I was parked in, is that you are less than a meter away from some of the most beautiful and powerful Proctor moments.

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As much as I was swept away by the story, I couldn’t help but register certain…hmmm… shall we say physical traits of Mr A…

Chest- very hairy, more so than I had ever imagined.

Actually, the biggest surprise for me was just how huge he was in the chest and especially the shoulders.

Somehow, apart from buff Porter, I hadn’t imagined that would be the case (but you learn something new everyday).

Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one who thought those shoulders and back would be a perfect place to press your head to 😉

The stomach is flat as a board with an adorable roll of skin when he leans over (don’t judge me, he was kneeling two meters away, what else was I supposed to look at???).

I was also enchanted by how his middle finger are almost the same length as their neighbours, but that’s a quirk of mine 😉

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Anyway, I was quite choked up by the time the actors were taking their bows and couldn’t help but leap up from my seat clapping as Richard stayed behind to take his final bows.

He has this adorable habit (as he repeated it the following night) of bowing one way, turning around and bowing the other and then he does this funny thing with his hands as he takes a bow towards the two sides.

Very thespian of you, Mr A (actually I typed it My A, but went back to correct it as, well, I should be so lucky…).

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Ms H had already pointed the best exit that would lead me straight to the stage door and into the queue, so I dashed out of my seat to procure my place.

If you’re wondering, it’s the exit to the left closest to the stage 😉

Much has been said of the stage door experience in the past week or so, so let me share with you my thoughts.

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Firstly, it’s orderly and well behaved which is a bloody blessing, but it’s also quite a stressful experience.

We waited about 15 minutes before Richard came out, flagged by two Old Vic security men.

Please keep in mind that the man had just spent almost 4 hours performing in a very challenging play and the queue went all the way down the street, so that no doubt impacts the interaction Richard has with the people waiting.

It’s extremely rushed and I think RA makes his way down the line in under 20 minutes, which tells you plenty about the tempo.

On top of that, on Monday there were at least 2 groups of autograph hunters (one were standing right behind me, that’s how I know who they were), so I would imagine that puts a damper on the experience.

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The best advice I can offer anyone who’s planning on going is: BE PREPARED and TAKE A PIC FIRST.

I’ve heard of someone who pressed the off button on their camera instead of taking a pic, I took a rather disturbing selfie of Richard although I have no idea how to (believe me, that picture is a catastrophe!).

From what I’ve observed and, unfortunately, experienced, the moment Richard signs your poster/program he moves on to the next person.

It goes by so unbelievably fast that I before could even ask for a pic, he was gone.

Picture first, then an autograph!

Numerous people (me included) had to join the back of the queue again which makes me wonder that if the tempo wasn’t so severe the stage door would actually go much faster in the long run if he’d slow down a tad.

My one huge regret was that neither I nor anyone within earshot actually had the time to congratulate Richard or thank him for being…well, him!

In some regards I feel like we were there in line asking yet more of him after experiencing that brilliant performance without offering as much as a Thank You, but to say that the environment wasn’t conducive to any form of verbal exchange is a staggering understatement.

The chances are, had I started speaking not only would I have not got Richard’s attention anyway, but I wouldn’t have an autograph or pic either.

As to more Richard details, he doesn’t come off quite as huge as he does on stage, but definitely not gaunt.

He was wearing a checkered red and white shirt and a jacket which made him look rather smart.

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The only crack in his clear focus to sign/take pictures/move on came when he encountered the autograph hunters behind me.

As I was waiting for Richard I actually thought they seemed a bit out of place- young men dressed very casually, but figured they may be Tolkien fans drawn to the play by the allure of Thorin.

It seems Richard is much more savvy than little ol’ naive me.

He took one look at them as they clutch the 8×10 glossy pics of Richard, gave them a sideways glance (which was quite sexy), gave them a smirk (also sexy…) and said: I’m not signing that! and moved on.

I think this image is the one that’s lodged in my memory the most from the stage door experience- firstly because I felt it was the only time Richard had broken from the “fan interaction” persona but also because it made me realise what issues he has to deal with now that his career has entered yet another stage.

Oh, and I’d be pissed off too if someone was trying to make a quick buck off me.

Actually, as a fan who had flown in to see the play against many odds and for whom meeting Richard was a dream come true, I was/am pissed off of people trying to take advantage!

May this be a lesson to all of those who are tempted to buy an RA autograph on ebay, they aren’t really obtained in the best manner and having Richard sign something right next to you is much more valuable.

Anyway, the tally from my Monday Crucible experience was meeting the adorable Ms H, seeing a bloody great play, one signed poster, one very bad Richard and I selfie.

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I had arranged to meet Ms Sally_Boots on Tuesday afternoon, so I had enough time to pop into The National Gallery to pay a traditional visit to Holbein’s The Ambassadors and all the other brilliant art on display, while (traditionally) avoiding the Medieval Art rooms (what can I say, not my cup of tea…).

The plan for that afternoon was to meet close to The Old Vic, grab a bite to eat, maybe get lucky and see Richard on his way to the theatre (long story short, we failed on all accounts and ended up having a quick Sainsbury’s sandwich standing in the rain next to an RA Crucible poster, we’re classy that way…).

It was a pleasure to meet Sally_Boots, you may recognise her from Twitter and she had written a few posts on this blog for Fanstra4.

I knew she’d be lovely and she didn’t disappoint 🙂

As we were waiting, we spotted a familiar face scoping out The Old Vic.

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We recognised the Anglophile lady with her family walking around and, I can’t lie, we were more than a little jealous, convinced she was probably there to interview Richard.

As I’m not what you would call shy, as we passed I asked her whether she was the Anglophile lady (yup, it was a rhetorical question).

Turns out Marlise was incredibly friendly and we stood there chatting away while I was discreetly checking out her hair (which is gorgeous by the way).

We had ourselves a good ol’ chinwag about Richard (who else?) and I can confirm that Marlise is one of us- a proud Armitage Admirer excited about seeing the play the following night.

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After downing a bag of salt and vinegar crisps,bought the obligatory posters (trust me, you can’t choose just one out of the three available) it was time to go to Salem.

As we were taking our seats I was curious what it would be like to see the play from a different angle.

The picture of The Old Vic seating isn’t very accurate- there’s no stage per se and there’s an aisle running down the centre on the other side, which meant the actors would enter and exit right next to me.

My seat was a mirror reflection of the one from the night before and I was wondering whether the actors/play favoured any side in particular (nope, both sides are brilliant in their own way).

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I actually have a confession to make.

As I was booking my tickets in April in somewhat of a fevered state (I’m a fangirl damn it, I cannot keep calm!), I knew I had booked a fab ticket for Monday but thought I had screwed up with Tuesday’s seat.

I was sure I had accidentally booked a balcony seat and had spent a good 2 months secretly tormenting myself that with my pick of seats I had chosen such a bad one.

Turns out all of the online plans I had checked out were from The Old Vic prior to the removal of the official stage, therefore creating “the circle” and the addition of seats from the back.

When I realised that all was well I felt so much relief, but it’s a lesson learned that I need to focus more even where Richard Armitage is concerned.

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By the way, the Lilian Baylis Circle was so high up it gave me vertigo just looking at it, so bear that in mind when booking tickets.

Talking about seating, Sally_Boots was in for a shock as she could have sworn she purchase a first row seat to the side, but it turned out there were actually two or three rows in front of her.

A quick online research confirms that they did end up adding a few rows on both sides, no doubt figuring that they didn’t need the side space for the play, so they plonked a few more rows there.

Brilliant if you were lucky to buy tickets late and scored first row, not so brilliant if you bought first row months beforehand only to be shoved back.

As the fogs distended and the play started, this time around I was much more savvy as I knew what to expect, where RA would pop out from, when to tuck my feet in so they wouldn’t be trampled etc.

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Anyway, I was so thrilled to see that play from a different angle.

If you have front seats you will at some point have your view blocked by an actor, so anything I may have missed the first time around, I more than made up for the second.

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I was particularly intrigued by the now famous shirtless washing scene (don’t you dare judge me!).

On Monday I got a full frontal view from a few meters away, on Tuesday I got to see it from the back, and let me tell you, that is my favorite angle 😉

I felt the play had gone even smoother this time and Richard’s voice was much stronger which makes me think he’d been doing his best drinking tea with lemon and honey to sooth his throat from all the yelling (and much yelling there is, believe me, I’ve developed a new fetish for it!).

Having seen the play twice I marvel at the fitness level of the actors.

This is an incredibly demanding play, beautifully choreographed and I image they go home each night with fresh new bumps and bruises.

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As I failed at obtaining a decent pic with Richard the night before, I vowed to do better this time around.

I was standing in line at the stage door with Ms Sally_Boots and we were joined by Ms Nina, a resident of London who sometimes comes to the stage door to meet other RA Admirers and always gives Richard an adorable card 🙂

Without going into too much detail, this was also the night of the now infamous “Richard is so rude but I’ll post a picture with him and me grinning like a maniac” lady.

Let me just say, she was not there for the play that night, nor is she an RA fan.

She was there with a specific aim (which she didn’t achieve) and I’m much annoyed to learn she’s the one who interrupted my pic with Richard and the reason it came out blurry.

A plague on both your houses madam, that wasn’t cool!

The stage door was just as hectic, but after experiencing non-RA fans with an agenda clearly other than to have the pleasure of meeting Richard, I’m a little less surprised at the rushed attitude he adopts.

Long story short, I didn’t get my perfect pic, but what I did get makes me exceedingly happy and grateful.

One pic came out fuzzy, but my grin says it all…

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Here’s the other:

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A huge thank you to both Sally_Boots and Nina for trying to make my dream of a good picture of Richard and I come true!

I very much appreciate it ladies 🙂

Tally of Tuesday: Meeting Sally_Boots and Nina, two wonderful Armitage Admirers, getting to see the play from a different perspective, a signed Crucible program, and, f*cking hell, actually seeing Richard Armitage in the flesh!

Not bad for a quick visit to London, right?

All in all, this trip was one of the best moments for me, hands down.

Given half the chance (or if/when I win the lottery) I’d do it all over again with relish.

I enjoyed meeting fellow Armitage Admirers who are even nicer in person, the play is quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen (don’t get me started, we’ll be here all night), I came so close to the object of my fangirling affections (and didn’t lose my rag, which is important).

I feel very fortunate (the agnostic in me doesn’t want to say “blessed”) to have accumulated so many fab experiences and, subsequently, memories that shall last me a lifetime.

My dad picked me up from the airport and as I tried to put into words all that I had experienced he said something that made me teary: Seeing how much you enjoyed yourself and how you took advantage of this opportunity, that trip to London was worth every penny!

Ahhhh…. thanks dad 🙂

I know that many would love to have the chance to go on this adventure and let me add insult to injury by saying that this is really worth begging, borrowing (NOT stealing though!) for.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for everyone who’s still trying to figure out how the heck to get themselves to The Old Vic- stranger things can happen, or have happened if my adventure is anything to go by 😉

For Guylty…”Friendship is a light in dark times”

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I had written a huge intro, but I decided to keep it simple: Let’s give back a little bit of that positive energy that Guylty has been showering us with.

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I am sure that most of you are already aware that Guylty’s father died last week after a sudden and unexpected illness.  The obituary for her father appeared in their local paper yesterday, and it asks mourners not to send tangible expressions of sympathy to the family.  The desired beneficiary of any memorials is a Heimatverein via a German bank account.

Since this will be a bit difficult for people outside of the EU to participate in, Servetus and I talked it over and we thought that a donation to one of Richard Armitage’s Just Giving charities on behalf of fans might be in order (similar to the one that was organized in memory of Servetus’ mom last summer).  I have set up a new PayPal account to collect donations which will then be donated at the Just Giving site.

This post is not meant as a pressure to donate;  …

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Confessions of a Gossip Rag Reader

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Confession time…

*takes a deep breath and whispers*

I shamelessly and illogically love reading celeb gossip…

There, I’ve said it!

Yup, I almost daily check out UK tabloids, flip through ridiculous rags that cover stories about the likes of Jordan (heading for her third divorce), Kim Kardashian’s awful dress sense (makes me feel a tad better about myself), the Royal family (that Kate is adorable)…

I read Daily Mail… well…. daily…

So yes, I am one of those people who punch the air when they see that Mr A is mentioned (which doesn’t occur that often).

It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s this strange crossover between the Armitage Universe as I know it and the dirty world of the tabloids.

So when I see a paparazzi pic of Richard, I can’t help but love it.

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I make myself feel better that it’s not a private pic, so that’s OK, that the press was probably invited to snap away on set as a means to drum up some interest in the project, but still…

I’d hate for him to feel hounded (although, as the last installment of The Hobbit is heading our way, I doubt it’ll ever come to that) and I’m more than content to get my grubby hands on images that are shot either by professionals or at a red carpet event.

But then I see a picture like the one above and something stirs in me, something that makes me want more… more candid pics, more images where Richard is caught off guard, a peek into his day when he doesn’t have his project promo hat on.

Hell, the heart wants, right?

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The stories we tell ourselves…

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Warning, the post contains instances of blogger referring to herself in the third person which some may find annoying and disturbing.

The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves…

We repeat them like a mantra till they become set in stone.

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AgzyM doesn’t write.

Nope, she loves reading, listening and talking all together waaay too much, but she doesn’t write.

2,5 years later she’s still blogging and although both quality and quantity of her written word may be questionable, she’s still at it.

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AgzyM doesn’t run.

Not for a bus, not for anyone…

Yet half way through her Zombies, Run 5K program, she doesn’t mind telling you that she is kicking those zombies butts and has her heart set on further goals- a 10K, perhaps a half marathon one day.

What other stories on repeat in that thick skull- stories of what cannot be done- repeated to the point when they become an absolute?

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It at moments like these that I think of poor Mr Armitage who script after script is confronted with, what he claims, is one of his greatest fears.

Doused and drowning, sinking and swimming, sprayed, spritzed, hosed down (and that’s just Porter…).

There are more projects on his CV that involve a wet T-shirt competition than not.

Wet in water and mud, soon filthy canal muck, he puts aside the story he tells himself and just does it anyway for his admirers’ amusement and entertainment.

Do you ever tell yourself what you simply can’t do but know deep down inside it may just be that- a story?

Happy Labor Day and Werk it, Mr Armitage!

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I’ve noticed it’s been a while since I posted RA related stuff, time for a quick fix, me thinks!

The gods of the friendly calendar have granted a nice long weekend to us humble hard-working Poles.

It is one of my favorite times of the year– the so-called May Holidays, a string of free days: Labor Day, Flag Day and Constitution Day, all attached to the weekend.

Today is May 1st- Labor Day, which ironically is actually a very much non-laboring day (unless you count those dozens of flowers I shall be planting to perk up the garden!

Talking about working, Richard has sure done his fair share judging by his imdb list of upcoming projects.

I haven’t really chimed in on what’s coming up, possibly because I don’t want to get too excited about The Crucible (well, not just yet, don’t want to burn myself out before July…), I can’t really get excited at all about Into the Storm, The Hobbit is a post-summer buzz, so too early for that and all of Richard’s audiobooks were already out by the time I became an Armitage raving loony well-wisher, so it was simply a matter of picking them up as I went along, therefore I don’t know how to get excited about a new one.

That leaves me with one RA project that I am chomping at the bits for and one that has peaked my interest.

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I haven’t actually read Urban Grimshaw and the Shred Crew yet, so I’m basing my judgments on what matters- sneaky pics that have been floating on the internet.

What?

They say you should never judge a book by its’ cover, they said nothing about judging it based on set pics of Richard Armitage!

And let me tell you, me likey what I see!

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During the Armitage droughts we often contemplate what our dream RA projects would be and let me tell you, this one ticks so many boxes, it almost seems like Richard read my mind (which I wouldn’t mind at all, you are welcome to…well…most of my thoughts…) it’s almost eerie.

Firstly, it’s a UK production and that tells me the chances are it’ll be of high quality.

I’ve also wished to see RA in a gritty part.

Sure, most characters he’s played have been dubious, but there was always an air of propriety, although often times it would be deceiving.

I wanted a Northern accent and dirty fingernails, something so far removed from other things he had done, something that would stand out from other RA characters.

This grimy, gritty feel extends to Chip’s physical appearance, but good luck if you think the man is not going to give you naughty dreams.

It’ll take more than unwashed outgrown Guy hair and a dodgy hat and clothes to discourage filthy thought!

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Nice try Richard, but your sexy is showing…

And my absolute favorite picture released so far is:

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Yes, my most favorite picture of Richard Armitage from his latest project is one where he’s silhouetted against a huge rubbish heap (not a sentence I thought I’d ever type…) and trash has never seemed so appealing or it may just be Richard’s profile and Gizzy hair…

On the Labor Day, may I thank you for all the work you’ve put in, much to the delight of you admirers, and for all the times you Werk it! on the red carpet, during interviews, photoshoots, film sets and the likes 🙂

52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge: April Reads (books 1-5)

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I had decided to make sure I was getting the best bang for my buck sabbatical, and I had seen posts floating about regarding reading a book a week, for 52 consecutive weeks.

There are many different versions of the challenge, but as always I’ll just make things up as I go along.

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Granted, most start in January, but I have done my fair share of New Year’s Resolutions that had disappeared by week 2, so I was confident that it’s not the day when you start something but the action of actually doing it that matters.

I really didn’t know how many/little a book a week would be.

I’m usually in the middle of at least one and the moment it’s done I already have my eye on the next and dive right in.

Because I have periods when I can read all day long (I know, I love my life then…), I decided to take it a month at a time, accelerating when I could and not worrying if I could only sneak a few pages when RL stuff would pile up.

I’m not including books I’m reading for work or audiobooks, although I’ll mention any that are worth your attention.

52 books seems like a hefty amount, but by the time I chose those that I had been meaning to get to for a while, I was already up to 30.

April read

I think variety is key, so I shall endeavour to make sure I’m not just reading book from within my comfort zone (food/nutrition, steampunk, book series), but also take the road less traveled.

As I still have over 20 books to add to my folder, I would greatly appreciate your recommendations.

I’m looking for books that have somehow moved or influenced you, that have widened your horizon and were a bloody good read.

I’m trying to alternated between fiction and non-fiction, biographies and lighter reading, so give me your suggestions 🙂

Here were my choices for April as well as a quick review (which I’m pants at, BTW, so don’t expect much).

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First up, this one is a bit of a cheat as I had started reading it before I decided to challenge myself, but it’s too good not to mention.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked us by Michael Moss

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“Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.” X

AgzyM says:

I freaking loved this book.

Even if books on nutrition aren’t your cup of tea (or pound of lard, as the case may be) this is a must-read.

As a food/nutrition junky, I’ve read and watched my fair share of stuff regarding a healthy body and what to put in our gobs to keep it that way, but they have ranged from the boring, craycray to the right darn “how do we contact your mother-ship?”.

This book, written by a Pulitzer award winning journalist Michael Moore, had me fuming, both at the audacity of food giants, but also at my own stupidity and ignorance.

At first I regarded it as “something that was happening far far away”, until I recognized most, if not all, brands, which can actually be found at my local supermarket.

It’s not a coincidence that food giants describe their customers as “users” as the correlation between a sugar and drug addiction is disturbing.

The bottom line is, the companies care only about the bottom line, they will do everything and anything to get you hooked on processed food, at the same time defending themselves by stating that it’s what the customers want.

Rating:

This book gets the full 5 Armitages

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What I learned:

Almost every single processed item you buy is either packed with sugar, fat or salt, most probably all of the above.

Read the freaking label and make smart choices!

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

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“Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that’s never been cracked. Until now. Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. Compared to tech’s other elite innovators–Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg–Bezos is a private man. But he stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing.” X

AgzyM says:

I love a good biography and delving deeper into the lives of people of success and as an huge Kindle fan, this book immediately caught my eye.

It certainly is a lesson in ambition, perseverance and vision, but also in corporate bullying and the disintegration of the work-life balance, about who little thought and sentiment is attached to the person when one only focuses on the big picture.

Although there’s an underlining feel good aspect to Bezos’s tale, ultimately it’s one that I had difficulty relating to my own life in a significant way.

Sure, you can have a great idea and strive to turn it into reality, but the fairytale shatters when you realize that behind the dream was a team of Ivy League and Wall Street professionals and millions upon millions of dollars.

Rating:

That’s 4 Armitages for this one.

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What I learned:

This book contains one of my now favorite quotes:

” It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it”

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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“In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.” X

AgzyM says:

This book seemed to have been following me around for a while and as I have been contemplating my own repetitive habitual behavior, it seemed only a matter of time when my eyes and its pages would come together.

With great expectations comes… a bit of disappointment.

I found the first part of the book to be quite dry (lab rats anyone?) and although it may have offered some readers a light-bulb moment, I felt like I already knew a good deal of the information provided and what I didn’t know (the background to Fabreze and such) I was OK with being ignorant about.

The book also ended rather abruptly and if you were looking for ways to change your habits, it’s all summed up in the appendix.

Having said that, ever since I finished this book, I seem to be referring to it an awful lot in conversations I have throughout the day (yes, OK, I’m very chatty…), so perhaps this book has left a more lasting impression on me than I had initially thought.

Rating:

Good, not great

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What I learned:

There is no scientific reason why shampoo or toothpaste lathers/foams other than to give the impression that “it’s working”.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

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“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.” X

AgzyM says:

After the previous choices I was in dire need of a change and, although you should never judge a book by its’ cover, this one reeled me in.

It’s an odd book from the get go.

A strange combination of narration, emails, letter and such, it’s a seemingly ad hoc collection of bits and pieces of writing, but serve to create the main plot.

The plot is twisted and slowly unravels until we reach a (extremely far-fetched) climax, but all in all it’s a quirky tale that will have you laughing and squirming with embarrassment.

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Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

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At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. X

AgzyM says:

I left this book for last and I’m so happy I could tear through it on a Sunday as I just couldn’t put it down.

As I’ve been going through my very own changes, I’m particularly interested in learning in paths that others have taken when they’d found themselves at a crossroads.

Slightly reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, this story certainly packs a punch and has you both sympathizing and at times harshly judging Strayed’s decisions as she embarks on a mission to heal from a path of tragedy and self-sabotage that puts my own stroppy attempts to shame.

This story is inspirational and painful, and touching, and painful… and worth working a mile in the protagonist’s (too small) shoes.

I highly recommend it, that’s why I’m giving it 5 Armitages and I’m throwing in a Lucas bum because I really enjoyed it!

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Honorable mention:

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

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“In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. “ X

This book has certainly been making quite a splash, although I very much doubted that I was the intended audience for Sandberg as I’m not a corporate worker, nor do I exhibit any signs of ambition and I’d loathe to be anyone’s manager (I have a pathological need to be liked…).

I ended up making my way through this book, a chapter at a time, with one of my students.

We’d look at vocabulary, flesh out key ideas and such, but somewhere in the meantime this book really connected with me, despite the fact that the author has clearly taken a different path.

I presume most people think I’m one of those women, those bloody feminists, but I calmly try to explain that the simplest form of feminism strives for equality, nothing more and nothing less and I really do believe that Sandberg is a kindred spirit in that regard.

The book isn’t perfect, but then the writer doesn’t claim to be either, so this book is worth checking out, if only to form your own opinion.

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 I’m already gathering up my books for May, so make sure to leave your reading recommendations 🙂

 

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