The rapid fire book tag

Another great book tag to try so lets begin…

ebook or physical?

physical all the time! even though i finally caved and bought a Kindle i dont enjoy using it. It just doesnt give me the whole book experience of feeling the solid weight of paper in my hands. Plus, you dont get to enjoy the gorgeous cover!

hardback or paperback?

paperback anytime! hardbacks make my hand ache and the dust jackets drive me nuts but i cant remove them as most books are soooooo boring beneath and that would ruin the reading fun for me. I especially love those floppy paperbacks, you know the ones that open so easy and you can use like a fan. They make my heart happy.

online or physical bookstore for buying books?

online i’m afraid. I’d love to be able to browse in a bookshop now and then but all i have near me is a WHSmith who charge the earth for their books. I have no Waterstones anymore or Foyles etc and certainly no indy ones. Damn, i live in a crap area bookwise dont i?  So i buy 99% of my books from Amazon who such good value and just fantastic.

heroes or villains?

Hmmm, lets see, heroes all the way!  I am not a fan of bad boys or girls. I want the hero to win every time and lets face it they usually do so why be on the wrong side?

used or new books?

new, new, new, new! it has to be new books. I have a phobia about used books which is why i cant use the library anymore. I am so squeamish about any marks on books or yellow edges (yeuk, shudders) I miss loads of bootfair bargains because of this but it cant be helped, i just adore a fresh, new book thats all mine and no one else’s.

character or plot?

plot i think, without a decent plot it doesnt matter how good the characters are, they will look stupid standing around without much to do.  I’m not a fan of the character driven novel which just tells you about whats going on but never gets anywhere im afraid.

long or short books?

short every time!  mainly because i lack patience or time these days to read longer books but also its incredible how much an author can pack in to say, 150-200 pages. They can be very succinct and make use of every word.

long or short chapters?

short punchy chapters are what makes me fly through a book. Just enough info to keep the plot going and tease us. Like a load of mini cliffhangers. Ive read some books who think chapters have to be 40 pages long. They are not for me!

Wooh! that was fast thinking and i really enjoyed it.

I tag anyone who reads this, leave me a link in the comments below if you did it and i’ll come take a look.

mini book reviews – ARC’s i didnt like

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we cant like ALL the books we are sent or buy for ourselves right?

I hate it when this happens but i’d rather be honest with the publishers who have sent them to me and maybe pass the ARC (advanced review copy) onto someone else who will love it and want to review it fully.

So here are the latest batch of books I did not like…

The hanging tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Its not the first book in this series that I couldnt get on with but i had hoped that as this is a much later one the writing may have changed. Its sooooooo slooooooow!  Nothing seems to happen for pages at a time, it just waffles on with background info but I have never actually come across any plot. Its only redeeming feature is that it is really funny but thats not enough to grab me and keep me reading i’m afraid.

The book of forgotten authors by Christopher Fowler

All I can say about this is that they had obviously been forgotten for a reason. Very few of the authors in the book had written anything i’d heard of or had made a big dent in the publishing world so why bother telling us about them now? The only one i knew of was the lovely Arnold Ridley of Dad’s Army fame who wrote a very popular play called The Ghost Train. It was nice to read about him. The whole thing is rather dry, samey and like a school textbook of old.

Scorn by Paul Hoffman

I knew this was gonna be weird and bonkers but It was so much worse than i thought. It made no sense to me at all. It is a chunker of a book with the smallest of fonts (when will publishers stop doing this?) and it just wasnt for me.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

This opinion will win me no friends and may lose me Twitter followers but I have to be honest; this book sucked!  It was one huge mix of contradictions. Its a middle grade book but is over 400 pages and again the font is so small that when published it will be over 500 surely! It’s written for 12+ children and even sounds a bit patronising in places as if meant for younger ones than that but then it adds a paragraph of quite complicated writing that would fox a YA reader.  I’m hoping its because its still a proof and these wrinkles will be ironed out but I just never gelled with this at all.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

This is the review i’m sadest to write as i’ve loved her books in the past and adore her prose poetry style for its originality and ease of reading. But for some reason i just couldnt get into this one and i’m gutted. I found it a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times as well as rather miserable, also i found I didnt like any of the characters much, it was difficult to distinguish between some of them.

Bluets and The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

These books are clearly meant for someone a whole lot smarter than me or who’s brain just works differently as i couldnt grasp half of what she was on about.  Bluets is good in parts and i enjoyed some of the many poems about the colour blue but seriously people how many do you need? It all got a bit unnecessary after a few pages.  The Red Parts is very hard to follow, it jumps around all over the place in its timeline which is not a literary device i enjoy and for a crime type story it just didnt grab my attention but waffled on and distracted itself all the time. Weird!

A huge thank you though to all the publishers who sent me these:

Gollancz, RiverRun, RedOpera, Pan McMillan, Vintage and Bloomsbury

I may be offering these on Twitter soon if anyone’s interested? Just cover my postage and they are yours!

What books have you not enjoyed lately?

 

 

 

 

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Bloggers need comments too

I’ve been writing blogs in various forms for over 10 years now and I love it. As a book blogger I enjoy the writing process, getting my thoughts down, sharing my views and recommending books but there has always been one thing that really narks me about blogging.

The lack of comments!

Bookish folk with You Tube channels have far more ways to see if their posts are enjoyed or engaged with than us bloggers.

  • They have a counter each time someone views their video
  • They have a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button to give them feedback too plus they have a comments section below the video.

Do you know I have never seen a BookTube channel that does not have at least 5-6 comments after each video, usually way more than that.

But book blogs are so different!  You can get visitor counters but to be honest i dont trust the accuracy of these things. I have two on my blog and for example one says i get between 250-400 visitors a day whilst the other shows only 2 new visits in the last 10 hours! Which should i believe?

I’ve read some really popular blogs who get mentioned all the time on Twitter, Instagram etc which are beautifully written, humourous and entertaining but who never recieve a single comment on their posts!

How?

Why?

I love getting ARC’s from publishers to review on here, its a real thrill but when i’ve read the book and spent ages writing the post, editing it and making it look the best I can, I share it with the author and publisher.

In over 3 years of book blogging I have never gotten 1 comment from an author or a publisher on my post!

People, you have to understand! Comments are the lifeblood of a blog. Its simple feedback. Its like an author wants to know what we all think of their work so a blogger wants to know what everyone thinks of their posts!  Will our review make you pick up a book you wouldnt otherwise have considered? Have you tried a new genre and found you love it after reading a great review of several books in that genre?  Have you found new authors who are now your favourites? If yes then let us know.

So next time you read someones blog and you enjoy their posts, maybe learn something from them or get a book rec you cant wait to buy, please consider leaving a comment to let us know you visited.  It would mean so much.


UPDATE: how ironic is it still having no comments on a blog post all about leaving comments on blogs?

Ha ha ha ha

Oh well, at least i tried!

Book Mail #3

BOOM! take a look at this!

I only got a copy of the wonderful Jen Cambell’s book, The Beginning of the world in the middle of the night! How exciting is that?

A huge thank you to Two Roads books for this treat.

It came with some fab little goodies too including:

  • a sort of tea ball? not sure as i dont drink tea
  • A bag of silver Smarties
  • a large seed, which looks like it could be some sort of bean. I will definitely plant it and see what happens.
  • a nice letter from Jen herself

Isn’t that such a cool idea? and i’m so honoured to be one of the lucky bloggers to get a copy.

Its published in Hardback on 2nd November

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Ruler of Books Tag

I saw this the other day on Charlotte’s lovely blog Bookmarks and Blogging but she got it from the wonderful Ariel Bissetts channel on You Tube.

It basically says if you ruled your own world what would it look like bookwise.

Let’s get to it!

If you were the ruler of books…

Question 1. What book would you make everyone read?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens of course. My favourite book of all time! But I suspect that seeing as it was published over 170 years ago most people, may have read it anyway. The book shows that its never too late to change, the power of redemption, the mistakes we make in life and that we can all be redeemed if we want to.

Question 2. What would you abolish in book construction?

Oh this is so easy, I would get rid of any paperback book that wasnt floppy! By floppy I mean that it opens easily and stays open, is easy to hold and read and all soft etc.  Not like some paperbacks whose spine is so hard and fiercely glued together that its like breaking toffee just opening the damn book! These make my hands ache and i usually end up DNF’ ing them.

Question 3. What author would you commission to write you any book?

I’d love a novel specially written for me by David Levithan. I just love his writing, he is one of my all time favourite authors and i especially adore his character called Dash, so a book about Dash and set in New York would be adorable!

Question 4. What book would you demote to the library basement to make way for new books?

Can I have two for this? and sorry Ariel if you ever read this but one of them is Animal Farm and the other Lord of the Flies!  They both freak me out so much! I just hate the cruelty in Animal Farm, i cant read any book that has a humanised, talking animal in. I am way too soft and wimpy! And LOTF is another cruel book but to children which as a mother appalls me.

Question 5. What cover artist would you commission to make a mural?

It would have to be Isabel Greenberg, author of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth who illustrates her own books and their covers. Her artistry is stunning in its simplicity and blown up would look fantastic on a large wall.

Question 6. What characters face would you put on a coin?

I’d love a Dumbledore coin! His face would make me feel safe and happy at the same time and would be a very grand look for my Kingdoms coinage.

Question 7. What book would you award the Ruler of Books 2017 prize to?

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Its been the best book i’ve read this year so far, thrilling, funny, scary and her prose is just sublime.

What would your choices be if you were Ruler of Books?

Book Mail #2

Well i never expected Book Mail #2 to be written so quickly but today this beauty came through my door

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

I was so thrilled! Frances Hardinge is an award winning writer and to get a proof of her latest book is such an honour.  Its published on 21st September by Pan Macmillan.  I’ve been lucky enough to receive ARC’s from publishers for over 3 years now but each one is still as much as a thrill as my first one.

Whats been your most exciting book this week?

 

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Book Mail #1

Welcome to the first post of my new series Book Mail!  *Imagine cheering and a tickertape parade sort of thing*

This is a new thing on the blog whereby i share with you the excitement of any book post as it arrives, literally minutes after postie delivers it through my letterbox and as soon as i’ve picked myself up from the floor after passing out with happiness, you will know about it. Not at the end of the month in one big haul along with other books i may have been tempted to buy myself!

Okay, enough of the waffle lets do this thing!

Ringer by Lauren Oliver

This is the sequel to Replica which was one of my most anticipated reads.  I was so thrilled when this arrived as i had no idea it was coming. Gotta love those Hodder guys n gals.

And there is also this…

Ikigai – The essential Japanese way to finding your purpose in life by Ken Mogi

Look at this cover! I adore those whirls and the shiny concentric circles that make up the cover

close up

This is courtesy of Quercus books who are such lovely folk too.

I’m currently reading Replica so hope to get to Ringer quite soon as its published on 5th October in hardback.

Ikigai comes out on 7th September in hardback

 

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A Change is Gonna Come – Book Review

This ARC was sent to me by Stripes Publishing – @StripesBooks in return for an honest review so thank you very much guys!

This is a book of short stories and poetry by 12 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers.

For someone who doesn’t often read books of short stories/poetry this was a real treat and totally hit the spot for me. The diverse range of genres in this book is amazing. There are contemporary, dystopian, magical realism, time slip and historical tales all under one gorgeous cover, designed by Lucy Banaji, her cover design is so striking.

As with a lot of short story collections, I didn’t necessarily love all of them but I did like them all, very much and the ones I did love, I really, really loved!

I hadn’t read anything by these authors before which was exciting as I love discovering new voices in literature.

Favourite stories/poems include:

Hackney Moon by Tanya Byrne. Full of warmth, humour and honesty. I wanted this story to go on and on, her writing is so beautiful and i’m pleased to see she has other books already published.

Of Lizard Skin and Dust Storms by Inua Ellams is a really powerful and moving poem, its sparse lines just say so much.

Iridescent Adolescent by Phoebe Roy is full of magical realism,(which I always love reading), symbolism and has a gorgeous fairy tale quality about it.

Dear Asha by Mary Bello is so moving and tenderly written and follows a girl who loses something precious but discovers who she really is by doing so.

If I had to pick a favourite, favourite though (and this is very hard to do)it would be the wonderfully titled:

The Unwritten Future of Moses Mohammed Shabazz Banneker King by Irfan Master. A really short, quirky, time travellish story which really grabbed me with its skillful words.How they managed to pack so much into so few words astounds me.

In the back of the book there is a mini biography of all the contributors so you can see if they have published anything else before and they even have a list of the subject matter covered by the stories and poems in case you want to avoid anything you dont like, which I think is a such a cool idea.

I’m so glad I requested a proof copy of this from Stripes Publishing, its been such a wonderful reading experience.

Its published today, and its in your local shop now so rush out and buy a copy for yourself and everyone you know, this is a an excellent collection.

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#ChangeBook Photo Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely loved it so look out for my review which will be up tomorrow (10th August) on publication day!  But for now I thought i’d share with you my entries for a Photo Challenge based on the book thats currently on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the colour yellow, dont you? Its so happy and jolly and cosy all at the same time.

Have a go, take part and share your books. Use the hashtag #Changebooks and share them with @stripesbooks

I’d love to see your choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gorgeous books

Sometimes you just have to sit back and admire the gorgeous covers that come on books these days.  I didnt buy any of these just because of the cover (well alright the Ghachar, Ghochar one did help) but damn it if they arent bloody delicious sights to behold.

Let me introduce you, first up we have…

The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton which at 680 pages is way, WAY bigger than my normal reads but hell it sounds so bloody good and from the sample I read of it I reckon we’re gonna be good friends.

To save their civilization he must destroy it. . . When images of a lost civilization are ‘dreamed’ by a self-proclaimed prophet of the age, Nigel Sheldon, inventor of wormhole technology and creator of the Commonwealth society, is asked to investigate. Especially as the dreams seem to be coming from the Void – a mysterious area of living space monitored and controlled because of its hugely destructive capabilities. With it being the greatest threat to the known universe, Nigel is committed to finding out what really lies within the Void and if there’s any truth to the visions they’ve received. Does human life really exist inside its boundary?

Next up we have…

 

 

Ghachar, Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag (translated by Srinath Perur)  I mean please, this cover is just so iconic! The pink and orange is sublime!  Its the opposite to the book above at just 182 pages! I’m already 24 pages in and it’s lovely and informative and giving me all the feels.

In this masterful novel by the acclaimed Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag, a close-knit family is delivered from near-destitution to sudden wealth after the narrator’s uncle founds a successful spice company. As the narrator – a sensitive young man who is never named – along with his sister, his parents, and his uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house and encounter newfound wealth, the family dynamics begin to shift. Allegiances and desires realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background. Their world becomes ‘ghachar ghochar’ – a nonsense phrase that, to the narrator, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Told in clean, urgent prose, and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings – and consequences – of financial gain in contemporary India.

And now in a complete change of pace we have…

Madame Zero by Sarah Hall

What a creepy yet cool photograph they’ve used for this cover. It both scares and intrigues me at the same time.  This is a book of short stories which is not something I buy often. I guess I really prefer one big story to get my teeth into rather than having the story finishing too soon and then having to invest into another round of plot, characters, emotions etc but now and then I like a change and sometimes all i can manage to read is something small so this fits the bill.

She is running and becoming smaller, running and becoming smaller, running in the light of the reddening sun, the red of her hair and her coat falling, the red of her fur and her body loosening. Running. Holding behind her a sudden, brazen object, white-tipped. Her yellow scarf trails in the briar. All vestiges shed. Sarah Hall is an exquisite chronicler of landscapes – rural, industrial, psychological – and these haunting stories reveal a writer at the peak of her powers. Rich in the mythic symbolism of wilderness and wasteland, these tales blur the natural and urban, mundane and surreal, human and animal. Written in Hall’s lyrical prose, this uncannily disturbing collection glitters with poetic and erotic imagery. Marked by a fascination with the intimacy of nature – and the nature of intimacy – Madame Zero is a stunning new collection from an author twice nominated for the Booker Prize.

And finally, we have this…

The Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne.  Yes, i know, why did i buy this. Its not exactly set the world afire and i do have it in hardback but hey it was £2.99 on Amazon for god’s sake! I couldn’t resist and if i do actually read the thing at least i’ll have the paperback version to do it with.  ( I wont bother with the blurb as i’m sure you’ve all heard of it, unless you’ve been on another planet for the last year anyway)

So thems the books and feel free to let me know if you’ve read any of them and what you thought.

 

 

 

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