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Ninja book box unboxing

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Loving this month’s box, The Christmas card is lovely and the message so sweet! Thanks😀

There’s the usual charm and recipe card.

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And then there’s the gifts:

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An origami throwing star like real ninjas use.

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I love this cushion cover it’s blue so it will fit perfectly in my living room.

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Bottle opener with a constellation design.

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Handmade notebook

So the theme seems to be stars, which makes sense when I read the blurb of the book:

 

This is perfect exactly my type of book about someone who is knocked down and is trying to get back up and change their life. And it’s a true story.

I have read similar books like this Wild and The Salt Path. I love reading them, they always inspire me. I was thinking recently that I should read more memoirs and then I recieve this book in my Ninja Book Box, I swear they just know and I don’t know how! 🙂

This is the last box for a bit as they take a break. But you can still buy from their bookshop, check out their website here for more information.

Thanks Ninjas 🙂

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For 2019 the Ninjas have thought of an indie book challenge. I always feel bad that I never get around to reading my Ninja books, even though like the one in this box I really want to. I find too many books on Netgalley or others to review. So I’m doing the indie challenge this year. More on that soon, next post will be my review on Dracula which I have been trying to finish since October. Starting my Christmas reads now, gone from hardly anything to write about here to so much but struggling to get the balance right. Work/fun/blog etc you know how it is.

 

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Blog Tour: Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams

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I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams. Here is a synopsis:

“When Mostyn, an ageing Pembrokeshire farmer on the brink of bankruptcy, runs into young Jethro, his fortunes appear to take a positive turn. The pair secretly mobilise the locals of the village pub to help put on the greatest money-spinning event in the history of Little Emlyn: Lewistock. But things do not go to plan.

Moneylenders, drug dealers, the county council and the bank all set a collision course with Mostyn and Jethro. As the clock ticks down to the August Bank Holiday event and the young revellers begin to pour in from all corners of the county, the tension heats up. It’s not clear who exactly will get out alive.

Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave pits a struggling Welsh farming community steeped in centuries of religion and tradition against the unstoppable youth movement of early 1990s rave culture with often poignant and riotous consequences.”

For my stop on the blog tour here is an extract from the book:

 From Chapter 1 of 

Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams 

 

‘Good afternoon, Mr Thomas. How are you today?’ 

‘Aye, not so bad thanks, Jane. Just bloody overdressed again. Dew, 

dew, look at me sweating here.’ Mostyn pinched the collar of his shirt and wafted the damp heat out of his chest. 

‘Yes, it’s close, isn’t it?’ 

‘Aye, almost touching, girl. So what’s the Kaiser’s mood like today?’ 

Jane laughed. ‘Oh, the usual.’ 

‘Shit.’ 

‘Come on.’ Jane winked and waved him forward affectionately. 

‘He’s just going through your file now.’ 

Mostyn took off his cap as he followed Jane down the silent corridor and into Mr Price’s office. 

The room had faint scents of cold cigarette and lavender, and the metal blinds had a sickly off-yellow tint. Mostyn noticed the undernourished cheese plant in the far corner of the room and wondered how Mr Price could fail to maintain it. 

‘Hello there, Mostyn,’ said Mr Price as he breezed into the office, arm extended for his customary strong and uncomfortably long handshake. Mostyn always considered this to solidify rather than break the ice between them. ‘Take a seat, please. Can Jane fix you a glass of water now?’ 

‘Aye, please, that would be lovely,’ said Mostyn. 

Mr Price settled in his chair and fumbled for a pen. He grabbed each side of the desk, rolled himself up close, then jolted his arms up and forward in mid-air, like he’d just received a shock of electric current, only to settle his sleeves. He aligned his notepad, slid his glasses back up his nose with his right index finger, placed both elbows on the desk, resting his chin on his clenched fists, and finally grinned as he locked eyes with Mostyn, who was mesmerised by the entire performance.  

Jane put the glass of water on the desk, smiled at Mostyn and left the room, closing the door behind her. Mostyn picked up the glass and took a long swallow. 

‘So, how’s it going, Mostyn?’ 

‘Aye, not so bad, Mr Price.’ 

‘Good. Good. I hope you’re giving yourself a bit of time off now the 

cattle are out. Have you started the second cut of silage yet? The grass seems lovely out Clarbeston way with all these long periods of sun and rain.’ 

‘Well, I’ve been trying, Mr Price, but there’s always a gate to mend or feet to do. The lanes were full of stones this spring after all that ice we had, so a lot of the animals are hobbling around in need of a trim. But the weather has been good, considering, so the silage and barley are looking healthy, that’s a big relief. Let’s just hope this weather holds up now till after the County Show.’ 

Mr Price smiled and studied Mostyn’s face for a short moment. His cleft lip had become less noticeable with age and his thick grey hair remained perfectly side-parted, with boyish curls that rose up just under his earlobes. His eyes shone with a proud light and a resilient kindness. They could have belonged to an innocent adolescent trapped inside the ageing, wrinkled face of a troubled man who’d toiled alone in the elements for a lifetime. The wilt of his collar gave away his steady contraction into old age. Mr Price wondered how this solitary farmer would survive through his final years. 

‘Good, good,’ said Mr Price. 

Dust drifted through the hot afternoon sunrays as Mostyn took 

off his cardigan. 

‘So, what can I do for you today, Mostyn?’ 

Mostyn shuffled up in his chair and took another sip of water. The 

sweat that dampened his armpits was now blotting the front of his shirt. ‘Well, things are still a bit tight. I’m not really getting anywhere, as you can probably see,’ he said, pointing at the open file in front of Mr Price. 

Mr Price nodded respectfully. 

Mostyn drew a deep breath. ‘So I think I need to expand.’ 

Mr Price’s eyes widened. He eased back in his chair, folding his 

arms, thoughts brewing. 

‘I’d just like to widen and deepen the slurry pit so I can look for more head of cattle by the end of the year. I’m full to the brim now, even overflowing after a few days of solid rai—’ 

‘Mostyn,’ Mr Price interjected, ‘are you seriously planning on asking the bank for another loan?’ 

‘Yes, Mr Price.’ 

‘For heaven’s sake. Don’t you realise you’ve missed your last nine overdraft repayments? And the loan for the cubicles, don’t forget that. Look.’ Mr Price’s limp finger tapped on the spreadsheet as he rotated it for Mostyn to see, but Mostyn could see nothing. Such requests had just been formalities since his first loan back in 1971. He swallowed the last fingers of water, searching for a response. 

Mr Price swivelled back and fore, slowly rolling his fingertips on 

the blotter of his desk. 

‘Look, Mostyn, let me spell it out.’ Mr Price wiggled upright in his chair. He placed both elbows abreast on the table, brought his hands together in a prayer-like motion and began tapping his lower lip, his nose twitching. ‘I’ve spent years fighting with Cardiff to keep small family farms afloat, all over the county. But due to all the current issues, the bank has a new policy that blocks further financing for farms that are not able to pay their overdrafts and loan repayments. And as I’ve just explained, Mostyn, you fall into that category.’ 

Mostyn took in a new and distant coldness in Mr Price’s face. His mind raced for a solution. He could always sell land, but that would scupper his expansion plans. And the takings for the next lot of cattle going in a couple of weeks were already earmarked to cover overdue feed and vet bills. It would be another four months until the next lot of bullocks were ready. 

‘I’ll find a solution, Mr Price. I’ve got a few score of cattle ready now 

in the next few weeks. If prices don’t drop, I should be alright.’ 

Mr Price nodded again, calmly, knowingly… 

 *********************************************************************************

Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams is available now in paperback (£8.99) https://www.graffeg.com/product/mostyn-thomas-and-the-big-rave/ and find on Twitter: @graffeg_books 

 Garreg is an independent Welsh publisher, I am all about supporting indie books and authors. The author has also copiled a spotify playlist for the book you can listen here

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this tour 🙂 

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Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This book was sent to me by a book fairy 🙂 This is a lovely edition with illustrations and a foreword by the author, he wrote this book for his children (long story short that foreword is a must read!) This is the edition to buy!

Coraline was one of my Halloween reads and I thought it’d be a light read even though it’s a dark fantasy. I was surprised to discover that it’s actually a creepy book! Even though it’s written for children the atmosphere is tense and it’s great!

“Something moved. It was little more than a shadow, and it scuttled down the darkened hall fast, like a little patch of night.”

I loved this odd little rhyme:

“We are small but we are many,

We are many, we are small

We were here before you rose

We will be here when you fall”

 

Coraline is a real, likeable character, she says funny things, like real children say:

” ‘Coraline: It’s raining.’

“yup, said her father. ‘It’s bucketing down.’

‘No,’ said Coraline, ‘it’s just raining.’

*

“‘Daddy, you’ve made a recipe again.'”

This is only the second Neil Gaiman book I’ve read and I’m never disapointed. They always exceed expectations and I’m surprised by how different his stories are. I am struggling to put into words how much I like his writing style, it’s not just the atmosphere and the riveting story but the similes he thinks of and his choice of words. I need to write down quotes more often.

I recommend this book so much, it’s a quick read. Dare I say, a must read!

Read it and share your thoughts, share how great this book is 🙂

 

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Pressures of blogging and reviewing

Since my house move this year and the break I had to take from blogging I can’t seem to get back into writing more than one post a week for my blog. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or a result of the accumulation of stress due to the move etc but I’ve been struggling.

I do try to do too much and I’m thinking of taking a step back from my blog and focusing on other things. Like my writing which should be a priority. I love writing for my blog and reviewing books but lately I’ve been loving it less.

Problems reviewing

I’m decided to stop accepting review requests recently and now after having to write an email to say I can’t write a review for a book, it’d be very critical, I think I’m going to stop reviewing books for other people for the rest of the year. I’ve started reading a few books this year intending to review them but I haven’t been able to get into them and have had to write a not very fun email to the writer/publicist etc to explain. It’s horrible.

I know some bloggers write critical reviews and I have done in the past. I think because it’s for the writer or publisher and they will see it I just can’t be horrible. I’ve been called “too nice” by family in the past but maybe it’s because I am a writer that I just can’t be critical about someone’s book and write an unfavourable review. Which is odd because if I’ve read a book I didn’t like from Netgalley or just reading for myself I’ll say I didn’t like it. But since I’ve been blogging I’m more likely to not review a book than give it a critical review. Which isn’t very honest. This has got me down a bit. I don’t want to gloss over bits I didn’t enjoy in the book as that is lying too.

When I first started reviewing for the Lovereading review panel I always had brilliant books. I enjoyed them all. I started reviewing Netgalley books and if I didn’t like it I’d stop reading and not write a review. But if you’re writing for a blog tour or a writer it’s different.

It’s also hard to figure out if you’re going to like it, I try and read the first few pages on Amazon but you can’t always judge from that.

I want to read books I love, there’s so many books and so little time to read books you don’t enjoy. Don’t get me wrong I’ve read some great books from writers and for blog tours, maybe I’m only focusing on the negative.

All this has made me really stop and think about my blog and my reviewing. Can you do it if you are “too nice”? Can you write critical reviews if you are also a writer? I’m not sure what I think about all this so a break is the answer.

Going ahead

I’m still going to review my Netgalley books, I have a backlog and the books I read from my bookshelves. And I’ll probably be posting on here once a week or so.

But my priority has to be my writing now and also looking after myself rather than giving myself to many tasks that I feel exhausted.(My job is crazy this time of yr too). I know a lot of bloggers have taken a hiatus and we are all accepting the importance of breaks. After all we can’t do everything all at once. 🙂

Stick with me, I’m not disappearing.

 

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The Little Box of Calm Unboxing

I recently backed this on Kickstarter. The little box of calm from Ninja Book Box. I just chose the gifts as I already have the book included in the box: On Anxiety. Anyway here’s my unboxing:

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It’s looking a lot like a Ninja Book Box 😀 A recipe card and a spoiler envelope.

The purple bag is full of lavender, I love lavender 😀 I’ve lost my eye mask so this is perfect, handy at the end of yoga. The white item saying “breathe” is a stress fabric rock hand, a good idea as when anxious the reminder is useful. The gorgeous bookmarks feature helpful quotes:

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Little reminders in your favourite book or current read, another good idea. Next a lavender candle and a shower bomb from geeky clean: lavender and lemon. My new house doesn’t have a bath and I’ve been itching to buy shower bombs 😀 how do they always know these things? (I’m writing this and all I can smell is lavender amazing)

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This is lovely, it definitely is a little box of calm. Lavender is the ultimate antedote.

Here’s a list of where the items are from, all indie businesses:

There’s still some available so if you like this as much as I do go to that website 😁 I recommend the book ‘On Anxiety’ you can find my review here

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My Bookshelf

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. My books are finally out of my moving boxes, (it’s only been two months!) so I can show you my bookshelves. I love browsing other peoples bookshelves.

They are not the most organised of shelves, just a warning, a trigger warning, a heads up that you may see a book that looks out of place. I wanted to get them out of boxes and there’s some sort of organisation :/ There’s some books still need to go on the shelves and a few piles that might be hidden in a cupboard (guilty secrets).

Don’t judge me by my bookshelf 🙂

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My two bookcases (I need more but wallspace it awkward at the moment)

Right on the top I have my gorgeous hardback edition of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children trilogy. And a book of 100 ghost stories, I used to have a similar book as a child and it’s gone 😦 so I couldn’t resist this.

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The first two shelves are my to-be-read books. On the far left (after some random books, including a Bowie book I shouldn’t have bought I won’t read it) you’ll see my five indie books that have come from competitions and my Ninja Book Boxes 🙂 Then the rest are books I’ve bought from charity shops or that have been on offer. A Thousand Perfect Notes I keep meaning to read it’s by one of my favourite bloggers. Wizard of Earthsea was a book fairy book.

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My shelves usually have ornaments and things on but they’re still in boxes (unpacking takes forever) you can see my tortoise I’ve had for years, my Nan used to have one as a pet, he was rescued and I had this when I was a child.

So top shelf is my to-be-read books, I’ve had the True Blood books for a while not sure if I’ll get around to reading them the rest are on a different shelf. Night World books, started reading these in my pre-teens couldn’t resist buying them again. (I already have one single book from those days). I won the Tarn Richardson books, they’re signed. I meant to read them recently :/ I won All Rivers Run Free too

The nextshelf is all my James Herbert’s and a few other horror novels. You’d think I’d have more but when I was in my teens everything was from the library or bootsales or cheap shops and I only bought horror or supernatural books. Then later when I started work, I started reading more widely in different genres and bought a lot more books. The Vampire Stories book was one the librarian kept back, for me in my teens,  knowing I’d love it, I bought this copy for myself years later.

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My Vampire Chronicles books…. my favourite books in my pre-teens and reread so much back then. Next to a more recent vampire series I could not resist, huge vampire fan when I was younger. And here’s my shelf of autobiographical books, The Salt Path is an amazing read. I always loved a new autobiography at Christmas.

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The bottom shelves are weird! Here’s my non-fiction some I’ve had since I was very young and others are recent additions (mainly the monster and vampire films books). I still haven’t finished that God Delusion book. That stack on the right is my teen/pre-teen books,The Vampire Diaries books and some witchy books.  I also have my Famous Five books that were in my mothers’ cupboard for years. I wish I kept more books from my childhood.

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This is starting to become a long post :/ Top shelf classics:img_20181112_093921736.jpg

Next shelf is a continuation of the classics and then my favourite books 🙂 My obsessions, oh and A Room With A View :/ random placement. The gap is for my latest Carlos Ruiz Zafon book

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The second shelf down is my fantasy section. Behind the candle are more indie books, I love these books by Scarlett Thomas, I had the first book and candle in a Ninja Box, haven’t read book two yet. Lord Of The Rings reread continuing soon. I need more Robin Hobb books, just finished The Song Of Ice and Fire books

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My Poldark books!!! Ok so here it get’s a bit disorganised, take a breath. My Jenny Colgan books, I love this series. Joanne Harris next to some sci-fi (not just any but Jeff Vandermeer who wrote the Wonderbook writing book on the next shelf) and American Gods. Still haven’t read the short story/novella at the end of that. (what’s wrong with me!)

Random lovely books on the next shelf (spot the indie from my Ninja Book Box) , unputdownables… then The Pendragon Legend. And we get to all my how-to writing books.

And this last shelf hmmm a tad embarassing

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More non-fiction books on the right that I HAVE NOT READ AND HAD FOR YEARS (hides in another room forgets they exist). Poetry, small press short story anthologies for inspiration and for when my writing kicks off. Then the books on the left you don’t need to see, (though that orange book by Helen Kennerley is a good one anixety sufferers). Meditation books I haven’t finished, only two of these yoga books I’ve read :/ umm moving along moving along ….

I won’t show you the small piles of books that need new homes or the one’s I need to hide away 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed nosing at my bookshelves. I’ve seen so many tidier ones.

I’ve got a book review coming up soon …. until then happy reading 🙂

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Writing Update

It’s been a while since I mentioned writing on here. With the house move I wasn’t writing at all really. I started to get back to it but I’ve been all over the place lately so I’m still just muddling my way along until my brain gets into gear.

What have I been doing?

  • I’ve been tweaking a short horror I wrote, it’s only 834 words long. I’m hoping once it’s done I can find somewhere to send it 🙂
  • I’ve finally bought my very first writing desk! Can’t wait to get that together and get all my stationary and writing papers etc organised so that I can get back to my novel. I’m hoping when it’s all sorted it might actually get my brain in motion to get things done.

Someone on twitter (can’t find the post again sorry, forgive me for not remembering you) mentioned that they were following this podcast every day in November instead of doing NaNoWriMo. It’s called Couch to 80K Boot Camp, every day you listen to the podcast and are given a writing exercise to do. I’m enjoying it and finding that I’m surprisingly creative with it except I meant to list things just now and ended up writing small paragraphs! Whoops 🙂 I needed something to get me back into my novel and this might be it! It fits the bill for me anyway to get back to it. Not just my novel but general writing,  Tim Clare is funny and has good advice, straight away I felt like he really understood what my issues were and I’m trying to stick with it and find time everyday. I’ve missed one day so far and caught up, work happens!

http://www.timclarepoet.co.uk/couchto80kwritingbootcamp/ That’s the link. Week one is short exercises to get your creativity flowing, it’s really worth doing this. Getting back to basics is  great way to get back into the writing groove or maybe just refresh a tired brain.

  • I wrote a new horror short story which isn’t terrible but needs work.

I don’t plan usually. If I have an image I write the story. Other times I might have the idea and a beginning, middle and end. I think most of the stories I write that I struggle with are those that I don’t have a plan for (not a huge plan just notes), but I need to write to flesh out an idea. I might have to stop writing and then plan ahead. Tim Clare said something about this in his podcast, I’ve always considered myself a pantser, he said “hows that working for you?” Not well! My muddle of a novel is evidence of that but I get stuck with a plan but when I start writing the ideas come.

Share your thoughts about this and let me know how you’re getting on. I know a lot of people are doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck with that, I miss doing it although I did do one Camp this year. Happy Writing! Tip: write more when you can each day so that when you are struggling you have a safety net, every word counts even that short paragraph or sentence you can scribble down on the way to work/school or on a lunch break.

Please leave links to your writing related blog posts. And your NaNoWriMo blog posts too 🙂