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Collecting Classics

I don’t really know how it started. My sister bought some really lovely copies of classics from a charity shop, I learnt about the existence of the Penguin Clothbound Classics which started a conversation with a fellow booklover in work. Internet, twitter. I don’t know.

I did start to buy some signed copies (I blame Waterstones) of modern fiction and I have a gorgeous hardback boxset of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar children but I think the need to have lovely classics came first.

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It must’ve started before all that. I started off buying the classics in paperback, just because that’s what I found first. But I’ve been wanting a hardback copy of Jane Eyre for a while, you can see my first paperback and the later cheap hardback I bought.

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The rest of my classic paperbacks amongst my other books…

I’ve already got a few hardback classics but I don’t think they’re considered collectable and I started looking at the more collectable editions recently. Technically my collection started with this book:

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I can thank a former colleague for this my first clothbound classic, it was a secret santa gift. The plan was to buy more clothbound classics but when I was shopping in Waterstones last they didn’t have Jane Eyre which being my favourite classic I wanted to start with. But then I discovered how many different collectable classics there are. And probably thanks to the Ninjas I heard about the Folio Society classics. The difference between the Folios and the other books I have (except Heidi) is that they have illustrations. I was recently struggling to pick which edition of Jane Eyre I preferred and ended up buying this book:

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The Ninja Book Box had this copy of Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, available in their shop, they shared it on social media and I just had to buy it, in prefect condition. 

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I have read it before and have it in paperback, I think, but collecting classics is about finding beautiful copies of the books you love. Even if you already have them. After all I already had two copies of Jane Eyre (not counting the ebook) and I bought another one recently but I’m tempted to do what a fellow bookblogger is doing (Esmé from Esmoggle Reads) and collect more.

People collect other things why not collect books?

When I was looking for a copy of Jane Eyre on ebay I found this:

 

I hadn’t planned to buy this but the illustrations inside are so dark, it’s probably not the most lighthearted of copies of this book but it is beautifully gothic. The illustrations inside are what sold it for me:

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So I’ve got the bug, but I can’t buy anymore just yet. (The good thing about buying these books is I’ve had to stop buying more books). I’m not sure what books I’m going to buy next and how often I’m going to add to my collection but this is a start.

What do you think about these books? Do you like collecting specific books? Share links to your posts.

 

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The One Where… I Talk About TV

When I hit a bit of a reading slump lately I started watching tv more. I have so many programmes that I want to watch. This would be a really long post if I talked about all the programmes I love and the ones I’m currently watching (just finished Santa Clarita Diet). 

I’m taking holidays owed from work this week and I’m taking a little bit of a break from writing blog posts, I’ve had them all scheduled, so I’m going to concentrate on my writing and reading and TV. So I thought why not write a holiday post all about tv?

(oh, I’m going to a book fare this week so…. I wonder how many books I’ll come back with 🙂 Future blog post) 

I’ve been rewatching Angel recently. I watched it when it was first broadcast and bought it on tape but didn’t think I’d seen them all. Turns out I have except maybe not in order. It was on C4 and in the days before Freeview my channel 4 was snowy (90s kids will remember the fuzzy channels before digital 😂) so I couldn’t watch it.

 

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Buffy was on at 6.45 Buffy was my addiction my favourite show ever. Honestly, it was my sister who introduced me to Buffy, I can still remember the conversation.

Buffy will always be the best for me, I grew up with this show. Every Thursday night at 6.45 I was glued to the television for my fix. I shed tears over this show. Angel was the ultimate broody vampire and their relationship is something I always want to see rekindled, even years later. I often rewatch Buffy. I had them on VHS now dvd. I have the  soundtracks too (anyone else listen to Once More With Feeling?)  It’s great that it’s still popular and you can get new merchandise too. I’ve still got most of my old merch (minus the novels :/ )

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Roswell was on BBC at 6 and I loved it. It was on before Buffy.  Max is an alien from another planet and he saves Liz when she’s shot at work. The last series the time slot changed and I missed it but family bought the dvd boxset for me. I’ve rewatched it a few times, it never gets old.

There’s not many shows I love enough to buy on dvd and rewatch over and over. I watched Farscape too

Image result for farscape but I did miss a lot and keep meaning to watch it from the beginning.

I did watch Friends too but when I was older, I was too into Buffy and all the weird stuff to get into Friends then. But I love it now, I haven’t watched it in a while. I used to watch it over and over but it’s always on tv so it became a bit much.

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This is one of my favourite scenes.

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The Gilmore Girls is my feel-good tv show. I have them all on dvd and they made A Year In A Life!! I’ve watched them so many times, I’m currently watching the last few series again right now. I remember first watching it years ago on Hallmark, but I didn’t have Sky tv in my room so there was just this one episode. Then later E4 started to show it and I realised I’d seen it before on Hallmark. Loved it ever since.

I could talk about Buffy and all my favourite programmes for days. These are my more recent favourites:

  • Poldark
  • Game Of Thrones (final series soon :0 )
  • Firefly (from Joss Whedon who created Buffy and Angel)

And that’s not mentioning all the other amazing programmes I’ve watched on Netflix and tv over the years. Did you ever see Ghost Whisperer? That was a great show but I didn’t like the last season. WHAT HAPPEND TO PROFESSOR PAYNE? 

So many great shows that have finished:

  • House
  • Bones (still haven’t watch all episodes)
  • The Vampire Diaries and The Originals (last series of both ruined, can’t watch anything by those people anymore)
  • Penny Deadful
  • How I met your mother (so good)
  • Downton Abbey
  • Desperate Housewives

I can’t mention all the shows here, my dvds are still boxed up so guaranteed I’ve missed something.

Shows I’m looking forward to watching:

  • Supernatural- it’s on Amazon Prime and I only ever watched a few episodes. I’m so behind.
  • Outlander- I watched it on More 4 and read the first book. It’s all on Prime (sensing a pattern here)
  • Good Omens: I’m reading the book, I must see the show.

Have I missed anything here old or new? Tell me your favourites, maybe I’ve seen them. 

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The struggles of reviewing as a book blogger….. and a writer.

My main struggle as a blogger is finding the time to keep up with my reviewing and write blog posts as well as all the other things… my own writing, work, housework etc etc But there’s a more pressing struggle:

Do you write critical/negative reviews?

This post is about my struggles with reviewing books, not just as a blogger but as a writer. I don’t like to write critical reviews but an honest review might be just that. I don’t want to criticise a book, I rarely do, but then if someone is spending money on a book and reading reviews to see if they’ll like it, shouldn’t I be honest and say if I didn’t?

I only review the books I like, at the moment. But sometimes even if I like a book, there may be a few things I didn’t enjoy. A recent review I published on here was a mix, I enjoyed some of the stories but it wasn’t to my taste and I was honest about it. But it’s a struggle to be honest knowing the author will read the review and they might not like it.

How I began reviewing

I first started reviewing books on Lovereading’s review panel, I chose the books I wanted to read and they’d publish the review on their website. I didn’t have a blog back then and all my reviews were positive because I liked the books. I probably wrote negative ones on Amazon at some point but they were books from my bookshelf not ARCs.

I started my blog ( on blogger which I migrated here) when I joined Netgalley. My reviews were mainly positive, I remember writing one negative review for Netgalley, which was a review of the chapter of a novel I really didn’t enjoy. I had no trouble  writing negative thoughts then.

So what happened?

I started getting emails from authors and from publicists or representatives of authors looking for reviews. It was then that writing reviews became trickier.

I don’t like the idea of  writing a negative review if someone has asked me to write a review for their book, it’s a bit like bad press. For Netgalley it doesn’t bother me but if an author or publicist or someone has asked me it feels more awkward, but then you can’t always tell if you will like a book from the beginning.

I struggled when I had a lot of books to review last year, I turned a lot of reviews down because I didn’t have the time. And then when I didn’t enjoy some of them. I didn’t want to read books I wouldn’t enjoy and I also didn’t want to write a negative review of books that I didn’t finish. I ended up taking a break because of all this (and my house move of course) and came back to reviewing because I enjoy telling people how great a book is.

Question for book bloggers/reviewers? Do you write negative reviews? Do you finish these books or just explain why you didn’t?

I wonder if it’s ok to write a negative review if you don’t finish a book?

Before when I was only reviewing on Amazon etc I would have no problem writing negative reviews but since I’ve started my blog I can’t. My maternal grandmother once told me I was “too nice” and maybe she’s right:

Writing reviews as a writer.

Thinking as a writer I don’t like the idea of writing a negative review of a book that someone has asked me to read. I just won’t review it. It’s my taste and might not reflect others and I really don’t want my review to mean that someone else doesn’t read the book. It’s not that I think I have any influence, I just don’t like the idea that it could happen. The idea makes me feel guilty.

Allow me a chance to argue with myself here: writers get negative reviews whether I write them or not. You have to have a thick skin, one day I will be published (hope) and I may get them too. Everyone is different and likes different things. 

Maybe it’s more to do with how people see me? And I don’t want people to hate me?

Another reason I struggle to review as a writer

Ok, I’m not saying I’m the best writer, I’d love to be half as good as writers like Carlos Ruiz Zafon or Deborah Harkness, to name just two. But when I’m reading my writer  brain will often pick out flaws and ways to improve (after hours of trying to improve my own work it’s  natural) or compare to great writers.

They say you should learn to read as a writer so you can analyse other people’s books and learn from them to improve your own writing. It would be really helpful if my writing brain would analyse the amazing writing too so I could learn, but it just stops and I gush over a gorgeous sentence  (and forget to write quotes down so disorganised) but I can’t see how to write it myself. I’m still learning.

My brain is good at finding flaws but when something is so good… can’t compute… can’t tell me how it is good. Only that it is so fricking good!

The problem with  ‘reading as a writer’ is that I can’t always turn it off. I’ll be reading this riveting story and then my writer brain will go ‘ugh, show not tell, I can’t read this’ and then think of how it can improve it. (not good) Or if it’s first person and there’s been a lot of “I” I’ll start counting them. This spoils my enjoyment of the story. And makes me want to stop.

My writing could be the same, my viewpoint could be all over the place, I know I need to learn more about active writing. But then when I review a book I worry that people will think that I am insinuating I can do better. I don’t know if I can. Should I try and shut off that part? I don’t think it’s possible?

Do other readers who are not writers pick up the same flaws? If not should I mention them?

But I wonder when I read a book where I find flaws: did they have no beta readers? No editor or someone to point out mistakes or things that need to be improved? Should I tell them? If it means their writing can improve they should be told but at the same time, they may be crushed.

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There is the connundrum.

At the moment If I don’t finish a book I won’t review it. And so far I’ve only had that one review that has had any critical thoughts at all (that I can remember). I try to read books I know I will like to avoid having to turn down a review.  I’m bound to eventually read something that doesn’t suit me, that I don’t like. Then I’ll have to decide whether to review it or not.

And at the moment I haven’t read a book that I’ve found flaws etc in but when I do, I’m wondering if I should be honest and explain the flaws? Even if the author may be crushed? The easiest way I can write a critical review is to point out the positive, then tell what I didn’t like.

You might be reading this and thinking just write your honest opinion. It’s difficult, but in being “too nice” I am also not being truly honest? It’s hard to be honest if you didn’t like something. Knowing that the author will know and might feel bad.

What do you think?

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The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After by Jenny Colgan

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by [Colgan, Jenny]

I love Jenny Colgan books, I love The Little Beach Street Bakery series. I found this book in the library and it was the perfect time to read a lighthearted book after reading the dystopian novel 84K.

Nina loves books as much as me, she has two copies of the same book, one in hardback and a first edition, she also has a huge to be read pile. When the story begins she’s working in a library, a book lovers dream, but they’re making the libraries smaller and closing to reopen more of a community hub (weird coincidence as they’ve done that to the library I got this book from)so they’re making a lot of people redundant and she may lose her job. She thinks about doing something I’d love to do (but can’t practically): open a book shop.

I could relate to Nina’s love of books obviously and also her shyness and introverted nature.

I enjoyed this lighthearted read, just like Little Beach Street series it is realistic, even when things seem to be going well for Nina and she thinks she has it all she still feels lonely and isn’t happy. I love how Jenny Colgan can write a lovely fictional story you can get lost in but at the same time put so much of reality in there that you can relate and maybe learn too.

The characters are amazing and you will care about them all. I don’t think you can go wrong with Jenny Colgan books, they’re great! The setting of Scotland was amazing, I’d love to go to Scotland.

I did prefer The Little Beach Street series, (there was a slight mention of Polly from The Little Beach Street Bakery) there seemed to be more going on and it seemed longer? Maybe I just read this book quicker.

I did have quotes and things to add to this post but there was a huge delay and I took the book back to the library. :/

Jenny Colgan books are the literary equivalent to eating chocolate cake: they give you a lovely warm feeling inside. 

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Help Me: One Women’s Quest To See If Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life by Marianne Power

 

Help Me!: One Woman's Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life

I liked the idea of Help Me! I think I read it out of curiosity, I’ve read afew books that would be considered self-help, and I wanted to know about The Secret in particular and wondered if self help books really to work. It was only 99p on Kindle so I thought why not give it a try, I like reading books about people who do something to change their lives.

Description from GoodReads:

“Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered: could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life?

She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true?

What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self-help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better . . .

Help Me! is an irresistibly funny and incredibly moving book about a wild and ultimately redemptive journey that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding happiness.”

My thoughts about self-help books (I promise there’s a review next)

I’ve read self-help books and you know I hate them. There are some don’t get me wrong that are good, if it helps you overcome anxiety or ease deblitating panic attacks them I’m all for it. But you can get stuck reading them and hoping that they will provide the answer to your problems. They might do but we are all different and what helps one person might not necessarily help another.

I don’t have anything against books about mindfulness and CBT but I hate it when they offer a miracle, a secret that can change your life.

The Secret? You write yourself a cheque that the universe will cash for you, and believe that you will get what you want, for example you believe you will find a £10 note and you will find it. And The Secret says not to worry about how, but I do. Someone had to lose that money, how do you know that by wishing for all this stuff that someone else will lose? Of course this isn’t about that but I hate it when they make outlandish claims. And will all this stuff you wish for really make you happy?

It annoys me that so many books are out there and so many people are making money selling something that says it helps, they are preying on venerable people. People like you and me that just feel lost and need somewhere to turn, something to help us.

“..self-help is a business – a big one. And it’s selling the same thing that clothes companies, food companies and booze companies are: happiness.”

“I worried about how much money vulnerable people were spending on these cards and books and how much they handed over responsibility for their lives to something that might not exist. Was this any different to the Church selling pardons and telling people they could buy their way into heaven?”

My thoughts about the book

Despite having friends and a good job Marianne isn’t happy with her life, she is searching for something, she needs to do something to change it. She starts reading a self-help book a month to see if they actually could change her life. And what a journey it is. Each chapter breaks down the contents of the book and Marianne tells us what she does to follow each one.

This book feels like a rom-com sometimes, escecially with some of the things Marianne does following the guidelines in the self-help books that she reads, life modelling for example.

There was one point I thought: you have a great job and family and friends, why do you feel like you need to change your life? And as soon as I thought this Marianne said the same thing. And how dare I think that! I believe that it’s not what we have or don’t have that makes us happy but how we think and feel. And Marianne didn’t feel happy.

 

Marianne felt like a friend and by the end of the book I could’ve cried out for joy when she has a realisation.

“But I see now that perfection does not exist and happiness comes not from getting what you think you want but from opening your eyes and recognizing that you have everything you could possibly need right now.”

This book reiterated what I think about self help. I think that they can help but you can read too much of it and if it still isn’t helping it’s time to stop. Do we need a book to help us?

“dawned on me that maybe this is why self-help books often don’t help in the long term. We think we want to change but we don’t really. We keep going back to our old ways, our old selves, our old stories because it’s too scary not to.”

 

‘Why on earth do you need someone to tell you how to live your life?’ she barked, slugging back warm white wine. ‘Can’t you figure out how to do it yourself?’

I enjoyed this book as a story and also in a way as a self-help book. I related to most of Marianne’s thoughts and problems. Marianne is right we are all running through life chasing things forgetting that we are all after the same thing. Sometimes just knowing that we are all thinking and feeling the same or similar can help.

I think in the end we need to figure out what’s right for us, read something that resonants or make a change that helps. I didn’t think I needed to read a self-help book, I’m doing ok, but there’s some great lessons to be learnt in this book. 

If you’re thinking of reading a self help book don’t. Read this instead. Or at least first 🙂 

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Writing Progress

Thursday’s Progress

I try to not overdo it and take a break when I start to get disheartened, but at the same time then feel like I’m not doing enough.

I read over a few more pages today and then looked over my notes. I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, the notes I made seem fruitless. There’s so many loose threads and plot points I need to write into this novel that it seems a huge undertaking.

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Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

I have to read over a few scenes that’s on Scrivener and as long as that’s it, I don’t have any hiding anywhere, I can start making sense of it all by making a plan. As always I think I should’ve started putting the scenes in order and making a rough list of scenes when I started, my notes do say what’s going on though but it doesn’t seem enough.

Plan done, I need to research too and make important decisions regarding which way the story is going and characters. It’s easy to have this huge story and world in your head but trying to commit it to paper is hard.

I’m still keeping on with it. I won’t give up. But I am not going to lie and say it’s not a struggle.


After writing this I thought to myself I haven’t done enough and read over the scenes in Scrivener. That lead to me do a mind map of one of my plot points/themes. I still wish I’d kept a list of scenes and the daunting task is that I need to do this.

TIP: WRITE A LIST OF SCENES OR PUT EACH SCENE ON A STICKING NOTE AS YOU’VE WRITTEN IT.

Tempted to keep on going today but I am torn between overdoing it and continuing.

I am going to mind map my plot ideas too. I need more scenes, more character work and a plot.

Work continues

Friday

I tried hunting for videos and podcasts to help me with the outlining stage. The creative part of my brain is not working today. I ended up writing out all my scenes, well I am concerned I missed some. I’m learning, I should’ve done this when I was reading over my work.

TIP: WRITE DOWN SCENES THEN YOU HAVE AN OUTLINE 🙂

I tried putting them on sticky notes, then I put them on the corkboard on Scrivener, then I just wrote them down on cards.

And that small job took hours as you find your notes don’t stick or you try to remember if you have indeed forgotten to add scenes. But I have an idea of what’s going on.

There’s so much to get your head around and sometimes you’re not in the right mindset to sort it. Now I don’t really know what my next step is.

I’m stopping to hunt for my lost notebook, hoping music will make that job more bearable. I moved in September but things are still a mess and in boxes.

Thanks for reading. I doing this to be accountable and just in case someone wants to know the crazy journey of finishing a novel. Finishing? Finishing?

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New Year Thoughts

Every year at this time I think about my goals for the next. They’re usually the same. I’ll say I’m going to write more and finish my novel and then later on I’ll be wanting to lose weight.

(I lost a lot of weight a few years ago but it’s too easy to fall back into bad habits and put it back on.)

I sign up to do 30 days of yoga and book challenges. But find it difficult for one reason or another to keep it going.

I never know whether these goals are attainable, unrealistic or just wishful thinking. I don’t want to make life a chore of to-do lists and must-do wishlists anymore. I don’t want to sign up to things and then fail at completing them. Maybe I need to stop planning and doing all these things, don’t commit just do when I can.

I never know how people do things everyday without running around crazy and feeling exhausted at the end of it.

These are things I want to do all the time: yoga, reading, blogging and writing.

I started following a writing podcast called couch to 80k bootcamp but struggled to find the time in the third week to carry on. But because I’ve started I’ll feel like a failure if I don’t continue. I also was thinking of signing up for an indie book challenge.

This is what I know I want to do in 2019:

  • Read books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, specifically Catcher in the rye.
  • Cook more: or rather cook new recipes like Corned beef pie I’ve been meaning to make for ages.
  • Finish the first draft of my novel.

I’m avoiding Netgalley and finishing the reviews I’ve already committed to doing and then I’m going to read whatever I fancy. I’ve got so many books I want to read and I don’t want reading to be a chore.

So I’ve decided, with the exception of books I’ve already committed to review, I am not planning to review new books for the beginning of 2019.

I will make a fresh start and start reading over my novel. It will also give me a chance to read books on my shelf and I will be reviewing these. I have a few reviews to write for January.

I want to review books for people and I’d love to grow this blog but I think I’m trying to do too much.

I don’t want a crazy list of goals and resolutions I just want to focus on what’s important and let everything else hopefully fall into place.

What I’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked so it’s time for a change. I’m not sure if it’s me trying to do it all or my lack of routine.

So there’s just the one serious goal really and the others are for fun. I’ll keep blogging.

Thanks for reading this. It may be a bit haphazard :/

Let me know your resolutions. Your goals or maybe you don’t have any and your happy tell us in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy new year! All the best