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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

Happy Sunday readers, I’ve had a wonderfully busy weekend and I’m snuggled up on the sofa watching The Big Painting Challenge and I thought I’d bring you something a little different. It’s an A-Z of all things book blogging.

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A is for assortment: I am a true believer in variety in blogging, especially book blogging. Different genres, publishers and authors amongst others help to bring mylittlebookblog to as many readers as possible.  This also includes different posts including quotes, images, guest posts, Q+A’s etc.

B is for bed: My favourite place to read is snuggled up in bed, with a hot chocolate, lots of blankets and pyjamas. I also favour the bath but the number of times my books get destroyed through my clumsy nature it’s better to stick to the latter

C is for classics: Recently I have got over my irrational dislike of classic literature and thrown myself straight in at the deep end reading as much as a I can get my hands on. So far it’s been rather eye opening

D is for Doyle: As a young reader, Arthur Conan Doyle was pivotal to the increase of my interest and love of reading. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes mean a lot to me sentimentally as a reader

E is for Email: My most useful tool in contact and communicating with authors, readers, bloggers and publishers. Setting up a separate email was a big step for me in my journey as a blogger and set this apart as being more than a hobby for the weekends

F is for Folded over Corners: I have a terrible habit of folding over the corners of pages when reading. I’m constantly losing bookmarks so often train or bus tickets are my go to. I try not too but it’s a habit I seem to have got into!

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G is for Guest Posts: Some people are terribly against guest posts, I’m all for it if done well and if it helps both blogs/authors/publishers reader base. Don’t just do for the sake of it I guess

H is for Hard Work: I know I’ve mentioned this before a couple of times but blogging is sometimes hard work. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it, not at all, but there is so much more that goes into blogging than just reading and reviewing.  

I is for Ink: When writing reviews I tend to tap them out on my old and tired red Dell ‘brick’ laptop. If I have time I like to plot out the review on paper and then type it up from there. It’s sometimes lovely to pen the words out first, to see how the review fits together

J is for Jigsaw: Book blogging is on the whole a little like a jigsaw. I am continually playing with the pieces finding different ways to put the different types of post together. Does this guest post work well next to this review, does this quote fit with the blog as a whole, will this review create some controversy? It’s a constant challenge!

L is for Lengthy journeys: The perfect time to get a chunk of reading completed. I love reading on the train down to Milton Keynes; it’s my time to de-stress from a busy week and get myself completely immersed in another world

M is for Messy: When I’m blogging I like to be fully submersed in what I’m doing. Books will be strewn around me, the notes on the book sitting in little piles, post-it notes stuck in the books, different pens in different colours pooling round me; for me it just helps the creative process.

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N is for New Authors: There is nothing better than discovering a new exciting author with bags of potential and then going out and purchasing everything they’ve written and devouring it.

O is for Organisation: Despite saying I like to be messy, I am going to be a little bit of a hypocrite. Book blogging in terms of planning needs to be organised; emails need to be answers, posts written to fit with deadlines of releases, or cover reveals.

P is for Proof reading: I am terrible for this, because I’m often half asleep or in a rush when I post my reviews so there are sometimes grammatical errors (my spelling is normally pretty good.) It’s so important to proof read posts to get the message across coherently

Q is for Quality: Consistent quality across the board in terms of posts is really important. Each review is unique and to let the ball drop is a constant fear for me as a blogger.

R is for Review Requests: One of the best things about blogging is receiving requests for book reviews. It’s a tiresome task sometimes going through them all and picking which to read first but the elation of coming home and seeing the books sat by the front door is such a pleasure

S is for Spreading the word: Whether it’s for readers or writers, book blogging is ultimately about recounting what you’ve read good or bad. It’s one to always remember when blogging because once you’ve said it, it’s very difficult to take it back

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T is for Tired Eyes: Even now at twenty one, and knowing my tiredness limit I still cannot resist the temptation of staying up all night to finish a good book

U is for Unbiased: This goes without saying; honesty must be followed to the T.

V is for vocabulary: Wonderful, vivid, chilling, distressing, worrying, content, ardent, notable, dire, splendid, unquestionable, thrilling, astounding, wretched, poignant, clement, blissful, sulky, gritty. Make sure you colour your book blogging with adjectives of every sound.

 W is for Well-wishers: I kept running out of letters and quite quickly had to start using the thesaurus. Blogging is all about community feel and although some claim that blogging can be lonely I am yet to feel that way. Since I started the support has been wonderful and the people I come into contact with have been lovely lovely people.

X is for Xanthippe: Now stick with me, this is a word. It actually means ill-tempered woman. Now obviously this isn’t pivotal but I think what is, is that you want to make everything as real and as brilliant as possible. If I can’t get the right feel to a review, or the post doesn’t sit well with the blog it only goes to show (male or female) that it really means something to you

Y is for Yearning: The constant and unending search for new incredibly books written by even more incredibly authors

Z is for Zero: The amount of time I wish that I wasn’t, reading, writing, blogging or making notes about books. Books just are everything to me

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So there you go, a little book-ish post about book blogging. If you have any comments, questions or queries as always pop them in the comments box!

Good evening readers, hope you’re all well unlike me, a little sick bunny. It seems I have caught a tummy bug which left me rendered completely useless yesterday. After being rudely awakened by my housemate, I heaved myself out of bed to go and purchase whatever it was she was complaining about. Hauling a sick ridden body out of bed dressing it in patterned black, red and white leggings, an orange t-shirt and a pair of blue fabric pumps and a massive coat with a fur hood I must have looked comical. I cannot wait to move away from the drama of where I live. Before I get too off topic there are a number of reviews that were supposed to be posted days ago but I’ve been so sick I haven’t had any time to sort them and amongst packing for the move last week. I’m hoping to get them written up ASAP so if you’re waiting for a review it’s on its way I promise. So, without further delay onto today’s review.

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up; can their love overcome their losses?  Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

So as the blurb suggests Marin Strang is a Spanish teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way she wanted it to; having to live on a wage from numerous temporary teaching contracts and coming out of a rather painful breakup she’s in a bit of a sticking point; in limbo as to what she should do next. An ex-Jehovah’s witness but with ties to her father who remains a loyal member, Marin finds her days wandering The Lanes in Brighton a shopping spot and ends up in the a café named Number 8. Here she meets Lawrence Fyre, the owner of the (failing) store Sargasso Books. The two, after a number of chance meetings enter into an intense relationship but a number of hiccups including his sister and the intriguing Nina could force their relationship to fail. Will their relationship rise or flounder? You’ll have to get hold of a copy to find out!

So, there’s the book in a nutshell; now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a rather stereotypical boy meets girl style plot-line but it’s more than that. Firstly I have to commend the author for getting the feel of Brighton down so very well. I could feel the blustery wind and see the cobbled lanes full of brightly painted houses, it’s incredibly evocative of the little seaside town. The writing style is wonderful although a little difficult to get into to start with. It reads almost like a stream of consciousness, which we don’t experience all too often as a reader and when mixed with dialogue and narrative it was a little different at the start. However as you get more stuck in the words rise and fall in a very smooth almost lyrical prose which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of plot line it is the perfect mix of both tragedy and love story and the whirlwind mix throughout is both tender and comedic. The two main characters are wonderfully written both quirky in their own rights but written with a real feel of human warmth and understanding. They come alive with each other and the conviction of their relationship is maddeningly exciting and euphoric. The pace is fast and forward thinking, it ricochets off with such breath taking speed that I found myself reading chapter after chapter without noticing.

I think what makes this book is the style; it is a unique and unforgettable writing quality that is both quirky and gripping. It also allows for the highs and the lows of the novel to really come alive and punch the reader in the jaw which is exactly what I wanted from this novel. It is a love story but it also intertwines personal growth, the pressure to conform to society or religion and trust in the relationships we have. It really made me sit up and listen and made me think about my own place in the world that I find myself in.  Overall a stylish and quirky read that was a wonderful mix; thoroughly enjoyable.

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Afternoon readers, hope you’re all having a wonderful Friday because the weekend is nearly here *squeals.* There will be a review up today, but I fancied doing something a little bit silly. I decided to do a list of some of the thoughts I have when writing book reviews, this isn’t to say it happens every time (trying to convince myself I’m more organised,) but inevitably happens most of the time. I don’t know whether others can relate or have anything to add and although this obviously wasn’t written with a specific book in mind I thought we could have a giggle about book reviewing on a sunny happy Friday afternoon.

1)      Right, laptop on. Okay that’s not worki…wait plug it in; might help

2)      This dell monstrosity is the slowest machine in the world

3)      Oh, I’m not cosy, pyjamas would be better

4)      Right, scour the ‘floordrobe’ to find something suitable

5)      Right totally ready. Pink moustache covered bottoms and an orange jersey top totally goes, let’s get this review done

6)      Wait, where’s the book gone?

7)      That could help when writing a BOOK review

8)      *scours the book covered desk*

9)      *Creates avalanche of books*

10)   Right, got it; read notebook on notes made whilst reading. Okay, all caught up.

11)   What interesting events shall I write about today for the introduction?

12)   Well my breakfast order at work was wrong and my top was inside out today at work, for most of the day…

13)   Let’s go with that, describes my life pretty well

14)   ‘Good evening readers!’

15)   Why do I always sound so goddamn excited about everything?

16)   Right introduction done, blurb time

17)   Gee this blurb is great/not so great/ hmmmm desirable edit might be needed

18)   Time to re-write the blurb

19)   This is why my reviews are sooooo loooonnnngggggg

20)   What was that character’s name again? *thumbs through book*

21)   This house is so cold I can’t feel my fingers, must buy fingerless gloves

22)   Maybe music would help, click on ITunes

23)   Wait, no too many distractions

24)   Focus

25)   Ooooo Twitter notification

26)   I have to favourite, and at least reply

27)   *Enter twitter conversation*

28)   Okay, focus…. So positives

29)   Character build up, pace, plot, interweaving plot line

30)   Make sure you haven’t only used the word wonderful….oh you have, edit that bit now

31)   Right deep breath

32)   Critiques…couple of things to note

33)   This could be a thorny point, try not to feel too awful and guilty

34)   Now a good thing; pop that in about symbolism and meaning

35)   Sounds clever and made the book good

36)   God you’re good at this

37)   How do you spell sequal? Sequel?

38)   You’re so bad at this

39)   Right conclusion and don’t babble

40)   Totally babbled

41)   Photo of the book now, nearly there

42)   Oh that cover is so much prettier than the cover I have (use that one instead)

43)   Okay, it’s a review, and here are the tags

44)   Preview

45)   Now proofread……jkgjfgdlkjfla;fg

This was so much fun to write; if you enjoyed might do another? Not sure let me know and Happy Fridayy!

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It’s Tuesday afternoon and after yesterdays blog tour my stint of reviews is finally over. Finishing the ten day mark yesterday with a well-deserved review of The Vault I’m taking a little book blogging break in terms of reviews and bringing you a post on what I’ve learnt over the past ten days. The original reason for taking part in the challenge was to clear a little of the backlog that was starting to accumulate but also to take a closer look at my reviewing habits and see if there were improvements that the challenge would show me. I’ve learnt a lot over the past week and a half and I’m going to be making some changes to my reviews, which you can start to see in my last two reviews. Thank you once again to Suze and Sophie for running the review challenge and for the supportive tweets along the way.

1)      Time: I have always thought when reviewing you need a lot of time to think over a book and reflect upon it once you’ve finished reading. Running out of books already read before the challenge, by day six, I had to completely overthrow this rule I normally have when reviewing. The decrease in time between reading and reviewing actually added a lot of spontaneity to my reviews and instead of focusing on the main bulk of the book I found myself picking out little details bringing together a more personal review. Although my notebook helps me to collate all the little things, reading and then immediately reviewing is sometimes the best way to review a book

2)      Repetition: One of the things I found around day five was that reviewing books each day made me enjoy them so much more. I was a little worried I would become tired of reviewing each day, and it could be my competitive side, but I found myself looking forward to reviewing at the end of the day. Normally I get home after work, go out with friends then change into my pyjamas and slump about but I found myself feeling more alert knowing there was a review to write

3)      Entirety: When I review I like to get everything in and I think this is what has been slowing my reviews. I panic that I’ll have left something out and upset the author a little if it’s the main event and I don’t sell it well enough. As the days went on, I found myself focusing on the whole of the book rather than spelling out everything. I learnt not everything needs to be said for the review to be an extensive one.

4)      Fewer Mistakes: It comes with writing more frequently but I found as I reviewed that there were lesser mistakes as the days went on. Often I type out the review on word, read it, edit, then copy across and re-edit on WordPress. Saturday morning snuggled up in bed and wanting to get out and spend the day shopping I had to just do it once, and to be honest I was pretty stunned how well it flowed and how it got so much across. For someone that constantly worries about their reviews I have learnt I can get things done precisely without the time panics.

5)      Worry Less: This one follows on, but I really need to worry less about reviews. On mylittlebookblog I’ve only had two bad experiences with authors and the rest, despite my reviews, positive or more critical have been wonderful. I need to worry less about writing reviews and enjoy letting you all know what I think despite what others think

6)      If you put your mind to it nothing can stop you: I as like everyone have bad days, and often after a tough day at work I feel the need to just slump in front of a film or read all snuggled up in bed. On Sunday I was feeling rather groggy and cruddy but the reviews had to go on. After a couple of hours of sulking I plugged in my rather tired laptop and managed to pull the review out the bag. I felt so much better for it, and I think in the future when I’m having an off day I’ll remember that Sunday and do something a little more productive.

7)      Genre matters: I have always been a stoic blogger in that I accept books from all genres regardless of personal taste. I know for many it doesn’t work but for me I cannot help but want to read everything (seriously!) Throughout the ten days I reviewed romance, thriller, comedy, a children’s book, a book on personal discovery and even a book that re-evaluated life after death. This challenge has only helped to reinforce my love of reviewing all types of books from every genre.

8)      I can read more: I struggle sometimes with reading, and working, blogging and writing for three online publications; however I have always known I don’t make enough time for reading. This challenge has showed me I can get so much more read in a day. I found myself taking books everywhere; whilst making coffee in the morning, waiting for the bus, on the bus, lunch breaks, on the bus home and for a little while before finally turning in for the night. What surprised me was I didn’t lose any time I was just using it so much more productively.

9)  Regularity: Linking to this, I now know I can review more regularly but still keep the same quality. Obviously when I’m really busy, particularly at the end of the month I can be more seldom in my reviews but I know now that I have the capacity to read and review more regularly. You’re going to be seeing a lot more posting in the next coming months and maybe my own review challenge.

10)   There is still something utterly magical about staying up into the early hours of the morning to finish a book: This is something I used to do a lot as a child, I would be exhausted in the morning and my parents could tell just by looking at me that I had barely slept a wink. I guess there’s something inherently lovely about being physically unable to turn in a book and that’s something I got to rediscover whilst finishing the challenge.

So there you go, ten things I’ve learn over the past week and a half; it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t impossibly difficult but I’ve realised a lot about my blogging tendencies and how I can get the most out of mylittlebookblog and give more to you, my wonderful readers. Any comments, questions as always pop them below!

See all the reviews from the challenge here:

Day 1)

Day 2) 

Day 3)

Day 4)

Day 5)

Day 6)

Day 7)

Day 8)

Day 9)

Day 10)

P.S: Some are labelled day and some are labelled review. Due to technical problems although all written on different days, they had to be posted on the same day which then messed up the numbers for the rest of the ten days. However there are all there! 😀 <3

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