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Heeeeeellllo readers, it’s time for a Thanksgiving styled post – which as a British person doesn’t quite work but it’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday post (run by the brilliant The Broke and the Bookish) so I’m going with it. The topic today is a free topic as long as it related to thanksgiving and being happy for the things that we have and I wanted to focus on something blogging related so with little delay – ten things I’m thankful for as a bookish bloggers.

1. It has opened my eyes to books I would never have considered before

In the past two of so years I have read books that  I would never have known about or bothered to ever pick up. Whether that’s the classics binge I’m currently going through or the YA books I fell in love with over the last six months,  without the bookish bloggging community and creating this blog I would never have read so many fantastic books.

2. Every day I am told about never fantastic books

This relates to the first but before my blog I never really had a TBR – I kinda just read willy nilly and read as and when I pleased. Now I’ve got a list that I can’t stop spiralling out of control and rather than being terrifed of it, I’m just bloody embracing it. Never before has my adoration of reading been so strong and that wouldn’t have happed without all of this.

3. Being taught to be proud of what I’m reading

Yearrrrrs ago we were on holiday, as a family, in the Lake District and at the cottage we were staying at they had a number of old and worn books – one being ‘Ps I love you by Ceclia Ahern.’ Mumma B told me it was trash but I read it and I thought it was perfection.

I struggled a lot with my reading likes/dislikes and since the blog I’ve learnt to embrace them – so what if some days all I want is an utterly trashy chick-lit, or I want to read a children’s book and look at all the gorgeous pictures. Blogging has allowed me not only to experience new genres and books but also be proud of what are a little like guilty pleasures.

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4. The community.

I joined the bookish blogosphere to write really and I found that actually I’ve met some truly wonderful people who make me smile on a daily basis and share with me all of their wonderful bloggish bits. When I joined I was warned a little that blogging would be lonely but two years  or so later I feel more comforted than ever and hopefully I’ve been there for many of you to. My NY resolution is to participate more and comment more but I will – I promise you gorgeous readers.

5. Absolutely awesome authors

I still can’t believe how many utterly wonderful, talented, thoughtful and compassionate authors I have met over the last two years – whether through email, commenting on the blog or twitter I have read so many fantastic books and currently it’s so sad I’ve got too many to read because the list just keeps growing.

Thank you for writing all the fantastic books and letting have a nosy read inside.

6. It made me re-realise my love of reading again

Throughout university my love of reading plummeted – studying Philosophy/Media the number books, essays, magazines, studies, theories I was reading on a daily basis reading for pleasure became a bore rather something I enjoyed. I stopped reading for almost the entirety of my third year and  then when I graduated and started to take pride in the blog again my love of reading just blew up. I now review three books a week and dread to think how much of my time I spend reading. The blog really made me revalue the importance of reading in my life.

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7. Opportunites

I say this often but the blog was really started just for somewhere to write about books – over the last six months to a year I’ve really started to push the blog to be more than that. Working with Penguin, shortlisting for Arachne Press, working with Invaluable and giving away tickets for the Stylist Live Event and meeting Caitlin Moran I’m only hoping to do more with MLBB over the next year – we’ll see.

8. Discussions

I think one of the best things about blogging is the discussions it creates – whether it’s about negative reviews or whether you did or didn’t like 50 shades it’s been such an eye opening  experience to participate in so many bookish discussions. I’ve never felt so passionate about some of my reader beliefs and many  have changed over the past two years but it’s the talk and chance to agree/disagree that I’ve liked so much.

9. Self-published authors

This links to a lot of my points but getting to work with so many self-publishes authors and help to bring their book to market has been really fun and really eye-opening. Many of the books that have really hit home for me and have made me think have been from self-published books. Unfortunately I still think they get a bad name and I hope at least a little I’ve helped to change that – one book at a time.

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10. It’s given me my ‘thing.’

Although I’ve alway been someone who strives to experience everything I’ve never had a thing – I’ve never had something I am truly proud of, but I do now. I cannot imagine not writing here and I can’t imaging not having this as my space to air all my thoughts and that makes me feel utterly wonderful. I love writing, I love sitting down and just reviewing/adding images/ replying to comments it’s perfection. Gah I’m an utter blog addict.

Tried to not get too sappy there but I am so thankful to all your wonderful likers/commenters/emailiers/authors/readers. You’re all so goddamn fantastic – have a wonderful thanksgiving!

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Is it me or is the fantasy genre becoming ever more popular? I might have to filter how many I read because there are just too many for me to get my tiny hands on. I don’t know what it is about the fantasy genre that irks me so much but it just doesn’t appeal in the same way as a thriller or a historical fiction does. I find myself reviewing almost from the point of view that I enjoy this genre because the writing is sublime or the characters are really well described it’s just the genre? Is that odd? Maybe I’ve got book brain at the moment. Despite that ramble today I have, yes you guessed it, another fantasy style book and it’s a good’un all fantastical writing and all that. Without further delay: THE REVIEW.

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The Land of Kalarum is in the mist of the Dark Hour – a time that was prophesied centuries ago – and to defeat it, the stone tablets must be reunited as one. After the attack on Tinsgates, Belcrest barely escapes with his life. Severely wounded he makes his way to Hollow Woods. It is there he meets Nasira – High Captain of the Vycar Legion. Unknowingly, the evil creatures that attacked Tinsgates had stolen one of the tablets. Unable to reunite them all, the Elven Chieftain tasked them with gathering the remaining stones. Since the tablets were dispersed to various races within the land – which they had no clue existed – they had to rely upon legend to guide their journey and quickly the 19 year old Nasira learns that the land she had known is full of mystery and shocking truths. Legend and myth become reality and there is no turning back from the road she must now travel.

So the basics: we follow the journey of the elven warrior Nasira and the human Belcrest (that’s going on my list of names for future children,) as they fight to bring the tablets and the two nations together. One tablet is lost and it is feared that evil forces have taken it under their possession; our heroes must fight to keep the remaining three from also being unaccounted for. I thought this book was a really fantastical story; it’s got all the basics, dwarves, elves, humans, creatures, prophecies, magic, and destiny: you know the drill right? Each is written with understanding and dexterity the elven are particularly graceful, delightful beings with their pointed ears and their extensive knowledge of war. I however liked the dwarves a little more; hot tempered and heady creatures their language and their mannerisms kept me captivated as a reader.  Belcrest is sweet and loyal, as he learns from Narisa and their friendship blossoms in a really wonderfully honest and trusting way. Being the sole survivor of his village we see him have to quickly take up this new role which is so important for the survival of the worlds and I thought it was written with skill and understanding.

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In terms of writing style it is stunning, utterly utterly stunning and I think that’s the main reason I keep delving back into this genre.

For example, ‘as dusk approached, on the other side of Kalarum, the two moons were beginning to take their place in the sky. The splash of color melted across the land from the rising of the moons and the setting of the sun. The tiny granular rocks below reflected a dark orange color and many of the finer granules sparkled like crystals from the soft touch of the moons light.’

That description really helps to transport you to this new, exciting, fantasy world and I guess that in my love of historical fiction transports you to a different era fantasy takes you to a new world? Definitely got book brain at the moment I would say. Anyway I liked the message that was woven throughout the action, the fantasy characters and the beautiful descriptions; the message that despite differences in race, and ability Narisa with her weaponry skills and Belcrest with his awareness of goodness and honour make a strong and dependable team. I think my only comment would be there’s not quite enough to make it feel wholly original.

I’ve gone on a long time again so I’ll make this a little snappier: it seems that Dee Willis has really written a truly fantastical novel with some really strong writing flavour. The emotions that are created, the landscapes that are described and the ultimate battle of good versus evil is a true fantasy tale. Definitely one for the fantasy genre lovers.

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Helllllo readers, it’s a Friday which means it’s time for another bookish tag! *eee* I was tagged by Jane at the Greenish Bookshelf and thought it would be something nice to fill out on this dreary Friday afternoon. I think I’ve filled this out before but I think quite a few of my answers will be different this time because I’m reading differently (if that makes sense?) Ah well, without further wittering I should probably get onto the tag.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Since leaving university, which is now over a year ago, I’ve been renting in and around the Stoke-on-Trent area, so I tend to read in my bed away from everyone. Pyjamas are a must and salt and vinegar pringles are my snack of choice if I haven’t already eaten them all. #fatty.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Just about anything, receipts, pieces of paper, random pieces of material cut up. T uses business cards from unplanned companies that drop them off at work which I think is a little lovely. I tend not to use bookmarks because I buy lovely ones and then lose them. *whimpers*

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

I always used to wait till the end of the chapter but recently because I’ve been reading quite late at night, it tends to be when my attention span just drops and I physically cannot concentrate on the words. I try to stop on chapters but it doesn’t always happen that way.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Recently fizzy water and Indonesian crackers from Phileas Fogg; those things are addictive.

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Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

I like to think that I can listen to music whilst reading but I physically can’t, or I blank the music out so when I come back to reality the album is on a terrible track at the end or it’s finished. Television is something I keep separate from reading. One or the other is best I think.

One book at a time or several at once?

I have done this tag at least twice, I now remember this question. I now read at least two books at the same time and have done for a couple of months now. I cannot get myself to finish 1Q84 and have read multiple books alongside it. I wish I could just read one at a time but I don’t have the timeee.

Reading at home or everywhere?

Favourite place is actually on the train; not only does it make the journey go twice as quickly but the gentle lulling of the train is really relaxing.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Reading in my head, although T read to me on the train a couple of weeks back and it was really, really lovely.

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Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

If the suspense is just getting to much I might skip to the next paragraph just to let myself breathe a little but I really try not to.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

If I can read the book without breaking the spine I’ll try and keep it like new. If I accidentally lean on it, drop it on the floor or bend it too far it’s not the end of the world I guess.

Do you write in your books?

Nope, unless it’s a colouring book, which I now own *eee*

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I think it might be my third time answering this but it’s always interesting to see when my answers change as I redo this tag. I now tag

Tasha at That Little Blog Of Everything

Aine at Writing on a Vintage Typewriter

Mara at Across the Books

&

Franzi at Books, Movies, Tea

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Good morning readers, another ‘classic’ book for you today. I wasn’t planning to read this, but due to moving house I’ve had to move libraries. So taking all my beloved books back including F (a novel) which I haven’t yet finished, me and T wandered to the new library in Hanley and we both forgot it was a Sunday. So, I had to borrow one off T. It turns out that this and Factotum are rather similar. However, if you’re yet to read Bukowski then this might persuade you to get hold of a copy.

Henry Chinaski is a lowlife loser with a hand-to-mouth existence. His menial post office day job supports a life of beer, one-night stands and racetracks. Lurid, uncompromising and hilarious, Post Office is a landmark in American literature, and over 1 million copies have been sold worldwide. This book is the story of Henry Chinaski’s world. Its deep and compelling individuality is a refreshing change from conventional literary works.

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I first want to comment on Bukowski’s acknowledgements at the front of the book; ‘this is presented as a work of fiction and dedicated to nobody.’ This basically sums up the entirety of Bukowski’s work. It’s brutal, honest, raw and unmaterialistic. The book follows Henry Chinaski who works in the Post Office. The character who is Bukowski’s alter ego in many of the book is an alcoholic who strives to stay alive and stay drunk. Following both his personal and ‘professional’ life we see Bukowski treat women as like they are only for sex, work paying Bukowski to do as little as possible and us readers are treated with as much contempt as the characters in the rest of the tale.

What sets this apart and what makes it so much like Factotum is that it tells the tale of a man who is in touch with the most basic of urges. Sex, money, friendship, horse racing, and getting pissed is the crux of the book whilst Chinaski comes across as a man who knows the world and is cleverer than most but his inability to compromise with society as a whole means he will never move forward in his life. He refuses to buy into social morality, and instead is a man who barely survives.

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The prose is easy to read and flows along. It is sarcastic and cynical but there is something loveable there despite Chinaski’s apparent want to alienate the reader at every turn. *Trigger.*

 There was a part  that was a little distressing; Henry rapes a woman and yet Bukowski by the end of the short scene made it sound as if she enjoyed it. It felt a little stressful and unneeded but you get the feeling Bukowski writes whatever he wants whichever want he wants. Chinaski as a character is not a nice man and many of the things he says and does are disgusting and repugnant. But there is something truly fascinating about the life that he leads.

In terms of its seeming similarity to Factotum, it revolves around the same ideology of sex, alcohol, racing, and working as little and as badly as possible. It is both cynical, written in the same style and a number of scenes turn up in both books. Once again this could be Bukowski just playing with being an author but it felt a bit repetitive. T was about to buy Factotum but I’m not sure it’s worth reading both. For me anyway.

There is a lot of beauty in this book, but it is a cynical type of beauty. I enjoyed it as much as I did Factotum but I don’t feel I learnt anything from it. An author definitely worth a read, but maybe not a second.

Linnnnnnks

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Hellllllo readers I have a really interesting book of short stories to share with you today. It’s very rare that I would be sent a collection of books that make an anthology but I’m really excited to have received this and have it to review for you today. In terms of my review schedule I am about month ahead now in terms of what needs posting but I will get them all read and up for you soon. Without delay: THE REVIEW.

Like a box of lost and found, Shards is a dive into fiction and all its wonderful edges. Tales of life and of death; war and poetry; monsters with fangs and creatures with claws; the weird and the woeful; the realism and the obscure. It is a journey into the back of a brain, deep in the tunnels of imagination, where the most unusual and brilliant and terrible ideas are born.

An anthology of twenty brand-new works of short-fiction: Science-fiction, Weird, Abstract, Fantasy, Dystopian, Contemporary, Horror, War & More. A love-letter to the written word.

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Gah some of these stories are real stunners. The anthology is total mix of different stories and contexts. The first few are very subtle stories There are subject matters than appear once or twice, especially the writing of intense emotion. ‘A busy doorway’ is a beautiful tale of two people who are saying goodbye at an airport the emotion that the author manages to get into the tale and the use of words to give the characters description despite it being a very short tale is skilfully done. The ending was very endearing and difficult to read but it just summed it all up without tying it up in a really finished bow. Delightful. ‘Just Right,’ was another romantic tale that just fell into the readers hands; the author has a definite way of writing to really tell a tale with the characters without needing long descriptions or lots of backstory. It’s a very sweet tale and one I really enjoyed. The two characters continually meet at different coincidental opportunities and although maybe a little twee I thought it was beautiful.

Some of the stories also take on a darker turn especially ‘Soil in the eye,’ is a very dark tale, it tells of a person being buried alive but the emotion driven into the story makes you feel as if you’re there with quaking in the box, feeling the oxygen slowly slip away. More subtle stories including ‘Facing the right’ and ‘The Light’ tend to be more soft stories revolving around the telling of the tale rather than telling a story. Due to them being so short they do have an abstract feel but for me I thought it just added to the authors ability to weave such delicate stories. This is shown most in the tale ‘The Still Bridge,’ it’s so atmospheric and different to the earlier tales I thought it was beautifully done.

My favourite of the tales I think was ‘The Aching Vengeance’ one of the stories towards the start of the anthology. The tale shows an old cowboy who has been searching for his daughter for many many years and after wandering into a bar it all starts to get a bit messy. The story shows Cumming’s ability to string together a powerful tale in only a couple of pages and the story really stayed with me. It’s a very dark tale but one I thought was really intriguing.

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There were a couple of stories that did fall short, ‘Sunday Night Movie Massacre,’ felt a little rushed and didn’t fully explore enough into the monster to make me believe in such a tale, and the story before ‘The Town Built on tragedy’ didn’t give enough to end the tale and make a lot of sense to the reader. I think it was a really interesting start but there wasn’t quite enough to make me feel that, oh wow feeling. There are a few near misses but most of spot on.

Overall this is a really brilliant complation of different tales with different contexts, characters and stories. Some of the stories I felt had too much content to be tied up too quickly and lacked a little more information but I thought the experimentation with style and genre was really exciting. I’ve just seen the author has another book and I might just have to give that a good. If you like short stories or want to read some really superb ones, this is a compilation for you.

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