A Love Letter to Hardbacks…

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Booking Through Thursday asked an interesting question this morning. The question was:

All other things being equal, what is your favorite format for reading? Hardcover? Paperback? New book? Old book? Leather-bound first edition? E-book?

 

Many charity shops find it difficult to sell hardback fiction – a fact that I find quite shocking! I love my beautiful hardbacks and will always buy a hardback version of a book I already have if I find one. There’s something satisfying about sitting with a thick hardback book on your knee and getting absorbed into the story. One author I always love in hardback is Stephen King and I will happily pay the £25 rather than waiting for the £6.99 paperback! If people prefer to buy paperbacks in charity shops though then all the more for me.

What is your favourite format for reading?

Things That Make Blogging and Reading Easier (Top Ten Tuesday)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book themed meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are listing the top ten things that make life as a reader/blogger easier. This is a different one as it doesn’t involve actual books! Here’s my list:

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1) Goodreads

I’ve been using this website for longer than I’ve been blogging but it’s an excellent help. It helps me to keep track of what I’ve read as well as books I want to read. It’s also a brilliant social site with lots of interesting book clubs to join for inspiration. You can find my Goodreads profile here. Feel free to add me!

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2) Bloglovin

I’ve always used this rather than google reader so it didn’t effect me as much when everyone changed over. It’s a really useful way of subscribing to a huge number of blogs so you never miss a post. I also love how you can categorise the blogs so I can easily keep up with all the latest vegan blog posts as well as Friday Fictioneers and Top Ten Tuesdays.

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3) Top Ten Tuesdays

Is it odd to include the meme in a list for the meme? Top Ten Tuesdays is a really fun weekly community to take part in. I love seeing other people’s lists and I often feel challenged when making my own!

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4) You Are Here Bookmarks

I’ve only had these for a couple of weeks but they’re really useful when you want to make notes about the books you’re reading so it’s easy to review them when you get to the end. They were only £3.95 from Waterstones!

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5) Planning

It might seem boring but the only way I can keep on top of posting on both of my blogs is my fortnightly blog planner. I print a few copies off at a time and when I think of an idea I mark it on the planner. That way I always know my blog will be updated!

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6) Charity Shops

I buy most of my books second hand. It means I can impulse buy any books that look remotely interesting without having to worry about the cost. I get some good bargains!

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7) Waterstones

This is my favourite bookshop. As much as I love second hand books, there’s nothing like the feel of a brand new one!

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8) WordPress

I previously dabbled in blogging and used Blogger. I much prefer WordPress though as it’s easier to use and you have more control.

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9) Pinterest

I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from pinterest as well as being able to pin books I want to check out. I also use it to keep a lot of writing prompts and tips which can be useful. Follow me here.

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10) Friday Fictioneers

I’d never written short stories before this time last year. Friday Fictioneers is a really fun way of writing. Every week a photo is posted and the challenge is to write 100 words of fiction using it as inspiration. It’s good practice and can be the beginning of further ideas!

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What tools/websites make your blogging life easier?

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NOTE – I am currently away at Leeds Festival but I will answer all comments when I return!

Book Review – Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

 

“Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liquer, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games.

Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Framboise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the spilt blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past.”

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Joanne Harris I’ve always considered as a hit and miss author. Now I realise there is a pattern to the books I liked that were written by her. The first book I read by Joanne Harris was Chocolat and I fell in love with it. It was probably the first novel I’d read that was set in a different country to the UK and I loved the idea of a little french village. I then read Blackberry Wine which I loved for similar reasons. I was therefore quite surprised when I tried Holy Fools and got bored. I then realised what it was that made me love the first two books. Joanne Harris has a remarkable talent for portraying the emotions and family ties caused by food. It’s the one thing that always manages to bring people together. I therefore tried Five Quarters of the Orange and it turns out I was right, I loved it.

This novel switches from the present day Framboise to when she was a child. This confused me at first but it was a brilliant  way of writing and creating suspense as I desperately tried to get to the end to find out what it was that made the adult Framboise so ashamed of her childhood.

The chapters that were based on the younger Framboise were my favourites. As a child she grew up on a french farm and spend most of her time tending crops and making food such as jam. It always sounds like such a wonderful life! I’d missed the bit about the war when I read the back of this book which is lucky because it usually puts me off. However this was a very interesting angle on the war, there were little or no bombings and the terror of wartime childhood wasn’t portrayed at all. This might because Framboise and her siblings grew up on a village farm where the threats were lower. The german soldiers buying information from the children was really interesting to me as I’d never heard of it before. I’ll stop there because I don’t want to give to much away!

The older Framboise’s story didn’t grip me quite as much but it served as a teaser and kept me reading because I wanted to find out what had happened in her childhood. I liked the idea of her little creperie though and the scrapbook left by her mother was a beautiful addition. I love the idea of a recipe scrapbook slash diary and it just adds to what I was saying before about food and emotions.

All in all I really enjoyed this novel. I didn’t speed through it like I do with the novels that really grip me but I did want to keep reading. It definitely restored my faith in Joanne Harris but from now on I’ll look for titles with food in them!

Have you read this book? What do you think of novels based on the emotional aspects of food and family life?

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books To Read In Spring

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is the top ten books I want to read in Spring. I want to get through quite a few books that I already have on my shelves rather than buying new ones but there are some I need to get!

New Books

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The Art of Wishing – Lindsay Ribar

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel about a genie. Vampires yes, werewolves yes. Genies? I’m fascinated!

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Phantom – Laura DeLuca

This looks amazing. It comes out at the end of this month and I need to acquire a copy ASAP!

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Broken – A.E. Rought

I want this one for similar reasons as Phantom. This is based on Frankenstein and looks amazing.

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Cinder – Marissa Meyer

It seems that everyone is reading this one. I know it’s either going to be amazing or I’ll hate it. I think it’s the cyborg aspect that puts me off a bit but I need to try it.

Already On My TBR Shelf

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Splintered – A.G. Howard

I now have a copy of this so I think it will be my next read! I love anything Wonderland and this has received a lot of good reviews!

 

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The Understudy – David Nicholls

I loved One Day and Starter For Ten so this is next on my TBR list.

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The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe – Douglas Adams

I read A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a few months ago and loved it. It’s definitely time to read the next in the series!

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Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Another book that everyone seems to be reading! I’ve had this on my TBR shelf for a while and love the look of it.

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What On Earth Evolved? 100 Species That Changed The World – Christopher Lloyd

I started this last year and it’s a fascinating read. I seem to pick it up every so often and then put it back again so I really want to finish it.

Something to Re-Read

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Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

I’m desperate to read this again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. It’s my favourite novel of all time and sometimes I just need to read it!

What are you reading this season?

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Series I Want To Read!

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is top ten series that I want to read but haven’t yet. My list contains some series that I’ve started and some that I haven’t got around to yet!

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1) A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin

Everyone raves about this series so I think I should at least give the first one a try!

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2) The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King

Another one that every other Stephen King fan has read but me. I actually have these books on my shelves so I’ve got no excuse!

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3) The Vampire Chronicles – Anne Rice

I am a huge fan of vampire novels but I still haven’t read these yet! I started Interview with the Vampire when I was a lot younger and got bored but I’m definitely going to try it again.

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4) The Chocolat Series – Joanne Harris

I loved Chocolat but it has been a while since I read it. I recently bought the sequel to this (The Lollipop Shoes) and apparently there is a third one coming! I need to catch up!

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5) Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams

I’ve only read the first novel of this series but I loved it. Again, I’ve got the whole series on my shelf so no excuse!

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6) Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’m totally confused about where I’m up to in this series! I think I need to reread from the beginning!

Are there any series you need to read?

Top Ten Tuesday – My Top Ten Favourite Characters in the Vampire Genre

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week they are looking at your top ten characters in whichever genre you choose! This has prompted a lot more variety as each blogger has chosen the genre they like best. I spent ages trying to decide which genre to choose and have decided on a quite specific one of Vampire novels. Now I know this probably comes under the fantasy genre but I wanted to be a bit more specific as I read a lot of fantasy. So here goes, my top ten favourite characters in the vampire genre (in no particular order)!

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1) Eric Northman – The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

Now this is the kind of vampire I like. Although I have included some Twilight characters on this list they don’t scream vampire to me. Eric is my favourite character in this series (I can’t stand Bill!). He is confident to the point of arrogance but man does he deserve to be! He’s also the only character who has ever been true to Sookie.

 

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2) Alice Cullen – Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

Although not the typical vampire type I love Alice. She’s so petite and fragile looking but is amazingly strong (physically and emotionally). I love the bond she has with Bella too, she is pretty much the total opposite to her and yet embraces her easily as a sister. Alice is without a doubt my favourite character in the Twilight series.

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3) Damon Salvatore – The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

I love Damon for a similar reason as I love Eric. His brother (Stefan) is one of the most boring vampires I have ever come across. Damon is more like a traditional vampire, he embraces the evil parts of himself. This makes him a much stronger character in my opinion because he lives a similar life to Stefan but doesn’t ignore who he is. I’ve only read the first book in The Vampire Diaries series but I really hope Damon and Elena get together!

 

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4) Count Dracula – Dracula by Bram Stoker

Of course Dracula had to be on this list. He has such pride in what he is and where he’s come from and is so charming. There is an anger there though which many vampires are missing in modern stories. He also inspired so many novels, tv programmes and films about vampires and he is the archetypal vampire character.

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5) Erik Night – House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

I have just finished the first novel in this series (Marked) and already really like this character. He’s only a developing vampire but I think there’s huge potential. He is attracted to the main character in the novel (Zoey) and is really sweet and kind about the characteristics that are making the “popular kids” hate her. I’m looking forward to seeing how his character develops throughout the series.

6) Neferet  – House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Again, my opinion on Neferet is only based on the first novel in this series. I love her character because she has such power about her. She’s really nice to Zoey as well and makes her feel welcome.

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7) Diana Bishop – Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I found Diana immediately like-able and related a lot to her. What I loved most about her is that unlike most female characters who fall in love with vampires (Bella Swann I’m looking at you!) she is a strong and powerful woman. She doesn’t come across as helplessly in love and she doesn’t let her vampire fight her battles.

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8) Jasper Hale – Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

It is probably no coincidence that the other vampire I love from the Twilight series is Alice’s partner, Jasper. There is a vulnerability in Jasper as he tries his best to lead a “vegetarian” lifestyle. I like that about him because it shows amazing self control and belief. His troubled past is also much more interesting than that of his other glittering siblings.

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9) Pam Ravenscroft – The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

If you’ve only ever seen the TV programme of True Blood then you need to read the books ASAP! Pam is just one of the characters that is a lot different on TV than she is portrayed in the books. What I love about her is loyalty and her sense of humour. She’s also the person who kept Eric grounded for 160 years.

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10) R.M. Renfield – Dracula by Bram Stoker

Renfield is held in a lunatic asylum in this novel as he is under the influence of Count Dracula. I’ve always found him deeply interesting and remember reading the novel waiting for him to come up again. Towards the end of the story he manages to fight against the mind control that Dracula is using on him and helps to save Mina’s life, giving up his own in the process. An extremely strong character who helps to drive the story along.

Did you take part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday? Leave your link in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday – Settings I’d Love to See in Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Settings You’d Like To See (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/top-ten-settings-jana-would-like-to-see.html). I only have five of these which probably means I need to expand my horizons a bit!

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1) Old Villages

By this I mean Stonewylde style villages. I love that period of time and the characters being that close to nature.

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2) Hidden Worlds

I love the idea of the book being set in the real world but with a hidden world inside it. This worked really well with JK Rowling’s wizard world.

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3) Totally made up worlds

There is something amazing about fantasy novels where the world is entirely new. It’s something you can emerge yourself in.

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4) France

Particularly little french villages like in Chocolat or Amelie. I’ve never been there but I love reading about the country.

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5) Circus/Carnivals

I read two amazing books set in a circus last year – Water For Elephants and The Night Circus. They both had a magical atmosphere and were really gripping.

What are your favourite settings? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Booking Through Thursday – Winter

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It’s the depth of winter here where I live right now … what books do you like to read when it’s snowy and white? What books do you read to evoke a real feeling of winter (good or bad)?

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading. Every week a question is asked which can be answered on your own blog. This week’s question can be seen above. It is about what books you prefer to read in winter.

Below I’ve listed the books that I like to read around winter/Christmas time.

 Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

This is a Christmas must read for me! This is the 20th novel in the Discworld series and is focused on my favourite character in the series (Death).

“It’s the night before Hogswatch. And its too quiet.

Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker…

Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won’t be a morning. Ever again…The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too).

As they say: ‘You’d better watch out…'”

 

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings – Charles Dickens

I bought this beautiful hardback book last Christmas when I was working at Waterstones. I used to read a copy of A Christmas Carol every Christmas but now I’ve got a beautiful version to read. It’s good to read the lesser known Christmas stories as well. Dickens just screams Christmas to me.

“Dicken’s Christmas writings-in a new, sumptuous, and delightful clothbound edition.

Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol has had significant influence on our ideas about the Christmas spirit, and the season as a time for celebration, charity, and memory. This handsome edition features appendices on A Christmas Carol and The Haunted Man, an essay on Dickens and The Arabian Nights, and Dickens’s prefaces to the collected editions of the Christmas books.”

 The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

 This is a beautiful story set in the snowy Alaska woods. Perfect for winter.

“Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he struggling to maintain the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel come to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they begin to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform them all.”

What books do you read in the winter?

Top Ten Tuesdays – Reading Goals for 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/paulas-top-ten-reading-goals-for-2013.html). This week’s theme is reading goals for 2013.

My goals are:

  1. Read 50 Books – any type, any genre! Last year I pledged the same on goodreads but didn’t do too well so this is my second attempt.
  2. Read more non fiction – I have a lot of non fiction on my book shelves. It’s mostly animal/science related stuff which I have a lot of interest in from my Zoology degree. I don’t know why I don’t read it more often.
  3. Read more poetry – I write a lot of poetry but have to confess that I don’t read it very often!
  4. Sort out discworld – by “sort out” I mean figure out which ones I have read and haven’t read, which ones I own and which ones I need. Then try and catch up a bit!
  5. Read 10 books that I’ve owned for more than a year – I have a lot of books and yet I always read my newer ones first! I want to clear some of my “to read” shelf.
  6. Read more Stephen King – I have loads of Stephen King books and keep buying more!
  7. Don’t waste time on books I don’t like – I always persevere with books and then get in a rut. If I don’t like it I’m going to put it down and start a new one.

 

 

I also have some writing goals:

  1. Actually start my story – I love planning but I need to start writing at some point!
  2. Read more books on writing – This goes with the non fiction goal above but I’ve got so many of these it’s getting silly when I never read them!
  3. Enter writing competitions – I’m at that point where I’m finally a bit more confident with my writing and I’m going to start letting other people read it. Scary but good!

And those are my 10 book related goals! I’m going to try and keep up with Top Ten Tuesdays because they’re quite fun (that’s another goal…) so check back in a week for another one. Also if you want to join in check out http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html.