I Don’t Like Starting a New Book

Book Blogger Secrets New Book

I Don’t Like Starting a New Book

So here’s the thing… I don’t like starting a new book.

Seriously.

Yes, it’s true.

Hold on, before you call for reinforcement, let me explain.

There’s a dark black hole between drooling over admiring the cover of a new book, re-reading the blurb insert black hole and getting sucked right into the story.

I dread the first chapter. I don’t know the characters yet and haven’t got a feel for the story. It’s only when I fall into the rhythm that the world is right again.

Sometimes if I’m lucky when the sun is shining in just the right way and chocolate becomes a vegetable I know just from the first line that I’m going to love the book. But like my 5-star reviews these books are very extremely rare.

Now that I think of it, this may be why I give up only a few chapters in if I don’t like the story. I used to feel so bad about this. But no more…  There are too many great books out there to waste time on those that will be a chore to finish.

Do you like starting new books? Do you know it’s going to be a good book right from the beginning?

One Hell of a Year

One Hell of a Year

A Reflection on 2015

2016 Bring it on Frame

Some years are better than others, but I am so happy to see the New Year on the horizon as 2015 has been one of the tough ones. One hell of a year.

The highs were incredible, my daughters both achieving so well in their studies, my husband landing his dream job, a family wedding combined with a trip to the Cape, my relationship with my sisters blossoming and many fun hours spent in their company.

The lows were hard, we almost lost a daughter and a parent. An ocean between our marriage at a time when we needed each other the most.

But here we are. Survivors. Our little nuclear family reunited for the December summer holidays, traveling to South East Asia and exploring a foreign country which will be home for a while.

I want to shake off the negativity but am finding it hard to find the energy. Depression, like an ever present monster on my shoulder, rears its ugliness just when I should be the happiest. It clouds my life, seeping into every crevice. Binding my creativity, strangling my voice, snuffing out any spark of self-confidence.

Arguably there are many ways to calculate stress, but is it something that can be counted?

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale found at Mindtools gives a quick test to check personal stress levels according to your environmental and personal changes.

If stress is calculable and if this scale is correct it is no wonder I am bushwhacked.  Scoring way off the charts, it looks like meditation is in my immediate future… or champagne and chocolate.

Could I have my cake and eat it? It is Christmas after all.

I’m a Sisterhood of the World Blogger!

Sisterhood of the Blog

I’m a Sisterhood of the World Blogger! I was recently nominated by Jane at the Greenish Bookshelf. Jane reads and reviews a wide range of books on her blog so please pop over and have a look around.

Now for my answers to the questions asked by Jane…

1. What books might you include on a list of your top 5 favourites?

This sounds much easier than it actually is!

Favourite picture book: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss
Favourite children’s book: The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
Favourite YA Book: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Favourite ‘Grown-up’ Book: Five Quarters of an Orange by Joanne Harris
Current favourite book: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

2. If you could live in a book, which would it be and why?Black cat reduced in frame

Oh, it has to be the Harry Potter books –  Broomsticks, butterbeer, potions…
Plus I’d be a great witch! I have the black cat already!

3. Favourite genre to read?

My favourite is contemporary, although I enjoy fantasy too.

4. How many books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books, one paperback and one on my kindle. I prefer to read one at a time, but two or three is not too unusual.

5. Name 2 books you mean to read but keep putting off.

Game of Thrones, I love the TV series and really want to read the book, and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I keep meaning to pick this up, it has just not happened yet!

6. If you taught a literature class, what would be on your syllabus for the class?

Depending on the age of the class, I’d love to teach The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman, Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger and 1984 by George Orwell. All these books not only have an important message to convey, but they all have a special significance for me.

7. Do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?

Honestly… I adore book covers and this is the reason I prefer reading physical books.  Hardcovers feel very special but are expensive and bulky, so I usually go for paperbacks. But once I am engrossed in the story it really doesn’t matter what version it is.

8. What’s the most memorable bookstore you’ve visited?

Our little corner of South Africa does not have book shops of note and I buy 99% of my books online.  I visited Borders in Singapore several years ago and was in awe at the size and the variety on offer. But my favourite was a little second-hand bookshop I found when exploring a side street in Singapore. I am hoping to be able to find it again on my next visit later this year.

9. Favourite place to read?

Curled up in bed with a cat on my lap.

10. If you’re not reading, what do you like to do?

I love painting, art journaling and any other creative activities.

Okay, now for the serious business of the sisterhood’s rules…

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
2. Add the Sisterhood logo on your blog.
3. Answer the questions given to you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees.
5. Nominate 10 blogs.

So in the spirit of sharing and caring I nominate the following amazing bloggers to the Sisterhood:

Hollie @ Music Books and Tea
Tammy @ The Book Fairy Haven
Karen @ KissinBlueKaren
Aentee @ Read at Midnight
Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight
Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek
Cait @ Paper Fury
Nicole @ The Reading Rebel

These are your questions:
1. How do you decide what to read next?
2. How did your school librarian influence your love of books?
3. What genre do you avoid at all costs?
4. Which one book did you love so much you would try to persuade any and everyone to read?
5. What one piece of advice would you share to a newbie book blogger?
6. Which indie author would you recommend and why?
7. What is the strangest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?
8. Where are you most likely to be caught reading?
9. Which social media platform do you prefer to share/stalk other bloggers?
10. If you were invited to a school library to read to young children, which book would you choose to share?

Blurbs That Caught My Eye

Confession – I love book blurbs… Just before I start a book I read the blurb. Again. Every time. It’s like a ritual, a savouring of the moment, anticipation… Reading a great book for the first time is special. Significant. You can’t repeat the feeling and you never know which book is going to one of those books, the ones you’ll keep close to your heart.

Blurb. It is such a peculiar sounding word. Ranked as one of my favourite words along with absurd, goggles and squelch, it always makes me smile when I say it out loud.

These are some of my favourite quotes taken from book blurbs. These quotes alone would be enough to make me know I have to read the book.

So what do you think? Are you a blurb lover? Do any of these quotes catch your eye?

Blood Red blurb small

 

Deep in the snowy forest, the great bear that is Russia wakes from a long sleep and marches to St Petersburg to claim its birth right.

Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

Touching the Surface blurb small

 

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time.

 Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Blurb small Daughter of Smoke and Bone


Once upon a time an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well. 

Around the world, black hand-prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Miseducation Blurb small

 

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash her shocking first thought is relief. Relief that they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Blurb small My Heart and other Black Holes


I’m getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak.
“Be careful,” he says.
“Why?” I’m not thinking about being careful. I’m thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling.
“You aren’t allowed to die without me,” he whispers.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Another Little Piece Blurb Small


A Reckless wish
taken from the darkest desires of the heart…
A bloody razor
engraved with the names of girls who turned to dust…
An endless cycle
that feeds off loneliness and craves destruction…

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

blurb small Ultraviolet


Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.
This is not her story.
Unless you count the part where I killed her.

  Ultraviolet  by R.J. Anderson

Blurb small Cruel Beauty

She was trained for seventeen years
To kill him
raised by her world
To despise him
willing to trade her own life
To destroy them
But what she never expected was that he would
Change her forever

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Treachery blurb small

 

The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it.

Years later, when she returns to the woods to finally say good-bye, she finds herself lured into a world of strange and dangerous creatures.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

All out yesturdays blurb small


Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

 All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Top Ten Tuesday reduced

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a chance to get to know fellow bloggers. This week’s theme is: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

 

2015 Discussion Challenge 2

 

The 2015 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Fiction Addiction & It Starts at Midnight

 

Where I’ve been… Franschhoek

Just back from a quick visit to Franchhoek in the Western Cape to be at the wedding of my beautiful niece. I was so privileged to spend time with family from all corners of the world, all brought together for a celebration of love.

Wedding Collage

My happy meter is full of love, hugs and memories to last until I see them all again. Special times spent with special people always goes by too fast!

My ‘Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini Win

Touching the Surface Win

The parcel I have been waiting for arrived yesterday. So exciting! Look what I got…

I won this awesome prize during the The YA Scavenger Hunt a few months ago where I had such fun hopping from blog to blog collecting clues and entering the participating author’s additional giveaways.

A huge thank you to author Kimberly Sabatini and her very generous prize of a signed book for myself as well as one (a hardcover!) for our school library…
And look at all the signed bookmarks and beautiful origami birds! The students are going to love these! I can’t wait to show them.

My Favourite books of 2014

My Favourite books of 2014

During 2014 I was lucky enough to read just over 130 books!
These are my favourite reads of the year…
Favourites of 2014

 

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry
Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

I would love to know which books you loved this year, please leave a comment above…

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week we are sharing the top 10  books we read during 2104.

No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry

No Such Thing As Perfect Crop

Sarah Daltry has done it again! ‘No Such Thing as Perfect’ is a beautifully written contemporary novel that falls somewhere between YA (young-adult) and NA (new-adult). Fans of Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Fangirl’ will love this book.

College was supposed to be perfect. She was supposed to be perfect.

The seductive words of this exceptional book dance across the page, drawing me in from the very first line: “My name’s Lily and James Naismith ruined high school for me…”

I want to slow down, to make it last but I can’t. Spellbound, I fall deeper and deeper into a story that is far too close to my own. Tears fall unchecked, blurring the page but still I can’t stop.

Raw hurt echoes through the main character who finds a place in my heart as she attempts to discover herself. To fly alone. Worthy of affection. Of love. Reflections of myself break through – those awkward years of trying to fit in, trying to be the person I’m expected to be… never quite getting it right, always a feeling a disappointment…

My life is like a window dressing for a real person. But the fear that is ever present doesn’t fade…

Although I am no longer that awkward young girl, I’m still fighting an internal battle to feel worthy. I’m ignoring the inner voice urging me to lock up my feelings, and leaving a small part of me exposed, wanting to be brave enough to be me and to support an author I respect.

5 Star

Recommended age: 14+

 

Title:  No Such Thing as PerfectNo Such Thing As Perfect jpg
Author: Sarah Daltry
Publication Date: 11 December 2014
Publisher: October Leaves
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review

Purchase this book:
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The Book Depository

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Goodreads

College was supposed to be perfect. She was supposed to be perfect.

For Lily Drummond, life is about following the rules. To be specific, her mother’s rules. College fit into the plan – maintain perfect grades, date the perfect guy, and live the perfect life. On her own, though, Lily realizes that she doesn’t actually have a plan. Without being told what to think and do, she keeps making mistakes.

Away from home, the perfect facade is beginning to shatter. When Lily herself starts to break, it’s the support of an unlikely friend that teaches her how much of a lie perfect really is – and how to be whole on her own terms.       — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

The Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

The Places Books Have Made Me Want To VisitReal places

 Real Places

1. Prague from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Prague has never really been on my radar as a tourist destination, probably because travelling from South Africa is expensive and there are so many places I’d like to visit, but Laini Taylor has painted such a beautiful, historical city in my mind that it’s now one of my top places to explore.

2. Paris from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Just One Day by Gayle Forman and Die for Me by Amy Plum

I have dreamt of going to France for years, but it’s always been the countryside and small villages that I wanted to see, Paris never really appealed. It is these three books in particular that have sparked a longing to be swept up in the magic of this city.

3. Australia from In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Australia – I was almost there – while we were living in Indonesia we planned to visit Australia but life threw a curve ball and we didn’t get there. Bill Bryson is at his best in this account of his journey through Australia, his dry humour hitting the mark every time.

4. Greece from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

Greece is popular for its sunny climate and beautiful beaches, but I would love to experience the rich culture portrayed by Louis de Bernières in this significant account of Greece at war.

Fictional Places

 Fictional Places

5. Narnia from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Narnia needs no introduction…. a land I explored and retreated to often as a child and to which I return regularly, as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a story I love to share with my students.

6. Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

Hogwarts is likely to be on everyone’s list! I wish this book had been available when I was a child, but reading them as an adult did not diminish their charm. I only wish my boarding schools were like this!

7. Lothlórien from R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings

Lothlórien… I have spent many happy hours in this beautiful, haunting Elven forest featured in the books written by one of South Africa’s ‘Hall of Fame’ authors.

8. Creepy Hollow from Rachel Morgan’s Faerie Guardian

Of all fantasy, faerie is my favourite, and of all the Fae worlds I have visited, the one I love best is Rachel Morgan’s enticing, enchanting Creepy Hollow – visit once and you’ll be back for more!

9. Mirrorworld from Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Mirrorworld is a dark and dangerous magical land – but I can’t help climbing back through the mirror for another peek….

10. Faraway Tree and the lands above from The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

The Magic Faraway Tree is a destination itself, with its unique residents and fruit laden branches, but it is the ever- changing lands above that attached me to want to climb this tree again and again. A series of books I treasured as a child and still enjoy today as I share them with our students.

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a chance to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is the chance to share the top 10 places books have made you want to visit.

The books that changed the way I saw the world

The books that changed the way I saw the world

These three books are the ones that I will always keep close because of the positive influence they’ve had on my life.

 

OdetteOdette: The Story of a British Agent by Jerrard Tickell
Although admittedly at an impressionable age when I read her story, it was this book that sparked a life-long fascination of the Second World War and inspired considerable introspection where I questioned my courage (sadly lacking!), beliefs and how I perceived humanity.

During the Second World War, a young Frenchwoman, married to an Englishman with two young children, became a secret agent. Working in France to resist the Germans, she was betrayed, tortured & consigned to a concentration camp. ‘Odette’ tells the incredible story of an ordinary woman who proved herself to have courage & compassion.     — Extract from Goodreads.com

Amazon US, Amazon UK
Goodreads

Rabbityness by Jo EmpsonRabbityness by Jo Empson
I have great respect for authors who are able to capture audiences regardless of the format of their story. To those who don’t realise the power a good children’s picture book can contain, expecting greatness to come from words alone, I challenge you to pick this beautiful book. Within it you will find greatness – the type of greatness that can comfort in times of loss.

This book found me when I needed it and I continue to carry its message.

Debut picture book about a rabbit artist who vanishes, but lives on in his work.     — Extract from Goodreads.com

Amazon UK, Amazon UK
Goodreads

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra FullerDon’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
Reading this story was like reading about my own life. Our childhood was so similar that I felt as though I was living it again, but this time coated with the gift of time which allowed me to see the joy that fear clouded.

As a child, growing up in a county in the grips of a civil war, my overactive imagination did me no favours and I lived in perpetual fear with my weapon of choice (no judging!), a hockey stick, at my side. It is no wonder I had no enthusiasm for playing the actual game, registering instead for beginners hockey year after year!

This is the biography of Alexandra Fuller’s childhood in Rhodesia during the beginning of the guerrilla war time. It’s funny, scary, and a remarkable glimpse of a world turned upside down. 

Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.  — Extract from Goodreads.com

Amazon UK, Amazon UK
Goodreads

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