The Little House Series Read-Along is happening throughout 2016! Join us for some or all of the books - find details here

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Book Chat

Hi friends! I'm still here, busy as always with Ninja Book Swap and wrapping a hundred things for the first Ninja Book Box, but here. My office space for the box is right next to my big bookcase of unread books, which means I've been getting a bit distracted but also really inspired to read my own books!

Lots of what I'm reading is still secret, but I wanted to finally mention a couple of books I read during DiverseAThon all those ages ago and haven't talked about here yet. Firstly I picked up Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, the story of a girl, Lydia, from a Chinese-American family, whose body is found in a lake. The book is about the ways that her different family members react to her death, and how their experience of their father being Chinese play into that. It's a really well written book and had an ending that I didn't see coming. Each of Lydia's family members has a really distinctive voice, and there's also flashbacks to when Lydia herself was alive so we get to see how the family functioned before her death, and how their father's feelings about his ancestry affected his relationship with his children. I bought it on the London Bookshop Crawl last year and I'm really glad I finally read it. Not an absolutely favourite, but a solid, recommendable book.

I also read Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which they've been talking about on the All the Books podcast for ages now. I picked it up in Bath (apparently Diverseathon was my time for reading books I bought on bookshop crawls!) and although I don't think I loved it as much as some of the Book Riot crew did, I did very much enjoy it and am looking forward to the next book in the series! Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer Royal in a regency London very similar to our own, except that it obviously has magic. However fairyland has been cutting off the flow of magic to England and Zacharias sets out to find out why. He has some assistance from the excellent Prunella Gentleman, and lots of stuff goes on. They also face a lot of bullshit along the way (Zacharias is black and Prunella is mixed race) that's sadly entirely believable. People are shit. Rhys is reading this now and keeps asking me if stuff will be explained, and I'm like 'well, lots of stuff is explained but lots of stuff is not...' so bring on book two!

In unrelated book news, Nonfiction November is (I think) not happening this year, but I've decided since I've loved it so much the past couple of years, to have a little unofficial event myself and make a pile of nonfiction to read next month. I think I'm probably going to start with Reasons to Stay Alive or Man Up. I'm really excited about it - I've got far too much unread nonfiction!

That said, I'm also thinking about putting myself back on a mad book buying ban again for 2017 and trying to get my TBR down to a manageable number (currently it's about 350). I'd have to make exceptions for the bookshop crawls though, and obviously books would still come into the house through swaps, but I'm thinking about it...

What bookish things have you been up to?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Response to All the Twitter Hate.

Before we start: everything in this post is serious. You're not missing any sarcasm or different meanings. What I am writing is what I mean, and I'm writing it just because I feel the need to somehow respond to the daily pain I see people going through out there in the blogosphere and on social media.

I know people say stupid things like 'I don't see skin colour, I just see the person'. The fact of the matter is that when you first meet someone you take them on face value. When people meet me they think 'ginger'. When I met my sisters boyfriend I thought 'black guy'. The importance for me is not attaching anything extra to those judgements. While a person's skin colour is part of their story it's not all of it and I'm not interested in seeing people only by race, gender identity, sexuality or any other way society can categorise them.

I care about people's stories, but honestly? I don't care who you love, as long as it's fully consensual just go ahead! I don't care whether you're a cis woman or a trans woman (or man), it's none of my business unless you want it to be. I don't care where you're from, just whether you're a good person. I mean, obviously that's not true because I care about people. I read to find out about experiences I'll never have, and I'm interested in understanding people's stories and empathising with their problems. I'm deeply interested in standing up for people when I can use my voice to affect some change or help someone out. What I'm not interested in is stupid people defining 'all black/trans/gay people' because why?

Since the whole Brexit thing here in the UK I've been fuming to the point of throwing inanimate objects whenever anyone uses the phrase 'the British people' to describe people who wanted out of the EU, people who are giant assholes/racists/ignorant twats or basically anyone else who is using the referendum result to say or do anything stupid or offensive. I hate that a tiny majority means that they think they speak for all of us when the reality is they haven't got the first fucking clue what I think. I want to tear myself away from it and shout and shout and shout at them that they don't speak for me, that I don't think what they think, that we couldn't be further apart in what we want for our country. So I think that even the idea that you could possibly be speaking for all of any group is just ridiculous. Before you bad mouth anybody for any decision they've made that hurts nobody and has no effect on you and that's probably been way harder for them to make because they know that far more people will have an opinion about it than say if I, a white, straight cis woman, were to make the same decision, maybe we should all take a step back and try to understand a bit more. About the context of where they're coming from, sure, but also about them as a fellow human being. 

I needed to get this off my chest because it's been stewing for a while. I see people shouting (on twitter, it's almost always twitter) about how sexual harrasment doesn't happen and gay people are 'asking' to be assaulted and my friends having to stand up for their friends again and again for things that are nobody's goddamn business and it makes me mad, so I just wanted to say... I don't know. That I don't understand because I don't have your experience, and I don't know as much as I should know about race issues, gender issues, or LGBTQ+ issues but I'd like to know more, and that to me you are a person first and foremost, and your business is your business.

And that's it.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Currently: All the Projects

You could be forgiven for thinking that this blog is being sponsored by reading events and blog tours lately, since it's been a while since I've posted about actual books and I really apologise for that. Because of Ninja Book Box I've been doing a lot of secret reading and there's not been all that much that I can actually talk about, but also I've just been really busy promoting and working on Ninja Book Box plus planning a few other fun things and also getting on with daily life, looking after the boys and adjusting to autumn, but this is my attempt at getting back into talking about more general things here on the blog!

Reading: I'm reading something for inclusion in a future Ninja Book Box (please keep buying them so I can keep making them, it's so fun!) as well as re-reading the title for November's box so as is becoming the norm, nothing I can talk about there! However when I need a bit of relief from 'required' reading I'm dipping in and out of Letters of Note still. It's lovely because you can just pick it up and read one letter and then put it down again. I'm doing a similar thing with Happiness by Matthieu Ricard - a good reminder of what's important! This week I also announced my DiscworldAthon 2017, so I thought I'd prepare for that by finally reading my sister's copy of A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett (because every time I go to her house she says 'have you read any of those books you borrowed yet?' and then sighs). It's a collection of all of his non-fiction; journalism, speeches he gave, and other writings, and as expected it is hilarious and crazy and so wise and every other page I am sad that there will never be a new book by him again. What a loss.

Eating: Last week we randomly won a box of food at the supermarket and it had loads of Pick Up bars in it, which I hadn't had before but they're like a sweet biscuit with a massive layer of chocolate sandwiched between it and I am addicted to them! We also harvested a whole load of apples from our allotment so I've been doing things with them. At the moment there are apple chips in my oven - we'll see how they turn out!

Blogging: This week I posted this month's link up for the Little House Read-Along and wrote about how I didn't really get on with The First Four Years. So far I'm doing much better with On the Way Home, so we'll see. Along the same lines I also wrote the announcement post for DiscworldAthon 2017, a whole year of celebrating, reading, and talking about all things Discworld and Terry Pratchett. I'm seriously so excited to spend a year revisiting something I love so much but have read so little of lately. I haven't read The Shepherd's Crown yet and am sort of planning to do a readalong of it in December, more to give myself emotional support than anything! I'm planning all sorts - themed reading months, readalongs, giveaways, you name it. If you're interested in helping out with organization in any way (I need people to help with everything, from generating ideas to promoting the events to hosting themed months and holding giveaways - anything you can think of!) please fill in the form here. You also don't have to already be a die-hard Pratchett fan - everyone's welcome, whether you've ever read any Discworld or not!

Loving: We gave in to twitter pressure this week and started watching Stranger Things and it turns out people were right. I don't usually like creepy stuff but everything about it is just so well done that it's impossible not to love it I think. I'm not a Winona Ryder fan but oh my goodness she is  great in this series! We just finished episode 5 last night and it's getting seriously weird now! I'm also revelling in having Netflix and actually being able to watch Once Upon a Time episode by episode. At this point I'm too invested in the series to give up, but it is a little bit eye-rollingly ridiculous at times, however Hook is still there so I'm still happy :-D

I've also really been getting back into podcasts and listening to Spotify - if you're interested here's a playlist of every song I've ever thought was awesome (that I've remembered so far!). I've been really inspired by The Simple Show this week.

Promoting: Until the end of Monday you can get 10% off the November Mini Ninja Book Box. This is a side product I added for those who don't want or can't afford the full box (which is now sold out anyway) and it just contains an excellent independently published book plus one gift and access to any additional online content. It's £15 which includes UK postage, so get it for £13.50 using SURREAL10 at checkout.

Organising: I need this section to keep everything straight in my head! I've started shouting about London Bookshop Crawl 2017. It'll be either the first or second weekend in February and everyone's welcome! The only criteria is that you want to come book shopping with us - you don't have to be able to afford to buy lots of books, and please don't worry about not knowing anyone - last year almost nobody knew anybody, and a lot of us are fairly socially awkward. It's just a day of great fun, great bookshops, shoving the books you love into other people's hands, and often some fun extras and discounts. If you're at all interested in coming I'd love it if you'd add your email and any bookshop preferences here.

Also organising DiscworldAthon, as mentioned above, a bookish advent challenge for Instagram, and Ben's fourth (how??!) birthday next week!!

Autumn Ninja Book Swap sign up just closed so I'm doing some shopping for that, and today is Bookshop Day so we're hopefully heading out to meet Rhys from work later and do some bookshop supporting!

Image result for bookshop day

I'm also going to be reviewing the books I receive for Ninja Book Box consideration over on the book box blog instead of here, just to keep them a little separate, so look out for them there (and make sure you're following the box on Bloglovin!)

What have you been up to recently?

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Discworld Reading Event 2017

Image credit
You guys know how I like to take words, add 'athon' and turn them into hashtags right? Welcome to #discworldathon 2017! The details for this are by no means finalised yet, but my general idea is that I want to read a lot of Terry Pratchett's books in 2017. I've really enjoyed our Little House Read-Along this year and I want to stick with the theme of reading a series.

However, as you're probably aware if you're at all familiar with Terry Pratchett, giving this event structure is a bit of a tall order as there are fourty one Discworld books, and so I've decided to just...not. Well, not really.

Basically I'd like the event to just be a year long celebration of the genius of Terry Pratchett. I want to read lots of his excellent, hilarious books, talk to lots of other people who love his work, probably watch and listen to lots of adaptations of his work (maybe as a group via twitter or something) and give away lots of great and gorgeous Discworld related stuff. I don't want people to get caught up in rules and regulations, so pretty much sign up if you want to read lots of Pratchett and talk about it with people!

That said, for those who like the rules and challenges, I will probably be coming up with different levels you can complete and/or themed months and such over the next couple of months so watch this space! This post is really just general thoughts and a place to register your interest! If you'd like to be involved with organisation (such as it is) or hosting giveaways etc please let me know in the comments or get in touch on twitter!

Whether you blog, tweet, vlog, instagram, loiter round the internet, whatever, whether you've read everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote, never read any of it, or tried one once and gave up, you're welcome to join! Just link up to some kind of place we can find you in the linky below so we can all say hi and chat.

Because I'm planning this to be a full on extravaganza that lasts all year it would be great to have some help with that! If you'd be interested in helping out in any way, from co-hosting the whole event, a particular themed month, contributing to giveaways or just helping out behind the scenes or with promotion of the event please add your details to the form here and I'll be in touch!

Bring it ooooooonnnnnnn!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

#LittleHouseRAL: The First Four Years & On The Way Home Link Up

This has been the first month of this read-along that I really haven't had the motivation to finish the book. Yes I've been pretty busy but that's not it - I just wasn't gripped by this one in the same way as all the previous books in the series. I think it's probably because Laura didn't fully prepare it for publication so it's essentially (according to the introduction in my edition anyway!) just her draft of the story and the style is quite different, particularly in the beginning, which I found a little jarring. By the end of it I was pretty engrossed, but I just didn't have the same compulsion to keep picking it up as I usually do!

If I get a chance today I'll be going around checking out everyone else's thoughts - sorry I've been terrible at that, just very limited spare time at the moment! How's everyone else finding the series?

This moth is On the Way Home which is Laura's diary from the family's trip from South Dakota to Missouri, with commentary by her daughter, Rose. As with most of the rest of this series, I haven't read this before so I think it will be interesting! I can't believe how far we are through the year now!

Check out Lynn's blog for her introductory post and link up your thoughts below!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Ninja Book Box Blog Tour!

The blog tour for Ninja Book Box kicks off today. This post was originally going to be on the book box website but that's still in the throes of being optimised for mobiles so I thought while that's happening I'd post here, since I haven't in aaaaaaaages and people (who don't follow me on twitter) may think I'm dead. Anyone on twitter is in absolutely no danger of thinking that since I never shut up there. It starts for real tomorrow with three different bloggers, but I'm bookending the tour here and on the Ninja Book Box website, where I'll be posting a wrap up once it's all done!

Anyway! In case you haven't heard, Ninja Book Box is my new brain child. It's a quarterly book box that I started prompted by my inability to find a book box catering to a variety of genres and promoting the discovery of independently published titles. Most of the non-YA book boxes out there are based in the US and the postage makes them prohibitively expensive for people such as myself, so I thought that it might be fun to throw my hat into the ring. Authors are always being told to write the book they want to read, so I thought why not make the box I wanted to buy?

Because I'm poor (due to buying too many books, only working part time cos of small people care etc) I decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund the startup costs and costs of the first box and woohoo it's more than met my initial target. As you can imagine all this has been very exciting and I've spent a lot of time running around in circles waving my arms. Equal amounts of time curled up in a small ball freaking out that nobody will like what I've made, but we'll gloss over that part...

The box is currently only available by backing the Kickstarter (or entering the giveaway at the end of this post) and it's going to be pretty awesome. I'm excited! Here's a little teaser picture:

Your box might look like this, or it might not, it's all very mysterious really. The only thing I can guarantee you is that I will think that it's excellent, because if I didn't honestly believe that it's the most awesome thing I'm capable of putting together then I wouldn't be doing it! 

If you want to have a little fun on twitter check out #dontaskaboutthefrog and you can also tell me a story about how you think the frog ended up in the picture. Use the hashtag, there might be prizes, and some of the stories already on there will probably make you giggle!

The blog tour is running for the next two weeks with people doing feature posts and q&as, their own posts about indie publishers and titles they love and their experiences with indies in general, and guest posts from me on all sorts of things! Follow the tour if you want and help us spread the word using #ninjabookbox. If you want to back the Kickstarter it runs until October 2nd and you can do that here.

The giveaway is international, so please enter it wherever you are in the world! If you're receiving a box as a Kickstarter reward you're still welcome to enter. If you win you can either get an extra box for a friend or redeem the February box for free!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Catch up with the blog tour: 
Q&A about the box at Avid Reader
Feature at Live Otherwise
All About Indies & Ninja Book Box (+ Giveaway) at Ginger Night Owl
Supporting Indie Authors & Independent Publishers (& Giveaway) at Jenny in Neverland
Guest Post: The Importance of Reading Indie at Never Imitate
Guest Post: Community at The Quiet Knitter
Ninja Book Box is Coming! at Blue Book Balloon
Ninja Book Box is Coming at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
Guest Post: Awesome Indie Books at Have Books Will Read
Introducing the Ninja Book Box at BiblioBeth
Q and A with me at The Owl on the Bookshelf
Ninja Book Box:Blog Tour at A Novel Haul
Guest post on Doing Crazy Things on the Internet at Bookaholic Babe
Ninja Book Box: Subscription Box Giveaway at Ali the Dragon Slayer
Enthusing about the Ninja Book Box by LouLou Reads
Ninja Book Box:Book Subscription Box from the UK by 27 Book Street
Indie Book Read a Chapter by Onto the Next Adventure

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Ninja Book Swap Blog Tour!

Autumn Ninja Book Swap sign up opens today (hooray!), and we're doing a little blog tour during the sign up period, mostly to celebrate the excellence of the swap but also to bring it to your attention in case you've never heard of it before! Ninja Swap is a brilliant thing, if I do say so myself, and we want you to join in!

Here's a little information, if you're not familiar with the concept:

The last part of this post is my favourite thing about it. I do feel like there can be a bit of divisiveness from time to time between bloggers/booktubers/bookstagrammers and I want to reiterate that the Ninja Book Swap is for everyone!As long as you're fully committed to making a lovely parcel and making a connection with your person and with us as a community then we want you to be involved, regardless of what platform you use to make your bookish love heard! 

The world can be a terrifying place, but I honestly do feel that these little connections and friendships that we make amongst ourselves here on the bookish internet can really help to challenge the sadness that can be caused by all the awful things that happen on a day to day basis. I know that I've made some lovely friends over the years that this project has been running and I'd like to give a shout out to a few of them here and encourage you to go and say hi to them: 

Firstly Hanna, my swap co-founder and first real blogging friend. I actually can't understand how she can walk so comfortably in heels but she can do that and have excellent thoughts about books. Often the ones I love. She's my book twin. 

Next up, for this autumn swap I have a new little team helping me out! They are Penni of Penni's Perceptions who organised this blog tour and is a genuinely lovely human being. She's full of ideas and enthusiasm and her support of the swap has been really uplifting to me for a while now. Also helping out with aaaaall the promotion, admin and ideas are Kate of The Quiet Knitter who is my constant twitter friend and supporter of all my insanity and Jinger, a long time swapper who's full of thoughts and whose enthusiasm for doing random acts of kindness really inspires me. Finally, on the admin side is Belle of There Are Ink Spots on my Page!, supporter of the swap from the Southern hemisphere whose email address never fails to make me laugh. We're a truly international little band with representation from the UK, Ireland, Australia and the US, and for me that's the beauty of the swap. Hello, international friends, come and join us!

You can see the sign up post with all the details for both of the swaps we're running this time here and check out the How it Works and FAQs for more information. Failing that you can tweet me (@NinjaBookSwap) or use #ninjabookswap!

Over the next few days fellow swappers and friends will be blogging about the swap - their past experiences, general thoughts and excitement and other things - to inspire you! Please feel free to visit them and to spread the word using the hashtag above!

Blog Tour Schedule

September 17th The Ninja Book Swap - Sign up Post
                            An Armchair by the Sea- Introduction

September 18th Jane Crowley

September 19th Marissa

September 20th Penni's Perceptions

September 21st The Quiet Knitter

September 22nd BiblioBeth

September 23rd Bookaholic Babe

September 24th Life as Freya

September 25th An Armchair by the Sea
                            Penni's Perceptions

September 27th Elena Square Eyes

September 28th KirstieKins Blogs

September 29th Kelly's Book Corner

September 30th The Novel Orange

October 1st Penni's Perceptions

If you'd like to blog about your desire to take part in the swap, any thoughts you might have about it, how you just signed up for it, or anything else swap related during this time then please feel free, we'd love to have you join us and if you use the hashtag I'll make sure to retweet your post!