TTT: Frame-Worthy Covers

As I have admitted several times before on this blog—i judge books by their covers. I love a gorgeous book cover. I won’t buy a book solely based on its cover (coughanymorecough), but it will entice me to pick it up and find out more about it.

I chose this topic for today’s TTT because when I bought the first book on this list (a mere three weeks ago), I admitted to the guy in the shop, “I love that cover so much, I want to frame it and hang it on my wall.”

My cover love themes are well-established and show themselves strongly here: artwork, limited but bold colours, negative space…. these covers are just gorgeous.

 

 

SeasonsTiny DeathsWeird LiesThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

       

 

 

 

 

 

LagoonThe Instrumentality of MankindDeeperWonderbookSoppy

 

 

 

 

 

Any and all John Wyndham covers – I actually do have plans to get a bunch of these printed and framed

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful People: Author Edition

As well as reading books and writing reviews, I write stories. I’ve never really done anything with my stories before, but I want to start posting them here. It was always my intention when I started this blog, but I’ve been more than a little nervous about it these past four years. Not because I don’t think my stories are good—I like them and that’s good enough—but because I’m just a tad bit precious and finickity about this blog. I didn’t like to disrupt the order I created.

Ultimately, though, it’s my blog and it shouldn’t matter if it gets a little out of order—chaotic, even. Keeping it organised only leaves huge gaps where I don’t post for months. And that’s a bit pants, really. So I’m going off-script and diving into writing and posting stories, as well as still reading books and posting reviews. I hope you’ll find your way amongst the disarray!

To start off the writing aspect of the blog, I thought I’d jump in to this month’s Beautiful People—a writing blog meme hosted by Further Up and Further In & Paper Fury. This month they’ve posed some author-focused questions, so I thought it would be a good month to hop on board and kick start the writing aspect of the blog!

How do you decide which project to work on?
Whichever I’m in the mood to write. Whichever has my creative juices flowing. Whichever one I’m drawn to.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Depends on the project, but mostly I write short stories. If I’m focused I can finish something in a day, stories that require a little more thought or effort can take a few days. If you include sending it to my proofreader and editing, it can be a couple of weeks. Of course, other stories I’ll sit on for months or years before I do the final tweaks and declare them “finished”.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
I need clear time in front of me. I’m not great at getting my head down when a sudden 10 spare minutes show up. I need to know I have a good chunk of time to myself to focus. I’ll put music on—usually Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Rós. I close my internet browser!

What time of day do you write best?
Afternoon or evening. I prefer getting any chores out of the way so I can’t distract myself with them later, or have them hanging over my head. I also like to relax with a beer while I write, as I find it loosens the brain muscles and I get into a flow easier without over thinking. I also write better when I’m tired for the same reason.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
Errr… I don’t know. If we run with the idea that the authors a person reads the most influences their writing, then I’d say Christopher Brookmyre, Stephen King, and John Wyndham.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I was a big reader as a kid, and as well as reading, I would write. I have books I started writing by taking a wad of A4 paper, folding it in half and stapling it down the spine. I drew front covers, wrote straplines and blurbs. I went all out. I loved books, and I didn’t want to stop at reading them.
I keep writing because I love figuring out which order to put the words in. That feeling you get when you have a thought, and articulate it accurately—it’s addictive. I love reading my stories back years later and thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s actually good!’

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
I do a lot of free writing and personal diary-sort of writing. Nothing I would ever publish or even show anyone. Some of that has been hard. Life experiences, lessons learned, secret thoughts. I often try not to read them back; they are certainly the hardest thing I’ve read.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
A couple, actually. One involves a lot of research-reading, but will be a hell of a lot of fun to work on. The other I think I just have too many thoughts and expectations about, and is a much larger project than I’ve ever tackled before. A small character/origin-driven story is first on my list for that one.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
There was a 30 day writing meme I started—hahahaha—years ago that I want to finish this year. I’ll be posting those here when i’ve made a little more headway. And generally the goal is be writing stories and posting the stories here on a regular basis. I also want to research and find places to submit my short stories to. Online collections, published anthologies, whatever. I want my stories out in the world.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
Always over thinking!

TTT: Made Me Think

I love books that make me think, that require engagement, that I get more out of by how much I put into them. The best books for me are books that have depth, or address issues, or just have a lot going on. As much as I enjoy a lighthearted bit of fluff sometimes, I crave more weight, insight, and philosophy in my fiction. Sorry not sorry.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read and enjoyed for how much they’ve made me stop and think, and consider, and figure shit out.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – My first dystopian, all those years ago. I’d never read anything like this before, but on a sunny holiday, after reading and rolling my eyes at the likes of Man and Boy, High Fidelity et al, I devoured this book. It was my gateway fiction.

Day of the Triffids – My first science fiction. There were aspects to this book that horrified me, but thinking about why they were included and what they were saying about the world gripped me.

Days of War, Nights of Love – This is a book designed to challenge the way you think, and the way you think about things—yourself, your job, your life, your outlook. I would make it required reading for everyone. (And oh, look, you can read parts of it right here!)

Crome Yellow – This one was a bizarre read. I could only read it a chapter at a time, because it used my brain so much it left me tired. But it has so much depth—it’s funny and interesting and complex and brilliant.

The Dispossessed – No government vs controlling government plus a parallel timeline culminating in the two most important scenes in juxtaposition… so much to think about!

Breakfast of Champions – Another bizarre one. I think it would be so easy to dismiss most of this book as just bloody weird, but I think that does everyone a disservice. But to say I was sure about the deeper meanings would be a lie. I took more meaningful things from it, at least.

The Female Man – More required reading. Offering the same character in different worlds, and what a difference society makes to a person—a female’s—life. This book had some epic chapters that I want to print and frame and hang on my wall.

The Paper Men – Introspection and psychology. I read so many reviews hating on this book, but I fell head first into it and adored every word.

The Girl in the Road – This one was hard work. Might be worth a re-read in the future because there was so much there. So much symmetry, referencing, and philosophy that was hard to grasp at first. But that’s why it’s on this list!

Why I Write – This book was a feast. The entire time I was reading it I was energised and analysing and just completely pumped. It articulated things I already felt so well, and opened my mind to things I’d not really considered but made so much sense. This book, folks—this book!

What books have made you think? And did you like being made to think?

TTT: Memory Wipe Re-Read

New prompts for Top Ten Tuesday have been put on hiatus, but that’s not going to stop us, right? If anything, it has encouraged me, because it means I can delve into the archive and pick any old theme that takes my fancy!

This week I’ve chosen books I wish I could wipe from my memory and re-read as if it were the first time. These are books that I had a particular kind of love for. A love that had me clutching the book to my chest when I finished it. That kind of love comes from being completely immersed in a book and swept away with the world, the characters, and the story.

These books stayed with me long after I finished them, and I’d love to be able to experience all that again for the first time.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Any and all books by Christopher Brookmyre

What books do you wish you could re-read for the first time? What impromptu or old school Top Ten Tuesday themes are you doing while new ones are off the cards? What Top Ten Tuesday theme should I do next week? Should I ask any more questions?

TTT: Imprint Covers

Today’s topic is a cover-themed freebie. Usually i don’t like freebie weeks; i find it too open and can never narrow down an option. However, when my partner suggested imprint covers, i knew it was the one.

It’s as often an imprint i’m drawn to as it is an author. It’s great to see a book i don’t own or haven’t read by an author i like, but it feels pretty safe. Seeing an imprint i love of an author i haven’t heard of or have never read feels more like an exciting recommendation. I love that these imprints are recognisable in style and general design, while each book still have its own image, theme, or pattern. I love distinctive yet simple imprints–it makes me want to collect them all!

And so, these are the imprint covers/editions that when i catch sight of them in a bookshop, will drawn my attention and have me browsing with interest…

SF Masterworks

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin English Library

 

 

 

 

 

Gollancz 50

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Dover Thrift Editions

 

 

 

 

 

Faber Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

…Turns out i like classics–who knew? (Me. I knew.)

TTT: Deterrents

In the antithesis of last week… ten things that will put me off wanting to read a book.

This ended up being just as hard as the last list, too. Which surprised me, as i usually really enjoy talking about why i don’t like books! Somehow it’s different when it’s about choosing whether to read a book or not. Oh well. On with the list!

Young adult – This won’t automatically put me off a book, but when i find out a book is YA i get a bit more choosy on other criteria. YA tends to be a less-interesting read for me, so unless the story sounds superb, i won’t usually bother.

No female characters – I prefer a little more representation in my books, please. No boys club crap.

Love story focused – If the main plot is about or focused around a romance, i’ll likely pass. I’m just not that into it.

Character-driven – I do, on the odd occasion, enjoy a more character-driven story, but on the whole i prefer a more plot-focused narrative.

Bad writing – Nothing will put me off quicker, actually. Thankfully i haven’t started reading too many badly-written books (i’m looking at you, James Dashner), but snippets i’ve read from books have been bad enough to put me off.

Hype – Again, not something that will instantly have me dismissing a book, but something that will make me more wary. Often times, hype surrounds books that are… mediocre. I’ve read and enjoyed books that were wildly popular but i would still describe as mediocre. I’m just more picky about them when everyone’s singing their praises.

Tacky covers – Covers with a script font, or girls in big dresses. Covers with sullen looking teenagers or an obviously will-they, won’t-they couple. Covers with a close up eye or a popular tourist location. Urgh. No.

Uninspiring synopses – When the description is too vague and doesn’t actually reveal enough about the story to be enticing.

Being compared to another book – If i liked the books it’s being compared to, it’ll never live up to the comparison. If i disliked the book it’s being compared to, why would i want to read it? Just tell me why this book is good!

Hardback – Heavy and large and cumbersome and no, thank you.

I feel like a lot of the things listed here will be things plenty of other people who look for in a book. How do you feel on the matter?

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TTT: Enticements

It’s been a while since my last top ten Tuesday, but i only jump in for topics that spark my interest and imagination, which this week did.

I actually found it quite hard to think of 10 things that make me want to read a book. There are many reasons i might be attracted to a book, but to try to articulate them ended up being trickier than i’d imagined. There’s no one thing that will guarantee my interest–i’ll always have to know more about a book–but the things listed here are what will draw my initial intrigue. These are the things that will entice me to find out more about a book and consider reading it.

Eye-catching cover – Surely this is a given? It’s the most obviously thing to catch a person’s eye. “Oh, that looks nice, what’s that about?”

Post-apocalyptic/dystopian – These settings are my weakness. The details surrounding it are important, but finding out a book is set in a post-apocalyptic and/or dystpoian world will get my eyebrows raised and my attention focused.

A hint at some sort of twist or major plot point omitted from the synopsis – If something is obviously being held back, and it’s revelation feels shocking and interesting enough, i’ll want to know more.

Strong female characters – Because i love them, i need more of them, all the time.

Recommendations – Either from people whose taste or opinion i trust/value, or based on my own opinion of something i’ve read. For example, when i’ve disliked a book and articulated why, people have recommended other books by the same author because they are more like what i might enjoy (and have been!).

Female/POC authors – This is something i’m consciously aiming for. When i come across a book by a female and/or POC author, i give it extra consideration as i actively want to increase the diversity of the books i read.

Author i already love – This list is longer than i think sometimes, but there are authors i love so much i’ll automatically be interested in their books.

Horror/sci-fi cross-genre – These are my two favourite genres, so when a book crosses both, i am suddenly very alert.

Fresh spin on an favourite concept – When a book takes a tried and tested idea and does something new with it, i’m excited to have my expectations challenged.

Short story collections – I loooooove short stories, so when i come across short story collections i get interested very fast!

Do any of these things pique your interest, or are they more likely to put you off?

TTT: No Great Expectations

TTT These days i don’t often read books I don’t at least know a little something about. I’ll either have heard of or about it somewhere, or I’ll have read a few (negative, aha!) reviews, or it’ll be a book that’s received a lot of attention… all of these things lead to me forming some kind of expectation. I expect the book to be good, I expect it to be written a certain way, to include certain things. In some cases I may actually know what happens (sometimes I want spoilers, okay!?).

It’s important to me to find out something about a book before reading it, so I can be fairly certain i’m going to enjoy it. If i’m going to commit hours of my life to a book, it’s nice to know ahead of time that those hours won’t be wasted. Because when I do pick up a book I don’t know anything about, either on a whim or following a recommendation from a friend, to then really not enjoy it is one of the worst feelings.

On the other hand… there is no better feeling than reading a book you know nothing about and falling head over heels in love with it. This list is about those books.

1. The Passage
The book that inspired this topic. All I knew about this book was apocalyptic/dystopian and vampires. I had no idea on the plot, the characters or the writing style… but I bloody loved it all.

2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Requested on a whim from NetGalley, I dragged my heels on reading it – which I regret mightily. This book surpassed my wildest dreams with the characters and subject matters it incorporates. I adore it.

3. The Sisters Brothers
A random recommendation from a friend, all I knew was ‘western’ and didn’t know what else to expect. I could not put this book down. The narrative voice, the characters and comedy… I whizzed though it and instantly counted deWitt as a new favourite author.

4. Tiny Deaths
This is a book of short stories I came across on a friend’s couch. I read the first one or two when I had nothing else to do, and instantly ordered my own copy when I got home. I still need to get my hands on more Shearman story collections.

5. The Paper Men
I’m a big Golding fan and want to read all his work, regardless of what the books are about. I chose to read this one simply to tick of a box in my bookish bingo in 2015. I fell in love pretty quickly, and on reading some reviews before i’d finished the book, I was surprised to find a lot of other people hated it!

6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I can’t even remember why I bought this one, but I fell in love with the unique narrative voice so strongly, I was thinking in-character for weeks after i’d finished it.

7. Carter Beats the Devil Foisted on me by my SO when I couldn’t decide what to read, I thought I’d quickly give up and start something else. Instead I fell head first into this world, so much so I was still living in it several books later.

8. American Gods
This has been in my possession for so many years I do not know how I acquired it. Did I buy it from a charity shop? Did I steal it from my mother’s collection? Did it just materialise on my shelf? We may never know. I pulled it from my shelf to read impulsively, and despite the title putting me off, thoroughly enjoyed it. (In fact i’m currently trying to get my SO to read it before the TV series comes out!)

9. The Gigantic Beard the was Evil
I caught sight of this in my local comic book shop (how could it not?). All I knew was evil gigantic beard and comic book. To be fair, maybe that was enough to know i’d love this one…

10. Why I Write
An impulse buy as I was leaving a bookshop, I started reading it because it was short. I got so much more than I anticipated from the title, and I spent a lot of time underlining some excellent quotes.

TTT: Books on a Whim

TTTLooking through my books, I was quite surprised there were so many I had picked up on a whim. I used to do it a lot more than I do now, because now I have so many books on my to read/to acquire lists, that I don’t need to go looking for more and wasting my time on potentially disappointing books.

I’ve gone so far in recent months as to give away books I bought on a whim and still haven’t read—because i’ll never get around to them when I have so many I have chosen with more care and insight.

I was quite strict with my “whim” criteria here. These are books I knew nothing about before coming upon them—I read nothing but the blurb, hadn’t heard of the author, wasn’t recommended them. Nada.

As you would expect, my experience has been hit and miss…

The Day of the Triffids
I don’t even remember how I came into possession of this book. I thiiiiiiink it might have belonged to one of my parents? It was just a book I remember always being on my book shelf. I read it randomly some time in my teens and loved it. I’ve been a steadfast John Wyndham fan since.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
This I found in a local café which has a small bookcrossing spot. The cover and synopsis caught my attention, and hey, it was free. So I brought it home and signed up for book crossing. I liked the book well enough, but on the whole was underwhelmed. I’ve not used bookcrossing since :\

Weird Lies
When I’m bored sometimes I scroll through the goodreads give away pages, stopping on books whose cover catches my eye. I read the synopsis and if it sounds like something i’d enjoy, I enter to win. This is one of the books I won. I love short stories, I enjoy bizarre tales; I adored this book! I’ve since parted with money for other books in the Liars’ League series.

The Care of Wooden Floors
I used to be a sucker for cheap book shops. The Works was (and on occasion still is!) one of the worst offenders for me. Books catch my eye, and when they cost so little it’s too easy to just… leave with them. As much as I loved the writing style of this one, not very much happened and the chapters were long… I had to give up before the end.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
I went into my local comic book shop looking for the first Serenity comic. Instead, I saw this massive hardback beauty and it came home with me. Beards, striking black and white images, humour… I was in love.

The Little Book of Vegan Poems
When visiting family, this lay on a pile of books in someone’s bedroom. The minimalistic cover caught my eye, while the words “vegan” and “poems” caught my attention. I picked it up and finished it the same day. A little gem.

Write
This was a random library find. I was intrigued by the striking cover, the subject matter, and the essay structure. Reading it was such a delight I ended up buying my own copy so I could highlight passages and write in the margins! Love!

The Female Man
Another library find, but this one in a library sale. I always—always—pick up SF Masterworks books. I don’t always buy them, but I always read the blurb and see if it sounds interesting. This one hit all my spots and I happily parted with 25p in order to take it home! It may not be my favourite book, but I did love it and I certainly have Joanna Russ on my radar for future book purchases.

The Hourglass Factory
This was one of my most recent on-a-whim purchases, and is the one that has most strongly turned me away from the practise. The cover was gorgeous and the premise sounded brilliant. Unfortunately I had my hopes far too high and the book was a huge disappointment.

Tiny Deaths
Several years ago I staying with friends when I found this book laying unattended on a sofa. It was a book of short stories around the theme of death… it sounded interesting and I had nothing better to do. I read the first story or two and enjoyed them a lot. When I got home I ordered my own copy. This is still one of the books I recommend to other people the most.

TTT: Tweeters

TTTI’m not the best social media person. I sort of don’t know what to say, and am yet to believe that anyone wants to hear it. Still, i’ve been trying lately (it was one of my bookish resolutions, after all).

Mostly I enjoy scrolling though my twitter feed and clicking on articles or throwing off a silly reply. These accounts are among my twitter favourites, for various reasons. I find them fun and inspiring, and I like what they have to tell me. You might too, I guess?

People:

@StephenKing
As much as enjoy his books, I do prefer the calibre of his tweets. His words about writing, about fiction, hold more interest to me.

@MaraWritesStuff
She re-tweets others a lot, which I think bothers some people, but I find she re-tweets the very best stuff.

@MirandaKeeling
I don’t know who she is outside of twitter, but on twitter she writes the most lovely little observations that make me smile several times a day.

@Xalieri
If you want weird, bizarre and interesting, look no further. He treads the strangest corners of the internet so you don’t have to.

@VeryShortStory
I’m a huge fan of short stories, and it doesn’t get much shorter than 180 characters.

@ImAmandaNelson
Reading is her job, and i’m insanely jealous. She’s also smart, funny and straight talking. It was stumbling across her twitter that led me to discover Book Riot.

Resources:

@_diversebooks
A recent follow, as I am trying to read more diversely. I’m not doing the best yet, but at least I know that?

@WriterleyTweets
I just reeeeally love their six word story prompts, okay?

@WomenWriters
Their articles are always interesting, relevant and relatable.

Fun:

@BuzzFeedBooks
Bookish fun for shits and giggles. Always good for random bookish bits to make me smile

Whose your favourite tweeter? Are YOU on twitter? Let’s be buddies; I need more reasons to use the damn thing.