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

Monday, 16 January 2017

London Bookshop Crawl #2

London Bookshop Crawl is happening again and its popularity has exploded, as mentioned in my previous post. Because of this there seems to be some confusion about details for the day and this would appear to be the easiest way to clear those up!

Last year, on the first London Bookshop Crawl, there were less than 30 of us and we went around a route created by myself and chatted and had a lovely day. This year the intention is to do the same, but because of the interest we've had it's going to have to work a little differently.

I pretty much organise this event on my own, but thanks to help from some lovely past crawlers we are running four groups this year, each of a similar size to last year (so 25-30 per group), because it's very important to me that people have the chance to connect with each other and meet new book lovers without the day becoming totally overwhelming. I know some people deal well with huge groups but I don't and I know a lot of others don't either, so the groups are staying small, for this year at least. Small groups are also essential for some of the smaller bookshops that we'll be visiting on the day, as large numbers would overwhelm them. These four groups will be visiting 7 bookshops over the course of the day - the bookshops are pretty much the same for each group but the itinerary is different, allowing us to stagger the arrival of groups at smaller shops and helping them to deal with the crazed book lovers descending on them! People who sent a message asking to be in the guided groups before the spaces were gone have been allocated a group and we'll be sending more information to them this week.

However because we didn't want anyone to miss out on the day, we have extended the crawl throughout Greater London and are putting together a huge list of bookshops who'll be taking part and providing special offers and discounts for bookshop crawlers. We'll be circulating this list along with some suggested routes and a printable bookshop crawl ID card to everyone who has a free ticket via Eventbrite so anyone who wants to will be able to take part on the day. We'd also love everyone to use #LondonBookshopCrawl to share where they go and what they buy and even to meet up with other crawlers if that's something they're interested in doing.

The only difference between being in a guided group and doing the tour alone is that people in guided groups will be following a set itinerary and meeting a few new people, but as of writing this post there are 400+ people with Eventbrite tickets who aren't in guided groups, so I'd say the chances of you stumbling across another bookshop crawler during the day are quite high!

It's basically going to be a huge celebration of the excellence of bookish people and bookshops and we hope you'll join us, whether or not you got a place in a guided group (which, to be honest, are just a group of people walking around visiting bookshops anyway!).

Friday, 13 January 2017


A few days ago my blog turned six. I KNEW I would forget so I mentioned it on twitter several days beforehand, but I thought I should write something here (especially since I've been so awol recently!) to mark the occasion because the fact is that blogging has pretty much changed my life.

I could talk about all the books I've read since I started, and I will if you give me long enough, but really for me blogging has been the gateway to things and people and experiences and even a business. Here are some things that have come from six years of blogging:

  • Friends of the most wonderful (and offensive. Hi, Laura!) kind. They are not just blogging friends, they are real friends friends, especially the two other Southerners, and they enable me to buy books and eat cake and shout rude words in the children's section of bookshops and sing songs from Les Mis loudly outside Queen's theatre. One of them can walk around for hours in the most ridiculous (and beautiful) shoes, and one sends me secret santa parcels that make me cry and talks to me about minimalism and another I'm just looking forward to getting to know better. And one of them is from all the way over in America and has actually come and stayed in my house and I LET HER GO TO FOYLES ALONE BECAUSE I'M A TERRIBLE FRIEND (and then her luggage weighed so much she couldn't carry it anymore). These are people I would have never met without the wonderful world of book blogging and I am extremely grateful for them. 
  • Ninja Book Swap. Although I've recently had to close it to new participants I love the swap so much. It was the first time I ventured into a joint project with a person I (at the time) had never met before and Hanna and I had a lot of fun running it together. I'm excited to keep running it with the group of swappers I already know and trust, and I've met so many fantastic people through it as well as acquiring so many amazing books and sending many many copies of The Night Circus to people...

  • London Bookshop Crawl - in case you're not aware, this is pretty much the reason I've been missing from the blog for a while. Last year I decided it would be cool to get random bookish strangers from the internet to come book shopping with me and lo and behold we had an amazing day going round lots of different bookshops and I got to meet some Ninja swappers face to face and made a lot of excellent new friends. It was always going to be an annual thing and we all thought it would be bigger this year, but this year I decided to put the event on Facebook and currently we're running three groups for the day and have literally 300 others taking part on their own. There are bookshops all over London joining in and it's totally insane, but very very wonderful and I'm terrified and excited and hoping it's going to be just as amazing as last year's was. (If you want to join the madness the Facebook event is here). If it hadn't been for my experience with Ninja Swap and with meeting Laura, Katie, Hanna, Ellie and Charlotte in real life I never would have had the guts to start this, so thanks blogging!

  • Ninja Book Box. This is the most recent of my bookish projects, but blogging has made me so much more aware of publishers in general and there's no way I ever would have had the thought of starting up a subscription box of any kind without seeing all the other wonderful ones there are out there and realising that there isn't one that did exactly what I wanted - gives you books from all genres published by independent publishers along with gifts that are beautiful as well as being actually useful. Without blogging and all the previously mentioned confidence boosting projects I would have never had the guts to launch a Kickstarter which was really successful due to phenomenal support mostly from online friends, and now here I am with a business and once again thanks blogging!
So yes. Six years ago I'd just moved across the country with my fiance and was living in a teeny tiny flat with a teeny tiny shower and terrible windows on the high street with VERY LOUD buses going past constantly and now I'm married with two kids and a lovely house with a garden and all sorts of bookish shenanigans going on. It's pretty miraculous really, thanks for being here for it. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

#Discworldathon: In the Beginning...

Welcome to Discworldathon, a year of celebrating all things Discworld. If you're new to the series, this month is designed to help you work out where might be best for you to start. If you're not new to the series, feel free to weigh in in the comments with where you started/where you'd advise newcomers to start!

This is the Discworld Reading Order produced by Epic Reads and it's a handy, colour coded way to decide which order to read the books in. Each colour represents a character or theme - just pick a colour and follow it. Easy, right? 

But what if you know nothing about Discworld? Well, either you can find someone who knows you well who's already a fan and can give you an idea about which characters might be most 'you', or you check out my little guide below! 

If you've ever mentioned your desire to read Discworld to anyone it's quite likely they've told you not to start with The Colour of Magic. Although it's the first book in the series even Terry Pratchett didn't think it was the best. Honestly Wyrd Sisters, our readalong book for January is probably as good a place as any to begin, although it's technically the second book in the Witches 'series', but the writing is hilarious and the story is gripping. If you're still baffled, here's a little synopsis of the characters...

Wizards - you'll get a better introduction to them when Louise hosts next month but they're basically a bunch of ageing, slighly bumbling magic men who think they know a lot more than they actually know about the world. They also have some strange ideas about...well, most things, and have a librarian who is an orangutan. 

Witches - the antithesis of the wizards. A (smaller) group of women (not) lead (they don't believe in leaders) by Granny Weatherwax who believes in 'headology' and has no idea what the theatre is. The witches are the ones who actually get things done in the Discworld. 

Tiffany Aching - some of the witches (notably Granny Weatherwax) also feature in the Tiffany Aching books, but these are the ones I recommend most often to people starting out. Tiffany has help in her  world-saving endeavours from the Nac Mac Feegle, a group of vicious, hard-drinking pixies...

Death - Death is brilliant, and this is probably one of the only times you'll hear that said. A big skeleton with piercing blue eyes riding a horse named Binky, he's constantly struggling to understand mortals and has the occasional midlife (mid death?) crisis...

City Watch - These are my favourite books. Commander Sam Vimes sort of accidentally becomes in charge of turning the Night Watch from a shambles of inept, bumbling men into a cohesive system of law enforcement. He's pretty put-upon and has to deal with all sorts of idiocy and prejudice along the way. 

There are lots of other stand alone type books, and the Moist von Lipwig books which also (in the above infographic at least) encompass some of the other 'industrial' books, but hopefully this little intro gives you some kind of ideas about where you might want to start. 

Those who are familiar with the series already feel free to weigh in in the comments or over in the Goodreads group!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Bookish Stats

Ah 2016. What a year! I think my 2016 has been better than lots of people's - I started Ninja Book Box, ran two bookshop crawls and gained a new brother in law along with other fun things. There's also been a lot of well documented awful this year, including closing the Ninja Book Swap to new participants which was a very sad day but necessary for my mental health! I've really found my friends in the bookish community this year though and I'm so grateful for everyone who's supported me in any way over the course of the year.

This being New Year's Eve, what better way to spend it than by collating the stats of all the books I've read this year? I was going to do Jamie's End of Year Survey (and may still) but my attention span is crap at the moment, so here we are.

I read 90 books this year and this pretty stats picture I made will give you the general idea. Basically...

The only stats on here that I'm proud of are the number of books I finished and the percentage of female authors I read. The rest are pretty shocking, but I turned them into a pretty picture because it's important to pinpoint where you need to do better.

I'm hoping my Read the World Project will help with some of these, and I'm signing up for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks again in 2017, plus the Spending Freeze means I won't be buying books except for on bookshop crawls so that should help too. Besides that though I'm giving myself permission to read whatever the hell I want during 2017.

My year of reading indie has been a massive failure stats-wise, but in terms of awareness I'd call it a huge success. I spend far more time looking for independently published books in chain bookshops now and am far more aware of small presses and what's coming out from them. I also started a business dedicated solely to the promotion and discovery of independent publishers (Ninja Book Box, check it out) which has been a massive thing and is already causing big changes in my reading life so watch this space for more of that next year!

How's your reading year been?

#Discworldathon January Readalong Title & Schedule!

In case you haven't seen, January 1st sees the beginning of my year long celebration of everything Discworld related. January's theme (hosted by yours truly) is 'In the Beginning' and I'm going to be posting about reading order and all the various smaller storylines within Discworld. If you're new to the series (or if you're not but have thoughts) hopefully this month will be helpful to you. 

In the Goodreads group for the event - please come and join us there and chat to everyone - I put up a poll to see which title people would like to readalong in January and Wyrd Sisters got the most votes. This is technically book two of the Witches books, but Equal Rites has wizards too so I'm counting it!

Because Pratchett books don't really have chapters I've divided the book roughly into quarters and for each section I've given the page number from my edition (the Corgi paperback edition with the Josh Kirby cover) plus the quote that ends the section for that week. Each Sunday I'll be posting here on the blog with my thoughts and a link up for anyone who wants to add their own thoughts. Alternatively there's a thread in the Goodreads group which will be active all month so you can discuss the book as and when you like. 

If you are planning to join in and blog/vlog/whatever about the readalong you can add your link below so I (and others) can make sure we're following you. You can also use #Discworldathon and #wyrdalong on social media. 

Here's the schedule:

January 1st - 8th - Beginning to P82 "and to think she had expected it to be small..."

January 8th - 15th - P82 - P171 "and grinned a set of gums that were more menacing than teeth"

January 15th - 22nd - P171 - P248 "And as for thinking it could be controlled..."

January 22nd - end - P248 - end of the book!

It works out at approximately 82-85 pages a week so not a huge commitment really! The great thing about Discworldathon is you don't have to join in for all of it so if this is the only thing you do all year then that's totally fine!

See you tomorrow for kick off!

Friday, 30 December 2016

#LilttleHouseRAL: The End!

Apologies that we've been a little awol for the last month or so. We've had family weddings, unexpected trips home and lots else to deal with so the blog has been a bit quiet which has included Little House. As of yet I haven't finished A Wilder Rose but I'm hoping to put in some reading hours tonight now we're home from our travels and get it finished before the year is done.

Please use this post to link up for November as well as I never got around to putting up that post! Personally I enjoyed West from Home a lot more than I did On the Way Home, since I felt like more interesting things happened in it (and there was less about how much land cost and what kind of crops people were growing) and I found it really interesting to read about the fair and a part of history that I didn't know much about, although the more of the series I read the more troubling I find the casual racism. I don't know if it makes it more or less troubling that this was probably reflective of the general attitudes of the time but either way I've noticed it progressively throughout the series and it troubles me. Aside from that I thought the last story was a nice way to end the series - with Laura when she was older and her relationship with her daughter. It's like we've gone full circle with her.

I'll post about A Wilder Rose when I've finished it, but I'm very much enjoying fictionalised Rose Wilder Lane's take on her mother. The story is very entertaining and her view of Laura - 'Mama Bess' - is quite different from the image we've been given of Laura throughout the earlier books so that's fun.

I can't believe 2016 is pretty much over. In a year that's been difficult in lots of ways this read-along has really been a bright spot and I'm so glad I had the chance to discover this series for the first time. Thanks so much to all who have read along with us!

If you're interested, I'm hosting Discworldathon starting January 1st; a year long celebration of all things Discworld and Terry Pratchett related. Check out the schedule and/or join the Goodreads group - our first readalong title will be Wyrd Sisters!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

2017: The Biggest Challenge Yet

If you've been a long time reader of this blog you've been with me through my boycott of Amazon (still ongoing), my 9 month long book buying ban, my decision to read more nonfiction and more diverse authors, my recent decision to participate in Louise's Read the World Project (a review of my Malaysia pick is coming soon), as well as being aware of Ninja Book Swap and Ninja Book Box from the beginning and dealing with all my rambling about both London and Bath bookshop crawls plus dealing with my massive love for Laura, Katie, Hanna, Ellie, Charlotte and Nahree among many other blogging friends. Which is to say you've put up with a lot from me, but 2017 is going to be, as the post title says, the biggest challenge yet.

Rhys and I have decided that in 2017 we are going to spend no unnecessary money. Yes, you read that right, and yes I am immediately going to state that this is with the exception of the two bookshop crawls (London is on February 18th, everyone's welcome so tweet me if you want info!) but I will be holding myself to a very strict one book per shop rule!

This year we've got rid of loads of stuff we didn't really use and cleared our house out a lot and we're both feeling so much better about everything. It's also changed the way we shop - before this year we were thrifty shoppers - car boot sales and charity shops are big favourites of both of ours - but we bought a lot of stuff we didn't need. This year we still do that but we're more likely to think about purchases more. We want to take it one step further next year and try not to really shop at all.

Spending Freeze

Here's what we're planning to do:

  • Get rid of our car. This is more of a stress thing than anything as Rhys does all the driving (because I'm a wuss) and although he loves driving he finds he's always really stressed and tired by it, plus the car is expensive so we're going to see if we can do without and use public transport and our legs instead!
  • Get rid of the TV licence (again). We only got it back just under a year ago but we barely watch TV and it seems like even if we were to buy box sets of the four or so series a year that we actually watch plus occasional CBeebies DVDs for the boys it wouldn't add up to £150 a year. Also means we'll spend less time watching mindless rubbish and actually do more productive stuff instead hopefully. 
  • Not buy books. With the exception of bookshop crawls as mentioned above and if we have book tokens. I have one more month of OTSP Secret Sister to go so I'll spend some for that but I'm not signing up for the next round, and though I'll be running at least two Ninja Swaps this year I'm undecided whether I'll participate or not. If I do it'll be only one parcel per swap and I'll do my best to gift homemade and preloved stuff. It also means I'll only be doing giveaways on the Ninja Book Box website and twitter on occasion and here not at all (because postage costs), but I will be doing lots of books for postage giveaways so watch out for those. 
  • Bring tea from home in a thermos. I have a terrible weakness for coffee shops because I get into work way too early for my shift (because buses) so I tend to go to a coffee shop at least twice a week. This will stop and I know I'll save more than I think from it. 
  • Bring lunch from home. We're generally pretty good at doing this when we're at work except when we're not and we're terrible at it when we go out for the day all together. I think this is because we get caught up in the mad rush of getting out the door and forget about food, thinking we'll just grab something while we're out. Hopefully public transport will help with this, as our days out will have to be generally more planned and that'll prompt us to remember a picnic! No restaurants unless we have a gift card! (So anyone who wants gift ideas for me for this year, I love Pizza Express...)
  • We can buy shoes & clothes only if they're absolutely necessary, so shoes for the boys are fine, shoes for us aren't unless we've actually worn them out. Also where possible we'll try to go to charity shops for clothes (we mostly do this anyway since you often get way better quality clothes for Primark prices!). 
  • We can buy only what's on the weekly grocery list. If we want treats that week we have to factor them in to the weekly shop, and we're going to try to make that stuff as much as we can. Ditto for beauty and cleaning products. Homemade stuff is way better for you anyway!
  • Buy bus passes and use them to get as many places as we can! If we can get a bus using our already paid for monthly bus passes rather than a train then we will. If we can get a bus part way and save some money, we will. If we can get a bus and hike across a field, we will. You get the picture. 
The reason this list is weirdly worded is that I didn't want to write a bit list of stuff starting 'no' or 'not', so I've rephrased things to make it feel more positive! I've started a Pinterest board full of Spending Freeze ideas. Let me know what you think of our crazy plan - I'll be keeping you all updated whether you like it or not (though seriously, if you don't want updates unsubscribe now, you've been warned!).