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!

Sunday 11 September 2016

#DiverseAThon TBR

Image credit here

If you're on twitter you've probably seen that there's been loads of drama about diversity recently. I didn't watch the video but as far as I understand it a guy made a video that was basically awful about how diversity isn't important and obviously twitter responded by listing all the reasons it is, and then as a result of all that a bunch of booktubers (WhittyNovels, SheMightBeMonica, LuLo Fangirl, and SquibblesReads) are hosting #DiverseAThon. 

This is a readathon designed to get us all reading more diversely - the hosts don't specify what that means but instead ask you to think about what it means for you, and for me it means reading more books about people who aren't like me in order to try to understand other people's experiences of the world. 

The readathon runs from September 12th - 19th and you can check out all the excellence on twitter at #DiverseAThon. 

Originally I had a small, manageable TBR of three, but for this readathon there's a spreadsheet where people can submit their recommendations of diverse titles and I had a little browse this morning so obviously my TBR has now doubled! 

Here's what I've picked:

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is about a girl called Lydia whose father's parents are Chinese immigrants, and the impact that his heritage has on her upbringing. Then her body is found in the local lake and the book looks at how her various family members respond to her death. I've heard such great things about this. and I have no personal experience of being an immigrant so I think this will be great. 

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park - Yeonmi Park and her family risked their lives to flee North Korea. Stories like this are always important because I think it's easy to take my own privilege at living in a (mostly) democratic country where I have freedom of speech and movement and can pretty much do what I want for granted. 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander - This was last months Social Justice Book Club pick, but it was late coming into the library so I only just got it. Although it focuses on the US I'm interested to read it because it talks about how the American system uses the War on Drugs to oppress people of colour in ways scarily similar to the way it has in the past. 

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue - retellings of fairytales, many featuring lesbian protagonists. I don't read enough LGBT+ fiction and I already flipped through a few of these a while back and loved them so I'm looking forward to reading some favourite stories from a new perspective. 

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho - I just got this on the Bath Bookshop Crawl and it sounds fantastic. It's about Zacharias Wythe the first African Sorcerer Royal in Regency London. The fairy court is refusing to supply England with magic, and the government needs it so Zacharias has to figure out what's going on, with help from Prunella, a girl who's discovered the greatest magical discovery in centuries. From what I've heard about this it's excellent fantasy and also looks at issues of race and gender equality. 

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence - I found this mentioned on the spreadsheet because the main character is autistic and it also has an elderly character. I thought it would be good to throw some other kinds of diversity into the mix here (as well as just race and gender things) and also so many people have loved this book that I couldn't resist.

Finally I have American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang which Laura gifted me recently. This is a graphic novel (and so will probably be the book I'll start with) which weaves together three tales - the story of Jin Wang, the only Chinese-American student in his school, the Chinese fable of the Monkey King, and the story of Chin-Kee and his cousin Danny. Again this is an experience I will never have and I'm always interested in reading different perspectives. 

Let me know if you're participating, I'd love to see your TBRs! 

Friday 9 September 2016

Books on my Bedside Table (May Fall Down and Crush Me as I Sleep)

So it's been quiet here on the blog, and I'm sorry but it's likely to be sporadic for the next few months while I'm immersed in the launch of the Ninja Book Box (for more details see here) but I'm still reading (and how!) and although some of it is super secret book box reading that I can't share, lots of it isn't as you'll see. This is all the books in the pile on my bedside table that I am actually actively reading at the moment!

Some of these I'm dipping in and out of - The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (excellent so far, all about what's actually in our food and how we are connected to it) Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher (it's a book of a website and I cannot stress enough its brilliance. I'm reading a few a day. Yesterday, Virginia Woolf's suicide letter and an incredible letter from Louis Armstrong to a fan, written exactly the way he talked. Just read it as soon as you can) and Vitamin N by Richard Louv, which I'm pretty sure featured in my last one of these posts, I've been at it a while but just because I'm taking my time, not because it's not good! It's ironic that I'm reading it today when I've been inside alll day and it's all about how we need more nature in our lives, but never mind. We're going for a walk on the beach after tea. 

I'm miscellaneously stuck in the middle of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I have been for a while and it's weird because so many people love and adore this book that I expected to race through it but although I've been enjoying it I'm finding it strangely easy to read one essay and then put it down for weeks. It is really good, just not as mindblowing as I was expecting based on what everyone else said. Another very strange thing that I read half of ages ago and haven't read the rest of is The Sandman:Overture by Neil Gaiman. I bought this back on the London Bookshop Crawl in February and immediately started it but I got a little way into it and then just stopped. I'm not really sure why but I know I need to just sit down with it for an hour and get through it because The Sandman is my first graphic novel love and I can't believe I haven't finished this yet. Also I was reading and loving A Force to be Reckoned With by Jane Robinson which is a history of the WI and I really want to get back to it because it was way more interesting than the title probably implies. That's also been on the pile for a while so I do need to pick it up again!

Finally there are two on here for the Kid Lit book club I'm in with various family members. I think we're going to have a hiatus in October to catch up because Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce was last months book and I've only just started it and North Child by Edith Pattou, which is September's book, is beautiful so far but huuuuuge and Rhys can't read it til I'm done and he reads slower than me, so we're going to need some catch up time! (In case you're interested, so far we've read Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo which is fricking incredible and everybody should read it now, and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards which was really fun). 

I'm also flipping through a couple of allotment related books in between doing the work of actually clearing the allotment - The New Kitchen Garden by Mark Diacono and The Half Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz which are both really useful when trying to figure out what to grow. 

Looking back this could be titled 'books that are really good but inexplicably taking me ages to read'. Oh well, everything in this post is great, so that's something at least! What are you reading at the moment? 

Thursday 8 September 2016

TBR Inspiration #4

This TBR Inspiration post is based on my massive and enduring love for Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the graphic novel that opened my eyes to the existence of non-fantasy graphic novels and also began my love with reading about other countries - it's indirectly responsible for my love of Reading Lolita in Tehran which I did a TBR Inspiration post on a while ago.

In case you're not aware, Persepolis is Satrapi's graphic memoir of growing up in Iran during the cultural revolution and it's intense, important and hilarious all at once. It remains to this day one of the best memoirs I've ever read, in any format!

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Blankets by Craig Thompson

David Boring by Daniel Clowes

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuccheli

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert

Epileptic by David B

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisner

From Hell by Alan Moore

300 by Frank Miller

Nemesis by Mark Millar

La Perdida by Jessica Abel

Tamara Drew by Posy Simmonds

Literary Life by Posy Simmonds

I read Maus, Fun Home and Blankets directly as a result of making this list and they're all super excellent and highly recommended - titles link to my reviews! I also saw the movie of Tamara Drew which was really fun. 

Have you read any of these?

Sunday 4 September 2016

#LittleHouseRAL: The First Four Years Intro & Link Up

This post is so late for which I can only apologise and say that Ninja Book Box madness has taken over my life! The final months of the read-along are upon us and I didn't know that The First Four Years was published after Laura Ingalls Wilder's death. Having said that, I also didn't know that her daughter was also pretty well know, so there we go. Lots I don't know this month!

I'm looking forward to more stories of Laura and Almanzo, and this book is super short so it won't take me long I don't think!

Link up your posts below!

Saturday 3 September 2016

The (Third) Biggest Thing I've Ever Done

Things have been a little inconsistent around the blog the last little while, and while that's partly due to the crazy awesome that was organising and going on the Bath Bookshop Crawl it was also due to this little (massive) thing I've been planning for a while now. 

A few months ago I came up with the idea of launching a UK based book box featuring titles published by independent publishers, because when I looked around there's a whole host of brilliant YA book boxes, but most of the non-YA ones are based in the US which makes shipping really expensive for me, so me being me I thought why not just make my own? Obviously I pitched the idea to twitter and several people were excited enough to make me think I should seriously pursue the idea which I have been doing, and now here we are!

Although I have some money to invest I need help to fully fund the project so I decided to try a Kickstarter. I launched it yesterday and it runs until October 2nd. The goal is pretty high so I would really appreciate any help you can give, be it financial, spreading the word on social media, or just through telling your real life friends about it! There are some pretty excellent rewards for supporters, so please do go check it out.

I don't think I can overstate how excited I am about this box. I plan each one to be a really brilliant and immersive experience with gifts based around a theme drawn from the book which will be useful, quirky and generally excellent, and additional material in the form of reading recommendations, discount codes, obscure facts and other loveliness, plus the book which will be one I've read and loved myself. I've been discovering some excellent titles myself and am really looking forward to sharing them with everyone. In case you haven't seen, the aim of the box is to branch outside of the YA genre that boxes like Fairyloot and Illumicrate already cater so excellently to here in the UK and provide books from a mix of genres including mystery, graphic novels, science fiction, historical and others.  

I really can't overstate how excited I am about this. I do a lot of stuff based on my love of books but this is the first time I've ever tried to turn the thing I love into part of my actual job and I'm both ecstatic and terrified. I've very publicly launched this Kickstarter now and if I fall on my face in terms of lack of funding it will be very obvious to everyone, but if you don't take any risks in life you never get anywhere, right? 

Taking a deep breath and moving forward.... Loving you all for any support you can show, financial or non. 

Once again, the kickstarter link is here. Moneys won't be taken until the project is funded on October 2nd, so if we don't hit target you don't pay!