Priorities, Plans and New Pencils

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Hey guys,

Well, it’s September (how did that happen?), so new stationery at the ready – it’s time to plan ahead for the remainder of the year. I’ve had some time off from my blog recently but I’m back now and raring to go. I always feel like this time of year means coloured pens, new shoes and timetables, with the promise of starting something new and exciting – so it’s definitely time for me to get back into writing. Do any of you feel the same? I think the academic year has been hard wired into me, like how a lunar cycle makes people go crazy on a full moon (or is that just a myth?)  

Anyway, my colour coded, bullet journalled, super organised plans are:

1. New blogging timetable
I’ve had a look at my blog stats and I can see that anything posted on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday gets far more attention than anything posted in the week. I’ve always said that I don’t care how many followers I have or who reads my stuff, but it seems silly not to take advantage and post when most of you are likely to see it. So, from now on I’ll be posting on Fridays and Sundays, with the option of a Wednesday discussion type post.

2. Complete my reading challenges
I’m doing both the Popsugar reading challenge 2017 and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017 and to be honest I’ve lost my mojo a little bit. There’s just so much good stuff coming out at the minute and Netgalley seems to be getting all of my attention. My current stats are:

Book Riot: 12/24 books read (3 books currently being read)
Popsugar: 23/40 books read (3 books currently being read)

*blinks in surprise* that’s actually better than I thought and although I’m a little behind I think I can complete both by the end of the year.

3. Work on making my blog prettier
I’ve always thought that I’m quite creative but other than sticking up a picture of the book cover I don’t bother with graphics. It actually annoys me when other bloggers put a million gifs into their blogs because I think it interrupts the narrative and my crappy old kindle fire struggles to play them. Does anyone else have this problem/bugbear? I’ve got a vague idea of what I want to do but sometimes I just find it so time consuming and tedious – I’ll have to see how this one goes *reads this back and immediately knows this isn’t something I’ll pursue for long*. Does anyone with a super adorable, graphics heavy blog have any tips?

4. Engage more with the blogging community
I’ve neglected you guys lately so I need to show you some love! I’m sorry and I missed you all, but I have been pretty busy (see previous post).

I think that’s all for now, I can’t focus on much more than that without getting overwhelmed.

Are you all making plans and prioritising specific tasks that you’d like to achieve with your blogs, or in your lives in general? Does everyone have that back-to-school feeling? Do you find it a positive motivator or do you get a mild sense of panic? Let me know in the comments!

Super big love,

Lucinda xxx

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Book Blogger Test

So I’ve been meaning to do this for aaages and just haven’t got round to it…thank you to Jess from Daring to Jess for nominating me! Sorry it’s taken so long!

Here we go

Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog
2. Answer the ten questions asked on this post
3. Nominate at least five people to do it 
4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

Q&A

1. What are your top 3 book pet peeves?

1. A tiny font. Seriously, why? Are you trying to break my     eyes so I can never read again?
2. A forward or introduction that includes spoilers. Again, why?
3. Poetry or songs within the narrative. Also quotes at the beginning of chapters. I either skip over them or spend ages trying to work out the relevance. Either way, it ruins the narrative flow for me.

2. Describe your favourite reading spot.

My Grandma had a big 70’s vinyl egg chair that both spins and tilts, and when she died I put it in my spare room. It’s so super comfy and it still smells like her house. I couldn’t get a good photo but it’s almost identical to this…

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3. Tell us 3 book confessions.

1. I read about 7 books at a time, and I had no idea this wasn’t normal until recently.
2. I got excited when I broke my leg knowing that I would have so much extra reading time.
3. I’m a total kindle convert and the last time I read a paperback it actually hurt my arms.

4. When was the last time you cried during a book?

I hardly ever cry at books. Maybe when Snape died in Harry Potter. He will always be my favourite character ever.

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5. How many books are on your bedside table?

Seven! My mum keeps lending them to me. They’ve been there quite a while…

6. What’s your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

Satsumas. Or cake. Mmmm, cake… I recently started baking along with the Great British Bake Off (even though IT IS NOT THE SAME WITHOUT MARY, MEL AND SUE) and I made these chocolate mini rolls from week one…

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7. Name 3 books you would recommend to anyone.

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a really epic story of one man’s attempt at redemption helping people in an Indian slum.

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Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann – a super glitzy story with a very dark undercurrent.

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How to be a Woman by Catlin Moran – literally changed my life and woke me up to gender bias, inequality and feminism.

8. Show us a picture of your favourite book on your bookshelf.

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Valley of the Dolls, part of my Virago Modern Classics collection.

9. Describe how much books mean to you in just 3 words.

Books mean everything!

10. What is your biggest reading secret?

I stole a book called “the Creepy Tale” from our school library, I just loved it so much…shocking behaviour!

Nominees
Heather@sassy book geek
Zucky
Mikaela@well thumbed reader
Alex@whimsy pages
By hook or by book

Enjoy!

What Lucinda Did (when she wasn’t blogging)

Hello lovelies!

How are you all? Have you had a good summer? I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to keep up with my blog, so I gave myself a little break from it. I think that’s ok? Anyway, I’m back now and ready to catch up with the hundreds of reviews that are yet to be published (ok, maybe not hundreds, but several). I’ve missed blogging, and specifically, the blogging community, LOTS so thank you all for sticking with me.

In the meantime, I thought I’d ease myself back into writing g-e-n-t-l-y with an update on what I’ve been up to…

Brace yourselves…

The New Allotment
Oh my goodness, I am OBSESSED with my new allotment. We picked up the keys in March and got cracking pretty much straight away. We’ve taken it from a sea of weeds to creating lots of neat rows of veg, with a grassed area for fruit trees and bushes. This is it about a month ago when it was sill a work in progress:

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I’ve harvested peas, beans, potatoes, kale, onions, soft fruits and carrots, baked pies, blanched, steamed and roasted vegetables, made soups, stews and risottos and produced my own jam. As a result, we’ve been eating more adventurously, although not necessarily healthier – plum tart is my new favourite dish! This is the runner bean risotto that I made – we have about a million beans at the moment that we give away to as many people as we can think of:

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I’m planning out my crops for next year and I’m planting winter veg now. Exciting times!

The New House
So as an investment opportunity we bought a second property to do up and rent out. We now own a small terraced house which was built in about 1850 and after peeling back the wallpaper and ripping up the carpets, it doesn’t seem to have had anything done to it since then either! It has some lovely original features like a brick fireplace but it also has dodgy electrics, mice and a leaking roof. We’ve stripped everything out, had it rewired, put in new windows and fences and we’re in the process of replacing some of the floorboards and having it replastered. I’ve chosen a new kitchen and bathroom, semi tidied the gardens and had antique lights fitted outside. This is my partner Rich chipping back the plaster to expose the original fireplace:

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I can’t wait for the plastering to be finished so I can get on with the decorating!

Chilling Out
Summer is a time for relaxing and we’ve had some nice family days out, been to Trentham Gardens (definitely worth a visit, especially at this time of year), had a few relaxed barbeques with friends, been on nights out and had a holiday in Devon with my parents. We also ticked off one of my ‘bands to see before I die’ as we went to watch the Flaming Lips in Birmingham, which was just the best gig I’ve ever been to. It was crazy and funny and an unbelievable stage show. Here’s so poor quality pics that I tried to take on my phone:

The lead singer’s unicorn – he came out into the crowd riding it to throw glitter all over us

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One of the many inflatable stage props – this one is a giant robot.

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Singing Space Oddessey in an inflatable orb balanced on top of the crowd – as you do.

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Anyway, that was my summer – how was yours? Let me know in the comments.

Loadsa love,

Lucinda xxx

Discussion: Found Books

Hello lovelies!

Today’s post concerns a weird event that took place whilst I was out enjoying the ridiculously hot weather that we’re currently having in the UK (remember, heat is such a rare thing here that us Brits are not equipped to cope – also we don’t have air conditioning). I went with a couple of friends on a bit of a road trip to Newark Antiques Fair for a browse around the outdoor stalls. Nothing caught my eye, but on the way back to the car (which does have air con, thank God) I came across a box of old books that had just been left in the middle of the field. It looks like someone had either put them on the floor when they were loading up their car and forgot them, or perhaps had abandoned them because they’d not been able to sell them on. Hopefully it wasn’t because they’re haunted and/or the were ditching them to break a curse. Anyway, I obviously had a bit of a rifle through and found a couple of interesting titles that I kept (stole). Seriously though, there was no-one around and there was no way of knowing who they belonged to.

The first book I noticed is called “The Brotherhood of Light” and looks to me like it might be Masonic? It was published in 1947 by the Church of Light and seems to be about stellar healing, or using astronomy to improve physical health. Whatever it is, it’s pretty weird.

The second book is called “Sciatica, Lumbago and Brachialgia” by Dr Henry Lawson and was published in 1877. It’s a second edition so might be quite rare. It seems like a standard medical text although it’s incredibly quaint; “a subcutaneous injection into the joints of the phalanges” is one passage that stuck out. I’m sure there’s loads of weird and wonderful treatments detailed in it.

I can’t wait to research both books to find out more about them!

So – have you ever found a book by accident and kept it? Do you have any interesting experiences of books finding you, instead of the other way round? Do you have any idea what the books I’ve found are? Let me know!

I hope that you’re all having lovely sunny days, wherever you are in the world.

Lucinda x

Reading Challenge Update

Hello lovely readers!

Now that we are over a third of the way through the year (where did THAT go) I thought I’d review the two reading challenges that I’m taking part in to check my progress and also to look at my Netgalley account to see what percentage my feedback ratio is.

Incidentally, does anyone else get a bit obsessed by their reading stats or is it just me? I digresss…

Ok, so first up I had a look at the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. This challenge compromises 24 categories, so 2 books a month to be identified and read.

Current progress:

23/24 books identified (with an idea for the remaining novel).
9 books completed.
3 further books started but currently incomplete.

Verdict – winning!

I then looked at the Popsugar Reading Challenge – 40 categories so just under 4 books per month to be identified and read.

Current progress:

35/40 books identified. Struggling to think of a book with career advice and a book from a non-human perspective. Can anyone help?
16 books completed.
1 further book started but currently incomplete.

Verdict – on track.

Finally I had a look at my Netgalley account. Netgalley recommend that you have a feedback ratio of 80% or above. I have 11 books which have already been published that I haven’t reviewed – basically that I’m behind on. I have a further 5 books that are due to be published from June onwards that I’m not worrying about yet but that drags my overall feedback ratio to 54% which is quite frankly rubbish.

Verdict – must try harder. 

So overall I think I’m doing ok, I’ll be concentrating on getting my Netgalley score up which will also mean reigning myself in when requesting new titles *sad face*. On a positive note I’m not going to worry about the reading challenges because I seem to be doing quite well in those *happy face*.

How are you getting on with your reading challenges, Netgalley scores or TBR lists? Do you have any suggestions for the two Popsugar categories that I’m struggling with?

Lucinda xxx

 

One Hundred Followers, Yay!

Hello lovely readers,

It seems like only a few weeks ago since I posted that I had 50 followers, and now I have 100! I can’t believe it!

I don’t get too hung up on how “successful” my blog is (seriously, I’d happily tap away into the nothingness even if no-one was reading it) but it means a lot to me that over 100 of you have taken the time to click that little follow button, as well as read, like and comment on my posts.

Thank you all very, very much.

Lucinda xxx

I Wish I Loved My Local Library, But I Don’t.

Confession time – I hate going to my City Centre’s library. I wish I didn’t, but it really is a horrible place.

I have wonderful memories of going to our village hall as a child where there was a small but well stocked library, with a lovely librarian, children’s corner, seating area etc. It could only have been the size of a small storeroom but it had everything I needed as a precocious four year old. As I got older, I obviously had access to my school’s libraries (I read every single book at least twice) which although larger were pretty much static in terms of getting new books in. Our local library was replaced by a mobile one (basically a van full of books) which felt incredibly precarious as you climbed into it up some rickety steps and shook as you walked along it. Again, it wasn’t exactly well stocked (YA hadn’t really been invented so there was just a handful of Judy Blooms and Paula Danzigers in the “teens” section). Luckily, my parents always encouraged me to read and I would pester them to buy me books, so I could continue to be a bookworm throughout my teenage years. Then Amazon happened and books got super cheap, then the Kindle, then Netgalley – so I stopped using the library altogether. It’s only recently that I realised I could download ebooks from them for free that I decided to renew my membership.

That’s when I found that wave after wave of funding cuts have made the library, well, pretty dreadful.

When you walk into our main library (previously a nightclub), you’re presented with a subterranean tunnel which leads to some public toilets. Being pretty much the only public toilets in the city centre, the smell is horrific and they look disgusting (more public services cuts). You can then either take the lift or walk up two flights of stairs to the one main room (the smell permeates all the way to the top of the building). Once there, it’s not immediately obvious where to go. There’s an NHS quit smoking advice centre, a cancer helpdesk, a benefits/asylum area (I think)… but no books. I walked through the security turnstiles and found a small desk at the side of the room. There were people wandering around with lanyards on but it wasn’t immediately obvious if they were librarians, volunteer helpers or people working in the myriad of other services that the library now offers. I assume I’d arrived at the helpdesk (there was no sign) so I picked a lanyard wearer at random and asked if she could renew my membership. I’d previously tried to do this online and it seems that someone had messed it all up, so it took her some time to unpick what they’d done and set me up properly. I made the mistake of leaning on the counter during this process and realised that it was sticky with an unidentified substance (ewwwwwww). I grabbed my new card and got out as fast as I could (but not before two drunk men tried to chat me up).

I’ve used the online services that the library offers – free ebooks and audio books – but I won’t be going back there in a hurry.

So guys, make me jealous – do you have a fabulous local library? Or is yours just as horrible as mine? Do you feel bad for not using it more? Comment below!