Book Covers

“You should never judge a book by its cover”

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This is a common statement heard in many different contexts however I think in the context of literal books it isn’t quite like that. I believe that unless you are sent random books or buy one with the cover hidden we always judge a book by its cover.

I think that book covers are a major factor when picking a new book. It can greatly influence your choice. If it is aesthetically pleasing then you are more likely to choose that book. I am personally guilty of doing such a thing and I do feel as though this is the wrong thing to do but I just can’t help it. I believe that book subscriptions have really broadened my choices and changed my mind slightly about this. I have received books that I wouldn’t normally choose based off the cover and this has shown me that the cover doesn’t equate to the book.

I also think that when it comes to series it affects your judgment. One of my reaiding pet peeves is when they change the covers of series throughout and therefor they do not match. I will buy the first few in a series then they will change the theme. As I am a bit of a perfectionist it really annoys me as they don’t all look the same 😊. I am aware that this is completely irrelevant to the story but I thought I would just share it. Maybe this annoys you too!

Overall, I would agree that we shouldn’t judge a cover by its book but it’s so hard not to. I also feel as though sometimes the cover doesn’t match the book. I am also aware that this isn’t always the fault of the authors so I feel that more people should understand this !

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS I know this blog post is short but I hoped you enjoyed it! Please comment your opinion on book covers! )

Bookish Places I would love to visit

1. Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, Paris

This bookstore was established in 1951 and it is a must-see for booklovers. It is a beautiful and cozy book shop and cafe and if you visit at night you may even stumble across one of its many events.

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2. Hay Castle Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

In this picturesque town there are a multitude of bookshops worth the visit but specifically the open aired one at Hay Castle. The town is especially worth visiting during Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, held between May and June.

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3. Livraria Lello & Irmão Bookstore, Porto

This bookstore is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores with it grand staircases and floor to ceiling books. Since it opened in 1906 and has since become an inspiration for any famous writers.

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4. The Brattle Book Shop, Boston

This was established in 1825 and is one of the oldest and largest antiquarian and used bookshops in the USA. In addition to the 3 story building you can also find books outside the building.

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5. Georgian House Wizard Chambers, London 

This is a 5-star hotel with both rooms for muggles and wizards. The wizard chamber are however the main reason people stay. These rooms give Harry Potter the chance to sleep in a Hogwarts type dormitory.

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Many  thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have ever visited these places or would like to)

 

What would make me give a book a 5/5 rating?

  1. Well-developed characters. To me this is the most important part of a book. If a character is not well-developed then they can often be unrealistic or hinders the intended storyline. You may be more focused on trying to understand the character rather than exploring the storyline and events.
  2. It has to be well structured. This can mean different things to different people so it is completely personal. I prefer having shorter and a larger number of chapters rather than one continuous prose or large sections as it allows me to see progress much easier and provide myself with reading targets. For example to read a chapter before I go to sleep. Even although this is preferred I have read book that are more of a continuous prose and enjoyed it however it has to be written in an engaging way to keep me reading.
  3. It stimulates your brain. A good book has to engage your thoughts and allow you to regularly form your own opinions and feelings for the book and its characters. You must be fully invested into the book and want to continue reading in order to fully enjoy the storyline.
  4. Well-written. The book has to be well-written in an engaging way. This completely depend on the genre and target audience but if, for example, your boo is aimed at a younger audience or children then you have to write it in a way that engages them. Easy to understand language and quick sentences. Whereas crime novels may focus on the correct terminology and language. A book that I have read that was extremely well-written was ‘Call Me by Your Name’ by Andre Aciman. It is written in a beautiful manner that is almost like poetry in the way it flows throughout the pages.

These are a few important factors that I judge a book off of but this isn’t what everyone would prioritise. I personally prioritise character development whereas others may choose the structure. This is my opinions and I hope it helps you to find yours.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment what makes you rate a book 5/5)

Book Box Club

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Book Box Club is a subscription service where a box is sent to you monthly which contains a book and other goodies related to the chosen theme. It is run by Libby Harris and Kate Morris-Double who are friends who both live everything book related. I stumbled upon this whilst on social media and loved the idea. I immediately purchased my first box which happened to have the theme of Witchcraft. I really liked all the items I received which is also a bonus!

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When I first opened the box I saw the leaflet with all the information about the items that were in the box. It tells you all about what you received and the theme the box was based upon.

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Some of the goodies that were in the box are above. First thing I noticed upon opening the box was the potion bottle filled with bath salts with mystic scents of mint and jasmine. This item was created by Midsummer Child who has a shop on Etsy where you can but this product. The next item I noticed was the Luna Lovegood Candle by Madame Fiction who also has an Etsy shop under that name. It is an exclusive plum and rhubarb candle inspired by the whimsical witch Luna Lovegood. On top of this you also received Hocus Pocus earrings by Fairy Fountain Gifts (Also on Etsy) which are little earrings featuring a broom riding witch. You also received A Spell for Wildflowers so you can grow your own little garden. I loved all these items and especially liked how they are all by individual and small companies.

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However, my favourite item that I received (excluding the book) was the Portable Magic Book Pouch by Tea Cake Art to keep your books save whilst you take them around with you. It features a Stephen King quote on the back ‘Books are uniquely portable magic’  with a spell bounding illustration on the front.

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The book that was included in this months box was The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess which features a story in which an impending war and vicious witch hunt will take Bea away from her innocent summer and cast her into the dark and dangerous world of Hocus Pocus. As her powers grow and enemies closing in she questions if she can’t trust herself who can she trust. I am really looking forward to reading this book and the fact it is something I wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to myself is another reason why I think this subscription box is a great idea. It takes you out of your reading comfort zone and allows you to explore other authors and themes. It also comes with a signed insert from the author. It also features an exclusive invite to an online book club with the author.

 

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This subscription service is a great idea as you get to receive a new book every month without the hassle of looking around for one yourself. It also takes you out of your comfort zone which is always exciting. The box is available to purchase on https://www.bookboxclub.com/ and if you order before the 6th of every month you will receive your box by the end of the month. Next months box theme is Tech Tribes.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment your opinion on this subscription box or have other recommendations)

(PPS this post in not sponsored)

 

Best websites for buying books

The following are website that I use when buying books and I find them the best options. I hope this helps you buy you’re next book!

Book Depository

Book Depository is a great website which allows you to purchase books internationally all with free worldwide shipping. It offers a vast amount of books, over 18 million and is likely to have have everything your looking for. Not only that but there is a bargain shop where you can find all the best deals and sales. I love using this website and it is my go to when buying books online. It helps that you get a free bookmark with an artists design on it !

Abe Books

Abe books is a great choice when looking to buy used books. It allows individuals to sell book as due to that you can find books in lots of different conditions for multiple prices so you can choose which one you would like. I live this website when wanting to buy a book but a little cheaper. There are usually shipping costs however added to the price of the book it is still a great deal most of the time.

Amazon

Amazon is great for e-books, specifically my kindle. It is easy to use and download books that are cheaper than paper or hard back. There is also a huge amount of free books available that may not be your taste however it allows you try other genres at no cost. It is also good for paper and hard backs books however as it often has a pre-order section for soon to be released books.

Etsy

Etsy has a lot of good products that are book related as well as books themselves. They have a vast amount of bookmarks and book accessories on sale as well as personalised books and notebooks. I recently purchased a notebooks which I love and much more like that is available.

Waterstones

Waterstones is a great website that is easy to navigate and purchase books from. There is a great choice and if you have a waterstones card then you can collect points to take money off future books.

I hope this helps when you are buying a new book!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(Please comment if you have any other websites you like to use )

Douglas Skelton Q&A

Douglas Skelton is a Scottish crime writer who writes both fiction and non-fiction that look at the darker side of things. He is known for his Davie McCall series and the Dominic Queste books. I have previously written about his book ‘Tag – You’re Dead’ whohc I found was very enaging and enjoyable to read. His books are mainly based in Scotland and I think this makes me like them further as I am Scottish.

Douglas Skelton has kindly offered to answer a few questions which I greatly appreciate and I am thankful.

Q&A

  1. What made you become an author?

I think the yen to write was always there. I can recall at age seven or eight lying on the floor of our flat in Springburn in Glasgow, writing a crime story called ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ about the murder of a TV presenter on camera. Years later I discovered Ed McBain had made a far better job of the same idea. In school I wrote plays and in English class what they called compositions always became some kind of horror or crime story. Then, after a spotty employment career, I drifted into journalism and made stuff up for a living.

 

  1. Were you influenced by any specific author or book?

I’ve already mentioned Ed McBain. His 87th Precinct novels were – and still are – an incredible influence on my approach to storytelling. He threaded humour through his work and I do the same. He also liked dialogue and so do I. He introduced tiny little characters who sprang off the page, full-blown, and I attempt that, too. I think also his economy, he didn’t mess around, and I like that in a crime novel or thriller.

 

  1. Why did you choose to write in the crime/mystery genre?

I’ll do anything if they pay me! Seriously, I think it’s just something that’s in me. A dark side, if you like. I’m a storyteller and that kind of story attracts me. I’d also like to try my hand at a western, though.

Crime is the genre I read more than any others, beginning with Ed McBain. Horror has long since become less interesting to me. I could never get into fantasy. Sci fi was a passing fad for me. Literary novels bore me to tears (sorry, literary folk, but they do). But crime and mystery covers such a wide platform that there’s always something of interest for me.

 

  1. Regarding the Dominic Queste books, what made you decide to make the main character of Dominic Queste have a comedic/smartaspect to his personality?

I had just come off the four Davie McCall novels – Blood City, Crow Bait, Devil’s Knock and Open Wounds – and they were pretty dark. They still had humour in them, of course, but the overall tone was dark. Also, Davie was hard to write because everything about him was internal. Most of the other characters in the series thought he was one thing – tough, dangerous, not someone you’d invite to tea – but the reader knew that he was pretty vulnerable. He was taciturn to the point of being monosyllabic at times and I like dialogue. So Dominic Queste was the antidote. He runs off at the mouth, that engine is running even when his brain isn’t in gear, and it gets him into trouble. I also put a lot of myself into him. Like me, he’s a big movie fan and he listens to film scores. And not all of his jokes work. But also, it’s an extension of the traditional private eye – even though he calls himself an odd job man. Smart mouthed, often cynical, heart of mush.

 

  1. Why did you decide to set your books in Scotland?

Well, I am Scottish, simple as that. I know the place. And when I started writing non-fiction, the so-called Tartan Noir explosion hadn’t taken place. Yes, William McIlvanney had given us Laidlaw, Peter Turnbull (who is English) had created the P Division series and Ian Rankin and Val McDermid were being published but that was more or less it. When I belatedly turned to fiction, I used all I’d learned through true crime and actually investigating it for Glasgow solicitors to hopefully make it seem as real as I needed it to be. Then I threw it all out for Dominic Queste! However, my next book – The Janus Run, out in September – is set in New York. It’s a gamble.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite book that you have ever written?

Each book I write is my favourite, certainly until I start the next one. I’m proud of just about every book I’ve written (not them all, there is one I despise. It was written at a bad time in my life and it’s the only one I’ve ever done purely for cash). I do have a particular affection for the Davie McCall series, particularly ‘Open Wounds’, which was longlisted for the first McIlvanney Prize for a Scottish crime book. I’m very, very proud that it was selected. I like the mixture of darkness and light – my Celtic blood is drawn to the darkness, I think. I’d like to return to Davie’s world some day.

 

  1. What process do you go through when writing a new book? Does that differ between fiction and non-fiction?

My process for fiction is this – I have a notion, I start writing. Sometimes I see it through to the end, sometimes I lose interest and give up. I have a number of projects I’ve started and then given up. I don’t plan. I don’t work anything out in detail. I might have an idea for an ending, but not always. I usually have an opening, perhaps a couple of points I want to hit, but beyond that I simply free the rabbit and see which way it jumps.

The non-fiction was different because I was guided by the facts. Yes, I lathered a sheen of storytelling on top but in the end I knew which way things were going to go because they had already happened.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite ever author/book?

I have a lot of favourite authors – Ed McBain (surprise! Bet you didn’t see that coming), Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, John Connolly, William Goldman. There are, of course, lot of Scottish authors who are very good, too many to mention and not all of them are friends of mine (in case you wondered).

As for a favourite book, this varies. I used to say ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ but there are others, so many others, that I hold in high regard, some by the authors I mentioned above, some not.

 

  1. Do you have any recommendations on what to read in the crime/mystery genre?

Yes – anything by me. I’m wonderful. I’m kidding (no, I’m not).

I swear by the authors I’ve already mentioned but there are so many other good books out there.

My friends Caro Ramsay, Michael J. Malone, Neil Broadfoot, Theresa Talbot, Mark Leggatt, Denzil Meyrick, Mason Cross all produce fabulous work. Far too good, if you ask me. But the list goes on – Quintin Jardine, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Craig Robertson, Gordon ‘GJ’ Brown, TF Muir, James Oswald – all great writers. I’ll have forgotten someone, I’m sure…

 

  1. Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring writers and/or avid readers of crime fiction? Do you have any tips?

To be a writer you need a number of qualities.

Perseverance – you need to learn to keep at it, no matter what.

The ability to take criticism – I know you think your work is perfect but really, it isn’t. Listen to constructive criticism, act on it.

The ability to take advice – you don’t always know best.

The ability to roll with the punches – you’ll be rejected. Not everyone will like what you write. People will be mean, especially on line. Don’t let the latter get to you.

For readers, please remember that no one sets out to write a bad book. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, it’s just not to your taste. Also remember that authors have feelings, too. The author has been labouring with this story for upwards of a year in one way or another. By all means post a review – we not only welcome them but we need them – but please don’t be vicious. Be constructive in your criticism. Although we much prefer being told how wonderful we are.

And if you do post a review, please read the book first. I saw a review recently of a book (not one of mine) that the reviewer admitted not reading! Strange, but true.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment whether you enjoyed this blog post)

My Birthday Gifts

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As it as my birthday recently I was lucky to receive a number of gifts, many book related so I thought I would share them. I got 3 books, two gift cards and a piece of artwork.

Warlord by Chris Ryan

warlordWarlord by Chris Ryan is the 5th instalment in the Danny Black thriller series and is based around the dangerous world of drugs and cartels. Set on the US-Mexico border it looks at how the CIA and SAS will combat the drug epidemic and the cartels that are running it. Whilst doing this however Danny realises that the drugs from these cartels can reach far and will discover that people close to him are affected by them also. I have yet to start reading this book however I am excited to as it seems like something I would be interested in.

 

TAG- You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton

tag youre deadTag- You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton is a book that surrounds the character of Dominic Queste who is a private investigator of sorts. As he is looking for a butcher by the name of Sam Price he realises that everything is much more dangerous that first tgought and he is brought into a killers game. A simple favour has turned into his nightmare very quickly and he must play by the killers rules or be killed himself.  I have began to read this book and so far I am enjoying it and love the way it is written. I like the main character as although he can be series there is a comedic aspect to him which is likeable.

 

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner follows the disappearance of a girl by the name of Edith Hind. It is written from the viewpoint of multiple characters which allows you further insight into what everyone is dealing with. With the lead detective aware of how critical the first 72 hours of a disappearance is she works to try to find Edith alive whilst facing the severe pressure from the press. I have also yet to read this book but I look forward to delving into it.

 

Gift cards

img_20180615_1253203695135610765223753.jpgAs part of my birthday I also received two gift cards, one for Waterstone’s and the other a national book tokens card. I loved these gifts as it allows you to enjoy whatever book you choose as you have the choice of the book shop. I will get the chance to go look and explore knowing that someone gave this to be as a gift. I think gift cards are always a good choice for any gift and for anywhere as it shows that you are thoughtful to buy a gift but allows them to choose something they would like and not something you think they will like.

Artwork by Stevie Spiers

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This image is part of his ‘My Little People’ series and is a photograph I immediately fell in love with. I believe it suits me very well as I love to read and my favourite books to read and murder mysteries and crime books. I was given this by my sister and I love it. I would highly recommend visiting www.steviespiersphotography.com to look at this series and it is both comedic and tasteful.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment what books related-gifts you have ever received)