Who is your fictional bad boy crush?

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My daily newspaper (which is The Age for those of you keen to play along at home) has a little section on the front cover called the ‘Odd Spot’ which features a quirky piece of news from somewhere around the world every day.  I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t the first thing that I read every time I pick up the paper in the morning.  Last week, this one caught my eye and I thought of you, my fellow book lovers, when I read it:

So today’s big (all important, life changing) question: Who is your fictional bad boy crush? Tell me yours in the comments below and I’ll tell you mine!

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Styling your bookcases (Yes, it’s actually a real thing!)

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(Yes, I’ve just bought myself a new drawing tablet so I can add handwriting to my photos. And yes, I’m in love!)

So, one of the  tasks that I set for myself over the school holidays was to get a TV unit.  Yes, I know that doesn’t sound very book-related but hear me out.

When I first moved into my teeny tiny flat back in November, the first thing that I bought was two big white Expedit bookcases from IKEA that I had been lusting after for a couple of years after I saw them in a friends’ apartment.  After buying them, the next thing I did was fill them choc full of my books – I had enough to fill one whole bookcase and half of the second – and as I hadn’t seen any of my books several years because I’d been living overseas, it was all very exciting.

Then, back in March, I finally cracked and bought myself a television.  Nothing too crazy, but it meant that I then needed a TV unit.  So, after much umming and ahhhing over different units (and watching my TV propped up on a chair), I ended up impulse purchasing an Expedit TV unit from IKEA on a trip to buy other things.  And, yes, I know you’re still thinking what does this have to do with books?

Well, the first thing I did with the cubby holes in my new TV unit was stuff them full of books from the half full bookcase (which is in my bedroom).  Then I stood back and looked at the full bookcase and the TV unit together in the living room and they just looked … intimidatingly full. They looked heavy and you almost couldn’t take in any of the books because they were just so jammed in there.  They were crowding me out of my tiny flat.

Then  just happened read this great post over at one of my favourite blogs at the moment Young House Love and I was inspired to learn more about styling your bookcase.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, after reading that I began to do some research and apparently it’s a real thing. People do it.  On purpose.

Then, I thought – perhaps I should give it a go?  This is what my living room bookcase looks like now:

I really like the stacks of books in the middle of the shelf with the artifact on top and the ones that are half vertical/half horizontal.  You’ll notice that there are no photos in two of the frames.  I’ve just put them there as placeholders.  I totally love those frames two frames but I haven’t found a photo or a particular quote that I’d like to have in each of them yet.  It’s a work in progress, but you get the idea.

And this is my TV unit:

I really like the ‘red’ bookshelf at the top (with the white candle holder/vase) and the square frame at the bottom.  I’d love to replace those coloured boxes on the thin shelf with a matching pair at some point.  As my desk doubles as my dining table, it is handy that my printer fits in there too.

If you’d like to try a bit of bookcase styling yourself, I’d suggest:

1. Read the following blog posts to learn more about it first –

Young House Love

Houzz

Apartment Therapy

Better Homes and Gardens

2. Take a ‘Before’ photo.  (I totally regret missing this step!)

3. Take everything off your bookcase and give it a good dust.

4. Go around your house and collect some ‘artifacts’.  You know – knick knacks, dust collectors, ornaments, vases, photos or quotes in frames – that sort of thing.  I don’t own many of these at all, so it is something that I am aiming to get some more of in the future. I don’t want to just accumulate things for the sake of having them, but next time I’m on holiday it is something that I’ll be keeping an eye out for, those little treasures with a story to bring home.

5.   Now rearrange the books and artifacts on your bookcase to give a bit more space.  Before you start putting books on, I’d suggest you take a look at the Art of Doing Stuff as apparently there are 7 different ways to stack books.  (Yeah, I know – who thinks up these things!)  With my Expedit bookcase in the living room (which is four squares by four squares) I decided that two squares in each row should be full and two should be ‘styled’ with other things in them as well as books.

And you know what?  I think it actually works!  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I really love the way it looks and it has totally lightened up the space too.  Much less prominent in my small space and really beautiful to look at.  I’m loving having a few more inspirational quotes around the place too.  It feels good.

I’d love to hear about your bookcase styling adventures.  Send me a photo and it might feature in one of the future posts here at Frankly Books! Do you have a special way of arranging your books?  Alphabetical? Dewey system? Series together?  By colour?

 

 

Goodbye Google Reader. Hello Feedly!

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One of the weirdest things about living in Australia and using social media is that a lot of things happen while you are asleep.  There have been a few times that I have woken up to find that pretty big things in the world of publishing have happened while I’ve been happily dreaming away in the Land of Nod.  Examples of this include: whole sock-puppet thing, Random House and Penguin merging, and, most recently, Amazon buying Goodreads.

I’ve never been a particularly big fan of RSS feeds.  I hate the way that the text ends up looking and the formatting generally hurts my brain.  I always forget to go and check various feeds and half the time I was never able to work out how follow the sites that I really wanted to follow.  I’d tried a few different ways to use it, then had just decided that it wasn’t for me.

As you can imagine, when I woke up last week to hear about the end of Google Reader, I wasn’t exactly in tears over it.  I’d tried it (a couple of times) and it had never really worked for me.  Most of the blogs that I follow come through to me via email – either individually or clumped together using BlogLovin’ – and that has been working for me so far.

Then, amongst the tweet stream of people bemoaning the loss of Google Reader, came a few suggestions to try Feedly.  Having never heard of Feedly (and super afraid it would just be another Google Reader for me), I trotted on over to have a look.  And now, just a week later:

So, why do I love it so much?

  1. It is really, really easy to sign up to follow different sites.  Just type in their web address and hit follow.  Done.
  2. You can categorize your feed if you’d like.  For the first week I didn’t bother, but now that I’m checking it daily and adding more sites, I’ve decided that this is a good option.
  3. It is super easy to save posts for later.  This is giving me a great list of sites to tweet about.  Everyone wins!
  4. You can layout your feed however you’d like to to appear.  I’m really visual I so I like the ‘Magazine View’ which shows pictures, words and still leaves plenty of white space (and so is good for the eyes!)
  5. Once you’ve read something you can mark it as read and make it disappear.
  6. You can get it as an App. Yep, you can check Feedly on the run!
  7. I can clear out my email inbox -unsubscribing from getting lots of individual or clumped together blog updates, I can just go to one spot and see all the posts that I want (beautifully formatted and complete with pictures, just like going to the blog myself and in some cases, even better!)

Quite frankly, it takes a lot for me to be this smitten with a website and (in case you haven’t worked it out already) I totally recommend that you try it!  Start off by adding two of my favourite bloggers about self-publishing: The Creative Penn (www.thecreativepenn.com) and Catherine, Caffeinated  (www.catherineryanhoward.com)

I’d love to know what you think – have you got Feedly fever too?

Review: Fat Angie

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I’ve just finished e.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s Fat Angie and to be frank: it didn’t set my world on fire.


What it’s about:
Her sister was captured in Iraq, she’s the resident laughingstock at school, and her therapist tells her to count instead of eat. Can a daring new girl in her life really change anything?

Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of “crazy mad cow!”) away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids — she’s back at high school just trying to make it through each day. That is, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. A girl who is one hundred and ninety-nine percent wow! A girl who never sees her as Fat Angie, and who knows too well that the package doesn’t always match what’s inside. With an offbeat sensibility, mean girls to rival a horror classic, and characters both outrageous and touching, this darkly comic anti-romantic romance will appeal to anyone who likes entertaining and meaningful fiction.

Things that irked me as a reader:

  • This story was told through a third person perspective and it didn’t really work in my opinion.  I felt that we were really seeing the world through Fat Angie’s eyes and yet we weren’t really privy to her inner thoughts and feelings in a convincing way. I feel that perhaps would have worked better (and connected with readers on a deeper level) told in first person.
  • I got tired of Angie being called Fat Angie consistently throughout the text.  I felt a bit like I was being bludgeoned with this fact about her and it really began to grate on me.
  • The characters that Fat Angie encountered at William Anders High School were pretty stereotypical which was a bit tedious. Even though Charlton-Trujillo tried to create really unique, quirky characters in Fat Angie and KC Romance, they were so over the top that they became caricatures of themselves.  What’s unique about a story where high school students pick on the fat girl?


You might enjoy it though:

  • If you’re into arty indie films, this book could be for you. It reads a bit like I can imagine Juno might read if it was a book.
  • You love a good high school story with the cast of characters and problems that come along with that.

It reminds me of: My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, albeit very vaguely, through the themes of loss of siblings through violent situations.

Memorable phrase: Blank.  Fat Angie drew an unfathomable big blank.

For those of you concerned with star ratings: I’d give it a two.  At a stretch.

If you have a book you would like to see reviewed, please visit my Collaborate page.

 

Review: Geek Girl

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I’ve just finished reading Holly Smale’s Geek Girl and to be frank: I totally adored it and didn’t want it to end!

What it’s about: 

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

You’ll love it if:

  • You love transformation stories – like The Princess Diaries but wittier.  If you’ve ever felt like a bit of an ugly duckling, you’ll totally be able to identify with the hilariously developed protagonist, Harriet Manners.
  • You love to laugh out loud.  This book is clever and funny – there were several points where I couldn’t help but laugh at the antics that Smale’s used to create realistic characters.
  • You are slightly intrigued by the world of modelling and fashion, as these play a key part in this story.  That said, you can still enjoy the book for the humour and characterisation.

It might not be for you if:

  • You aren’t into what is essentially chick-lit for YAs.

It reminds me of: Some of the characters created by Cathy Cassidy.  It would be a great book for middle grade girls to move onto as they begin secondary school.

Memorable phrase: Baby-baby panda! (The character of modelling agent Wilbur – that’s -bur not -iam is so funny and the names he comes up with to call others are just magic!)

For those of you concerned with star ratings: I’d give it four.

If you have a book you would like to see reviewed, please visit my Collaborate page.

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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I’ve just finished reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and to be frank: I really enjoyed it!

What it’s about: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

You’ll love it if:

  • You love simple stories laced with richly constructed, beautifully detailed characters. John Green’s protagonist 16 year old cancer patient Hazel is a perfectly created vehicle for telling this story and when she meets Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters, you know that their time together is going to be something special.
  • You know a family with young person who has been touched  by cancer.
  • You enjoy books filled with plenty inter-textual references. The title of this book comes from a famous line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where Cassius says to Brutus, “‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.'” There is reference to the Anne Frank House and story. Central to the story is also Hazel’s favourite book about a girl with a rare blood cancer – An Imperial Affliction, By Peter van Houten.  Although a fictional title by a fictional author of Green’s creation, the story within the story aspect of this text is part of what makes it unique.

It might not be for you if:

  • You aren’t into teen romance or love stories.  Although. to be perfectly honest, Green writes about it so beautifully that you can’t help but embrace the star-crossed characters of Hazel and Gus.

It reminds me of: How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr

For those of you concerned with star ratings: I’d give it four.

If you have a book you would like to see reviewed, please visit my Collaborate page.