Tag Archives: reading

Fairyloot Unboxing June 2017 

Welcome to my first ever Fairyloot unboxing blog post! Previously, I used to do my unboxings on my Booktube channel and you can watch my May unboxing here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NSgzlkqo1hY 

But since I’ve decided to leave Booktube (you can read my blog about that here: https://t.co/VcufLprunt) I thought it would be a great idea to do my unboxings on here instead. 

Warning: this post contains spoilers of June’s Fairyloot box. If you’ve not received your June box yet. Read no further! 

Fairyloot delivery day is such an exciting time it’s like a birthday or Christmas but once a month. It retails at £32.95 including postage and they also deliver internationally although I’m unsure if the price varies. You can order Fairyloot here: https://www.fairyloot.com/

So without further ado, let’s have a look what was in the box this month! 

First up was this lovely candle from Witchwood Remedies. It’s a vegan soy candle and has a crystal in it which corresponds with the book of the month. In all honesty it’s very pretty but I can’t really say that I like the smell! It’s something like Bergamot I think. Anyway this candles name is Twister. 

Next up and the one I was most excited about receiving in this months box is this amazing cushion cover from Miss Phi with a quote from Stephen King ‘books are a uniquely portable magic’  I love the colours and the writing is beautiful! 

I’m completely in love with this Clairvoyance soap from Ascent Bath & Body.  It has Shea butter, charcoal and coconut in it and it smells amazing! The scent is fig and pomegranate. Also, it’s black and has glitter so it’s amazing just for that alone. Again the wrapper has amazing colours as well! 


The free book sampler this month is The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I actually got an ARC of this book in May’s Illumicrate though but it looks to be a great book so if you didn’t get the ARC the sampler will be pretty cool! The premise is that an adopted daughter of a king is accused of murdering him and has to flee back to her homeland a place of magic and mystery. She then has to lead a war against the kingdom she once pledged allegiance to. 

These sticky notes are awesome particularly for any fans of Harry Potter or other magical themed books. They come in a selection of purple, blue and yellow and they’re too cute to use in all honesty! These were made by Fairyloot themselves. 


We were promised an item which related to The Last Airbender and I was really excited about that, so a bit disappointed with what it actually was and also that unfortunately I can’t use it due to it containing almond, (I’m severely allergic to nuts). So if I had to choose my least favourite item in the box it would be this The Last Airbender lip balm. Although, I’m sure a lip balm is a cool item if you can use it! This is from Geeky Clean. 


Two more to go and then we’re at the Book! This lovely postcard which features a quote from Frostblood by Ella Blake. 


Finally, for the none bookish items is this cute bracelet designed by In the Moment which features a Hansa Hand. It’s so sweet and delicate I really like it! 


And now for the book! Drum roll please… 


I was really ecstatically pleased to receive Roar by Cora Carmack along with a signed bookplate and a letter introducing the book from the author. This is a book truly about elementals which was the theme of this month’s Fairyloot and has everything from arranged marriage to controlling storms. I’m excited to begin reading this soon! 

 

Another fantastic monthly box from Fairyloot! Check back here in a month’s time to see what the July box has to offer. 

Why I’m Leaving Booktube 

I’ve recently come back from a wonderful holiday in Sorrento, Italy. I had an amazing time, most of which was spent taking in the beautiful scenery, lounging by the pool with a cocktail and eating so much pizza it’s a wonder I don’t look like one. I read 17.5 books while I was there and to be completely honest it was pure bliss just to kick back and relax without having to worry about any of my roles. Whether that be my normal 9-5 job or my role as a vlogger. I still kept up with reviewing on here and enjoyed the writing process as always. But the realisation came to me that Booktube was taking up far too much of my time. Time that I’m afraid I’ve decided could be spent better elsewhere. 


I started Life Has a Funny Way in 2013 and I’ve seen it go from strength to strength. My passion for writing combined with my passion for reading and it all came together to make this blog. A blog that I am proud to say now has over 100 followers. That’s 100 people who actually care what I have to say and it feels amazing!! Writing is such a simple pastime for me, it’s something I can do while I’m watching tv, waiting for a meal to cook, or even when I’m laid in bed suffering insomnia like right now. Plus the bonus is that I get to write about the things I love most. Books! 


Booktube was not exactly a natural progression for me. Me and my partner had discussed it more for him, because he’s heavily into PC gaming we discussed the option of him having a channel and around that time we came up with the idea of me having one to talk about books. I had no idea that there was a community already out there, rather stupidly I thought I was coming up with a niche idea that would bring in the masses of people out there who wanted to bring reading into the 21st century as much as I did. I didn’t realise naively that they were all already out there. There’s some amazing Booktubers out there and they are doing such a good job of it already, I really didn’t see what I could bring to the table that wasn’t already sitting on it! 


One of the questions on the Booktube newbie tag is ‘what can you bring to Booktube which is new/original’ (I’m paraphrasing here). I honestly couldn’t think of anything I could bring. I later realised that the one niche I have over other people is how much I read in a month. Every month I generally read at least 20 books. But all this results in is veryyy long videos. The one thing that every advice page suggests you never do. People’s attention spans are short and running through a wrap up that’s pushing 20 minutes long just isn’t going to hold people’s attention! 


That became all too clear when people who joined Booktube at the same time as me were surpassing 100 followers while mine sat squarely at 46 a number which has now decreased to 42. Rather than gaining followers I’m losing them! 

Despite that though, I persevered. I’d invested money, not tons but enough to make it worth staying, and more specifically time in trying to get it right. Filming 2 videos every Saturday takes around an hour including set up, outfit changes, preparing for the video I.e doing my hair and makeup when usually I’d be slobbing around in my pjs all day. Then the editing process for 2 videos takes about another 90 minutes to 2 hours. Then there’s designing the thumbnail, uploading the video to YouTube, working out scheduling, tidying up after I’ve taken all my books off the shelves etc. It was just starting to get too much. 


One thing that the book community probably don’t know about me is that I suffer from anxiety really badly. While I had no anxiety about filming etc I found that the drag booktubing was having on my personal time was taking its toll. I became obsessive with it, needing to read more and more to keep beating my own exaggerated targets and finding I didn’t have time left over to spend with friends and family. When confirmation of my enrolment on my 4th year of uni came through I just realised that enough was enough. Once I got back at uni in September, along with my full time job, reading for pleasure, watching tv, looking after my dog and gardening there was going to be no time left for anything else. 


On top of that, since starting Booktube I haven’t worked on my own novel once! And it’s really about time I got that finished. It’s been a work in progress for 4 years now and I need to pull myself together some. 


I’m really grateful however that I got the chance to have a go at Booktube. I enjoyed talking about books with fellow book lovers and I met some great people on there who share my love of reading a dead tree and hallucinating! I want to say a special thank you to Anni, Jayesh and Georgina who have been my best bookish friends and so supportive of my Booktube journey. I hope that we’ll keep in touch, I’ll definitely still be checking out their Booktube channels and supporting them through their Booktube journey. Plus I still owe Jayesh some cheesecake and Millie’s cookies! 


I’ll be leaving my channel open so people can still check out my previous videos and it’s not to say that I might not return one day when I have more free time on my hands! I’ll still be doing my monthly wrap ups and book hauls and joining in with the brilliant book tags that go around. It’s just that I’ll be doing them from my blog now rather than on my channel. It’s time to get back to what I’m best at, reading and then writing about it. 

Thank you to all that have shown support for my channel and an especially big thank you to all the followers of my blog who have supported Life Has a Funny Way and helped to develop it to what it is today. You’re the reason I keep believing that I can do this and that people actually care about what I have to say. You’re all awesome! 

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Review. 

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of the classics but hallelujah I seem to have found an classic author I can actually get on with. 

Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd is not a great tome of a book and neither is it a difficult read in terms of language or content. But the messages it gives are big ones. 

Bathsheba Everdeen is a headstrong young woman with no less than three suitors. First there is Gabriel Oak who proposes to her first when he is attempting life as a gentleman farmer, then there is an actual gentleman farmer Mr Boldwood who also proposes marriage and is asked to wait. Finally there is the seductive soldier Frank Troy who is completely unsuitable but hey, everyone likes a bad boy right? 


Literally though, Bathsheba is the worst! She’s so annoying! So conceited, so arrogant, she clearly thinks herself to be stunning and strong and usually I’d love the idea of such an apparent feminist but in this case she doesn’t even come across as a feminist. What she comes across as is selfish and at times just a little bit bloody stupid! 


I did enjoy the novel because the prose is excellent and the storyline well put together. It is not a criticism of the author’s work to say that Bathsheba is what she is, it is more that I think Hardy probably wrote her that way. She could never discover the error of her ways after all if she didn’t make errors in the first place! 

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson. Review 

I’ve loved Milly Johnson’s novels since I picked up a sample of Its Raining Men in Waterstones, Meadowhall a few years ago. I was really excited to receive my copy of The Queen of Wishful Thinking from the publishers Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. 

As usual I really enjoyed the book. This one deals with a lot of sensitive issues, as is expected with the romance/chic-lit genre it focuses on two people who are unhappy and find happiness with each other. But it also deals with the more serious issues of infertility, abortion, infidelity and euthanasia. I also love that there are funny anecdotes at the beginning of several chapters which are extracts from The Daily Trumpet as usual posting hilarious misprints. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I found the one about a 12 year old called Beyoncé-Jane particularly funny, because I know for a fact that there’s probably kids called that in S.Yorks. 

Anyway, back to the storyline; Bonnie is in a loveless marriage with Stephen who controls everything about their lives, to top it off she’s also unhappy in her job, until she unexpectedly lands a job at a new antique store called Pot of Gold and gets more than she bargained for when she falls for her boss Lew. Lew is having problems of his own with his golddigger wife who is fast becoming unrecognisable. Having just recovered from a heart attack, Lew just wants a quiet life. And his feelings for Bonnie are developing as well. 


Alongside the love story, as aforementioned there are lots of other issues going on, but it all comes together very nicely. Milly has a skill of putting together novels which make you equal parts laugh along with the characters and fall apart with them as their world comes crashing down around them and they struggle to pick the pieces up. But friends are on hand, support is there and these friends go to outrageous lengths to protect their own. 


And of course in the end they all get to live happily ever after which is the best part about all of Milly’s novels! 

Festive Reading Guide 

Following the success of my Top 5 books to read at Halloween, I decided to follow up with a recommendation of the top 5 books to read this Christmas. Whether you’re in search of a cuddly Christmas romance to read in front of a warming fire, hot chocolate in hand, a spine tingling Christmas horror story, or even a thrilling Christmas adventure there’s something here for everyone to get the reader in you to get into the Christmas spirit. 
5. 

For the thrill seeker and of course any fan of James Patterson. At number five is Merry Christmas Alex Cross. Detective Alex Cross is called out on Christmas Eve when someone tries to rob the poor box of his local church. No sooner is he back home and decorating the tree with his family than he is called back out to deal with a hostage situation quickly spiralling out of control. This novel is a sharp reminder of how different Christmas is for people who work in jobs like law enforcement. Not just for Alex but for his family as well who wait anxiously at home unsure if he will return to spend Christmas Day with them or even if he’ll come back alive. 
4. 

Go on then… I’ll admit it… I’m a sucker for a romantic chic lit novel. It’s no fun being a serious reader all the time and studying books from the long eighteenth century for uni means I get enough of the serious stuff day to day. 
I’ll also admit I’d never read anything by Trisha Ashley before but I certainly will be reading books by her in future. 
A Christmas Cracker is centralised around the character Tabby a nice enough girl who has a bit of a bad time when she’s framed for fraud, her fiancé leaves her and sends her cat to a rescue centre. Things take a turn for the better though when she is rescued by a kindly Quaker woman who gives her a job revitalising the old cracker making factory left to her by her husband. The cute little cracker jokes at the beginning of each chapter are a great touch as well which give the Christmas feel more authenticity. 
What I love about books like this one are the wonderful happy endings. The idea that no matter what goes wrong things will turn out right in the end. I love their sense of romanticism and the wonderful ideas they give you about life in general. I love the warm fuzzy feeling I got inside when I’d finished this book and also the outside interest it gave me in further researching the Quakers; A religion I previously knew nothing about. 
I really liked the character of Tabby. With her sharp wit and sarcastic humour she was a very relatable character. I also loved the eccentric mill workers, grumpy Silas and ‘trouble at t’Mill’ Randall. Even the pets were great characters in their own right. There were sections to make you laugh out loud and parts that pulled at the heartstrings as well. 
The story didn’t just centre around the main romantic aspects either. Family history, village life, marketing, building a business, religion and true friendship were all part of it while sensitive subjects were brought in and dealt with in a respectful manner. 
The Christmas cheer it spread was perfect reading for this time of year as well. It’s left me with the feeling that I want to go and put my decorations up tomorrow and sip some mulled wine round a hot fire. A truly wonderful piece of Christmassy romantic fiction writing that gives you faith in humanity.
3. 

This was a firm favourite as a child. Chilling is exactly the right word to use to describe this book. I remember waiting with anticipation for it to come out of the Christmas box, feeling both excited and terrified to get back into stories like ‘The Road from Rushout Wood’. Featuring famous horror writers like Robert Swindells, Joan Aiken and Gillian Cross this anthology is a true Christmas horror that will stay with you for the rest of the year. 

2. 

Of course this one has to be in here somewhere. One if not The most iconic Christmas novel of all. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a book that is familiar to everyone even if their only experience of it is The Muppets version (come on we all love it). On Christmas Eve the grumpy miser Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts; past, present and future who try to change him from his stingy, unfriendly ways. Featuring loveable characters like Tiny Tim it’s a classic Christmas staple. 
1. 

This one may come as a surprise to be in the number 1 spot. I’m not even sure that it qualifies as a Christmas novel especially as it does have an alternative cover with a summery picture. But I first read it at Christmas and the sparkly snow covered jacket and the beautiful romance of the story make it my favourite Christmas read of all time. It’s just not Christmas unless I’ve read it. Folly follows the story of Jamie Ballantyne and Artemis King who fall in love despite the feud between their families. The novel skips between the two lovers in the present and the story of the feuds origins in the past. A beautiful wintry tale. Perfect to snuggle up to. 

Author Interview – Kathryn Croft

Welcome to my first monthly author interview. I’m really honoured to be welcoming Kathryn Croft author of five amazing thriller novels including the gripping While You Were Sleeping published by Bookouture on 16th November 2016.

I recently featured a review of Kathryn’s book on my site which can be found here: http://www.lifehasafunnyway.com/while-you-were-sleeping-by-kathryn-croft-review/

I caught up with Kathryn following the publication of While You Were Sleeping an understandably exciting time:

 

So, Kathryn, what was your background and how did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing and knew that one day I would have to write a novel. But I made several attempts before actually completing one. It was only after teaching secondary school English for six years that I knew I had to take the plunge and follow my dream.

 

What are your ambitions for your writing?

I’ve been so lucky to have achieved more than I could have imagined already but I would absolutely love to secure a film deal for any one of my books.

 

Which Writers inspire you?

Nikki French and Sophie Hannah were my early inspirations when I first started out. They are truly fantastic writers and storytellers.

 

How much research went into writing While You Were Sleeping?

As I know very little about police procedure, I researched what I would need to know about the crime and how it would be investigated.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently planning book 6 but its at the very early stages at the moment.

 

Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most?

I have loved writing all of my books but While You Were Sleeping really flowed for me. I also have a soft spot for The Stranger Within.

 

What do you use to do your writing?

I write notes by hand when I’m planning then type on the computer.

 

Would you ever write something outside of the thriller genre?

I wish I had the talent to write different genres but I’ll just have to leave that to the experts like Angela Marsons and Mel Sharratt!

 

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?

I usually write 1000 words every day, but actually for While You Were Sleeping I wrote 2000 words a day!

 

What sort of publishing route did you choose and why?

When I first started out, my goal was to secure a traditional publishing deal but things don’t always go exactly to plan. I managed to find my agent quickly but we couldn’t get a deal for my first novel, so we self-published on Amazon and did the same for the second book. It was only book 3 which got an amazing book deal with Bookouture. However, I really enjoyed self-publishing and I’m glad I had that experience.

 

How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures?

Marketing is not my strong point but thankfully my publishers are skilled at this and they have an amazing publicity expert, Kim Nash, and she does a wonderful job of getting my books out there. I do try to stay active on social media though, which is essential.

 

If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?

The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s one of my favourite books, and funnily enough it isn’t a thriller!

 

What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews?

 

I am extremely grateful to anyone who takes the time to write a review if they enjoyed my books. Everyone has the right to their opinion and not everybody will like every book, but I do think reviews never need to get personal!

 

If you’d like to hear more from Kathryn you can check out the following:

 

http://www.kathryncroft.com

follow @katcroft on Twitter

visit authorkathryncroft on Facebook

search Kathryn Croft on Goodreads

check out her amazon authors page Kathryn Croft

 

Thank you so much to Kathryn for taking the time to answer my questions and permitting me to post our interview on my blog. If you want to be featured as next month’s author of the month then please get in touch via my contact me page or on twitter @lifehasafunnywy or facebook Life Has a Funny Way.

 

You can also currently snap up the ebook of While You Were Sleeping for 99p on Amazon so get it while you can!

 

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult

It was a funny sort of way how I came about being a reader and inevitably a fan of the writing of Jodi Picoult. I picked up my first book by this author The Pact about 6 years ago; simply for the reason that her first name was spelt the same way as my sister’s name. By the time I got to Between the Lines I’d successfully read every book (even the ones not published in the UK) by Jodi.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up one of her novels and to be quite honest I hadn’t read the blurb on Between the Lines a novel she co-wrote with her daughter Samantha Van Leer. All I saw was a new book by Jodi and instantly checked it out from the library. When I did actually take the time to read the blurb before I started the book yesterday I was excited to see there was a complete change of subject matter for Jodi who usually writes about real life issues such as suicide, cancer and autism. A fantasy style novel seemed like a daring change.

I was right. It was very daring. Unfortunately too daring and invariably it failed. Some authors are extremely talented in being able to write novels of different genres, some are not. Jodi is one of the latter.

The novel is based around the idea that the 2 dimensional characters in novels come to life when the book is closed. That they lead their own lives unbeknownst to their readers and simply act out the story whenever the book is opened. So far so good right? That’s what I thought…

The two central characters in the novel are Delilah a 15 year old social misfit with no friends except for one gothic newcomer. Delilah is just trying to move on with life and get through school. The other central character in Between the Lines is Oliver; The Prince from the fairytale Delilah keeps reading again and again. Eventually Oliver who is unhappy with life inside the book and wants out, manages to contact Delilah and convince her to try and get him out of the book. Again sounds great…

 

Well it wasn’t. The characters were poor and literally 2 dimensional. There was nothing about them you could relate to and bond with, they were just flat. Delilah is a 15 year old girl its not even realistic that she would be rereading a children’s fairy tale simply because the character in the story did not have a dad just like her. The writing was dull and flat and uninteresting. There was nothing of Jodi’s articulate and interesting writing style. In the end having only made it a third of the way through I abandoned the book and returned it to the library.

I hate to be harsh but the only conclusion I can come to is that her daughter was actually the complete author of Between the Lines and that Jodi’s name was added to the title page simply to get it published and sold.