Book Review: The Diary Of A Bookseller – Shaun Bythell

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Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.


 

My Thoughts 2

 

What a charming read. A pessimistic bookseller ( Shaun, the author ) reveals what goes down in his bookshop. Not the first person who had this idea for a book but, to be honest, I don´t mind that at all.

`The Diary Of A Bookseller` by author Shaun Bythell is the most charming ( with a less charming bookstore owner ) and charismatic non-fiction/memoir I´ve read this year.

 

Peculiar. Sarcastic. Amusing. Enlightening.

 

Online sales, customer dealings, employee interaction, book sales/trades/purchases,… So much wonderful insight presented in a diary format. This sounds like a book lover´s dream come true. And, it IS a book lover´s dream come true. For everyone else, this is probably the worst book that has ever ben published. The Diary Of A Bookseller

I really enjoyed this book but I would have enjoyed it more had it not been so repetitive at times.

The issue with a 310-page book that is filled with diary entries is: It´s hard to keep them exciting all the time. I admit- I felt a strong urge to skim every other diary entry, but I didn´t. I felt I owed it to the bookshop owner for some reason.

Here´s a guy who´s put so much time and effort into documenting his experiences. His snarky comments, the sarcasm, his voice… I fully appreciated everything. This book deserves attention from a book lover.

After having read this book I´m 100% positive that I never want to be a bookshop owner. Like- Ever. Hats off to Shaun, though. For keeping the bookstore tradition going.


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I would. If you love the diary format then you´ll love this non-fiction. Also a great read for fans of bookshop owner Bernard Black from the British sitcom Black Books!

Would I reread this book? Probably not. There are definitely parts I´d like to reread sometime but from start to finish? I don´t think I will.


 

 

The Cover – 4 Stars:  A perfect cover for this book. Very fitting.

The Story – 3 Stars:  The book is a memoir. The author graciously granted insight on the monotonous life as a bookseller. If it wasn´t for the dragging entries…

The Character – 4 Stars:   You could feel sorry for Shaun but then again- He chose the bookshop and it looks like the shop has turned him into a snarky yet humorous person. He´d be my friend in real life, I´m sure.

My emotional state after finishing this read – Satisfied.

 

4 stars

 

You can buy `The Diary Of A Bookseller on Amazon.com

 

Book Review: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson

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For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

 


 

My Thoughts 2

 

Out of all the people who usually recommend books to me – It was my brother who pushed me to buy `The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck` by author Mark Manson.

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck

Mind you- I wasn´t and still am not on the search for immediate or permanent happiness. I´m good. Things are fine. Everything´s boogy in my neck of the woods. So, the idea of buying a self-help book, knowing I don´t need help is a little pointless, wouldn´t you think?

 

“You don´t have to be on the lookout for happiness to enjoy this book. I guarantee you- You´ll like it even if you don´t need it.”  Is what my brother said.

 

He was wrong. I didn´t end up liking `The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck`. I loved every single thing about this book. I think it´s a brilliant piece of work.

 

Entertaining. Provocative. Funny. Eye-opening. Helpful. 

 

It´s safe to say that this book, with the way it´s written, is not for everyone. I happen to be the type of person who enjoys profanity in books ( lots of profanity ) and can see the beauty in the author´s directness without being offended by his ideas or notions. I believe this is one of the best eye-openers on the market.

 

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

 

From mornings to evenings… From January to December… The fucks I have to give are sparse. The fucks I do give are used wisely, though. This book will talk about this topic, along with ways to free oneself from the cages we locked ourselves in, in an easy to follow way.

Mark Manson talks about how happiness is a problem, discusses self-worth and even reveals his take on failure and success in an understandable way.

My brother was right. You can fully enjoy this book without actually needing all the advice inside. You can sit back, relax and, for once, have fun reading a self-help book ( because most self-help books aren´t entertaining ).


 

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. I can see this book helping many people ( if needed ). A great read even for non-help seekers

Would I reread this book? Absolutely. The language and writing is right up my alley. If there ever was a book for me then this would be it.


 

`The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck` is a non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, self-help/personal development book so I´ll keep the rating simple.

 

5 stars


 

This book is available for purchase at Amazon.com

 

Book Review: When Ashes Fall – Marni Mann

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It’s been said that you can’t love two men at the same time.
You can’t split your heart, soul, and body in half.
But I’m here to tell you, you can.
Dylan Cole is like ice, sharp and unpredictable, the thunder inside a tumultuous storm.
Smith Reid is warmth, soft and gentle, perfect like a sunny day.
Both are mine.
But I can have only one.
There are two sides to this tale.
I’m here to tell you mine.
If you think this story is about a cheater, you couldn’t be more wrong.

 


 

My Thoughts 2

The synopsis sounds dramatic. The story is depressingly dramatic.

 

`It´s been said you can´t love two men at the same time.`

 

This synopsis is like every other one for a serious ménage á trois romance. They all promise the same but few rarely deliver the intensity a love triangle has/is supposed to have. Well, there´s no love triangle in this book. At least not in a traditional sense.

So, why did I still end up buying this book? A few spoiler-free online reviews were pretty convincing. Plus I wanted to be wowed again by a massive love story about a woman who can´t make up her mind on who she wants more.

`When Ashes Fall` by Marni Mann is a story about love, loss, heartbreak, heartache, and recovery. It´s pretty much one gloomy cloud with a few rays of sunshine… That, there, is the story in a nutshell. When ashes fall

Meeh, I wasn´t blown away. Not by this book. Although, the story on its own is okay.  It´s the writing that put me off.

 

  • The story felt like I was in some gray universe. I wanted to find the legendary Color Belt and rescue Boston with some rainbows while riding on a horse named Starlite ( I´ve been watching too many Rainbow Brite episodes )

 

  • Chapter sizes were somewhere between 4 – 7 pages. A reader is able to fly through the pages and conquer 56 chapters + an epilogue with ease. While this isn´t really story threatening it is annoying knowing you get little information per scene/ chapter. For a story as heavy and emotional as this one is I would have liked a little more description.

 

  • There was POV hopping- divided by three. Sometimes I don´t need to have a third character´s point of view unless they have something relevant to add to the story. What happened here was both men and the female protagonist had voices. It would´ve been enough if one of the men and the Heroine had their moments.  You know, maybe make things a little more interesting by not knowing EVERYTHING.

 

  • The Past & Present flips. Really, I don´t like it when stories jump back and forth.

 

  • I can buy an instant-love once. I can´t buy an instant-love twice. It´s just not going to happen. This puts a huge damper on my mood because how fat are chances an instant-love happens twice to the same person? I´m not judging. Okay, I am.

 

  • An overuse of three-word sentences.

 

 

The writing and the way the story was told didn´t do it for me at all. The POV changes interrupted my reading flow. Just when I finally felt a connection with a scene it was cut off by a time leap or a different POV.

 

Would I recommend this book? No. It´s 65% depressing and 35% hopeful. But I can totally see why others would like this book. It´s romantically depressing and can touch all the right buttons if a reader likes that. I don´t, especially with the way it´s written, so…

Would I reread this book? Nope.

 


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:   Although I´m not a fan of character images on covers I do think the woman on the front suits the Heroine just fine.

The Story – 2 Stars:   A little too depressing for my taste.

The Characters – 2 stars:   I thought Dylan was completely unnecessary. Alix- She could´ve been more convincing. Smith, on the other hand- What a great character. But the trio didn´t have enough spark for me.

My emotional state after finishing this read: Meeh.

2 stars

 



 

You can purchase `When Ashes Fall by author Marni Mann over at Amazon.com

When ashes fall

 

 

 

 

Is There An Easier Way To Review Books?

I´ll tell you what – I struggle sometimes with writing reviews. There are days when I can sit down and write a colorful 2K word review for a 300 page standalone. Then I go through phases of painful reviewer´s block. I can´t come up with the right words to express my thoughts or feelings regarding a book.

You´d think I´d have the hang of this review thingy by now. I mean- 10 years should have taught me a trick or two. Weeeeell, it seems like I´m still winging things as I go.

My biggest struggle is review size/length. For some reason, I have this notion that reviews have to be a certain size to be considered a true review. I know, total bullshit. But I can´t help it. It´s like this evil pattern embedded deep in the recesses of my brain. Am I bothered by this? To be honest- Sometimes I am. Writing reviews should be as easy as breathing in air. All you have to do is lay down your opinion and hit that publish button. * sigh *  If only that were true.
During my book blogger years I´ve asked myself the same questions over and over again:

  • Is there an easier way to review books?
  • Should my reviews be lengthy or short?
  • If short, how short? If long, how high should my word count be?

 

This isn´t a matter of being insecure. This is me battling my perfectionist side. Thankfully, I´ve learned that book review size doesn´t really matter.

 

Review length is a matter of personal preference. 

 

It´s a question of how much information a reviewer wants to include in their reviews. Personality, style, emotions, and knowledge. Add all or only add a few. Do whatever the hell you want, right? Right. But there was still one question left unanswered. One I consider a challenge.

Is there an easier way to review books?

Because let´s face it – No one is able to pull a review out of their ass thinking hat. It´s tedious sometimes. And us foot folk don´t get paid for our awesomeness. There has to be a way!

The other day I was making notes in my reading log for my next review when I noticed a little box on the lower left corner. A little feature I have been using all along but never gave much thought about.

smiley

 

A simple rating system. Rate the plot, the characters, and ease of reading. Then to sum everything up you give your overall opinion via smiley.  This doesn´t even take a minute out of our day ( if we allow ourselves to not overthink much and analyze everything ) to do and can also be easily used as book reviews. If you ask me, I think this is brilliant. I´ll tell you why:

  • Some people misunderstand reviews. I know- Unthinkable but true. Some reviews are very wordy and not everyone´s native speaking language is English. I can see why some would have questions.
  • They´re wordless. Sometimes words can hurt. Whether intentionally or unintentionally… there´s bound to be an author hanging on that one word a reviewer used to describe the book/their feelings.
  • Most of the world is familiar with a smiley rating scale– Everyone´s most likely been confronted with a 3 point or 5 point rating scale at a young age so there is a global understanding of what a sad face, a neutral face and a happy face means.
  • They´re quick. Some people take days to write a review. Imagine how much time could be saved by using this system. This would give reviews a whole new meaning and reviewers the chance not to dwell on sentence structure, repetitive words, etc. Plus, using smileys saves time. We live in a fast-moving environment where many of us don´t have enough hours in our day to get things done.
  • They´re spoiler – free. I know many people who don´t read reviews out of fear of bumping into a spoiler. You could avoid any minor or major spoiler by using the smiley rating system.

 

Sounds wonderful, doesn´t it?  For a book blogger, sure. Of course, there´s always a flip side to brilliant things. This system might work wonders but it´s entirely reviewer friendly. We save time. We hardly have work with a review. But what about the consumer? The people who depend or rely on reviews? Future book spoilers aren´t a problem with this system but what about the emotional aspect? That slight push that seals the book purchase deal? Smileys can´t give a reader authenticity. They symbolize emotions. They don´t glow with personality.

So, I guess the idea of using this quick book blogger friendly rating system as reviews is out of the question, huh? Still, wouldn´t it be nice? In an ideal world, we´d be able to use this system AND help the consumer. Sounds so good.

 

Since we don´t live in a perfect world I might as well change the question to:

Is there a more efficient way to write a review that still helps the consumer?

Hmm… Here´s to 10 more years of coming up with an answer!

OR (!!!) I might just test this all out and see how it´s received. Hmm….


 

Let´s chat: What are your thoughts on review size? Which do you prefer to read: long or short reviews? What´s your take on the smileys? I would love to read your thoughts!

 


 

As always, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed.

 

XO´s

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Book Review: The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang

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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

 


 

My Thoughts 2

You know, sometimes a book hits you hard and sometimes a book doesn´t. In my case, the book did nothing for me.

I can´t begin to tell you how often `The Kiss Quotient` ( The Kiss Quotient #1 ) by author Helen Hoang was recommended to me. Close friends said the book is a must-read. Fellow bloggers urged me to give this chic – lit a chance. “The Kiss Quotient is different,” they said. “You can´t compare it to other chic -lits.”TKQ

Yeah, well… The only thing I realized was how little my friends know about my reading tastes. I also have a strange suspicion that my blog buddies accidentally recommended the wrong book.

`The Kiss Quotient` is not any different from other chic – lits. And I can compare this to other books from the genre. There are often differences in the romance genre but hardly any in the chic – lit department.

To make a long story short: I wasn´t impressed. Not by what was said about the supposedly unique romance between the main characters nor by the story itself. This doesn´t mean I didn´t like the story. This just means that didn´t meet my romance novel standards.

 

  • The writing is decent but also too dry for my taste.
  • The characters were strong and flawed, which I totally appreciate. I don´t know why, but the main characters reminded me a little of Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon Cooper´s brother, Georgie ( characters from The Big Bang Theory ).
  • The story was enjoyable but nothing special
  • Sex overload. I´m not one to turn away from sex scenes but a girl needs a few breather breaks
  • There´s definitely a romance but it´s an insta-love.

 

I need passion, action, lust, and tension when reading a romance novel. I need a slow TKQ2burn and a potential threat. I need a palette of emotions. Basically- I need an excuse to open a bottle of wine either during or after reading. Unfortunately, this book wasn´t able to move me on an emotional level nor was it powerful enough to get me moving towards the wine cabinet.

 

 


 

Would I recommend this book? I would. Despite my `meh` attitude, I can definitely see why others would fall head over heels for this quirky romance. It´s a decent read but not what I was looking for. I think I can also add that I won´t be continuing the series.

Would I reread this book? Probably not.

 


 

The Cover: 3 Stars  –  I have the paperback copy with the rose petals shaped in a heart form. Personally, I believe the cover image is outdated but the color theme is spot on.

The Story:  3 Stars  –  Not bad at all. Just too clichéd and dry.

The Characters:  3 Stars  – Again, not terrible but also not the greatest.

My emotional state after finishing this read – Indifferent.

3 stars


 

`The Kiss Quotient` by Helen Hoang can be purchased on Amazon.com