Bruce’s Shelfies: Finding Inspiration in Spam Comments…

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I don’t know about you, but I get a real kick out of reading the comments that WordPress catches in the spam folder.  Today I thought I’d take a brief break from reviewing and share with you some of the nuggets of wisdom that have graced my spam folder in the hope that it will inspire you to check out your own folder to see what treasures lie within.  For ease of viewing, I have arranged said comments on attractive, inspirational backgrounds.  Enjoy!

From the extremely complimentary “Bill”:

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From “Surveying Instruments” who are 76% sure they are in the right place:

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From “Guardrails for Roads” with this cautionary tale:

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From “Joselyn”, who moonlights as Captain Obvious:

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From “Jays jerseys women” who could well be dropping some sort of spy code:

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And my personal favourite from “baby gates 48 inches wide”, this quite handy piece of advice for someone with a naturally stony facial expression:

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Words to live by.

Until next time,

Bruce

Bruce’s Shelfies: People Are Strange When You’re A Stranger…(and Changes to My “Self-Published” Review Policy)

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It’s housekeeping day around the shelf and therefore it’s time for me to announce a change to my review policy regarding self-published titles.  I’ve also decided that it’s time I shared with you all some of the people drifting in the blogosphere whose work I thoroughly enjoy, in the hope that these strangers will become much less strange to you…and possibly even become your new (second) favourite blogs!

But first! Self-published tomes.

Up until now I have been happy to accept review requests from self-published authors but the time has come for me to announce that I will no longer be accepting review requests from this quarter.  The main reason for my change in policy stems from the fact that I am now receiving many books for review from major publishers as well as having established myself on Netgalley.  I no longer have a lot of time to read through requests from self-published authors, especially as many of the requests I receive are not relevant to this blog or my interests.  I am under no delusions that because I have made this announcement, self-published authors will now stop requesting reviews from me.  I am certain they will still ask.  I just hope they won’t be quite so surprised when they receive no response.

Right, with that out of the way, it’s time to introduce you to some of the blogs that I frequent and thoroughly enjoy.  Please click through to these blogs if you have the inclination because I can vouch for their quality and humour and general feel-good-ishness.

Two of the colonial oppressors staunchest allies of the Shelf are Ste J from Book to the Future and middle grade author Jemima Pett.  On these two blogs you will find reviews, conversation, musing about book jackets, writing challenges, obscure ancient tomes from Oxfam and flying, time-travelling guinea pigs.  You have been warned.

A blog that I certainly wouldn’t have expected to become addicted to over time is Sunlit Pages.  This is, for all intents and purposes, a book blog, written by a lady in the US who also happens to be a wife and mother of four small boys.  The author of this blog (Amy) seems like an absolute superwoman – she writes out and enacts summer goal lists with her children, shares all manner of interesting reading adventures that the children encounter, discusses ways to overcome slumps and reluctance when reading with children, and generally presents like a reading and mothering guru.

Makes you want to vomit, right? Well, that’s what I thought originally.  Except Amy somehow manages to write in a way that absolutely avoids even the slightest hint of that “I’m a better/more resourceful/more creative/more engaged parent than you” stench that permeates so many other mummy-type blogs.  Instead, her posts are actually quite inspiring.  And I will admit to feeling very contented to know that at least someone is having enormous success (born of effort) with their children’s reading adventures, even if I am far too lazy to enact the same with the mini-fleshlings in this dwelling.  And therefore, I am addicted to her blog.  Here you can also find podcasts about reading, reviews of children’s and adult fiction and general updates about the family’s life.

A more recent favourite of the shelf is the work of Clay at Terminally Nerdy (formerly Page Turners Inc.).  When Clay started his blog, it was focused on book reviews.  Now, the focus is more on video games, with the odd book review here and there.  Apart from the blog being a fun read, I have grown to love the fact that I read Clay’s current posts and have absolutely no clue what the hell he’s talking about, being that I am only a surface dweller in the sphere of gaming.  I will admit to deriving a strange enjoyment out of regularly reading a blog whose content is almost completely irrelevant to my hobbies and subsequently living vicariously through another. *Oh yes, Reddit, defrag, MMORPG, Noooooooooob!*  Go on, branch out! It’s fun!

One of my all time favourite book blogs (and one I have a serious blog-envy for) is Read it Daddy!  This one is based in the UK and run by a father and daughter reviewing team.  If you have any interest AT ALL in picture books to middle grade reads, then you are missing out if you are not following Read it Daddy!.  As well as hilarious and informative editorials, these guys present a book of the week (weekly, obviously) and I have such trust in their bookish opinions that I have, on multiple occasions, immediately purchased new release (hardback, no less) books on the strength of their reviews.  And never once have I been disappointed.

Finally, and probably the biggest blog I follow, is Part-Time Monster, a US blog that features everything from personal life updates to feminism to in-depth features on international monsters.  There’s a lot going on throughout this blog, including the Weekend Coffee Share link-up (which I don’t participate in, but quite enjoy reading) and the Throw-Back Thursday link up that allows bloggers to link posts that are more than 30 days old, to garner some additional love.  This is the blog that has helped to spark my interest in Japanese mythology, through its Monster Monday feature.  This one was my favourite and this one was my (terrifying) second favourite.

So there you are.  I do hope you pay some of these blogs a visit.  Are there any blogs out there that you would like to introduce me to?

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

Bruce’s Shelfies: It’s a DNF-a-thon!

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The “Did Not Finish”.

It’s the bane of many reviewers’ lives.  Are we obliged to finish books we receive for review?  Is it simply good etiquette to do so?  Are those who decide to cast a review book aside woefully lacking in moral fortitude?

The DNF is an issue I’ve pondered since becoming a reviewer and I have only just started to become comfortable with the idea that I don’t have to finish EVERY SINGLE BOOK that crosses my path just because I’ve received it for review.  According to my Goodreads tally, I’ve already knocked over 82 books this year so far, so leaving a few by the wayside probably isn’t that great a sin.

Then I came across this mind-blowingly sensible article from Anya (On Starships and Dragonwings), challenging us to consider making the DNF our default option for reading.  It would certainly save time.  Theoretically, it would ensure that we were only reading the books that we were really invested in.

So I got on board.  And now I have a slew of DNFed books to share with you.

*I should note that I don’t plan to make a habit of DNFing copious amounts of books.  I just seem to have hit a bit of a pile of books that were DNFable for me in the last month*

Here they are then folks: the books I have recently DNFed.  Perhaps amongst this collection you will find your bookish heart’s desire.  I truly hope so.  Click on the covers to be taken to the book’s Goodreads page.

The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat (Paul Tobin)

how to capture an invisible cat

Categories: Middle Grade, science, fantasy, friendship, tea, secret societies

DNF’ed at: 29%

Comments:

I was actually really enjoying this one to start with.  There is a particularly touching friendship between Delphine and Nate that develops early on.  There’s plenty of banter that I’m sure middle graders will love.  I DNFed just as the secret society bit was coming into the story, so obviously there’s some mystery and danger involved.  Essentially, as an adult reader, I just lost interest.  Definitely worth having a look if middle grade humour/fantasy is your bag though. (And tell me how it ends)


The Smell of Other People’s Houses (Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock)

the smell of other people's houses

Categories: YA, historical fiction (1970s), indigenous issues, Alaska, coming of age

DNFed at: 29%

Comments:

Overall, this felt just a bit too depressing for me.  That enticing cover drew me in and I was interested in the Alaskan setting and characters of indigenous heritage but I just wasn’t compelled to keep reading.  Unusually for me, the alternative points of view in the narrative left me finding it more difficult to keep the characters straight.  This one would appeal to those who enjoy fiction featuring recent history, with a pervading atmosphere of realism and struggle.


Riverkeep (Martin Stewart)

Categories: YA, fantasy, death and dying 9781101998298_Riverkeep_HC_CvLib.indd

DNFed at: 11%

Comments: 

It felt like I read a lot more than just 11% of this book.  That astonishingly lovely cover drew me in, along with the blurb, with promises of a boy whose job it is to drag corpses from a river, but I just couldn’t get my head around the world-building.  The main character wasn’t particularly charismatic either, and I felt like his confusion and despair became my own.  Early on I got the sense that reading this was going to be like wading through molasses, so I made the decision to put it down.  This one would probably appeal to those who like high fantasy and epic tales that require total immersion in a new world.


Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts (A. K. Benedict)

Categories: Adult fiction, mystery, paranormal, police proceduraljonathan dark

DNFed at: 19%

Comments:

I think that in another time and place I could have really enjoyed this one.  It features two intersecting storylines – one involving a police investigation of a blind woman (who is not really blind, by the way) being harassed by a stalker, and the other involving a bloke who can see ghosts.  There seemed to be a whole ghostly world going on in this second storyline which I may have become more interested in, but the police procedural part just seemed too dense and slow.  Having said that, I may pick this up again later on if I feel like a bit of a challenge.  I’d recommend this for fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series and those who enjoy a bit of a paranormal/murder mystery mashup.


There Will Be Stars (Bill Coffey)

Categories: Adult fiction, paranormal (?), family relationships, redemption there will be stars

DNFed at: 7%

Comments:

What a journey of confusion I set off on during the 7% I read of this book.  I honestly had no idea what was going on for most of that 7%; a feeling made considerably worse by the irritating dialect in which the dialogue was written.  By the time I decided to put this down I couldn’t bear to see another “ain’t nothin'” or “y’all” or pithy cheesy cliched saying.  The book features a sort of groundhog day reliving of a tragic event in the life of the protagonist, but I decided I didn’t even want to experience it the first time around and so placed this one to the side.  I’d say this would appeal to those who like a quirky narrative style and don’t mind working to unravel the plot threads early on.


So there you have it.  A DNF-a-thon indeed.  I do hope you have more success with these tomes than I did.  You might even persuade me to have another crack at one!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Bruce’s Shelfies: My Year in Book Titles…

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imageIt’s the time of year again during which I like to look back on what was and present to you my reflections in the form of humorous sentences using book titles.  The idea is to fill in the blanks using the titles of books that you’ve read this year.  I will be re-using the sentence starters I used last year, with a few tweaks here and there, simply because I am too lazy fond of recycling to think of new ones.  Feel free to steal these and use them for your own “year in books” post!

So far, I would describe this year as being: Oddly Normal

I’m tipping that the next big thing in Reality TV shows will be: Mud, Muck and Dead Things

I could have cried when: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I would love to have some respite from: Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods

The most unexpected thing that happened this year involved: Resorting to Murder

My non-bookish friends would say I: Walk on the Wild Side

My motto for 2016 will be: Tell the Story to its End

I am most looking forward to:Withering By Sea

A recurring dream I’ve had this year features: The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

If you looked under my couch you would see: Random Body Parts

If I could no longer blog, I would probably pursue a career in: Unseemly Science

Something most people don’t know about me is: I Know Sasquatch

Here are all the covers:

creatures of the lumberwoods 2_Fotor_Collage oddly normal_Fotor_Collage unseemly_Fotor_Collage

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

Bruce Steps Out for Between the Covers YA Event Brisbane!

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Last Thursday evening, something unprecedented happened.

I left the shelf.BTCYA Logo

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that, frankly, unlikely and unbelievable information.

Yes, last Thursday evening, HarperCollins Teen held a fan event for voracious readers of YA to inspire and incite fever and excitement over some of their upcoming titles.  And I made the unprecedented decision to strap on my feet (quite literally, as you will see) and get out there amongst the fleshlings.

First I had to ensure that I had functioning tootsies for the evening, after an incident with a mini-fleshling caused my duct tapefeet to part company with the rest of my person.  First I tried superglue and when that didn’t work, clutching at straws, I took the drastic measure of duct taping my feet to my body.  At least the grey tape matches my hide.

It’s hardly even noticeable, right?!

On arrival at the State Library of Queensland, I attempted to blend in with the fleshlings and their goodie bags.  I think I did a fine job and they never noticed a thing.

blending in_Fotor

I even managed to snap a shot with Terry, the YA-reading Dinosaur mascot of the Between the Covers team!

bruce and terry_Fotor

And I got to rub shoulders with some of Brisbane’s best and brightest bloggers in the YA sphere.  Here are some of those that attended.

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We were even treated to a chat from recent Gold Inky winner, Gabrielle Tozer – author of YA comedy contemporary titles The Intern and its sequel Faking It – and not only did she manage to photobomb my selfie, she was kind enough to sign a copy of her first book for me…selfie photobombintern cover_Fotor_Fotor_Collage

I’m not sure whether she intentionally meant the “rock” pun, given my stony nature, but I appreciated it nonetheless.

There was also plenty of loot on hand for attendees, with a few brilliantly enticing ARCs in our goodie bags, including Oz YA titles Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (described as a cross between Buffy and Jane Austen!!) and This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang, author of Falling Into Place.

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I’m also itching to get into Demon Road by Derek Landy (of Skulduggery Pleasant fame), which looks like it will be delightfully cheeky and action-packed.  I was lucky enough to win some extra goodies, which included the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson; a book that has been on my TBR for a while.

In fact, I was so swamped with loot, that I was very nearly crushed under the mountainous pile of it.

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All in all it was a wonderfully successful first jaunt out into the big wide world.  Mad Martha was exceptionally jealous that she didn’t get to fulfil her usual role as “Shelf Venturer-Outerer” given the amount of loot involved, but she needn’t worry as I doubt I will be making a habit of it.  I’m certain I lost a little stone off my ears in the journey there and back.

Many thanks to HarperCollins Australia for extending an invitation to we shelf dwellers!

Until next time,

Bruce

Bruce’s Shelfies: The Book of Curious Lists…

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imageHello there! Today we’re getting up close and personal with another Shelfy, wherein I share with you some of the more interesting books on my shelf.  Today I have just the thing for the creatives among you and those who just love a good list.  Many years ago (well, maybe 5) I came across this darling little tome on the Book Depository:

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In case you can’t read it clearly, it is Curious Lists: A Creative Journal for List-Lovers published by Chronicle Books.  It was one of those books that I enthusiastically engaged with for a few months immediately after its purchase, and then put aside as other time-thieves took over my waking hours.  But the metaphorical chickens have come home to do some metaphorical roosting, because having picked it up again during out recent move, I found it was just perfect to share with you in this Shelfies feature as a little snapshot of Bruce as I was around about 2010.

Essentially, this is a sweet little hardback tome filled with prompts for creating lists.  But these are no ordinary lists, oh no.  These lists are strange, unexpected and sometimes just downright silly.  Let me demonstrate.

Here’s one of my favourite lists in the book: Collections of Things Beginning with the Letter S or O

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You can tell it’s one of my favourites due to the vigour with which I’ve approached the filling in of the list.  In fact, I was so enthusiastic about collections of severed limbs, that I’ve listed them twice. Such is the enjoyment that this little book brings.

Here’s another that got my mind whirring: Encumbrances for a Bike Rider

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I think it was the little illustration that piqued my imagination, but I found quite a bit of glee in mentally conjuring the image of a bike rider trying to balance a kennel of homeless puppies on his or her handlebars.  Or indeed, a couple of stone gargoyles.

Some of the lists I obviously used to demonstrate how hilarious I am.  Consider evidence A: Quotes Uttered at a Shakespeare Holiday Party

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Clearly I laughed like a drain when composing this list, no doubt wiping a granite tear from my eye as I did so.  And here’s another that I quite obviously was itching for someone else to read and enjoy, from around the time I was perched on a teacher’s bookshelf: Heartbreaking Words to Be Said to a Teacher

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The above picture also demonstrates that some of the lists had me baffled.  Cuisine Associated with Philadelphia remained sadly blank for the longest time until I happened to catch an episode of Dr Phil a year or two ago, in which the good Ph.D. visited Philadelphia and ate a cheese steak.  Of course I dashed off immediately to fill in my book of lists!

Other suggestions for this list would be gratefully received.  Of course, I could just google the information, but where’s the fun in that?  Apart from Philadelphian cuisine, here are some other lists that I’m stuck on:

Zip Codes in New York

Evergreen Shrubs of Ireland

Weeds that are also not Weeds

Beaches of Southern California

Rural Areas mentioned in Hemingway Stories

Any suggestions received will duly attract a “suggester’s credit” in my little book, of course.  While you’re thinking, here are two more lists that I filled in with only one entry.  Obviously I thought these single items were sufficiently hilarious that I need add no more!

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Equally hilarious suggestions will of course be gratefully received.

I’m interested to know if anyone else out there is in possession of this wondrous little list repository and if so, how it illuminates their life.  Or indeed if anyone has something similar, I would love to hear about it.

Until next time,

Bruce

A New, Revealing Feature: Bruce’s Shelfies!

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Welcome to my new, shelf-centred feature: Bruce’s Shelfies! Seeing as I spend all of my time here, and it informs so much of my thoughts on books that make my acquaintance, I thought I would introduce you to some of the special nooks and crannies of my domain over the course of a few posts.

Regular readers will be aware that the shelf has recently moved, so I thought I’d start by showing you around my new abode.  This is not an exhaustive tour of the Shelfdom – think of it more as a sort of highlights package.  Come on in!

Here’s my new perch:

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You can see that I’m looking rather smug in my new home.  Mad Martha shares this exalted spot with me and we decided that we would fill our top shelf with all our favourite fantasy and paranormal books.  Most of these have been mentioned at some point on the blog and therefore might look mildly familiar.

Underneath us, is our “classics and re-readables” shelf:

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I have recently culled my Doctor Who collection, but a few remain.  You might also note a range of well-clawed Red Dwarf books, which will be the subject of a later Shelfies post.  Notably missing is a hardback set of The Lord of the Rings and another hardback set of the Chronicles of Narnia.  Both were too big to fit on this shelf, so they occupy a special place on another shelf.

For some zany reason, I decided to group all my books (that weren’t already at home on the previous two shelves) by authors from the UK together and these occupy the next shelf down.

Now, my TBR shelf:

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I have ALWAYS wanted a shelf of books arranged according to colour, so I just went ahead and did it with my TBR pile.  You can also see my Good, Sad and Quirky guys (and friends!) perched upon their corresponding colour piles. Guru Dave and Toothless also occupy this shelf in order to keep their claws on the pulse of what is entering our reading world. Please let us know if you’ve read any of the books on my TBR shelf, and what you thought of them!

In other news, the fleshlings have bought a dog in order to make the house a home (awash with dog hair). Her name is Rosie and so far, has shown no interest in de-perching me, but some interest in chewing the mini-fleshlings’ board books.  Here she is, reclining:

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And finally, here are the newest additions to the shelf, picked up by Mad Martha this very day at a local book sale:

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She was particularly excited to stumble upon the Ian Sansom tome (on the left), as this had been on our radar as a potential candidate for our Monday is for Murder feature.  Or at least, the author is. I’m not sure there is any actual murder in the Mobile Library series. Nevertheless, gaining this one for the bargain price of 45 cents was something of a coup.  Mad Martha also snagged a short story collection by Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series (which we haven’t read), that looks as if it might be odd and creature-filled. Bliss! To the TBR pile they go.

Next time I think I might do a bit of “Show-and-Tell” with some of my more valuable tomes…signed editions and such.  If there is anything you would like me to reveal in future editions of this feature, please do let me know and I will do my best to accommodate.

Until next time,

Bruce