Bookish Beats: Audiomachine – Phenomena


Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


Phenomena

Audiomachine


Listen to with:

An action-packed fantasy adventure

Such as:

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd

This week’s Bookish Beats features Audiomachine, a production company who produce music for movie, TV and game trailers. Audiomachine’s composers, Paul Dinletir and Kevin Rix, have written music for countless trailers including those of The Hobbit, Harry Potter and Prometheus, and I first came across them whilst listening to the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare soundtrack, which they composed alongside Harry Gregson-Williams.

Phenomena manages to capture epic and grand scale action perfectly, combining powerful brass and percussion sections with soaring strings and choral vocals. Those tracks which start off slow gradually build to a crescendo, each one a snapshot of a moment – an epic scene. It is not hard to visualise wars and battles, and quests and adventures when listening to Phenomena, and its tracks have featured on the Lego: The Hobbit game trailer, Exodus: God and Kings film trailer, and even the 2014 Winter Olympics.

And if you’re reading a fast-paced, action-packed novel then Phenomena is a perfect compliment. Every single track is sure to sweep you away, whether on a tide of eerie vocals and strings or in a surge of blood-pumping percussion. Stand-out action tracks include Blood and Stone and Lords of Lankhmar; Crossing Destiny and God of the Drow are brimming with tension; and Ice of the Phoenix and Epiphany are the epitome of triumph.

Phenomena may be chock full of ‘triumphant’ tracks but it’s not without its quiet moments either… quietly epic that is; Red Sorrow, Fortress of Solitude and Legacy of the Lost are tracks filled with emotion – the slower and drawn out pace capturing the full spectrum of sensations. Or tracks such as The Last Ember are a mind-blowing combination of action, tension and emotion.

If you’re looking for something to read epic or heroic fantasy to, then look no further; Phenomena is a phenomenal soundtrack for movies, games and books alike. And if Phenomena whets your appetite, Audiomachine has a whole host of other albums to keep you hooked. This is definitely one for the playlist.

Favourite track

06 – Legends of Destiny

Top track for action

01 – Blood and Stone

Top track for tension

09 – Crossing Destiny

16 – God of the Drow

Top track for emotion

14 – Fortress of Solitude

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Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch


RoT - Gollancz


The Republic of Thieves

Book Three of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence

by Scott Lynch

Fantasy | 598 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2013


| Rating |


The Republic of Thieves continues The Gentleman Bastard Sequence which began with The Lies of Locke Lamora and continued with Red Seas Under Red Skies.

The Lies of Locke Lamora blew me away, Red Seas Under Red Skies was swashbuckling excellence, and The Republic of Thieves lives up to all expectations as an intricately woven, incredibly entertaining and darn right brilliant romp. Having shuffled its way to the top of my floorshelf after an extended hibernation, I soon found myself immersed in a world of daring adventure, bloody theatrics and political intrigue with a multitude of Bastards for company. Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen – Enter, stage right.

Locke and Jean barely escaped with their lives from what should have been the greatest heist of their career, in the port city of Tal Verrar. Now they head north, looking for sanctuary and an alchemist who can cure the poison that is slowly killing Locke. They find neither, but with their luck, money and hope exhausted, they receive an offer from a power that never had their best interests at heart: The Bondsmagi of Karthain.

In exchange for the chance that Locke might be saved, the Bondsmagi expect the two Gentlemen Bastards to rig an election in their home city of Karthain. They will be opposed. The other side has already hired the services of Sabetha Belacoros, the one person in the world who might match Locke’s criminal skill, and the one person in the world who absolutely rules his heart.

Now it will be con artist against con artist in an election that couldn’t be more crooked, all for the benefit of the mysterious Bondsmagi, who have plans within plans and secrets they’re not telling…

The Republic of Thieves is a book of interweaving tales; past and the present competing for excellence as the life of Locke unfolds in alternating scenes. Lynch maintains the dramatic tension throughout both narratives, pulling it off with flair and skill and excitement throughout. The Bondsmagi hold sway over the present narrative, their once mysterious and strange presence develops to become more tangible and give clarity to their motivations. With Locke and Jean indebted to them, the narrative has all the scheming entertainment of the previous novels if lacking some of the threat.

The present is balanced perfectly with the past narrative, or the Interludes. The storyline which simultaneously unfolds links directly back to the present and gives the depth and history necessary for developing very real characters. And Scott Lynch’s characters are brilliant. The Republic of Thieves knits both tales together with humour – life with The Moncraine Company is a definite highlight – and though it isn’t poised on a knife’s edge like The Lies of Locke Lamora, it takes its time to explore the characters, balancing the fun, scheming capers of the present with the close scrapes of the past.

Lynch’s writing style is absolutely captivating; his dialogue is witty and flows effortlessly, his descriptions are wonderfully atmospheric – I can picture Karthain as easily as I ever did Camorr – and his storytelling is sublime. Having the opportunity to explore more of this beautiful and highly dangerous world, and discover the somewhat absurd customs of the Karthaini people, makes for an entertaining read. Lynch’s descriptions are rich and vibrant, his dialogue is full of humour and his worldbuilding, which slots in so naturally throughout the novel, should appeal to critics and enthusiasts both.

The Republic of Thieves is not without its themes either; relationships and love are key to the storyline. But fear not! This is anything but a lovey dovey tale. The introduction of Sabatha, highly intelligent and wholly unpredictable, is a definite highlight; her skill and personality suited to being both a lover and a nemesis.  Every bit Locke’s equal (if not better) in skill, their relationship is the driving force behind both the past and present narratives. Lynch’s truest love story, however, will always be the epic bromance of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen.

The Republic of Thieves is a wonderfully fun tale which, though lacking some of the tension of previous novels, gives them a run for their money in terms of characterisation and world development. If you’re new to The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, go grab a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora; if not then why haven’t you read this yet?! Keep them coming Mr. Lynch, I for one will always keep buying.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Author Duos Which Should Exist


Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Author Duos Which Should Exist |

This Tuesday we’re pairing up the authors we’d love to see write a book together. This Top Ten will combine two authors from very different genres, one deceased and one living, to create some fascinating and comic duos. In no particular order, here are my dream team of duos:

| 1. |

rd and ja

Roald Dahl & Joe Abercrombie

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

Matilda by Roald Dahl

In a new set of books for children, the humour of Roald Dahl and the bloody violence of Joe Abercrombie meet to create a non-stop, whizzpopping, exceedingly dark series. Man eating giants hunger for small children, a young girl uses her telekinetic powers to wield axes and exact bloody vengeance, and Miss Trunchbull and Sand dan Glokta have a whirlwind romance. Illustrated by Quentin Blake of course.

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| 2. |

P.G. Wodehouse & Scott Lynch

“What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?” 

~ Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Forget Blandings Castle or The Drones Club, this series will be based in one of the Five Towers of Camorr – Raven’s Reach. Duke Nicovante is going dotty, scandals and rumours abound, relations are getting into all sorts of mischief, and scheming fraudsters are after the Duke’s money.  And no Wodehouse novel would be complete without an imposter or two – enter Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen. Lynch brings the intricacy and detailing of plot and Wodehouse brings a riot of humour and tomfoolery for a very gritty witty novel.

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| 3. |

csl and at

C.S. Lewis & Adrian Tchaikovsky

“She looked back over her shoulder and there, between the dark tree-trunks, she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe and even catch a glimpse of the empty room from which she had set out.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Send four children through a wardrobe into a land of insectoid, warlike humans and see how they react when Peter waves about a sword and declares himself King. But that’s his problem. Susan wields a snapbow to avenge her brother, Edmund sinks into psychotic insanity for lack of Turkish Delight, and Lucy is enslaved on the battlefields to forever resurrect fallen soldiers with her magic cordial. All jolly good fun!

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| 4. |

J.R.R. Tolkien & C.J. Sansom

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Because who wouldn’t love a crime solving Bilbo! The depth of history in Middle Earth provides a perfect playing field for a spectacular series of crime novels. Who stole Farmer Maggot’s crops? Who squashed Bilbo’s begonias? And that’s just the beginning! A darkness is spreading over Middle Earth, there’s murder afoot and only one little Hobbit can stop it. Armed with his trusty walking stick, spotted hanky and brass buttons, Bilbo must travel to the far flung reaches of the land to solve the mysteries that ensue. If only that meddling wizard would show up.

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| 5. |

ja and bc

Jane Austen & Bernard Cornwell

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Especially when the husband decides to go on campaign to subdue the French and thinks it appropriate to take his wife and her female companions with him. Bonnets will go flying! Petticoats will be six inches deep in mud, blood and various other vile excretions! Not to mention the possibility of being garrotted by ribbons or bound by lace! Austen’s wit and sublime characterisation meets Cornwell’s action-packed descriptive excellence in the bloodiest romance of any century.

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| 6. |

cd and jb

Charles Dickens & Jim Butcher

“About the Fairies, sir, and the Dwarf, and the Hunchback, and the Genies,’ she sobbed out; ‘and about — ‘ ‘Hush!’ said Mr. Gradgrind, ‘that is enough. Never breathe a word of such destructive nonsense any more.’”

~ Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Harry Dresden, Wizard PI, finds himself in Victorian England in the midst of the industrial revolution. Poverty, disease and the Red Court of vampires are running rampant across the country; the Wizard hierarchy is even more insufferable; and orphans, pickpockets and general ne’er-do-wells are developing a dangerous affinity for magic. The descriptive genius of Dickens meets the action and dark humour of Butcher. Magic (and industrial machinery) – It can get a guy killed.

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| 7. |

ms and km

Mary Shelley & Karen Maitland

“Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!” 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Company of Reanimated Corpses? The Gallows Curse: A Guide to the Acquisition of Body Parts? Gothic horror and medieval mystery meet to create a tale of murder and superstition and raise those philosophical questions of what it means to be human in a world of myth and magic. The supernatural haunts every page, twists and turns abound and the terror of the unknown threaten all mankind in this medieval monster mash-up.

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| 8. |

lc and grrm

Lewis Carroll & George R.R. Martin

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis

Alice’s Adventures in Westeros: After falling down a rabbit hole and finding herself in the middle of King’s Landing, can Alice find a way to survive the clash between warring dynasties. Alice must outrun disgusting perverts, bloodthirsty maniacs, dragons and jabberwockys to find her way home. The nonsensical, witty and utterly absurd meets the complex, bloody and thoroughly epic in this merging of literary masters.

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| 9. |

dg and ku

David Gemmell & Kaye Umansky

“A cynic by experience, a romantic by inclination and now a hero by necessity.” 

~ Legend by David Gemmell

After sampling one of Pongwiffy’s terrible potions, Pongwiffy, Hugo the Hamster, a hoard of goblins and Grandwitch Sourmuddle’s birthday cake find themselves transported to a world of dark knights, thirsty (non-hamster) vampires, bloody battles and axe wielding warriors. Will Pongwiffy forsake her dirty habits to lead an army to victory? Can Hugo subdue the goblin horde? And, most importantly, will the cake survive a battlefield encounter?

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| 10. |

fhb and gdt

Frances Hodgson Burnett & Guillermo del Toro

“A house with a hundred rooms, nearly all shut up and with their doors locked—a house on the edge of a moor—whatsoever a moor was—sounded dreary. A man with a crooked back who shut himself up also!”

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Mistlethwaite Manor will never be the same again after an injection of del Toro magic. Terrifying monsters lurk in hidden passages, The Cravens harbour a dark secret and Mrs. Medlock isn’t at all what she appears – and that’s before Mary even reaches the garden! When Mary decides to do a spot of gardening in Mrs. Craven’s old patch, the secrets she unearths and the horrors which she disturbs will change her life forever. This is a tale of enchanting mystery and surreal horror which will certainly not be for children.heart

Which authors would you love to see as a duo? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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Teaser Tuesdays: October 13


Teaser TuesdaysWelcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: NOS4R2 by Joe Hill |

NOS4R2


“The road to Christmasland removes all sorrows, eases all pain and erases all scars. It takes away all the parts of you that weren’t doing you any good, and what it leaves behind is made clean and pure.”

~ p. 504, NOS4R2 by Joe Hill


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Bookish Beats: Enigma – The Cross of Changes


Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


The Cross of Changes

Enigma


Listen to with:

Tense or mysterious historical fiction

Such as:

Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell

This week we’re leaving the soundtracks behind and putting on some of the most atmospheric music I have in my collection. Enigma have been on my playlist (and/or mix-tapes) ever since I was a child when my parents would put on album after album as we drove around France. This calming ‘new-age’ music which, most importantly, two little girls couldn’t sing along to (though not for lack of trying!), created a love for Enigma which has lasted a lifetime.

Enigma are a German new-age, experimental electro group who are famed for sampling and incorporating Gregorian and other old world style chanting into their music. Their first album, MCMXC a.D. catapulted them to fame in 1990 and, after seven studio albums, still continue to produce music today. The Cross of Changes, released in 1993, replaced the famed Gregorian chants of MCMXC a.D. with an ethnic influence, featuring Native American and Mongolian music to produce an incredibly atmospheric album which contains some of my favourite Enigma tracks to date.

This album takes the listener on a journey; it’s soaring and atmospheric, relaxing and spiritual, down-beat yet dramatic – it truly never gets old. Return to Innocence is probably the most well known track on the album but the breathtaking Age of Loneliness, which was written for the film Sliver, and the haunting The Eyes of Truth, which was used in The Matrix trailer in 1999, are two of my all time favourite Enigma tracks. Silent Warrior, down-beat and distinctive, and I Love You… I’ll Kill You, with its catchy melody and screaming guitar solo, are two other stand-out tracks.

Every time I crack open some historical fiction, I can usually rely on Enigma to provide an excellent soundtrack. Whether it’s the Gregorian chants of MXCMX a.D. or the hypnotic tracks of The Cross of Changes, Enigma continue to surprise and create incredible music which has become the perfect backdrop for a good book. If you’ve never listened to Enigma, maybe you should give it a try. This really is the ultimate chill-out music.

Favourite tracks

02 – The Eyes of Truth

07 – Age of Loneliness (Carly’s Song)

Top track for action

02 – The Eyes of Truth

Top track for tension

07 – Age of Loneliness (Carly’s Song)

Top track for emotion

04 – I Love You… I’ll Kill You

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Cover Reveal: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson


Cover Reveal


| Calamity by Brandon Sanderson |

The cover for The Bands of Mourning was only revealed last week but we’ve already got a brand new Brandon Sanderson cover to ogle. Gollancz has revealed the artwork for Calamity, the third full length novel in the Reckoners series, and Sam Green has once again been drafted in to produce the artwork. I absolutely love the work Sam Green has done for Gollancz’s other Sanderson novels but, personally, the Calamity cover doesn’t quite have the same impact as the previous Reckoners novels. I do prefer them, however, to the covers produced by Delacorte Press. Take a look and tell me what you think!


calamity

Calamity

by Brandon Sanderson

Gollancz – 18th February 2016


| UK vs. US |

Gollancz Edition vs. Delacorte Press Edition


| The Gollancz Covers |

Artwork by Sam Green


| The Delacorte Press Covers |

Artwork by Mike Bryan

What do you think of the covers for Calamity? Which is your favourite – the Gollancz or the Delacorte Press edition?

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Review: Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell


azin


Azincourt

by Bernard Cornwell

Historical Fiction | 453 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 2008


| Rating |

 


The 25th October marks the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, and what better way to remember the occasion than to read a highly evocative and remarkably convincing novel based on the battle itself. My first foray into the writings of Bernard Cornwell turned out to be a gut-wrenching, breath-taking and truly mesmerising experience. This is not a book for the faint of heart, Cornwell wields his pen like an axe, severing limbs from men left, right and centre until the pages are saturated in blood. Azincourt is disturbingly real and horrific in its truth; bloody, brutal and brilliant.

An extraordinary and dramatic depiction of the legendary battle of Agincourt from the number one historical novelist.

Azincourt, fought on October 25th 1415, St Crispin’s Day, is one of England’s best-known battles, in part through the brilliant depiction of it in Shakespeare’s Henry V, in part because it was a brilliant and unexpected English victory and in part because it was the first battle won by the use of the longbow – a weapon developed by the English which enabled them to dominate the European battlefields for the rest of the century.

Bernard Cornwell’s Azincourt is a vivid, breathtaking and meticulously well-researched account of this momentous battle and its aftermath. From the varying viewpoints of nobles, peasants, archers, and horsemen, Azincourt skilfully brings to life the hours of relentless fighting, the desperation of an army crippled by disease and the exceptional bravery of the English soldiers.

This novel tells the story of Henry V’s invasion of Normandy, from the prolonged siege of Harfleur and the subsequent march to Calais, to the battle of Agincourt itself. This is a tale of war and blood and death – of the rape and slaughter of civilians, of soldiers cut down in their thousands, and of men dying in true ignoble glory – hacked out in vivid and utterly convincing detail.

Cornwell has quite obviously done a considerable amount of research; the manner of warfare – the weaponry, the armour, the battles – are all described in incredible (and somewhat bloody) detail. Azincourt is simultaneously a lovesong to the English longbow. Told through the narrative of the protagonist, Nick Hook, Cornwell describes its use and implementation as the powerhouse of medieval warfare in rich detail. This depth of research creates a narrative which has all the action and drama of a movie whilst remaining true to the history.

If you like your characters in shades of grey, and splattered in blood, gore and shit, then Azincourt has a whole legion to supply. Cornwell creates characters who are either brilliantly psychotic or horrifically deranged, and even our protagonist Nick Hook makes a hard job of conjuring up any rapport. Strength and heroism are not exclusive to the good and just after all. But don’t let that put you off; this isn’t a novel about likeability, this is about one battle – this is about death and glory and the utter futility of both.

Azincourt is a novel written with gritty eloquence, fast-paced and to the point, whilst throwing in some of the most evocative passages of description I’ve ever read; both disturbingly realistic and eminently readable. Cornwell doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, and neither does he pluck at the heartstrings – this is war; violent, bloody and terrible – brutal lives conveyed in brutal prose.

If you like your historical fiction like your grimdark fantasy, unflinchingly violent and bloody (and incredibly grim and dark), then I heartily recommend you read Azincourt. This is a fast paced and bloodthirsty tale which is supremely well researched. Bernard Cornwell is an incredible writer whose reputation as the master of historical fiction is well earned, I am only ashamed it took me so long to pick up one of his novels.


Bookish Beats Suggestion

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Tough Travelling: Creative Cursing


Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Creative Cursing |

New lands, new languages, new things to cuss out.  Nobody in fantasyland cusses in quite the same way though; each world has its own way to yell at the world.

Ahh when it comes to inventive cursing, you could do much worse than delve into a fantasy novel. Who knew the creators of entire worlds would love coming up with new ways to berate, insult and abuse beloved characters so much. If you’re looking for a new way to curse or exclaim at your loved ones, then look no further than:

| 1. |

HP
Merlin’s Beard!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

| 2. |

DR
Blood and Ashes!

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

| 3. | 

wok
Storm It!

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

| 4. |


Gritsucker!

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

| 5. |

lotr
Witless Worm!

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Are there any other insults from fantasyland which should have made the list? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Bad Bookish Habits


Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Bad Bookish Habits |

A love of books and reading does not come without its down sides. This week’s top ten looks at those bad bookish habits which seem to be a recurring feature in my reading life.

| 1. |

I won’t buy any new books until… ooooh a sale!

Severe restraint required. You will buy books you neither want nor will read any time soon. Stay away!

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| 2. |

I won’t buy any new books until… ooooh shiny!

There’s nothing like a brand new shiny book staring at you from amongst its shelf-friends to make you want to take it away and give it a new home. Even if you don’t need it and have far too much to read already.

| 3. |

Bought in brand new hardback, read five years later

Shiny shiny hardbacks may be pretty but they’re damn expensive! Especially when you don’t read them for the next five years to come.

| 4. |

Organised bookshelves? You’re living the dream!

Bookshelves that are three rows deep and so over-packed that when one book is pulled out an entire row tumbles out in its wake is not congruous with a liking for pristine and unbent books.

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| 5. |

Floorshelves are not the next big thing

Having stacks (and stacks and stacks) of books lying around on the floor is not cool and makes you look like a crazy hoarder. Add more bookshelves to shopping list.

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| 6. |

Reading is not a priority

Reading really shouldn’t come before work, studying, friends and family but damn, it’s a really good book!

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| 7. |

Currently reading: Everything!

Just because a book is looking at you doesn’t mean you need to pick it up and start reading it. Especially when you’re currently reading five other books!

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| 8. |

Schedule? What schedule?

Posts done in advance?! That’s crazy talk! But would go some way to bringing a bit of organisation to book blogging.

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| 9. |

I love my shiny hardback and… ooooh coffee!

Incredibly clumsy? Pristine books and coffee are not a match made in heaven.

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| 10. |

Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover

But it’s just sooo pretty!

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What are your bad bookish habits? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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