Saturday, 19 August 2017

Book Reviews feat. Sarah Stovell & A TBR

book reviews blog vivatramp uk freelance book reviewer

July was a hectic life month for me but, thankfully, I managed to read a couple of books towards the end of it. 

I read a couple of queer romances that were both doomed from the get go...because I like my happiness with a side helping of trauma.

READ.

pages for you sylvia brownrigg book review bloggers uk vivatramp
FINISHED: 26/07/17 | PAGES: 288  | ISBN: 0312420048
In a steam-filled diner in a college town, Flannery Jansen catches sight of something more beautiful than she's ever seen: a graduate student, reading. The seventeen-year-old, new to everything around her—college, the East Coast, bodies of literature, and the sexual flurries of student life—is shocked by her desire to follow this wherever it will take her. When Flannery finds herself enrolled in a class with the remote, brilliant older woman, she is intimidated at first, but gradually becomes Anne Arden's student—Baudelaire, lipstick colors, or how to travel with a lover—Flannery proves an eager pupil, until one day learns more about Anne than she ever wanted to know. 

Relationships are sometimes messy and dull, stunted and inconvenienced, and Brownrigg does an excellent job of accommodating that in this novel. Pages for You details intoxicating first love and lust in all its fleeting glory. It stings and it soothes. There were passages here that I read over and over again in an attempt to commit them to memory. The prologue, for instance, was particularly beautiful and it makes plainly clear Brownrigg's aptitude for muddling unspeakable love and longing onto the page. However, this novel, for me, wasn't without its faults. 

Flannery, young and experiencing a whole lot of firsts, looks to Anne for anything and everything. And I began to feel extremely unsettled. I'm not sure if it was the point to feel entirely creeped out by the manipulative undertones of the relationship, or whether you're meant to buy into the romance a bit more, but I just couldn't stomach it. For example, there's a bit where Anne picks out a pair of sunglasses for Flannery so she can see NYC in the way that she wants her to. It was all a little too raw for me and I found it difficult to read. I also had a few issues with the ending, with the way the breakdown of the relationship came about, but I won't go into detail here. 

Don't get me wrong, even though I had my issues with it, I didn't dislike this novel. I think Brownrigg did a very good job of chronicling how impactful even the briefest of relationships can be on our entire lives. I just wasn't in love with it. I will, however, pick up the follow up, Pages for Her, within the next year or so to see what the deal is.

RATING: 

exquisite sarah stovell book review blog vivatramp freelance writer
FINISHED: 30/07/17 | PAGES: 300  | ISBN: 1910633747 
Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?

A story of obsession that has been told many times before and yet I found myself utterly gripped. I knew how things were going to be spun, and I picked up every little breadcrumb, but I didn't even care. 

A dual narrative with unreliable narrators is my literary catnip. They're a keep-on-reading-late-into-the-night sort of deal for me and this was no exception. I only had a couple of issues with it. There were a few continuity issues that pulled me out, regarding Alice's age changing within a matter of pages, but otherwise I rarely felt removed from the characters and the setting. The second issue I had was with the pacing which I felt, towards the end, was a little misjudged. But, otherwise, I really enjoyed the reading experience that this novel afforded me. I didn't come away feeling like I had read the next best thriller but I don't think I needed to. 

I came away wanting to up sticks, or go on a writing retreat, and make some terrible decisions. Thankfully, I have, so far, resisted the temptation. Dark, addictive and messy,  Exquisite was excellent Sunday afternoon fodder. 

RATING: 

to be read vivatramp blog

to be read.

I'm in the mood for another thriller, thanks to Exquisite, so The Poison Tree it is. I'm currently away in Barcelona but I made sure I packed this in my suitcase. Sunny holidays call for page turners! 

black wave by michelle tea
I love me a bit of post-apocalyptic lit and, for whatever reason, Black Wave just screams Summer reading to me. We haven't got too many weeks left until we are plunged into darkness again so I think I'd better tend to this sooner rather than later. Also, the apocalypse is nigh so...girl gotta read through her 150 unread books PDQ

the miseducation of cameron post by emily m. danforth*  
I may not get to this bit of YA LGBTQ+ fiction before the month is out but, as I said in my latest book haul, it's very much at the top of my to be read pile. 


If you aren't bored to tears, you can read all of my other book blog posts. Or, scroll through my book reviews instead. 

Links to books are affiliate links. If you don't fancy any of these books but would still like to use my link to purchase some books with, please use my general Book Depository link. Thanks, pals!

Books marked with an * were sent to me by the publisher for consideration. 



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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

10 Tips For Car Boot Sale Success

Despite being extremely young and youthful, I am somewhat of a car boot sale veteran. Being buried alive by miscellaneous knick-knacks in the back of the car is something of a nostalgic Saturday morning ritual to me. And so, since I have become quite the boot sale oracle over the years, I thought I would share some of my wisdom in case any of you lot are looking to make a few pennies.

Here are my 10 tips for car boot sale success...

10 tips for car boot sale success money saving blog uk vivatramp

price up big items
Bigger items, like furniture or larger electricals, whilst money-makers, can sometimes put people off because they usually think they will be out of their price range. 

Popping a price sticker on your bigger items can entice people and encourage them to haggle a little. You want your big pieces gone, so make selling them a priority.

price higher to allow for haggling
Whether you're sticking stickers on everything or being a little more improvisational, make sure you're pricing your goods a little higher to allow for some good old-fashioned haggling. People are always going to try and haggle, so make them think that a lower price was their idea and not yours!

We tend to add a few pounds to bigger items and about 50p for smaller items. 


STAND YOUR GROUND 
Always keep a reserve price in your head and don't feel pressured to go below it. If someone suggests a price that you aren't happy with, you don't have to agree on it. Meet them in the middle. Ask them to meet your original price. If they walk away, they walk away.

You're there to make yourself some money and that should be a priority. 

OFFER ALTERNATIVES 
Can't find what they're looking for? Offer them alternatives. Or, if they're looking at something in particular, offer them related items. 

Oh, you like the backpack? Have you seen our camping gear? 

We've sold out of ~this particular children's book~ but we do have ~this children's book~ on offer? 

all about the aesthetics 
You're sat in a field eating a sandwich from foil, so I'm not expecting miracles but keeping a stall functional and looking interesting to the eye is a sure fire way to get people interested.

Have some things set out clearly but also have some items, like clothes or books, in a pile so people can rummage. Rummagers flock to car boots and if they see piles of your stuff, they're going to dive right in. However, make a sign letting people know what sizes you have on offer alongside the price range of the clothes to make it even more enticing.

Your stall also needs to be accessible and mobility friendly. Make sure you don't have any plastic tubs awkwardly stuck out at the front of your stall because these can go unnoticed by passers by. 



car boot sale advice how to make money uk blog vivatramp

find out what sells and push them to the big space
Car boot sales vary, of course, but there tends to be certain things that sell well. In our experience, clothes, usually bearing an 'Everything this price' sign, sell quite well alongside bigger items like sun loungers and miscellaneous homewares. Soft toys also tend to sell well because people buy them for their dogs and costume jewellery always entices people to the stall. 

Books won't ever go for much so don't take books along that you want more than 20p-£1 for. 


pop similar items on bulk buy deals 
If you've got a selection of similar items with you, consider popping them on a bulk deal. For example, the other weekend we did bulk deals on mugs and glassware. 

Bulk buys are something I want to implement more at our next boot sale because I think they may work in our favour, particularly where things like DVDs and CDs and books are concerned.  

smile! 
Call upon your teenage experience in retail, if applicable. A smile and some eye contact, if you can, goes a long way when it comes to sales. Engage in conversation and offer customers a bag. 

Of course, this isn't obligatory. However, I've found having a little natter with people makes them hang around the stall for longer and thus gives them more chance of spotting something. 

tempting price reductions in the last half hour 
It's the last half an hour. You're probably tired. You don't fancy carting everything home again. It's time to start slashing prices!

Pull out your neon card and get making price reduction signs. Everything in this box £1! Chest of drawers now £5 down from £8! If there are prospective buyers in the vicinity, feel free to attempt some market-seller style chants. But, in general, people know they're in for some bargains as the late morning / afternoon goes on.  


take stock...of your stock
Every now and again, sift through your car boot stock to see whether you want to haul it to the field for the 300th time. If you've been taking an item to sales for a year to several years for it to be met with no interest, it's time to donate it. 

I recently sifted through our inventory, that was now taking over the garage, and donated 11 bags to the British Heart Foundation. They offer a service where you can give them a call and they'll come and collect all of your donations away which is extremely useful.

Aaaand those are my 10 tips for car boot sale success! If you're after some more sage advice, have a look through my older posts. If you liked this post, let me know and feel free to share it with people that may be in need of some advice!

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Book Haul feat. Sylvia Brownrigg

book haul vivatramp book blog lifestyle blog uk daphne du maurier

There's no greater way to celebrate your birthday than with books, in my opinion, and, luckily, I received quite a few last month to mark my 25th year. 

There were a few bits of LGBTQ+ fiction, a hyped thriller, and a special edition of one of my favourite books of all time, amongst others! 


It's been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

I always seem to hover over the film adaptation when I'm scrolling through streaming sites but at 2 hours and 29 minutes long, I've never bitten the bullet and just gone for it! Luke, knowing that I was going to be umming and aaahing until I reached the grave, decided to buy me the source material instead. Good idea.

I'm going in blind with this one, as I have no idea what to expect from Pynchon's writing; however, it certainly sounds like it has an interesting cast of characters so let's hope it's a good'un!


rebecca daphne du maurier book blog vivatramp

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers...

I unwrapped this absolutely stunning Folio Society edition of Rebecca, one of my favourite novels, on the morning of my birthday and I was absolutely over the moon. My Grandma bought it for me without any prompts, but knowing that I adore du Maurier, and I am extremely grateful.

Folio Society books make excellent and easy gifts for readers. Note that down. I think this is going to be my fancy display copy. You know you have too many books when you have display editions, right?! 

pages for you sylvia brownrigg book blog vivatramp
In a steam-filled diner in a college town, Flannery Jansen catches sight of something more beautiful than she's ever seen: a graduate student, reading. The seventeen-year-old, new to everything around her—college, the East Coast, bodies of literature, and the sexual flurries of student life—is shocked by her desire to follow this wherever it will take her. When Flannery finds herself enrolled in a class with the remote, brilliant older woman, she is intimidated at first, but gradually becomes Anne Arden's student—Baudelaire, lipstick colors, or how to travel with a lover—Flannery proves an eager pupil, until one day learns more about Anne than she ever wanted to know.

Pages For You had been on my radar for a fair few years but, in all honesty, the cover always put me off. I know that makes me some sort of knobhead but...it did. Fast forward to the beginning of this year and you can imagine how pleased I was to see this beautiful new edition on my Twitter feed. 

I read Pages last month so you'll see it in my book reviews very soon. I really want to start reading a lot more LGBTQ+ fiction so do send me some recommendations if you have any. 

exquisite sarah stovell book blog uk vivatramp

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?

Exquisite was one of the thrillers that both Bethany and Alice recommended on the Hello Friend podcast so, when I found myself in the market for a page-turner, I decided to give it a shot. 

I have already read this, as mentioned in my Favourites, so you can expect to see more of my thoughts soon.

the doll daphne du maurier vivatramp book blog uk
Many of the stories in this chilling collection were written early in Daphne du Maurier's career, before she wrote the masterpieces that would cement her reputation as one of the twentieth century's greatest writers: Rebecca, 'The Birds' and 'Don't Look Now'. These thirteen tales of human frailty and obsession demonstrate du Maurier's extraordinary storytelling ability and her deep understanding of human nature. 

One of my best friends, Sophie-Anne, knew I was building up my Du Maurier collection so she got me one of her newly re-issued short story collections and one of her novels. Soph and I actually read our first du Maurier in tandem, when we read Rebecca together back in 2015, so I love that she helped expand my collection further! 

the scapegoat daphne du maurier book blog vivatramp
By chance, two men - one English, the other French - meet in a provincial railway station. Their physical resemblance is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking - until at last John, the Englishman, falls into a drunken stupour. It's to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, his French companion has stolen his identity and disappeared. So John steps into the Frenchman's shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles - as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing. Gripping and complex, The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity, and of the dark side of the self.

Aaaand this is the du Maurier novel that she bought me. This sounds like a classic tale of deception and I can't wait to dive into it on a cold evening. Cold evenings being one of the best times to read du Maurier, of course. 

I  now own 11 books by Daphne, 5 are read and 6 are unread. What should I read next? I'm thinking either this or The House on the Strand but I'm open to opinions.

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both. Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship — one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to ‘fix’ her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self — even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

When loveable Weasley child Sarah was looking for bloggers to review this title, I swiftly threw my name into the hat. The Miseducation always seems to be on LGBTQ+ fiction lists and everyone always seems to have something good to say about it. That's enough for me.

This is definitely going to the top of my to be read pile! Pile...shelf...multiple shelves. Whatever.

What's a celebration without books?! What books have you bought or rented from the library recently? If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.

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The book marked with an (*) was sent to me by the publisher for consideration. This post features affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've provided  I'll receive a 5% commission to put back into the blog. 
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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Things That Make Me Happy 73

vivatramp blog lists

toasted marshmallows as parties wind down
sunflowers
sassy grandma remarks
singing happy birthday obnoxiously loud
handmade cards, particularly if they're hideous

(photo credit)


I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


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