Buying into Bookstagram: The pressure to purchase props?

 

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Hello again bookworms!

A couple of posts ago, we discussed the dreaded new Instagram algorithm and the detrimental effects it has been suggested to have, towards small accounts. We talked about how Instagram has no immediate plans to reverse or change the algorithm, believing that it works better now ,and so we therefore considered some of the actions we could take to work with it rather than against it . (If you haven’t seen the post, just scroll down to find it.)

 

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Today I’m back to talk some more about Bookstagram- our own little book nook where we readers can share our love of reading with each other, and pass on reviews and recommendations, whilst building friendships and joining in discussions with other book lovers. I specifically want to address another issue that’s been bothering me, and see if you think it affects you too.

 

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I’m talking about the pressure to purchase and how easy it is to overspend.

How our pursuit for perfection in our daily posts, can create a pressure to constantly buy.

Buy more books, buy more book props, buy more book merchandise, basically: the pressure to spend, spend, spend!

Do you feel it?

I do. Or I did.AutumnFairytaleClips_0011_1

 

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In the beginning, I really enjoyed just sharing my love of books with other people and I’d happily display my latest read, with very little adornment. Perhaps I’d just add a tray, with a cup of tea on it, and take my photograph. That was good, and if I got the lighting right, I was more than happy to share it.

Then I discovered some fabulous apps. I became slightly more creative, and could not only lighten dull pictures, but could add some pretty cute effects too. It was fun. It was easy, and I felt more like I belonged in the Bookstagram community and was less like a newbie.

I wanted to post great pictures, and for them to be creative and interesting. And it was great fun… to begin with. I loved trying to think of new ways of showcasing my current reads. I remember that at first I would add fresh flowers to my pictures, and I liked how colorful it made them. It was quite some time before I realized that I could buy faux flowers and use them again and again!

 

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As my follower count slowly climbed up, and I became excited and wanted to make my feed as interesting as possible. I soon discovered all the lovely bookish merchandise, and thought that including more of those in my pictures, would make them more interesting and would  please my followers.

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It crept up on me slowly.

It began with candles. I was already quite the candle collector, with Yankee candles  So initially, I would included those in my posts, and I was happy with the result for a while. But they weren’t bookish. Everywhere I looked there were candles being designed for every genre. So many beautiful ones. They looked amazing on people’s’ feeds. So I started ordering a few myself.

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A few led to many, and many led to me subscribing to monthly candle subscription boxes, from just about every candle maker on IG! Oh they are all gorgeous, and I have never met a bookish candle that I didn’t like. I have nothing but respect for the wonderful small businesses that supply the scent’s to compliment our favorite book characters either. But did I really need twenty different Harry Potter themed candles? Are my fifteen Sarah J. Maas inspired character scents really necessary? for a long time, I truly believed with all my heart that they were.

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Then I discovered bookish subscription boxes. Oh my goodness, how wonderful! I believe I tried every one. I intended to try each one once and then only subscribe to one or two that were the best. Hmmmm. That didn’t quite work out for me. If I missed a month, and then watched an unboxing, I was devastated. I’m talking total FOMO here. I eventually found myself subscribed to seven book boxes and at least three candle subscription boxes each month. And yet I wondered where my money was going. These babies are at least thirty bucks for each box!

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One day it finally hit me. I was moving my little library from the small spare bedroom to the larger game room that we rarely used. Moving each book shelf, each book, each candle by myself, I couldn’t fail to see quite how much I’d collected. As I organized my new room, I set aside so many trinkets that I’d received in my subscription boxes, and the pile mounted and mounted, and I just didn’t know what to do with them.

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Even worse, as I carried in so many opened (and then promptly forgotten) subscription boxes, with books I still had not read, that I realised that it was the thrill of receiving the boxes that I was addicted to , rather than the goods inside them!

That was not what I set out to do, but somehow I lost my way.

That was many months ago, and I now only buy what I truly want. I still enjoy watching unboxings, but I’m not about to rush off and purchase every single one that I like. I’ll limit myself and I’ve found that I appreciate what I do buy, much more.

I’m baring my soul for a good reason. I don’t want you to fall into the trap that I did. It happened so slowly that I was barely aware of it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the stores for creating products that they know we ‘need’ I take total responsibility for my own purchasing: nobody held a gun to my head. I was more than happy to pull the trigger myself. I got lost in the thrill of the chase.What began as a way to make my feed more interesting, became a spending spree for the latest bookish product!

But I’m afraid that if it can happen to me, it can also happen to the teenager who hasn’t the finances to support the spending. It can also happen to person who has an important bill to pay, but who really wants that bookish product because it looks sooooo lovely. Choose wisely guys. Learn from my mistakes.

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I know now that my friends and followers don’t care about the props that I use, they’re here for the books. They follow me because they share my love of books and want to discuss this mutual love with someone who ‘gets it’. My feed has evolved many times, over the last couple of years, and now I can honestly say that I am truly happy with what I share. I share what I love to read. It’s all about the books.

 

Thrillers: ‘Never Look Back’ by Clare Donoghue.

 

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This week on my Instagram feed I’m going to be devoting my reading time to thrillers.

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I’ll be posting a brief round up of the latest books that I’m reading in this genre, along with my recommendations for the best thrillers to pick up if you want a good scare. Not to be confused with Horrors (which I will be tackling very soon), thrillers are fast-paced roller coaster rides that should leave you feeling breathless with your heart beating like its outside of your chest because, it could happen to you!

So today on the blog, I want to focus on Clare Donoghue  and her 2014 debut thriller ‘Never Look Back’ which is  published by Minotaur Books. Paperback version HERE

 

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‘NEVER LOOK BACK”

 

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‘Three young women have been found brutally murdered in South London, their bodies discarded in plain view, the victims only yards away from help during each attack. And each time, the murderer gets a little bolder.police hand cuff (2)

Detective Mike Lockyer is the head of homicide on the south London police force, and with three bodies on his watch and a killer growing in confidence, he and Detective Sergeant Jane Bennett are frantically trying to find the link between these seemingly isolated incidents. Slowly, the case is also invading Lockyer’s life outside the office, and the fact that his daughter matches the victim profile is putting a painful strain on their already fragile relationship. Meanwhile, Sarah Grainger has a shadowy stalker following her every move.police robber mask

Once an outgoing London photographer, Sarah has begun locking herself away, almost too afraid to leave the house. Now her stalker’s actions are escalating. He’s desperate to tell Sarah a secret…a secret that Lockyer needs to know.’

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This author debuted in 2014 with this book, which I am pleased to discover, was the first in a series featuring Detective Lockyer and his investigation team.

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I really enjoyed this read. It was fast-paced, and action led, but still managed to create an empathy in the reader for the characters. Donoghue expertly manages to build up suspense as the book follows the story of Sarah, a victim of a stalker, and Lockyer and his police team as they investigate a serial killer; and leads their paths to converge in a dramatic final showdown.

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Donoghue’s writing style is a ‘no-frills’ approach so don’t expect much descriptive along the way, but this is more than made up for in the action and suspense which keep you turning the pages long after your bedtime. This first book in the series would have made an excellent stand alone, but it also manages to set the foundation for the future books, so that we can see the development of the main characters and their personal growth. I give this a solid 4 stars and a good recommendation.

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Further books in this awesome series can be found HERE and HERE

 

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Crushing on Classics.

 

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I have just spent a lovely week reading and enjoying the classic book: ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. It is a book that I have wanted to read for the longest time and I am so happy that I finally picked it up, because it was everything that I expected it to be and much more. I think that it has actually become my new favorite classic.

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Only a few months ago I picked up ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte for the first time too, and it knocked my socks off. It was certainly a most contentious book for the age, and I was rather impressed with the risk that Ms. Bronte had taken in sending it for publication back in 1846. Even though she used the male pseudonym of ‘Ellis Bell’ as author, it was still considered very risqué for its time. Did you know that Charlotte Bronte told her father that she had written her first book (Jane Eyre), only after it had been published and received its first glowing reviews? Or that the Emily and Anne Bronte did not dare actually tell their father that they too had since become published authors (especially as ‘Wuthering Heights’ created such a maelstrom of gossip!)

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(I will write a post focusing on the Bronte family very soon, but today I want to encourage you to pick up a classic book yourself.)

 

You see there is something magical in the classics that appear to be sadly lacking in much of today’s literature. They display a different style of writing completely from contemporary literature, that beautifully encompasses the culture of those times.

 

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And necessarily so. For example, the pace of life was much more sedate; so most of the stories are a slow burn of passion, intrigue and/ or danger, unlike today’s fast paced plots where, it can be argued, we expect to be held breathless on some rollercoaster of a ride within the first ten pages, or we want our money back!

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Likewise, it appears that those authors of the past, (see Dickens and Austin too) invite us into their protagonists’ head far more often than those of the present; we hear their thoughts and feelings as they constantly echo off the page, signaling to the reader all the ‘why’s’ before we even have a chance to ask. Contrast this with modern literature and these questions of motivation are often left unanswered until the last possible moment- when all is revealed- or not!  It’s a different format for a different age.

 

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Furthermore, with the classics, one can notice that the authors tend to focus immensely on the descriptive’; painting a portrait of each scene in almost intimate detail. The wait can be agony for the reader who wants to know ‘what is going to happen next?’ because they are forced to slow down and match the pace of the time with that of the author, and invest themselves into the story fully and deeply, whether they want to sacrifice their time or not.

It is non-negotiable.

Consider this:

 

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From Jane Eyre, a description of her meeting acquaintances of her master for the first time, while she was working as a Governess at his home. Their station is above hers:

 

‘There were eight; yet, somehow, as they flocked in, they gave the impression of a much larger number. Some of them were very tall; many were dressed in white; all had a sweeping amplitude of array that seemed to magnify their person’s as a mist magnifies the moon. I rose and curtseyed to them: one or two bent their heads in return; the others only stared at me.

 They dispersed about the room, reminding me, by the lightness and buoyancy of their movements, of a flock of white plumy birds. Some of them threw theirselves in half-reclining positions on the sofas and ottomans: some bent over the tables and examined the flowers and books: the rest gathered in a group around the fire: all talked in a low but clear tone which seemed habitual to them.”  (P171)

 

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Note the contrast between the descriptions of one person 150 years ago (above) walking into a room full of strangers, with another, published this year:

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From Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo:

 

 

“Genya led me to the same domed room where we had gathered the previous afternoon for the processional. It wasn’t nearly as crowded today, but there was still a lively buzz of conversation. In the corners, Grisha clustered around samovars and lounged on divans, warming themselves by elaborately tiled ovens. Others breakfasted at the four long tables arranged in a square at the room’s center. Again, a hush seemed to fall as we entered, but this time people at least pretended to carry on their conversations as we passed” (p121)

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In today’s writing we don’t waste words!

 

But that is the very attraction of these classic books to me. Sometimes I want to focus less on plot and more on character driven novels. ‘What’s going through his/her mind?’ ‘Why is he/she acting like that?’ Etc., etc. We are forced to consider every circumstance, every viewpoint and to take nothing at face value. By the end of the book, the reader has a thorough understanding of how each character is driven.

 

 

Having said all this, I don’t think I could spend my days only reading classic books.-I’m also a product of our times and sometimes I do want to run rather than ramble through the pages of a good read. But my point is this:

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There is wonder and enchantment in strolling through a book from another age. We are given a threefold gift, as we not only absorb a good story, but we learn history, and some culture along the way. It may be true that you need to have some patience to fully appreciate a classic book to its fullest extent, but the rewards are wonderful. I strongly advise you to pick up a classic book soon. Put aside some time and treat yourself to a wonderful story from almost forgotten worlds. Clear your calendar, and create a niche of time just to absorb all the nuances and magic that these books hold.

You will see a different world, you will step back in time and experience the world of our ancestors. You will exit them a changed person. Now that’s why I’m crushing on classics.

 

 

lots of love, Sally xx

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Welcome to Week 5 of Soak Sunday.

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Goodness what a busy weekend I’ve had!

 

Some back story: late last year we thought we’d found our dream house. It meant moving several hundred miles away, but we were willing to make a fresh start. It was an old Victorian painted lady and I had great plans for it. Anyway someone beat us to it and we decided to stay where we were, after all, we loved our home and hadn’t actually intended to move prior to falling in love with the Victoria when the details landed in my in-box..

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But you know how that goes- once you decide to move you suddenly can’t stop looking for properties. So we spent Saturday viewing model homes in this area. We found some great contenders and that put us in the right frame of mind to clear out the clutter in our lives ready for when we find the perfect place.

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So Sunday was spent with us facing all our clutter and taking a trip to the garbage tip. Not fun but necessary! It was hard work and every muscle ached by the end of the day, but boy, what a satisfying feeling!

So to get to my point, I really needed a long soak to ease those exhausted muscles. I also needed an injection of energy too since it was only afternoon when we’d finished. So I chose a lovely bath cocktail with citrus notes, to both relax and invigorate me.

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I began with pouring some ‘Olive branch shower gel on the base of the bath, to start up the bubble process. Then I chose the ‘Refresher‘ shower jelly which I’d already prepared into cubes, and I mixed that with the ‘Ex Factor’ bath bomb (that little one with a stick figure in it) that I bought from the Lush Kitchen in the U.K (they ship to the U.S.A)…

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Then I  added two other bathbomb’s for maximum impact – I chose ‘Fizzbanger‘  as seen above. This lovely fizzing bath bomb looks like lemon but is fun of the scent of cinnamon and apples. The colors are spectacular and I did not expect them! They were stunning.

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Finally I added  ‘Yoga Bomb‘ which looks orange but has sandalwood, olibanum and ho wood oils encased inside.

 

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This was even prettier! I wish I could share the scent with you. They were so delicious.

 

 

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I set myself up with a lovely candle from ‘The melting Library’ (I think they are no longer in business sadly) and relaxed into the most delicious citrus scented bubble bath and settled down to read more of my new Diana Gabaldon book ‘Dragonfly in Amber’. It was the perfect end to a busy day. I think I was in there until the water went cold!

 

 

Finally I just want to remind you that Tuesday 28th Feb (tomorrow from this post) is the final day to enter my Beauty and the beast giveaway. You will find full details on my instagram feed. Remember you will earn two extra entries if you leave a comment on this blog (be sure to leave your instagram name here too) I will announce the winner by the weekend and will be giving details about my new Alice in Wonderland themed giveaway which is starting just a couple in just a couple of weeks! Kindly scroll back on here to see the prizes in glorious full detail too.

Have a great day. I’ll be back tomorrow with my ‘Outlander’ book review.

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Lots of love, Sally xxx

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