What makes me one-click a book?

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 15.55.22A few days ago, someone asked me what makes me decide if I’ll one-click a book. I say one-click since I buy a lot of books online, but this could just as easily be spontaneously buying a book at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. I probably spend way too much money on books. I won’t even say how much my monthly book budget is because, as a rule, I generally go over the budgeted amount. Whether it’s an ebook or a trade paperback, it’s always pretty much the same things that convince me this is a must-have book.

the cover

What do all of the above books have in common? Great covers. Yes, I am one of those people who judge books by their covers. If the cover looks tacky or amateurish, then I will move on. A beautifully designed cover is the fastest way to grab my attention. If it stops me from moving on to another title, then I’ll turn to a random page and see if the first paragraph I read speaks to me.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 16.49.38a good book description

Something snappy, something sexy, something romantic–all that matters is that it’s compelling. If the blurb sounds too passive or too preposterous or too vague, then I won’t one-click. I recently saw a new release that had a great cover but a god-awful description. I couldn’t figure out what the story was even about. It was really one of those “huh?!?” moments. I read the description three times and still couldn’t make understand what was the deal with the story.

advance reviews

Now, I don’t always rely on these, but I do tend to check if others have read and reviewed an ARC of a novel I think I’m interested in. I usually find a few on Goodreads or Riffle. If I like what I see, then my finger hits one-click in an instant. Mind you, I don’t always trust advance reviews–too many that gush over a novel might give me pause (unless I already know the writer’s work and know the gushing is warranted). If the reviews are vague, then I may wait a while until  a few more reviews pop up.

So any of those three things could make me one-click…and I do love filling up my Kindle or my tote bag with new books.

…and an off-topic shout out

Splendor ToteSpeaking of tote bags, I need to give a shout out to Obvious State. Just before I headed to the US, I ordered their “Splendor” tote, which features a gorgeous quote from John Keats. I had it shipped to my mother’s address in Philadelphia and was so happy to find it there waiting for me.

OMG. I.LOVE.THIS.BAG.

It’s gorgeous and it’s the perfect size for my MacBook Air, my Kindle, my wallet and my phone. There’s even enough room for a few more goodies. It has replaced my NaNoWriMo tote bag as my go-to bag. This tote bag with its lush print of flowers and sublime John Keats snippet–“LONE SPLENDOR HUNG ALOFT THE NIGHT”–has won my heart. I may have to order another one. 🙂

My first post of 2015 — why I love reading.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 13.22.35Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and didn’t do anything you regret. 😉 I decided I needed another challenge. Along with the Read Harder challenge, I will be joining the Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight team and the 2015 Discussion Challenge.
My aim is to post at least once a week (which I think would put me in the Gift of the Gab category), so let’s start right now.

I started thinking earlier today about why I love reading so much. Ever since I was a wee one, I’ve loved reading. It was (and remains) the perfect escape. Having a bad day? I can find a great spot to read and get lost in a good book or imagine myself in some exotic locale. Feeling like I need a little more romance in my life? Perfect, there’s always some good book for that and for a few hours I can get caught up in the hero and heroine’s love story and eventual HEA (or Happily Ever After).

But what started my love of reading? I could probably trace it back to when I was in kindergarten at Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School in downtown Philadelphia and my teacher, Mrs. Albert, gave me a copy of The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Somehow, I taught myself to read with that book. I’d sit for hours with it, not letting any of my classmates have a go at it, and get lost in Ferdinand’s story. Ferdinand and I were pretty similar–we were both day-dreamers and prone to thinking of other things when we should have been focusing on things like work or lessons. We both preferred our own company even though we liked hanging out with others–we’d probably be classified as extroverted introverts.

Once I learned to read, there was no stopping me. I read everything–the newspaper, text on packaging, road signs, you name it. And my curiosity about the world around me increased. I wanted to know more, see more. I read Madeline and suddenly I began pestering my parents about going to Paris. I read Curious George and I wanted a pet monkey. I read Black Beauty and fell in love with horses; every week I wrote letters to my grandparents begging them to help me get a horse that could live in my parents’ garage. (I had to settle for getting to ride a horse every now and then when I visited them during the summer).

Reading was my way of escaping dull days–especially since there weren’t many kids in my parents’ neighbourhood who were my age. Either everyone was my older sister’s age or my younger brother’s age, and my school friends lived in other neighbourhoods. And when I was older and noticed that all was not well in my parents’ relationship, reading let me escape into other people’s lives and I could imagine myself living in a castle in Scotland or on an adventure in the African savannahs.

Nowadays I write my own novels as well as read other writers’ novels. I love it when a writer pulls me into a complicated story or writes a passage that’s so simple yet still so descriptive that I can picture everything the narrator sees and experiences. And it’s this escape into the imagination that is one of the aspects of reading that I appreciate most. Sometimes we all need an escape–from reality, from life, from whatever–and reading gives us that without costing very much or requiring a passport or the hassle of an airport security check. It’s portable, it can be popped into our handbag and off we go. You can enjoy it fully-clothed or naked, with a glass of wine or a mug of tea, in the comfort of your own home or on the subway.

And the best thing is when you meet someone else who’s reading the same book as you and you can bond over the characters and plot. Ahh…now that’s a wonderful moment.

So tell me, what are you reading today? I’m nearly done reading Fix You by Carrie Elks, and I’m loving it so far. 🙂

Second Advent – Snowy Stockholm and Rune

Brunnsviken in winter. Photo: Tord Malmgren

Brunnsviken in winter. Photo: Tord Malmgren

As I write today’s post, the view outside my window is one of pale gray sky and snowy sidewalks. On Friday we had our first proper snowfall of the winter. We Stockholmers were beginning to wonder if there would be any snow before Christmas–and it was getting a bit depressing, the dullness of the winter darkness, the heavy sleep feeling that settles upon you and makes you feel perpetually tired. You need snow to break it up and remind you that Christmas is just around the corner.

Today it’s around -7C (that’s 19.4F) and it looks like we’re going to get more snow soon. It makes me think about Rune, the homeless man I often see on my way to work. Sometimes I am late in the morning because I want to make sure he has had something warm to drink or I check on him and see if he has enough warm winter clothing. Last year, I gave him some winter gloves, a hat, an old fleece jacket of Tord’s that was still in good condition but that he no longer wanted. Rune was so happy. He said he had looked for similar items at the shelter where he stays when it’s too cold to be outside but they didn’t have any that would fit him. A few days later, he looked devastated. Someone had stolen the winter gear I’d given him. “It’s what happens at the shelters,” he said. “Someone sees you have more than them, and they take it because they are angry and desperate.” I was surprised he didn’t begrudge the people who stole from him. He said he’d been homeless long enough to understand why they do it.

So how do I know Rune? Well,  I see him when I am on my way to work. He is often standing outside Åhléns City, selling Situation Stockholm, a magazine features articles about Stockholm, the situation of those in need, etc. Many homeless people in Stockholm sell it and I always buy an issue from Rune. Sometimes I buy several issues. I do it because I want to help him in his struggle to find a place to live. Rune is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He is always more concerned about others. He is always polite, even to the people who walk past him and make rude remarks. On the day my father died, Rune saw how unhappy I was and his kind words and his compassion lifted my spirits.

You’ll know Rune if you see him. He looks exactly like Santa Claus. Or, at least, *I* think he looks like Santa Claus. You’ll recognise him as soon as you see him. So if you’re in Stockholm and you happen to see a man selling Situation Stockholm and he reminds you of all your childhood dreams of Santa, then that’s Rune–buy a Situation Stockholm from him and, if it’s cold, ask him if he’d like a hot chocolate. But don’t just buy the magazine from Rune. There are hundreds of other Situation Stockholm salespeople out there who want to find homes, who want to get off the streets and restart their lives. So buy your copies from them as well.

My goals for 2014 are: once my new novel is ready, buy advertising space in Situation Stockholm to help support this cause and donate money to Stockholms Stadsmission. I also want to be more active in helping, so I am going to figure out something I can do to make more of a difference.

I hope Rune has a warm place to sleep tonight. I worry about him when the temperatures begin to dip. Tomorrow, I will keep an eye out for him. I always do.

 

The only thing that helps at times like this is buying books

It’s been a crazy two weeks. There is a lot going on at work, which means I am exhausted physically and mentally when I come home. And this is affecting my writing time. I wake up too tired to write. I come home too tired to write. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to read other people’s work instead but I find myself falling asleep on the sofa–not because the books are boring, but because I am tired. Ah well, at least I have Matera and my vacation in the US to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Anyway, I indulged in a little retail therapy and this is what I bought:

ImageMo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman

I had to get this. Questlove and I come from the same town, my beloved Philadelphia. We both come from West Philly. We’re both creative–he’s a musical genius, I’m a writer. Really, it’s a wonder our paths haven’t crossed yet. 😉 But seriously, I am always drawn to books and movies set in my hometown. And since I am a Roots fan and I have always liked Questlove, I knew I needed to get a copy of his memoir. And then a few months ago, Nick Hornby was talking about Questlove’s memoir and I was even more intrigued. It wasn’t available yet and when I tried to preorder it here in Stockholm, I was met with blank stares from  bookstore staff. Of course, after I finally ordered it from Amazon UK, then every online bookstore in Sweden suddenly decided they could stock it as well. I don’t care. I have it now and the cover looks great. I’ve already sneaked a peek at a few pages and this is definitely my kind of book.

I haven’t started reading Mo’ Meta Blues yet but it is the next book on my To Read List. Maybe I will save it as something to read while I am in Philly and then give to my oldest niece as a source of inspiration. I want her to see that there is more to the world than the confines of our old neighborhood.

ImageThe other book I ended up buying is not new but I didn’t want to read it when everyone else was reading it because I really, really hate when other people see you’re reading the same book and then they feel compelled to inadvertently spoil it for you. So which book is it? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I love a good mystery/thriller and I wanted to be able to read this without everyone else a) trying to convince me it was godhead, b) wanting to discuss it and reveal spoilers, c) wanting to talk about which Hollywood A-listers should play Nick and Amy. Luckily the Gone Girl hype in Stockholm has died down. I think everyone has found a new novel to gush about. I started reading it on Thursday and it’s as good as everyone assured me it was. I’ve decided I need to Gillian Flynn’s other novels (Dark Places and Sharp Objects) as well, so they are also on the To Read List for this autumn/winter. And what could be better to read in Stockholm–that city where the winter cloud cover is so thick you nearly forget there is a thing called the sun–than really tight mystery novels that play tricks with your mind? 🙂

So I think I am set for a few weeks. I am editing Maybe Baby again after making changes suggested by a beta reader. I’m also beta reading a friend’s novel. And I have to wait and see what the future has in store for me. If all else fails, at least I have my writing, Nanowrimo and my gorgeous husband. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Back from London and only bought 3 books?!?

Mind the gap!

Mind the gap!

Yes, that’s right. I went to London to visit Katie Ellwood-Smith and we had a great time together gabbing and getting pedicures. London was still in the midst of its heatwave–despite SkyNews and the BBC claiming it was over–but I am not complaining. I love warm weather.

But how could I go to London and only buy three books?!? I bought more jars of marmalade than books. Oh the pain…I will have to remedy this by booking another London trip soon. (Or maybe that was my modus operandi all along?) 😉

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

A girl cannot live on pedicures alone. A shout-out, by the way, to Marina at Hand and Foot Spa in Wimbledon Village. Best pedicure ever! 🙂 A girl like me–book nerd that I am–needs books and plenty of ’em. I’ll have to figure out the best window of opportunity for a new London trip…and it must be soon. 🙂

So what books did I buy? A hardbound edition of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (which I bought ages ago and somehow lost). I must replenish my library! 😉 I simply don’t have enough books… though I don’t think Tord will agree here. 😉

Happy reading (and writing)!

 

Mid-afternoon ramblings and wishing Abigail and Karen had new books out…

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it's definitely true for me. :)

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it’s definitely true for me. 🙂

The last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. It’s left me feeling a little worn out, a little less writerly (which is not good) and in need of being out in the sun (which is good, but also not good). So while I struggle to finish revising and formatting and all the other various things on my to-do list, I’ve been thinking about two of my favorite writers–Abigail Bosanko and Karen Siplin–and wishing they’d come out with new books.

Now, I know they both have their own lives to think about and they are just as super-busy as I’ve been, but I still wish they would send me an email and say, “Guess what, Kim! Our new books are coming soon–in fact, in just a matter of weeks.” Oh, that would make me so happy. And these days it’s easy to make me happy–especially if it also involves a perfectly chilled glass of dry rosé wine and sitting outdoors.

So, Abigail and Karen, please let me (and your other fans) know–is there something new in the works? Will we be able to read it soon? 😀

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. :) Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. 🙂 Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

On the plus side (for me since I can read Swedish), Simona Ahrnstedt–the Swedish romance author I interviewed a while back–has a new book out called De Skandalösa. Going to pick it up this weekend! And everywhere I look in Stockholm I find adverts for her new book–and they’ve crowned her Sweden’s Queen of Romance. Nice! 🙂

But now…Abigail, Karen and Simona…the three of you really ought to come to Matera at the end of September for the Women’s Fiction Festival so we could all finally meet and talk about writing and what you’re working on and I can bore you with talking about my WIP. 🙂 And we can sip white wine in Piazza del Sedile and figure out life, the universe and all that jazz…and somewhere along the line we’ll write. 🙂

OK, now I have to get back to work. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

No, I am not dead…just very, very tired and busy

Image

How my brain feels…

Sorry again for the radio silence. I thought I would have oodles of time to update my little blog once I returned from vacation, but I’ve had a lot on my plate at work and then when I come home I am just…tired, lazy.

What free time I’ve had has been spent writing or socializing and catching up with people I had to neglect all spring (due to work).

But I promise–now that things seem to be calming down at work–I will get back to you very soon with a combo book review (three books, all three books you need to read) and an update about when Choose Me and The Time Is Now will be available. 🙂

I just need a few more days to make sure project (at work) is on schedule and then I’ll be back. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Happy Mother’s Day, Barbs!

Image

My mom, Barbara Golden

I don’t usually write about my mom here but I thought it was a good idea since it is Mother’s Day. My mom and I don’t see each other so often since I live in Sweden and she is still in Philadelphia. But once or twice a year, when I am in Philly, I drive her crazy with telling her what to do (like take more walks since her doctor said she should) and she drives me crazy by hovering when I try to cook dinner for her. We bicker with one another but we know we love each other.

When I first told my mom I wanted to be a writer, she thought I meant I wanted to be a journalist. Heck, I thought I wanted to be a journalist too. I thought I could be a clever news reporter by day and a novelist by night. When I was in high school, I won the chance to take part in a semester-long journalism workshop at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. While it was interesting, I realized I didn’t want to be a reporter. I wanted to be novelist. My mom (and my dad) wanted me to have a job with a steady income–I think she really wanted me to be an accountant or a lawyer. But I didn’t have a head for numbers and I thought courtroom antics were boring. Plus, I had this aversion to having to represent anyone I thought was guilty. And when I was in college, everyone I knew in law school always looked miserable. I didn’t want to be miserable. I wanted to be happy writing short stories and novels.

So when I told my mother I was going to graduate school to study creative writing, she was a little concerned. How would I support myself once I graduated? Would I be able to find a job that would pay enough to cover my student loans? While she tried to get me to see reason, she didn’t try to force me into something that wouldn’t make me happy. I think she realized that sending me to a high school that specialized in engineering and science was a big mistake since I didn’t understand anything while I was there. I am still amazed I graduated with as good of grades as I received. I felt lost the entire time.

My mom grew up in Smithfield, Virginia and moved to Philadelphia when she was a teenager. She didn’t get a chance to go to college until she was older and had already raised three kids. My granddad was a bit old school and didn’t believe in paying for his oldest daughter to go to college. He thought she would just drop out and get married. But going to college was always important to my mom, and she encouraged all of us to go–she didn’t want us to be stuck like a lot of other kids in similar situations. She wanted us to see the world and to experience new things. I watched her studying for her courses and it increased my interest in going to college. So–even if I didn’t always tell her this–she was a role model for me. I saw how she worked during the day and went to school in the evening, and I knew I could study too. I knew I could do whatever it took to get an education.

I never used to let my mom read the stories I wrote. I thought she would be shocked or angry about anything I wrote, especially since whatever was going on in my life usually ended up in my fiction. And my mom is more conservative than I am. But when she read my graduate thesis, she didn’t raise an eyebrow at the stories–not even the ones that were a little graphic. She just told me how proud she was of me. And that made me feel like I was doing the right thing.

So I hope my mom is having an awesome Mother’s Day in Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure my brother and sister have done something nice for her. I will treat Barbs to something nice when I am next in Philadelphia. I keep telling her that Tord and I are going to take her away from everything for a few days. Maybe we’ll actually succeed this time. 🙂

Love you, Mom! 🙂

Another brainstormed book published–congrats, Beate! :D

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 7.53.27 PMJust heard from Beate Boeker, another of my Matera Brainstormers, and her latest book, Banker’s Death: Temptation in Florence #3–which we brainstormed in Matera last year–is on sale now.

Beate’s books are so much fun to read and they make you want to jump on the next flight to Florence, so if you’re an Italophile like me and you like quirky cozy mysteries, then you’ll love her Temptation in Florence series.

I am so happy for Beate and I’m on way to Amazon now to get it for my Kindle. Congrats, sweetie! Keep these Temptation in Florence novels coming! I love ’em! 😀

Happy reading (and writing)!