Do you know, I had to check – my first blog, on the Blogger platform, launched in February 2013, so just over four years. Fancy reading my first ever post? You’ll find it here – I’ve got a lot better since then, promise!
No blog before that, but i’ve always loved reviewing the books I read. I can even remember (and it’s a long, long time ago…) keeping a notebook of reviews i did while awaiting my A-level results – George Orwell really doesn’t need to worry about his reputation. As a grown-up (forget the in-between years – I discovered boys!) I joined a few on-line book groups, reviewed on sites like Librarything and always on Amazon… and I guess that’s when the book blogging revolution started, and I decided to be part of it.
I just thought it made sense to keep all my thoughts in one place – and share them. Friends had made the leap, so I thought “why not”. The first year was difficult – I was working all hours, and the blog took second place. But then I retired – and having tidied out my cupboards and re-organised my finances, I thought “what next?” – and I decided ”how about building that blog?”. I’ve never looked back – and I’m having so much fun!
I’m not sure if it’s that different really – there are some magnificent book bloggers out there that I don’t feel fit to kiss the boots of. I think my USP might be that I like to give some of the little people a chance – I still love featuring the blockbusters, reading them and reviewing, but I particularly like shining a light on the people who don’t make the headlines. I don’t think I could never write a book, but those who actually get up and do it really deserve a forum and someone to help them shout more loudly. Those Facebook shares, those multiple tweets on Twitter, all mean such a lot – and I have a fantastic network of bloggers and authors who help me make that happen.
I’m never sure how to define what I enjoy. Maybe “women’s literature” is the best definition? I know what I like, and when I agree to review I’ve usually spotted something that makes me think the book has “me” written on it. I used to love chick lit – but I’m getting too old to identify with the main characters, so I do it less these days. I did love thrillers, but there were too many missing children – and I don’t like the gory, or the forensic detail. I like literary – but I am quite fussy. I like a cracking story. But above all, I like to really feel something – if you can engage my heart, that’s one guaranteed high star review.
This is a bit of a regret, really. I love my holidays, often in really unusual locations, and I always planned to write a few travel based blog posts – but the books took over and it has just never happened. I doubt it will now.
Did you know this would be a “favourite child” question? Already there have been half a dozen, but I think the one I must single out is Sealskin by Su Bristow. This book captured my heart – on paper, maybe not my kind of book at all, but it certainly moved me more than anything else I’ve read this year. A really special book.
8. What is your favourite book?
It depends what day you ask me. I know people wax lyrical about their first Enid Blyton or their favourite Jane Austen, but I just can’t. I read English Lit at university, and I know I should probably pick a Dickens or a Bronte (Mrs Gaskell was always a favourite, and Thomas Hardy…)., I can’t even pick out my favourite of the last couple of years – but I have a really soft spot for Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I hate picking just one – but you did ask…
Definitely the new one by Vanessa Lafaye – At First Light comes out on 1st June, I have my advance copy, and I’m dying to read it. But there are more –
I’m 61 years old and single – not for the want of trying – with no family now other than my mum, who’s over 90 and has just moved to live near me. I used to work in project management and business management, with a focus on people development and communications, but I retired – with a sigh of relief – three years ago. I’m Welsh by birth – from near Bangor in North Wales – but I’ve lived in Yorkshire, in the beautiful market town of Wetherby, for over 25 years now, and I never made a better decision. I’m equidistant from Harrogate, Leeds and York, with everything they have to offer – and if London beckons, as it often does, I can get there in under two and a half hours. Other than books, my passion is travel – I like to do a couple of long-haul holidays a year, and I’m rapidly catching up with my bucket list. I do a regular book slot on local radio – Tempo FM – and run the book club for my local U3A group too.
Savoury – pies, pasties, sarnies – but also a real weakness for chocolate, preferably dark…
Christmas, I think – love all the sparkle and schmaltz…and the Christmas books…
It’s funny – I know I couldn’t have written Anna Karenina or Wuthering Heights, so I wouldn’t try and lay claim to them. But every so often I come across one that might just have been within my grasp – Sue Watson’s We’ll Only Have Paris maybe, or Liz Trenow’s The Forgotten Seamstress, and I wonder if I really should do that OU writing course or apply for the RNA New Writers’ scheme. Have I left it too late, do you think? Maybe, one day…