Retrospective: 2014

new-years-books

As I have already noted in my book recommendations post, this was the year that I became a book blogger. Over the course of 2014 I have read and reviewed sixty-six books, abandoned a further two that failed to hold my interest and, as the year draws to a close, am part way through one more.

I was feeling rather pleased with myself over these numbers so I mentioned them to my husband. This was a mistake.

‘I thought you would have read more than that’, he said. ‘That’s just a little over one a week.’

My little balloon of pride silently deflated. I reminded myself that it is not a competition, numbers should not matter, and there is no point in looking for praise or admiration at home. Here, I am the Mum who can’t: cook appealing food; keep up with my family when they exercise; add anything of interest to a conversation; remember every detail of every computer and programming language that I worked with twenty years ago.

My home life and my life on line couldn’t be more different and for this I am grateful.

On line I have had  a fabulous year. Authors and publishers have kept me supplied with the books that have facilitated my escape into other, more rewarding worlds. I have been treated to some gems that I may not otherwise have discovered. Getting into book blogging has been a highlight of my year.

I have learned some lessons along the way.

One of these is that I gain no pleasure from reading ebooks. As I read and review because I love books and want to share the joy this means that I will now only accept physical copies. I regret that I may miss out on some titles, in particular Salt’s Modern Dreams collection, but I find reading lengthy text from a screen to be a chore.

Another lesson learned, and one that I regret, is that self published books are too variable in quality to accept for review blind. Some, of course, are easily as good as any that have been released by a traditional publisher. I do not understand, for example, how EJ Kay’s Watermark has not been snapped up by the book trade. However, over the course of the past year I have read too many self published books that had interesting plots but were crying out for a tough edit to smooth over the rough edges and add balance to aspects of the writing. With so many good books out there, and so little time to read them all, I am now strictly limiting the self published books that I will accept.

Alongside my reading and reviewing I have continued to write my own fiction. I am not a blogger who dreams of having my own book published, mainly because I am not writing a book. I write flash and micro fiction which I publish on various sites on line. However, by continuing to write my own fiction I have learned a great deal.

One tough lesson came from another’s review of my writing; apparently I have significant issues with grammar. I am a strong advocate of good grammar so this feedback hit me like a punch in the gut. Having rallied it has been one of the most useful things said to me. Not only is it an area that I can work on to improve but it gave me a taste of how authors may feel if my book reviews are negative. I will always be honest in my opinions, otherwise what is the point of a review, but I try hard to say why, to add context. Reviews are written for other readers, not authors, but I know that they may be read by both.

Another lesson learned from my own writing is how hard it is to write well. Even if I don’t particularly enjoy a book I am in awe of anyone who can produce one. The sheer work involved in capturing all of those words in a coherent and compelling order is worth acknowledging. Thank you authors for creating the worlds that give us readers so much pleasure.

As a book blogger much of my contact with the book world is through publishers. I am immensely grateful to all those lovely PR people who have taken the time to send me books and who acknowledge the reviews that I write. It is a lovely feeling to be even a very small part of this magical, literary world.

At the beginning of the year my blog was a place where I recorded random musings on my life, thoughts and issues that affected me. I will still retain the right to use it for whatever types of post I wish. My hen keeping and teddy bear pieces are fun to produce and I thoroughly enjoyed creating my Shakespeare Bear Review last summer.

In the coming year I will be looking to write many more book reviews as well as adding to my small collection of author interviews and literary gig write ups. I hope that this will be of interest to the visitors I welcome to this site. All writers hope to find readers so thank you for being here. I wish you a very Happy New Year.

 

 

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