Challenge: A Change in my Twitter

For the last few years I have been setting myself yearly challenges for my blog, which I nearly achieve, but not always. One big area I want to improve on is to increase my blog and Twitter followers, increased blog page views, and better use of scheduling, hashtags etc.

Over the Christmas period I decided to mainly tweet about my Christmas themed book reviews from the last few years. I’ve not been blogging much over the last few months, but the stats have been chugging along nicely..no zero view Days!

Anyway I sat down on a Thursday in early January to auto schedule the next batch of 30 tweets and….blanked. I had several pages of draft tweets to choose from, but really couldn’t decide what to choose. I’ve been tweeting my Christmas stuff for the last two months, it’s no longer Christmas, so what should I do?

I chose to schedule nothing that day, though technically my engagement numbers would drop. Thursday afternoon I started looking at my overall stats, especially the pages that had low numbers over the last year or so. I noticed there were some themes, some of which tie into themes in the wider world. Therefore I’ve decided that I’m going to breakdown the year, and tweet reviews that seem to tie in. It’s not going to be prescriptive or anything – if I read a romance novel in September I’m not going to wait to next Feb to review it for instance, but this will help me have a soft guide as to what I should be tweeting about. I’m still struggling for January though.

Jan ;

Feb – Romance (For Valentine’s day, right? #Romance);

March/April (#SpringReads)

May – Comics and Graphic Novels (Free Comic Book Day is 1st Saturday in May, Star Wars Day is May 4th. #Comic #GraphicNovel) ;

June/July – Summer Reads (Cos it’s #Summer!);

August – Quilting (The FestivalOfQuilts is held in Birmingham each August. #Quilt #Sewing);

September – Gold Age Crime (Not only Agatha Christie, but Ngaio Marsh, Birmingham Library etc. #GoldenAge, then #Poirot #Marple, #Alleyn etc);

October – Spooky (in time for Halloween etc #Spooky);

November/December – Christmas (You know why! #Christmas)

 

Anyone else want to join me? Any suggestions for topics, especially around January?

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Book Review: Twisted Genius by Patricia Rice

 

All Ana Devlin has ever wanted was a home for her younger half-siblings. Now she has half a mansion plus half a fortune to go with it. But what good is sanctuary when her family insists on creating chaos and endangering lives in their relentless pursuit of justice? 

Bent on revenging old debts, Ana’s mother, Magda, is back in town, making a mockery of a powerful presidential candidate. Ana’s brother Nick has found a boyfriend—who nearly gets them both killed for blowing the whistle on a pharmaceutical company’s dangerous painkiller. Ana’s lover, Graham, is out to destroy a Russian hacker who dared attack his secret servers. Her sister Patra is breaking the news story of the century—connecting drug lords and politicians and dangerously wealthy industrialists. 

And Ana is the one who is in jeopardy. Can a family of geniuses really be worth the effort? 

From LibbraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers monthly batch.

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2018 Blogger Resolutions

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Following my failure to achieve these the last few years, I’ve significantly dropped my numbers, in the chance of actually meeting a couple!

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 950, excluding twitter followers
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 6500)
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 950)
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. I wont do a specific challenge this year – I did pretty badly last time I did one, so I wont set myself up to fail this time!
  • Get my Netgalley ratio into the 70% range (from 63%).
  • To aid in reading the books that I already have there will be a moratorium on requesting books from Netgalley or LibraryThing, and reviewing books I already have!
  • Post at least once a week
  • Make use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.
  • Do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing, either in OBCZs or via RABCKs
  • Start making my own media (photos etc) and make use of them in posts

2017 Blogger Resolutions – The Results

Once again, a checkpoint against the blogging resolutions I made at the beginning of the year, which were admittedly quite aggressive.  I didn’t achieve many of these, simply because reading and general blogging was on the back burner for much of the year.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers  The number of subscribers did increase to over 830, but didn’t come close to meeting the target. There are likely reasons mentioned below.
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 12000). *This wasn’t met either, reasons given below. I pulled less than I did last year. Some months (e.g. Jan and April) I did significantly worse that the same time last year, but there are other months that I pulled similar numbers or did even better, even if I didn’t post as much*
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100)  *Whilst I did get my followers to over 750 (with some fluctuations), I didnt meet this target*
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.  *I came nowhere near any of this target, though I did read a mix of paper and ebooks. I’ve been quite strict on the Netgalley requests, and have managed to get my review ratio up into the low 60%*
  • Post at least twice a week *This certainly didn’t happen, and there are some weeks that I didnt post at all. I did however find a couple of new topics to write about, and published a couple*
  • Make use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate. *nope! did more than last year, but certainly not as much as I could have*
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content. This I did manage to do more of, especially after finding that tweets could be stored as “drafts”, which allowed me to keep a store of tweets to be scheduled. A cursory glance of  3 months of tweets shows I seem to have the 70:30 balance just the wrong way round.  At one point I managed to get my engagement rate at above 2k in a month, but have fallen back a bit – must find the stuff that works for people, whilst also talking to people as if they are real people (which they are!). I had a massive spike when I had Neil Gaiman retweet something of mine, so that pushed my numbers up high for part of November!
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc *Happened sporadically, not good enough though*
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.*Nothing has changed, so nothing needed updating*
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate. *Because of a change in my technology, this wasn’t really feasible*
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember! *Happened sporadically, not good enough though*
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments! *Did more of these, especially as a result of not reviewing books as much.*
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc. *I had plans, and did write posts, especially for some Foyles events, and whilst I did have plans for others, they didn’t come to anything*
  • Do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.   *This I managed to do more off so that’s a win*
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”. *Commenting did take place, but I didnt note how many posts I commented on. Most were not book-review related*
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing. I still have half a crate left over from the closure of a couple of OBCZs and the bookcrossing UK meetup in Birmingham in September 2016. *I inherited a load of books during several clearouts, and managed to release many of them, especially at the Bookcrossing meetup in Loughbrough. I also managed to release a couple as RABCKs*
  • Reorganise my bookshelves (Haven’t been done in two years – about time they’re done!). *This was done – kinda. I even wrote a post about it!*

Book Review: The Heritage by DJ Presson

Nick and his sister Anne know well the cruel justice of King Charles I and the dangers of speaking out against the Crown. Burning with righteous passion for the cause of political and religious freedoms, hotheaded Nick fights against royalist forces with Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army while his talented sister, Anne, works with their father to print illegal pamphlets in a tiny shed hidden on Lord Owen’s land. The fruits of their rebellion are realized when they are witnesses to the historic trial and execution of the bloodthirsty monarch, but their hopeful outlook for peace in the Commonwealth and Anne’s wedding day is shattered by the tragic death of their five-year-old sister. The arrest of Lord Owen’s wicked son Rupert for the crime begins a chain of events that entwine their lives, leading to a night of violence that irrevocably seals their fates, and they must embark on a dangerous voyage across the sea to a new beginning in the English colony of Virginia. With brilliant descriptions and lyrical prose, novelist D J Presson conjures the vibrant world of 17th century England in her stunning new novel of love and heartbreak set against the drama of political rebellion.

From the Publishers via Netgalley.

It starts with Anne’s family print a broadsheet on their illegal press, and then Anne goes to 17th Century London, to deliver the papers to their customers for distribution. The first few chapters of the book therefore are used to demonstrate the fervent anti-Monarchy sentiment (focused on Charles I) swirling around the city immediately before Charles’ trial.   Interesting technique, with an appearance of John Milton the poet in an early chapter, but which could have got very heavy handed had it gone on much longer.

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Things to not say to a book blogger/Book worm

 

Source unknown – attribution anyone?

If you know a reader, especially if they’re a bookblogger as well, here’s a list of questions you should avoid asking them!

  • How much money do you make from reading and blogging? When are you going to give up your real job and do it full time?

haha, “nothing” and “never, can’t afford to”. This is done because I enjoy doing it, not because I think I could make a living out of it (though that would be nice, of course!)

  • It’s easy isn’t it? All you’re doing is reading and writing, surely?

Errm, no. It’s reading and writing, sure, but a post can take hours to write, from finding inspiration, through producing output that I hope and pray is interesting, through to promotion. Talking to other bloggers IRL. Reading other blogs and trying to write a decent comment. Going to events. Sourcing/creating images.

  • You get all your books for free now don’t you?

I get *some* books for free, but never (ok rarely) for the bigger hitting authors. There was a time when I had a glut of books but virtually all of them from authors I’d never heard of. Many were self-published and all were of variable quality.

  • Who reads your stuff anyway?

Believe it or not, people. Those who follow my blog because they’re interested in what I have to say or like the authors/genres I write about. And I do it primarily for me, so that I can look back and remember what I’ve read, what I’ve written

  • Recommend a book to me

No. What I like may not be what you like. Read my reviews and see if any of them sound the type of book you want to read.

  • Can you lend me a book? You know that book you lent me, well I lost it/gave it to someone else.

I’ve given up lending people books, as I’ve been burnt too many tomes with them not coming back. Even when I explicitly tell someone “I want this one back as I haven’t read it”. This person now gets to choose from the box in the corner and nothing else. I’ve also had someone else be at the top of the list to read a specific book (1 of 15 people), take it, “lose” it in their house, “find” it again, lend it to someone else (who’s not on the list), who promptly kept it for a year, then gave it back to the original reader, who promptly “lost” it again. Needless to say, this person doesn’t get lent books by anyone in the extended group

  • No, No, I don’t need a bookmark – oh that? I dog-eared the page so I wouldn’t lose my place.

Fer crying out loud – I offered a bookmark, use it. Or a bus ticket. Supermarket receipt. Anything, just anything but dog earing a page. That’s just rude

 

 

 

Book Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Received from the Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley.  This is the first book of Prowse’s that I’ve read, but it seems that there she has written others, such as My Husband’s Wife.

Anyway, in The Art of Hiding, Nina is watching her son Connor playing rugby for the prestigious Rugby Team at his expensive, private school. Both she and her two sons are waiting for her husband Finn to turn up to the game, but as usual it seems he is running late. Whilst his job pays for the big house and for both boys to go to their expensive school, Nina is disappointed that once again, Finn has not turned up to something he committed to do with his family.   Nina finds out that Finn hasn’t turned up because he has been killed in a car crash, driving too fast in the opposite direction he should have been going in to get to the match. It is then that everything begins to unravel.

The nice upper-middle class lifestyle that Nina has settled into was all a lie (one that she told herself, and that Finn fed her). The big house, with the pool, the nice food, the private school for both the boys – is no more. Finn has mortgaged the house to the hilt, but died with the business being £8 million in debt and bankrupt. The “yummy mummies” from the school soon desert her when they find she has no money, and are not willing to even put them up in the garage, never mind loan them any money.  The bailiffs are at the door (in perhaps the only  slightly unbelievable plot point, but used for a reason).

So left with 2 children, no house, no friends, virtually no money and no work experience, Nina is left with the only option of returning to the run down estate in her home town where a relative has her old house available to rent. There she returns with Connor and Declan, who are culture shocked about the people on the estate and in their new school. It is for Nina to try and get a job, only to find that she is fit for little – but it is a chance encounter that allows her to start getting income and some self confidence back. She also reconnects with her sister Tiggy, who tells her some home truths about how she treated both herself and those around her during the social isolation and perfect life wanted by Finn (Including the fact that it is only Tiggy and none of her other “posh” friends who have stuck around when Nina needed help).

There are a mix of emotions that have to be dealt with, including grief, disappointment, shock, having to deal with the feelings of her sons who are going through similar feelings, and having to not give up, even when she wants to, because of two boys.

The secondary characters are relatively well developed – Connor as the teenager is suitably bratty at his change in circumstances and Declan (being younger) is a little more adaptable. Tiggy isn’t always around, but shows Nina that she *used* to be able to do this stuff until she married Finn and she left herself give in. The tertiary characters, such as Vera from the launderette across the road, are barely sketched but that’s ok.

Overall this book shows that you can be happy, no matter the circumstances if you are true to yourself, and that money isn’t always everything. It was well written and not my usual fare, though I may well read another book by this author in the future.

 

About this author

Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.