Armchair BEA Day 2 – What do Readers want?

I’ve been to several Author Events, in various different locations, in differing styles and different levels of “fame”. There has been only one author event that is definitely marked under the “downright awful” title.  I won’t mention the author, or where I met him, but all he did was read extracts from his book(s) in a low monotone voice and barely looking up from the page. Considering he was supposed to be a teacher, he was certainly lacking in the engagement department and he soon lost his audience, the majority of whom disappeared in search of alcohol, never to return.  I have no idea whether he twigged what had happened.

letters book readWhat do I think makes an event successful? That the author is engaging, articulate, willing to look the audience in the eye (we’re there to buy the book in the end, right?). I’ve had a warning that one relatively famous author was known to be a little “difficult”, but on the day was lovely, took questions, gave promotional info on her new book, and then signed everyone’s book (even chatting with the starry eyed fan who Wouldn’t Let It Go) etc. If that was “Difficult” then sign me up!

I’ve noticed that I can get tongue-tied with various authors, and it must be hard for them in return to make some kind of connection. Terry Pratchett signed for me a couple of times, and remembered me once (because of my unusual name) and was relatively easy to talk to. Neil Gaiman is harder to talk to because I’m such a fan-girl. Henry Wrinkler? The loveliest man I have ever met, I was the last in the queue in what I knew had been a hard day for him, so I just shook his hand and wibbled. Continue reading


Armchair BEA 2017 Day 1: Introductions


I usually attend Armchair BEA (Now called Armchair Book Expo), and I am usually a LOT more prepared than this!” It only really came up in my twitter feed the other day, and it turns out that I can’t get to the main site from here! Boo!  We shall see how we get on. Anyway, as usual, there’s the space for Introductions, so here’s my answers to some of the questions.

I am…Nordie, a crafter, reader, tweeter, comic book nerd etc.

Currently, I am not reading as much as I should, even with 3 books on the go.

My favorite genres are: Romance, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction,

My Least favourite Genre is: Christian Fiction. I end up feeling slapped around the head with a very unsubtle brick. I dont read non-Fiction or Poetry, not because I hate it, but because I simply don’t find it interesting.

My Social Media Links include: twitter (as @Brumnordie), Facebook (closed, Personal account), this blog, google+.

My summer plans . . . there’s a lot going on this summer In Real Life, so there is nothing planned for the summer. However, there is a bookish meet later in the year, that I am currently planning on atteding

My blog/channel/social media . . . chat with me on any of the following social media outlets

#Armchairbea – Beyond the books! Beyond the Blog!

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

My main alternative reading is done with comics, both the weekly/monthly comic and the graphic novel Trade Paperbacks. I have untold numbers of both littering the house! I have a standing order at my local comic book store for those comics that I think will be interesting (usually from female writers or characters, but the occasional Batman and Spiderman thrown in!). I have to remember that with comic books, it’s not only about the words, and that quite a lot of what’s happening is through the graphics, so you have to slow down to appreciate it.

I do have a stack of Audiobooks that I should be listening to, but I have a tendency to put them on to play, then fall asleep and then have no idea what’s happened when I wake up again!

I don’t belong to a bookgroup, although I’ve tried over the years. I do belong to a social group around books (Bookcrossing), but that’s not a formal “book club”. I’ve just signed up to a FutureLearn course about Japanese books, but that’s the first time that I’ll have taken a course specifically about books. My Goodreads profile is updated rarely, though I usually use Goodreads to remind me what book reviews are outstanding.

My reviews on GR and LT are updated occasionally with links to my blog, which means they can be in my “to-review” pile for months after the book has actually been read!. I don’t take part in the groups on these systems though I keep meaning to!  My profile on Netgalley is updated every few months – generally when I think there’s been a significant change in my stats.

#ArmchairBEA – Aesthetics – it’s all about the blogs!

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

I’ve been bookblogging properly since 2013 and my “brand” has certainly developed over that time. I’ve got a logo that goes from my blog to my twitter logo and my business cards (and was the first thing that I ever actually paid for to do with my brand).  I know that at least one person has started following me on twitter because they recognised my logo from a comment I had made on their blog.

When I land on other people’s blogs, I take note of the things that annoy me, and then try to make sure that I don’t do them on my own blog. Therefore: no autoplay videos or music, no cluttered presentation where you can’t tell where the adverts stop and the unique content starts; no funny background colours or fonts (so no blue on brown background, or gothic font); no content made entirely of gifs.  I remember when the animated logos came out for the London 2012 Olympic games, there were plenty of complaints from charities about the fact that they could trigger episodes with epileptics – I’m not an epileptic, but appreciate that too many moving things, or stuff moving at the wrong rate can prove difficult for people.

I look to do my reviews in the same format: Book Cover; Book Blurb; Source of where I got the book (since I get so many that are free); My spoiler free review; something about the author. Where I find something else that I think adds something to the review (e.g. add the trailer for the matching film in) I will.  I have been known to use gifs myself in the past, but believe only once so far – and it was a fairly discreet figure banging their head against a wall!

#ArmchairBEA – Day 2 – Aesthetics – it’s all about the books!


Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

I’ve been reading mainly ebooks the last few years, and not all will have covers – it’s the blurb that’s more important when looking to request a galley.  I have noticed that Netgalley (where I get most of mine from) is now putting more focus on the covers when putting them out for offer, and are asking for feedback when requesting the book.  Edelweiss and Librarything however, currently aren’t asking about the effect of the cover

As for physical books, the aesthetic is much more important. The paper, the cover …. will it survive the handbag for 2 weeks?!  There are hardbacks that will be never taken on the commute…..(my handbag and shoulder won’t cope with the weight!). The cover can affect whether I will pick up a book or not – I’ve been known to pick up a certain copy of Jane Eyre purely because of the bland cover as I knew I could shove it in the handbag and not worry about the coffee stains.  Some covers will put me off a book, some will attract me to at least picking it up, but ultimately it’s either  the author or the blurb that attracts me to adding a book to my shelf.

Books like the Persephone Greys are a joy to feel, and it’s a mixture of the paper they’re printed on, the bookmark that is individual to the book and which matches the front and back piece.   I rarely have to have books with matching covers. Persephone Greys apart of course! I have got a set of Jane Austen books that were on sale in a bookshop (3 for 2 or something) and it seemed rude not to pick up all 6 to match! When the Terry Pratchett books came out I’ve always tried to get the hardbacks to add to my collection, as there will be a certain style to the dustjacket

#ArmchairBEA – Day 1 – Diversity

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Disclosure time: I am a white European woman of a certain age and educational background. I’m sure this pre-disposes me to reading certain books – I can only read English, so that excludes me from reading books that are not written in, or translated into, English.

I don’t keep track, but I seem to be reading predominately female authors at the moment. I have no idea whether any authors are PoC or not (I choose a book because I want to read the book, not because of the colour of the author) but I suspect that most of them are white.

Whilst I’m not ageist, I usually don’t read YA books, not because I dont think they’ve got any value, but because I dread to come across a book that is patronising or simply too earnest. I’ve read Noughts and Crosses by Mallory Blackman and was very disappointed – not because there were black lead characters, but it was (to me) so forced….it seems as if she decided everything opposite whether it works or not!  Now I did read it as an adult, so not the target audience, and would it work for the YA market?  Another confession: I read Little Women for the first time as an adult, and got annoyed with that too (“he’s not going to ring!”) so it’s not like I have a thing against recently published books.

What I do read: books that have been translated into English from French (Winemaker Detective series) and Spanish (The Antiquarian), Chinese (e.g. Miss Chopsticks). I read books set in Asia, written by Westerners (e.g. Shanghai Girls); books set in India/written by Indians; written by Indians, written in English (A Suitable Boy); written by Indians, set in England (An Equal Music).

So I read the books that I want to read, no matter who (or what) the writer is. I’ve never not read a book simply because of the race or gender of the writer. I may well have a preconception about a book, based on the subject matter



#ArmchairBEA – Day 1 -Introductions!


Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

What is the name you prefer to use?

I’ve been known as “Nordie” since the late 1980s – it’s a little known character in a little known episode of Dr Who, not long before it was put on hiatus. I generally go by that online, so it’s what I prefer

How long have you been a book blogger?

I started writing reviews back in 2012, but started in earnest in 2013, where I was writing and publishing reviews on a semi regular basis.

Have you participated in ABEA before?

I believe this is my third! Yay!


If you could create a playlist that reflects your bookshelf, what would be the first song you choose? (You can include more than one if you want :D)

Reflects my bookshelf? Oooerr! Perhaps “Flight of the bumblebee” which is how I dart between books every time I have to decide what I’m going to read next? Followed perhaps by “don’t you want me baby?” by the Human League

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAShelfie)

Currently my bookshelf is ordered by theme (India, Classics etc), and now that more books have come in than gone out, the catch all of “random, where ever”.  Previously they have been ordered by height

What book are you most excited for on your TBR? What are you most intimidated by?

I am most excited by the book that came into my position last – hahaha! I’ve got so many good books to read – new Neil Gaiman books, the Terry Pratchett/Stephen Baxter series, the new Jenni Fagan….

I am most intimidated by the Ken Follett books that I seem to have amassed, since most of them seem to have come in at around 900+ pages. No Way are they going to fit in the handbag for the commute!

If you could choose three characters to have lunch with, who would they be and why?

Have been watching the Inspector Montalbano tv programs, and have started reading the books too. Both versions have him eating some very nice Sicilian food (in the show his table is always set lovely for someone who generally eats alone).

The same goes for Benjamin Crocker from The WineMaker Detective series, who not only appreciates food, but would know what wine to go with it (and follow up with a nice cigar – I don’t smoke but I like the smell!).

So that’s 2 out of 3 for “Eat, Drink and be Merry”…..for the Merry…..? Don’t know to be honest. Someone who wont get too heavy, but will enjoy their food and keep the conversation and laughter going. Possibly Stan Lee? I know he’s a real person, but he’s also had his life immortalised in a comic book – for someone who’s been around that long and seen so many things, he must have tales to tell