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.

Diversity at author events

Now in terms of diversity…well? Define “Diverse”!  When choosing my comic books, I try to consciously choose stories written or drawn by women, have a strong female lead, have a gay lead character, or ISNT written by Orson Scott Card.  Local book stores here are doing more diverse events, such as poetry, open mic, historical, book clubs and YA. One store in particular is able to get fairly large names into a local events venue. Next week I have a comp ticket to go see Arundhati Roy, who has written her first prose book in 20 years. But “diverse” in terms of non-WASP authors or topics? If the events are happening, then I don’t see them, but is that because I’m not looking? Or are they not happening because people are asking for them, and is that because the books aren’t being published because people aren’t asking, or aren’t buying? I honestly don’t know.

Getting more diversity in mainstream books.

Something I hear time and again is that Mainstream Publishers don’t like taking risks. They have an idea of what their market is (I would hope they have an idea of who buys their books!) and tend not to rock the boat. So those that have built a backlist of white authors writing about White Western stories will not take the risk on a non-white author writing non-white western stories, on the grounds that it won’t sell. Well it might not sell *for them* because they’ve built up a set of readers who will only read one style of book.Rhode Island Red cover

I hope that with the continued use of e-readers, and people self publishing, or smaller publishers producing back lists, then the bigger companies will see that people DO read outside of their traditional market. Due to places like Netgalley and Edelweiss, I’ve read books from all over the place, including Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter, whose main character is a black female saxophone playing busker who gets pulled into the rougher side of life on the streets….I would never have read this if I relied purely on Traditional Publishers for my reading habits

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

Sunday Salon – will you read everything on your TBR?


I wrote a short post about this topic a few years ago, but I thought I’d re visit it. It’s the reader’s equivalent of “we need to talk about Kevin” with “we need to talk bookshelves.

my TBR bookshelfIf I’m honest – looking at my bookshelves I’ll probably not read every book on my TBR stack, but I’ll give it a darn good try!  This is what my bookshelves look like at the moment. They dont show the books that are stacked under the coffee table – thankfully I’ve got rid of the books hiding under the bed and in the cupboards! I’m trying to never get to that point again! However, even if I dont bring another book into the place, I’ve got enough books to last me several years (if not several decades!).Birmingham and Midlands Institute Library

By taking the reading challenge sword from over my head, I’ve been able to balance my reading between ebooks and paperbooks much better.  It has resulted in me reading some of the hardbacks that have been lurking around for a number of years, but many of which I will never be getting rid of (so I will still have a packed set of shelves!).

Once every few years, I do a mass re-order of my shelves. A few years ago they were changed from height order (easier to pack your shelves I think) and changed them to theme order (e.g. all the books by specific authors, or similar themes, such as “India”). During these re-oreders I check the book and ask myself if I’m realistically going to read it. If the answer is “no” then it leaves the house – either via bookcrossing or being given to a friend. I’m due another re-order if I’m honest, as the “theme” thing isnt really working out for me (though grouping books by the same author does, especially if they’re in some sort of series).

I’ve managed to slow down my intake of ebooks – finally! I’m still taking on perhaps one or two a month, but I’m also trying to go through my older books in order to get through them (and improve my dreadful Netgalley rating of 56% – eeek!). I started two books a few weeks ago, and have yet to finish either of them. I think I’m down to the last 50 pages for the last week on one of them. I’ve given up looking at my reading challenge on Goodreads as I know I will have missed it, potentially quite significantly, considering how low it was to begin with.

So what about you? What’s your relationship like with your TBR, and do you have any plans in the new year?

Do you practise Book Pologomy?

From Epicreads
From Epicreads

Not entirely sure how I came across the above flowchart but my notes say I got it from here – I thought it amusing and worth sharing.

Yes. I can and do practise “book pologomy”. I usually have two books on the go at any one time. I sometimes have 3 going, but end up switching between two main books and finishing one before I truly progress on the third.

I can’t read two books of the same genre at the same time, as I usually get myself confused as to plots and characters. Because I am trying to read more paper books, I tend to have one ebook and one paperbook on the go – where I read them depends on the physical copy of the book itself. If I’m reading one of my hardbacks (and/or a book I want to keep in reasonable condition), it never leaves the house.  If it’s one I don’t really care about the condition afterwards, then it comes along with me in the handbag.

One of the reasons I read ebooks almost exclusively for two years is the ease of carrying them around. My iPad goes into the handbag and is pulled out whereever I have a free time. One of the nightmare scenarios for regular readers is not having a book to read – with an ereader you just go to the next book and not have the dredded question of carrying multple books around with you when leaving the house (or even worse: do you leave the nearly ended book at home and bring a new one with you, or bring the one you’re reading and run the risk you’ll finish it, and have nothing else to read?).

So, Constant reader, how many books can you have on the go at any one time? how do you resolve the riddle of the nearly finished book? 




The Act of Reading

Recently I wrote a post about producing content, and one of the tricks was to have one or more “buckets” of prompts for when content dries up.  In reviewing one of these buckets, I found a number of prompts that I think work well together.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?Birmingham and Midlands Institute Library

Generally it’s the bedroom and, occasionally, the bathroom!

Bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I have a stock of bookmarks on my bookshelf, but still tend to use the same bookmark over and over until it falls apart or I lose it. It’s rare therefore that I simply dont have a bookmark on me – at which point I will use a random piece of paper – usually a receipt or a train ticket. I haven’t – gasp – turned down a corner in years.

Can you stop reading anytime you want or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, ect.?

I tend to stop at the end of a chapter, unless time or opportunity runs out on me (e.g. the train is pulling into the station and it’s 8 more pages to the end of the chapter). I can’t stop in the middle of  a paragraph, so finish at the end of the paragraph or the page, which ever is neater.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I read everywhere. I am notorious for it, and sometimes get told off for reading instead of eating my dinner! Since I frequently eat out on my own, I favour restaurants that afford me the luxury of being a solo diner without giving me much grief. One of the cues to not being disturbed is to have a book on hand, though this doesn’t always work – I’ve had one guy try and start a conversation every time I looked up from my book (I left quite quickly once it became clear he wasn’t taking the hint); I’ve had a guy try and pick me up in an otherwise empty pub as I was sitting there minding my own business (I started talking Greek to him – he soon left!),

Do you eat or drink while reading?

As per the above, I do read in restaurants, and therefore can have food with me. I tend to favour ebooks at this point – simply because they are easier to read when using both hands to deal with my food. I tend not to read whilst eating at home – I generally have the TV on instead

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

Music yes, Spoken word (including TV and radio) not really – I can’t have two sets of words crowding my brain at the same time – one wins over the over. I can have the TV on in the other room whilst reading, as I don’t like being in silence too long

One book at a time, or several at once?

I usually have two on the go at the same time – an ebook and a paperback. Ebook is usually in the handbag and the paperbook is occasionally thrust into the handbag, otherwise is on the bedside table.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Normally in my head – it’s generally only when I’m reading to my nieces and nephews that it gets said out loud.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Oh yeah – I’ve been known to read the last page long before I’ve got even part way through. I think it’s because I read a lot of crime novels, and I simply want to know who I need to pay attention to as I’m reading the book. I dont feel it takes away from the process of reading and the journey taken to get to the end.

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I’m not too precious on this – I will pick up second hand books where the spine has been broken, and if I have a paperback, I will break the spine if I find it will make reading that bit easier. However, I don’t do it on every book, especially if there’s no reason to.

Do you write in books?

Not for a long time! I went through a phase in my teens when I did (it was also encouraged, briefly, at school) but apart from that, no.


So feel free to copy and answer these questions on your own blog – leave a link below so we can see how you answer!  If you dont have a blog, or only want to answer a few questions, leave something in the comments

Reading Update

Well it’s been nearly a month since the last (physical) book came into the house, but for some reason my reading has been sparse, and my reviewing even less so. There’s at least 3 books that I have completed where I have almost finished the reviews for but for which I still need to go over again to make sure I’m happy.

cluffI started reading The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester, having seen Bookertalk‘s review of it, and I think I know what she was getting at. I subsequently found that British Library Crime Classics publishing books get on netgalley via Poisoned Pen Press, and asked, then got, three books in. Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm is the first of the three I started and, well, it’s a diffthe lavender houseerent style of writing, and one that I’m going to take a while getting used to.
The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd is the last book in the #Quercussummer event, and it’s the last physical book to come in. It’s been sitting there since the first week in August and since it’s now week three, and I really should review it by the end of the month (ish) I decided I had better get cracking. The only one of the three to be in hardback, I’ve done 150 pages so far, and doing ok.

So the plan is to finish The Lavender House, complete and schedule some reviews, finish the Sergeant Cluff book, take another run at The Female Detective…and then who knows? There’s still a lot of books on my shelves that need to be got through and I am, apparently 5 books behind my challenge of reading 60 books this year, which is appalling by my standards. I just haven’t sat down and done a good run at reading this year for some reason.

Sunday Salon: What makes you decide to buy a book?

The Sunday Salon badge

This was a question posed on the Booksnob blog, by the guest poster Mary Losure that I thought I would share with yourselves.

As part of a longer post Mary asks two fundamental questions

What, that you have read online, makes you decide buy a book? and Does a book trailer ever get you to buy a book?

My answers to both questions are as follows:

  • I often take part in Librarything‘s monthly Early Reviewer piece and where I don’t know the author, I go purely on the blurb provided. Where a second or third book from the same author appears in a subsequent batch (and I’ve liked the previous books), I put my name forward for that.
  • I have previously taken part in Goodreads giveaways (similar selection process to the above) but dont anymore as I only received perhaps 1 out of every 30 books I put my name down for. In the end I simply wasn’t getting results anywhere near the effort I was putting in considering and then putting my name forward
  • I am a netgalley reader, and put my name down for pre-release books there, again based primarily on the blurb. I rarely know much about the author.  I have ended up reading several series to completion after picking up the first book.
  • My friends who use bookcrossing recommend books to me, will send me a book that I’ve currently got listed on my wishlist, or I pick up a book based on the blurb on the back at one of our monthly meetings.
  • Publishers, and some authors contact me via twitter (@brumnordie) or my blog ( and ask me to review a specific book.
  • Then there are those books I pick up from authors or publishers I have been reading for years (Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Jonathon Kellerman, Persephone publishers etc) that  will pick up because I like their work and want to read their next in a series.
  • I don’t watch trailers. Like vlogging, it’s not something I go searching for and I didnt even know it was an option! It certainly doesn’t influence my buying behaviour. If I find a writer’s blog or twitter, it’s usually AFTER I’ve read the book, and if I’ve written a good review, I let them know and thank them
  • I follow book bloggers and see what other people are reading then blogging/tweeting about. Sometimes I’ll add a book to a wishlist but it needs to be a good promote – I have so many books to read at the moment, I dont have much space to take on more books!
  • So it’s the blurb (maybe the cover as well), followed by recommendations from people I know. My advice: write the best book possible, get good blurb written and then get people reading/talking about it! (everything else is just *stuff*)

So, how do you decide which books to buy?