#Armchairbea – Beyond the books! Beyond the Blog!

ArmchairBEA
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!

ArmchairBEA
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!

 

ArmchairBEA
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!

 

ArmchairBEA
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

 

#ArmchairBEA: Book to Movie adaptations

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

I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of books being adapted into other media. I do give Andrew Davis an almost automatic break (he is the one behind the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch etc) but he seems to have been on some kind of sabbatical recently.

In 2015 the BBC adapted Poldark (again), and I have neither read the book, nor watched the TV series. Judging by the media coverage, little was said about the story but much was said about the main actors’ topless shots. I see Matthew Mcfayden has also weighed into the “debate” (I think the lady doth protest too much) as to how producers are making actors spend too much time in the gym to ramp up the sexiness. Not sure he realises that women are judged on their appearance more than men, so the irony of what he is saying is rather lost on him.

There have been multiple film and tv adaptations of Jane Eyre and I have previously come out in favour of one specific version, which was a series with Toby Stephens (son of Maggie Smith) and Ruth Wilson (she of Spooks but most recently The Affair).

I seriously dislike the film version of Pride and Prejudice with Orson Wells in it – I remember watching the start of it when doing the book at school and was looked at with such derision by myself and my school mates that we never watched it all the way through. BBC’s version with Colin Firth, whilst not entirely close to the book, was as close as it could get and that is my preferred adaptation of that.

Northanger Abbey starring Peter Firth came out in around 1987, and my poor English teacher rued the day after, in that it took a tv program to make us ask about a Jane Austen book, bless her cotton socks!

When someone has the time and budget constraint of a film, things will invariably be lost, mainly in terms of plot and Jane Eyre in films is a typical example of things being lost.

Stephen King books to movies

I have a theory here – the shorter the book, the better the adaptation. All the good films? (Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, The Green Mile, Misery) are all short books. We can ignore The Running Man (on the basis that Arnie took part, so bloated it up), etc. All the longer books (IT, Needful Things, The Stand) either became crap movies or average series, depending on so much. We wont talk about The Tommyknockers shall we?!

Meanwhile, Salem’s Lot was great as a TV series so long as we ignore the appalling 1970s/1980s production values. The Stand would never have made it as a film, and I cant remember whether the TV series is seen positively or not.

Promising Shows I missed

These include the adaptation of The Crimson Petal and the White, which was on a few years ago, and got decent reviews. Also the aforementioned Poldark. Since there was more than one Poldark book written, there’s every chance a second series will be commissioned.

I dipped in and out of Lark Rise to Candleford, though in the end how much of the show was based on the book(s) I dont know

Upcoming Shows

I’m hearing good press about Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell, which will start on the BBC sometime in May 2015. I certainly enjoyed the book and I hope to enjoy the series as well.

One day I will get to watch Game of Thrones, possibly on boxed set. I must be one of the few people who have never read the books, nor seen the show!

 

 

 

 

 

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

#ArmchairBEA: Blogging q&A

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

I have previously written variations on this posts so I’m not going to rehash *everything*. Some of my previous posts have covered:

And specifically for authors/publishers looking for a reader/blogger to read their book

About this blog and my journey to here

This blog is hosted by WordPress.com. It has it’s limitations, but it’s free. Things like the editor format is something to be put up with if I’m not prepared to fork out the money and time to have my own blog hosted on a .org version. I’m certainly not getting the traffic or the sponsorship to warrant a move over – yet!

I started out on a previous blog, writing about sewing and crafty stuff. I have recently shut that blog down, and moved the more extensive posts into this blog, and are scheduled into next year. Looking back at my early posts on the original site I realise that I actually needed to be using Twitter instead of writing a blog post!

I have learnt much about blogging even after starting this blog – my original reviews were not as comprehensive as the ones I’m doing now.  Not only am I trying to do more considered reviews (e.g. I have a stock set of questions when I start writing a review, to give me an idea of the things I need to writing about) but I also try to include other interesting links, such as videos, related websites, additional reviews, details about the author etc.

Networking

I do much networking on twitter (@brumnordie). I have lists for things like “Publishers”, “books” etc, which I check on a semi regular basis.  Biggest tip for twitter: interact with people/accounts. If you look like a bot, you will be treated like a bot, and traffic will drop accordingly.  There’s no harm in scheduling tweets, just make it look like there is a human behind the account.

Authors/publishers contact me through twitter, my website or, for the trusted people, direct via email.

I have business cards printed up with my website, twitter and email details and a number of these are always carried on me. You never know when you will get the chance to hand one of them out!  For instance, I recently decided at the last minute to attend a writer/book event and good thing too – had I not, the number of authors at the event would have matched the number of guests! I was able to give out my card to most of the people there to allow them to get in contact if they chose. No loss if they didnt, but at least they have my card.

Where possible I also include the publisher and/or author in at least one tweet, so that they know a review of a specific book has gone up – this allows them to read the review (I never get pre-approval for a review, but sometimes give authors first sight of it) and retweet as appropriate.

No (Wo)Man is an Island

Dont believe the adage of “if you build it they will come”. No they wont. You have to work for it.

  • Write great content.
  • Publish regularly (the definition of “regularly” depends on you)
  • Tell people about it, without being a spam-dick.
  • Comment on other people’s posts
  • Reply to comments on your posts
  • Take part in community events, like this one