This blog is now closed.

This blog is now closed. Thank you all for your support over the last few years.  Have you heard that fabulous speech made by author Deborah Harkness when she was made a Doctor of Letters? Where she talks about not being scared of letting go and doing the unexpected? If not, here it is. 

I love taking left turns, I’ve taken them my whole life. One left turn led me to creating this blog and now I’m taking another one. Farewell all!



Here’s the real value of book bloggers and online book tours

I’d stopped book blogging on Monday to focus on health issues but then I came across a twitter/facebook discussion questioning the value of book bloggers and online book tours. Which reminded me that I’d posted on facebook recently that this was a topic that I wanted to cover.

I’ve taken part in one and two week long online book tours and enjoyed the experience, but didn’t take part in more because I preferred to do my own thing.

When the tours went to one month long or more I did wonder if they would create a sense of overkill, but they didn’t, instead they’ve done something fascinating.

I’ve been observing my own responses to those extended tours for some time and here’s what I found:

  1. When there are numerous bloggers posting about the same book I may read the first couple of posts, or watch the vlogs I spot and retweet them if I like them, or if I think other readers in my timeline might appreciate them.
  2. After a while I note the posts that follow but I’m unlikely to retweet, however this does not mean the blogger has wasted their time for two reasons. Firstly because I’ve noted that post much in the way I’ve registered advertising on TV. Secondly because the post may be picked up by someone else on their timeline who may have missed other posts on the same topic.
  3. Here’s why the combination of points 1 and 2 have value. When I’m online every book that has been mentioned by a book blogger/vlogger that I’ve been attracted to, either in an individual post or especially as part of a tour automatically catches my eye. When I walk into a bookshop my eye is automatically looking for them again, whether or not I intend to buy them. At the moment I’m constantly on the look out for Louise Beech’s The Lion Tamer Who Lost in every bookshop I go in because that Orenda book tour and online campaign has been so effective.lion-tamer
  4. In the world of retail this is known as brand recognition.
  5. The mistake is when you expect sales to immediately uplift during a book tour or as a result of an individual post. Sometimes there will be a lift and sometimes there won’t. Plus, not every interaction or influence can be measured by data linked to a blog tour.
  6. Some people will buy the book immediately, while others may not, possibly due to other pressures on their finances. However, because the memory of these books is embedded these readers may go looking for the book in their libraries, or they may wait for the book to be on an offer in their favourite bookstore or online and buy it then. They may buy it secondhand, in which case the author has benefited financially from the original purchaser and still might benefit from the secondhand purchaser if they are online, or even in the future should their financial situation change.
  7. Once the reader has borrowed or bought the book they may post online that they have done so, increasing brand recognition again, and when they’ve read it they might add their opinion to various social media and book review sites, yet again influencing brand recognition.
  8. Every single post online by anyone: reader, book blogger, author, publisher or publicist increases brand recognition. Even something as simple as an image of a book cover with a comment can reach thousands of people and start the embedding of a brand. For example, I recently posted what I thought of Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce. I’ve not been the most prolific book blogger this year due to health issues but this tweet was still viewed 7,147 times due to being picked up and shared (thanks to everyone who did that). Blood Orange
  9. The win for anyone who wants to sell books is to cultivate brand recognition and to recognise that every single person who posts positively about the book adds to that, because it tends to ripple outwards. Book bloggers and well organised book tours are an effective way to start doing this, plus they help to develop loyalty to that brand and the brand becomes associated with great reads.
  10. Here’s another reason the success of a blog post/vlog or online book tour can’t be measured in obvious ways. When I’ve been standing in a bookshop with friends (or even complete strangers who’ve struck up a conversation) all that brand recognition rolls through my head: every blog post, every image, every book that a publicist has been excited about, plus author opinions and vlogs. My memory (when the health issue is behaving) automatically sifts through it all flagging up likely possibilities and dismissing others so I can make a recommendation, confident that they will like it and buy it and they generally do (massive buzz).

Developing brand recognition is something that passionate readers have inadvertently done for hundreds of years, long before social media arrived, via word of mouth and letters. What social media does is magnifying the opportunities. That is the true value of book bloggers/vloggers and book tours, and many of them do it for free, purely for the love of books. 

Now then, I’m no longer a book blogger but I hope that this post goes some way to helping people understand the value of book bloggers, vloggers and online book tours and what they do.

Farewell all and keep up the good work!



It’s time to say farewell

It’s time for me to stop book blogging. This is for a health reason that I’m not going into detail about because I’m still undergoing tests.

I’ve enjoyed the book blogging experience, especially as it inadvertently made many of my dreams come true. I’ve always wanted to be quoted in the praise pages of novels and I am. I’ve been to literary festivals and met many writers, and it’s been wonderful to say thank you in person to many of those who’ve made a difference to my life. I’ve also made friends with many lovely writers and bloggers and people in the publishing community generally along the way.

I always wondered if I could write and now I know I can. Big thanks to author Megan Taylor and her inspiring writing classes, and to authors Eve Makis and Anthony Cropper for giving me an opportunity to read a couple of pieces at Five Leaves Bookshop.

Thank you all for following, liking and commenting on my book review posts. I have loved the engagement. My final great reads tips are as follows:

The Testament by Kim Sherwood – an incredibly moving exploration of survivor guilt. Beautifully written and unforgettable.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – an epic novel that will inspire you to rethink your relationship with the world around you. I love this book so much I found myself slowing down to savour the writing.

The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla – a wonderful novel about immigration and the challenges of integration, and how each new generation assumes that the previous generation is blind to their suffering, only to discover that courage comes in many forms. Told with humour, heart and insight into all sides of the debate.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce – which is one timely, gripping, fury inducing novel. If ever a novel made it clear that misogyny can happen to anyone from any walk of life, and be a stealthy, gas lighting experience that creeps up on you, this is it. Published next February.

The Unmapped Mind by Christian Donlan: A Memoir of Neurology, Incurable Disease and Learning How to Live – Christian became a dad just as he learned he had multiple sclerosis. Like his newborn daughter, he finds himself exploring a new landscape but always with a writer’s eye. The history of multiple sclerosis and the latest research is interspersed with his observations of life as a new dad coming to terms with having an incurable disease. Evocative, moving and a masterclass in observation for any writer.

My latest book purchase is The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes. 

I know that Elizabeth has put her heart and soul into this book because she has been sharing the entire journey from the initial idea, to the research to the final product across social media. This is a passion project inspired by true events. Elizabeth is giving a voice to a young woman who was never heard at the time.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable 42778418_1883642635059047_2412398016796295168_nparentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead.

Brimming with lust, mistrust and guilt, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a masterclass of suspense from one of our greatest crime writers.

I’ve always loved Elizabeth’s writing and I suspect that this is going be an immersive and moving read that will keep me hooked from the first page to the last. 

That’s it, my last six recommended reads on this blog. Farewell and happy reading! 


Good books have always been an anchor through storms of change. 



Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Transcription is an interesting concept. When you transcribe something it always Transcriptionremains open to interpretation. Everyone will perceive something different, depending on what resonates with them at the time.

Juliet Armstrong is sixty as the story begins in 1981. She’s lying in a road after being hit by a car, wondering if her past has caught up with her, while pondering on the futility of war and the death of innocence. Continue reading “Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson”

Review of Snap by Belinda Bauer

The novel starts strongly with a sensory visual depiction of three children who’ve been left in a car on the hard shoulder of the southbound M5 while their mother goes in search of an emergency phone.

It has been an hour since Jack (11), Joy (9) and Merry (2) watched their mother snap-belinda-bauerdisappear up the road. You can feel the rising heat in the car, the threatening thunder of the lorries flying past and the mixture of fear and responsibility coursing through Jack, as he takes the initiative to gather everyone up and go in search of her.

Only they never find their mother.

Three years later Jack has complete responsibility for running the family home, as their father has walked out and no one has bothered to check in on them since the case was closed.

This novel isn’t about what happened to the children’s mother, it’s about the criminal level of neglect the children are subjected to as numerous adults fail them. Continue reading “Review of Snap by Belinda Bauer”

Review of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

“Being a human is a complicated game – like seeing a ghost in a mirror and trying to echo everything they do.”

I knew I was going to love Grace the second I read that opening line. Grace has the-state-of-gracea horse, a best friend and a budding romance with Gabe, which all sounds like a lovely life until you realise that she also has Asperger’s Syndrome and begin to understand how challenging every day interactions are for someone with this syndrome. It’s innate and not something that can be cured.

The world never truly adapted to Grace, she has had to adapt to the rest of the world and when you’re a teenager that becomes even more complex. Especially when there are unexplained changes going on in the family home.

I loved how Grace describes how she tunes in to a conversation then gets distracted by another chat and loses the thread of the one she’s in. People sometimes think those with Asperger’s don’t pick up on facial cues, but they can, they know when they’ve missed a step in the flow and it throws them, as it throws Grace here. She’s picked it up that she’s lost the thread of the conversation, but the person without her condition who is talking hasn’t, the second they look at her oddly makes Grace’s mask slip.

And when the mask slips all her senses become intensified. Sounds are louder, smells more intense, light is brighter, flavours are stronger and texture is more dense. Grace has an engaging turn of phrase as she keeps putting herself out there, then retreats when overwhelmed to try and make sense of what she experiences. She’s a highly observant character, often humorous and knowledgable but also in some ways naive.

This is when Grace starts to over think everything, running through every scenario numerous times to the point of catastrophic thinking, which leads to a series of events where Grace thinks she’s to blame for what happens. There is no one she can turn to who will stop what they’re doing long enough to register that she’s heading into catastrophic thinking and help her to pull back from it.

Through this experience Grace learns a lot about herself, her friendships and her family and they do in return. As I turned the last page I was filled with hope, hope that many people may read this novel and realise that it’s time we adapted and took the perspective of people like Grace into consideration instead of expecting them to conform. As mutual understanding can be beneficial for everyone.

“It’s okay to get things wrong. We’re all still learning. The day you stop learning, my love, is the day you stop living.”

Grace’s Grandma

I bought my copy of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas from Five Leaves Bookshop.

Follow Rachael on twitter: @karamina.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books: YA.

Find out more about Asperger’s Syndrome: The National Autistic Society

Review of The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell

I’ve been watching Fiona Mitchell’s progression from journalist to novelist with the-maids-roominterest and was delighted when she announced that she had landed a book deal with Hodder to publish The Maid’s Room.

Mitchell has always written with empathy and insight, two skills that are evident in this novel about the plight of Philippino maids in Singapore. The story begins powerfully, with a description of the standard concrete room that passes for maid’s accommodation. A small airless space with a mattress on the floor and laundry equipment lining the walls.

Jules and David are a married couple who’ve recently moved to Singapore and they’re invited to a party hosted by a brittle mother of two called Amber. Mitchell captures the soulless nature of the experience for Jules by vividly describing the hard contours of the environment and people she meets. There’s a distinct lack of warmth that separates Jules from everyone else, enabling her to see the maid that discretely moves about the room in a way that the other women actively avoid doing.

Dolly is Amber’s maid and she has a secret Continue reading “Review of The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell”