A Thank You and a Belated Birthday

Birthday cake

When I first started blogging, I was excited about finding a new creative outlet and forming a little personalised space of my own.  Almost exactly one year on (one year and eleven days to be exact!) and my blog means even more to me than at the start.  I love sharing my thoughts about the books I’ve read, and I love the fact that I’m keeping a log of them so that not a single one is forgotten.  Trying to blog regularly also gives me a reason to write and the chance to flex those writing muscles.

I’m not doing it to become world famous or even web famous, but what a lovely thing it is to realise that other people like what I write!  A couple of weeks ago Bridget from bridgetsbooks.wordpress.com nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.  Thank you Bridget!  You’ve put a huge smile on my face.

The Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Blog Award is designed to recognise some of the web’s “best kept secrets” so I’m very honoured to have been nominated.  All I have to do in return is to nominate five other blogs which I love and which have around 200 followers or less (I’ve crept just over recently but I hope I still count!).

I know what some of you may be thinking – and what someone has already suggested to me – it sounds a little like one of those chain emails you get where you have to forward it on to at least ten other people or you’ll have bad luck for the next twenty years.

For the less sceptical amongst us, what a lovely sentiment it is to highlight newer or smaller blogs that deserve a bit of attention!  Not only did it give me a boost to be considered for nomination, but while trying to select my own top five blogs I have revisited and rediscovered so many great people and their websites – and unearthed a few lovely new ones!

It was a tough choice but here are my own nominations for the Liebster Blog Award:

Tim C. Taylor (timctaylor.wordpress.com)

Tim is a busy man.  He’s a science fiction writer, a freelance editor, and runs his own publishing business.  Yet he still finds time to write a blog offering publishing and ebook advice, as well as offering his own informed opinions about the industry.  I don’t know exactly how many followers he has, but he had to be on my list.  Also check out his publishing company website Greyhart Press for ebooks, author interviews and competitions!

69 point 23 degrees (69point23degrees.blogspot.com)

This blog is written by a friend of mine who moved from England to Norway last year.  Vince and his wife now live in the arctic circle – funnily enough he can be located at Latitude 69.23 degrees – and in this blog he shares his experiences.  I look forward to each new post for his reflections on the beauty of his surroundings; it allows me to sit back and believe myself to be somewhere different, somewhere peaceful.

It’s Mind Bloggleing (itsmindbloggleing.wordpress.com)

Nancy’s blog aims to reach out to and spread awareness about “multiples”, or people with multiple personalities, like herself.  When I first discovered her blog it really made me stop and think about the everyday difficulties she and other multiples face.  But it’s not all serious: Nancy also has a great sense of humour which really comes through in her writing.  Oh, and she also shares the same blog template as me!

Your Friend Tony (yourfriendtony.wordpress.com)

I discovered Tony’s blog only very recently after reading this guest post from the Insatiable Booksluts (another great blog, by the way, but too many followers for this particular list).  Tony is a self-confessed “failed writer”, and he’s learned what not to do the hard way.  Now he’s sharing the tips and tricks he’s picking up after getting back into writing for the second time.  His unspoken message of “never give up” is subtle but persuasive, and his researched suggestions are very helpful.

Books Becca Buys (booksbeccabuys.com)

Again, I don’t know precisely how many followers Becca has, but her blog had to be on my list.  She cleverly reviews each book she reads in less than 100 words, giving you just enough to grasp the essence of it.  I know only too well how hard it is to keep your words succinct so I take my hat off to her.  Sometimes short and sweet is exactly what you’re looking for; it’s not my style as I like to go into more detail, but that’s probably why I like her blog!  Wouldn’t the world be boring if everyone was the same?

Becca’s blog was also the one which gave me the final push to set up my own after seeing a book review of hers in the free weekly UK magazine Stylist.  I looked up her website and found that she’d only started blogging very recently, with that review as her first entry.  I thought, “I could do that!” and went for it.

So there you have it: an eclectic mix of content and writing styles.  There’s loads of other great blogs out there which I could mention but a lot of them already have loads of followers.  That’s why this award is special: it gives readers the chance to find a new and as-yet unknown blog which they find they love, but may not have discovered otherwise.  You’re welcome…

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Book Review: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

The Mysterious Island by Jules VerneJules Verne’s stories of science fiction adventure have acquired an almost legendary status.  I was aware of his reputation as an author with an uncanny knack for predicting the future, yet I’d never got round to reading a single one of his books until I tried The Mysterious Island.

Rather than being introduced to Verne through one of his best-loved works such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Journey to the Centre of the Earth, I must confess that I chose to download this one because it was a free ebook.  It also happened to tie in nicely with the escapism theme which I keep returning to recently: the idea of retreating to a peaceful spot in the middle of nowhere appealed to me.

In The Mysterious Island, the five main characters (and their dog) find themselves stranded on a small, undiscovered island in the South Pacific.  They are thousands of miles from civilisation and all other human contact, and they have no way of sending or going for help.  So the group set about making the best of what they have and embark on civilising the island.

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Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverThe Poisonwood Bible struck me as a strange but intriguing novel.  Beginning in the late 1950s, the Price family are uprooted from their comfortable home in America to live in the Belgian Congo.  Nathan, the father, is a missionary full of dangerously religious zeal, intent on converting everyone he meets to Christianity.  His is the dominant personality in the first half of the novel, and yet it is his wife and four daughters who are the narrators, alternating throughout.  In this way we see the consequences of Nathan Price’s overbearing personality through the eyes of the ones who suffer from it most.

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Book Review: Castles In The Air by Judy Corbett

Castles in the Air by Judy CorbettI’d never heard of this book before I picked it up a few months ago.  Nobody I know has read it, and I hadn’t seen any online reviews about it.  I just saw it in a Bargain Bin in a second-hand bookshop and was taken in by the blurb on the back cover.

Blurbs are funny things, aren’t they?  I love them: a browser like me relies heavily on them to persuade me to buy the book (and I am also swayed by a beautiful cover… I’m only human).  A bad or misleading blurb can be fatal for me, as was almost the case with One Day.  On the flip-side, I know people who refuse to ever read blurbs, preferring to be surprised by the content of a recommended book.

The blurb for Castles in the Air, a non-fiction read about a couple who buy a derelict Welsh castle and lovingly renovate it, made me stop for a moment and long to be a part of their adventure.  When I started reading the book itself, I wasn’t expecting an action-packed adventure; I anticipated a slow-paced, romantic (in the traditional sense) tale of a historical building, its inhabitants and the surrounding countryside.

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