Challenge updates

I do love a good challenge and this year I signed up for two and created one personal one of my own.  Today, I was updating the pages and thought it might be fun to share where I am.

First up, I’ll go with my personal challenge – to read a second book by authors I read last year and swore I would read more of.  There were five authors – Nicole Trope, Colleen Hoover, Alex Marwood, Sarah Gran and Peter Swanson.

Reading red lines?

spray paintEarlier this month I read a book that had scenes in it of a paedophile grooming a young girl.  They have haunted me since.  I keep flashing back to one scene in particular that made me squirm.  Even though I really enjoyed the book, there is part of me that wishes I hadn’t read it because I still don’t feel comfortable with what was written.

The other part of me though would still recommend the book – because it was well written and a good story.  Without the uncomfortable scenes it wouldn’t have been the same book (and definitely not as good).  My review mentioned that there were parts of the story that made me uncomfortable but I didn’t go further because it would have meant spoilers in the story.  I am now wondering if I should go back and be more explicit?

I know other bloggers do this and I have to say this has put me off some books, books which I think I might actually have enjoyed and I wondered what others thought about “warnings”?.  It’s a fine line I suppose, because we all have personal red lines, ones we don’t or won’t cross when reading books or watching TV.

Based on comments on some of my recent reviews, where there seems to have been a bit of a glut of books with missing children or children in danger, that seems to be a red line for a lot of parents (or at least parents of younger children).  They can too easily put themselves in the place of the central characters, imagine their own children missing.  Yet, as a parent myself, I can’t say I have that reaction.

For me, rape is a difficult one to read about.  When it’s mentioned in a blurb or review I tend to steer clear.  But then I read He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly not so long ago, where rape – and it’s aftermath – was the driver for the story and I was o.k. As with the book I read recently, He Said / She Said was well written and thought provoking as well as a great story that kept me wondering where the truth lay right till the last.

I’ve also found that I can no longer read books which portray violent or graphic scenes anymore (something I never batted an eye at a few years ago).  I used to be a big fan of the Graham Masterton Katie Maguire series, for example, but the fact that there always seemed to be at least one (and generally more) gruesome deaths – described in quite a lot of detail – meant I’ve had to stop reading them.

The problem is, how to do you know unless you read a book?  But if you do read it and your reaction to it is negative, have you done yourself any favours – especially if, like me, books stay with you for a while?  What are your thoughts – do you have reading red lines, and what are they? And would you prefer to know more or less about whether there might be something upsetting in a book?

Emma

This post is part of the 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge, linking in with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Start’s at Midnight.

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Simplifying my blog following ways

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Many moons ago, when I first started following blogs, I didn’t follow many at all – you could probably count them on the fingers of one hand (o.k., maybe two). Depending on how I came across them would depend how I ended up following them.  So, if I had seen a link on Facebook, I followed them on Facebook, if I saw them on twitter, it was twitter and, if I came across them whilst randomly surfing the web, I usually subscribed by email, possibly following them on twitter and / or Facebook too.

Over time, the number of social media sites I signed up for grew, as did the number of ways I might follow someone (see Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram …).  Then, as I started to blog myself and because I was using WordPress, I started following people through their Reader feature, occasionally automatically signing up for email following as well without necessarily meaning to but also never unsubscribing.

By now, my inbox was starting to get a little full, so I tried Bloglovin’ which kind of worked only I didn’t always remember to go on it for days.  The same could be said for Facebook, which I am rubbish at, and Google+, which I got because I got a gmail account and rather randomly started following people through to.

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As you can probably tell from my rambling paragraphs above, the way I follow blogs is pretty messy as well as confusing (at times) and time consuming at others – with me often seeing the same post two or three times in two or three different ways whilst at the same time completely missing other posts I wish I had read when I eventually happen to see them in an update post or someone else does me the favour of retweeting them and I realise what I was missing.

 

Recently, I tried to add up all the blogs I follow and I couldn’t keep track.  It wasn’t necessarily a huge amount but so much duplication.  Along the way I discovered blogs that no longer blogged and blogs I no longer read or comment on.  So, I’ve decided to do something about it.  Starting this week I am going to reform my messy ways and get a system in place that works for me.  I did ask about what other people do on twitter but it seems there are as many ways as there are bloggers so (to quote Frank Sinatra) I’m going to have to do it my way.

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My plan is to use Bloglovin’ as my primary following “tool” and stop using WordPress or Google+.  Everything will be in one place and if I get the settings right I think I should be able to get alerts when people post, which is what I need.  I’m going to go through each site and stop following anyone who hasn’t posted in six months (sorry!) and also stop following anyone whose site I haven’t visited in six months (sorry again!).  The number should be much more manageable then and I’m less likely to miss things.  For the blogs I just can’t miss I’ll use email too, just to be on the safe side till I know my system works.

Along the way, I’m going to use it as an excuse to make sure I’m following everyone on twitter and liking their pages on Facebook (if they have accounts); I might useless at Facebook but I do find it’s a good way to talk to people during challenges and things so I don’t want to get rid of it entirely and Twitter is such a good way of sharing people’s posts but I don’t always know their twitter names when I click on the icon on their post and if it doesn’t come up, I don’t end up tweeting it.

And that’s it, my plan of action.  I hope it works – if it does, you might hear from me more (possibly not a good thing but sorry about that).  What do you think – will it, or is it a flawed plan? What do you do that I might want to steal instead or do you have the same problems I do?

Emma

I am linking this post to Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight’s Discussion Challenge – clink on the button below to find out what other bloggers have had on their mind this month.

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Cloak and Dagger Challenge 2017

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During my recent wanderings around my favourite blogs, I came across a challenge that seems right up my street but I had somehow missed the initial sign-up for (it started 1st January).  Never one to be deterred by being late, however, and given it is still January, I have decided to sign-up now.  It’s the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted by Stormi at books, movies, reviews oh my! and Barb at Booker Ts Farm.  Here’s how it works:

  • You can read any book that is from the mystery/suspense/thriller/crime genres. Any sub-genres are welcome as long as they incorporate one of these genres.
  • You don’t need a blog to participate but you do need a place to post your reviews to link up (blog, goodreads, booklikes, shelfari, etc.)
  • You make a goal post and link it back to the sign-up page with your goal for this challenge (which is this post here)
  • Books need to be novellas or novels, please no short stories. (At least 100 pages +)
  • Crossovers into other challenges  are fine
  • The Challenge will  be from Jan. 1st to Dec. 31st (Sign up ends April 15th)

There will be a monthly link up so that others can check out your progress and look at your reviews. At the halfway mark and at the end there will be a giveaway for those participating.

As with all good challenges there are levels based on how much you read / can commit to:

  • 5-15 books – Amateur sleuth
  • 16-25 books – Detective
  • 26-35 books – Inspector
  • 36 – 55 – Special agent
  • 56+ books – Sherlock Holmes

Plus a “bonus” challenge of finishing a series (or more).

Books of this genre are my main reads, plus I’ve given myself a more challenging goodreads target this year, so I’m going to try and become Sherlock Holmes and read at least 56 books.  I’m also going to try and finish the M. J. Arlidge DI Helen Grace series plus one other tbd.

Can you tell I’m excited by this one?  Fingers crossed nothing gets in the way of my reading or I don’t suddenly decide that I’m really a romance and roses vs. murder and mayhem kind of girl.

Wish me luck!

Emma

2017 Discussion Challenge

I love reading book blogs for their reviews, discovering new books as I do, but I also love reading more about the bloggers I follow and their thoughts on reading and all things book related. Occasionally, I share my thoughts to – most often through linky’s but recently through discussion posts. It’s great hearing how people feel about the things I’ve said. These posts, though, beyond the linky’s, are few and far between and one of my blogging resolutions for next year is to write more.

To help me, I’m joining in with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Start’s at Midnight for their 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.  Here’s how it works…

2017-discussion-challenge3The 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2017 and you can sign up until the very last minute.

There will be a kick-off post on January 1, 2017 on both blogs and monthly after that to post your updates.  There’ll also be monthly giveaways.

The challenge is to help get us discussing books and book blogging, so you can talk about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to book blogging.

Discussions can be book related or book blogging related (or generally blogging related—no discussions about things that are completely off-topic like travel or fashion, etc). Discussions can also be about you personally if it’s a get-to-know-you type post.

There are a number of different levels depending on how much you feel you can accomplish:

1-10 – Discussion Dabbler
11-20 – Creative Conversationalist
21-30 – Chatty Kathy
31-40 – Terrifically Talkative
41+ – Gift of the Gab

I’m not that brave or sure of my abilities to come up with ideas so I’m going for 10 over the year – discussion dabbler.  I’m not going to count linky’s I join in with to try and push myself to be creative in my posts.

Thankfully, I don’t have to say what those posts will be yet so time to get my thinking cap on.  Wish me luck and please head over to either / both blogs to check out who else is signed up and maybe join in yourself.

Emma

National Short Story Week 2015

NSSW-300x171This week is National Short Story week, something I hadn’t heard of – though it’s in its fifth year – until I read about it on Kimberly Sullivan’s blog.  I really enjoy short stories but haven’t read any for a while and so loved the idea of promoting them (now that I’m aware of it!) if I could.

You can find out more about the week here but, in a nutshell, the idea is to promote short stories, and short story writers, publishers and events. It runs from today, Monday 16th through Sunday, 22nd November.  Kimberly is taking part by trying her hand at flash fiction.  I’m nowhere near as creative but I thought I could do my part by reading and doing mini-reviews of short stories every day.

23624909The reading will start tonight with The Memory Man by Helen Smith, which has been on my Kindle for a few months now.

Two women become friends in an abandoned post-apocalyptic building. A psychic makes contact with a lost soul. His apprentice tries to find news of a man he has lost touch with. Fragments of memories are traded and twisted. Friendship provides comfort, but the recovery of memories brings torment rather than reassurance – until truth becomes secondary to survival.

It feels like a fun thing to do and I’m also hoping it might get me out of my reading funk and inspire me to read some new authors. Are you a short story reader – any recommendations for the rest of the week?

Emma

Authors on Austen

Jane_Austen,_from_A_Memoir_of_Jane_Austen_(1870)During my random wandering around the web last week in search of tidbits for a post I hope to write once I finish Jane Austen’s Emma as part of Austen in August I came across a quote by Virginia Woolf: “of all great writers [Austen] is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness”. It got me wondering what other authors might have had to say about Austen, whether they felt the same way.

There were some that didn’t, Mark Twain seeming to be most widely quoted critic, saying “I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone!”

More often than not though, other writers seem to be fans and there are a lot out there, including…

…Harper Lee –  “All I want is to be the Jane Austen of the south”

…William F. Buckley, Jr. – “One doesn’t read Jane Austen; one re-reads Jane Austen.”

…Thornton Wilder – “[Her] art is so consummate that the secret is hidden; peer at them as hard as one may; shake them; take them apart; one cannot see how it is done.”

…J K Rowling – “My favorite writer is Jane Austen, and I’ve read all her books so many times I’ve lost count…I imagined being a famous writer would be like being like Jane Austen. Being able to sit at home at the parsonage and your books would be very famous and occasionally you would correspond with the Prince of Wales’s secretary.”

…Anthony Trollope – “Miss Austen was surely a great novelist. What she did, she did perfectly…. she places us in a circle of gentlemen and ladies, and charms us while she tells us with an unconscious accuracy how men should act to women, and women act to men.”

…Margaret Drabble – “Austen’s output was so compact that many of us know much of her work by heart and feel its echoes every day. Yet, on rereading, we always find new shades of meaning, new pleasures and, most importantly, new questions.”

…Val McDermid – “She’s a genius…One of the reasons we all still read Jane Austen is because her books are about universal things which still matter today – love, money, family.”

But the last word goes to Helen Fielding whose Bridget Jone’s Diary is based on Pride and Prejudice and has its own Mr. Darcy.   It sums up why Jane Austen may have been adapted so many times on TV, film and books. “Jane Austen’s plots”, Fielding said, “are very good and have been market researched over a number of centuries, so I decided simply to steal one of them…I thought she wouldn’t mind and anyway she’s dead.”.  Here’s to more stealing of plots!

Emma