Okay, I know I said I wanted to try and keep my book blog and my main blog separate, but … it’s also nice when people actually read the book blog. So I thought I’d give a quick roundup of what I’ve been posting over there this month, and if any of that sounds interesting to those of you who don’t normally read it, maybe you’ll be moved to hop over there and check it out. (Who knows, maybe I’ll do this every month.)
In January, I got my schedule slightly back on track and reviewed seven books. I also started making more of a conscious effort to promote the blog, and to read other book blogs in return, leaving a trail of comments behind me like a mystery comment fairy who just turns up on people’s blogs for no discernable reason. Perhaps not coincidentally, this has been my book blog’s best month for stats since I resurrected it in August 2015 (well, actually, ever, because it was basically dead before that); I may still have a small audience, but it’s growing, and I appreciate that.
I’ve also found it weirdly motivating to actually plan what I’m going to review. Funny, that. I still completely fail to stick to any TBR list I write up, but I’m vaguely getting there? Maybe? The next step is going to be to start making graphics for the blog, to liven things up a bit.
I started the year with Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard, which I enjoyed because it was surprisingly relatable, despite bearing no resemblance to my life at all; that’s definitely a gift that Sara Barnard has there, and I gave it four stars. Then I went on to Olympia Knife by Alysia Constantine — a weird, compelling book, but ultimately frustrating because the ending didn’t explain nearly as much as I hoped it would, so I only gave it three stars.
Both of those were ARCs, but I then took a detour into older books, and reviewed The Flowers of Adonis by Rosemary Sutcliff — one of her under-appreciated adult novels that several of my friends, despite being Sutcliff fans, hadn’t heard of. Although it took me a while to get into this book, I ultimately found it moving enough to give it four stars, and I admired the writing style a lot. Then, moving to slightly more recent years, I reviewed Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, which was seriously enjoyable, especially for something I’d picked up on a whim at the library.
From there I went back to the ARCs and reviewed Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift, a time-travel story that managed not to tie my brain up in knots and which was a pleasant surprise in terms of writing style, then moved on to Tailor-Made by Yolanda Wallace, a f/f romance story that was rather disappointing because I didn’t enjoy the writing style at all. That was the same issue I had with Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne, an early medieval whodunnit that I picked up in Oxfam: the plot was fine, but the writing style was weak and definitely undermined it.
So, those were the reviews. No 5* reads this month, sadly, and a couple of 2* reads, which is likewise a bit disappointing, but I’m hoping that doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the year — and hey, having a great January for reading would only make the rest of the year disappointing, right?
I also started a new series called Academic Wednesdays (better name forthcoming), where I briefly talk about a few academic books or articles that I’ve been reading recently and what I thought of them. My aim with this is to focus on books that are fairly accessible to the general reader, both in terms of content and price — extremely esoteric texts that you can only find in academic libraries aren’t exactly prime blog-fodder!
In the first instalment of this, I discussed a couple of translations of The Tain, The Lais of Marie de France, and a literary criticism book called Of Giants, which looks at monsters in medieval literature. In the second, I looked at The Occult in Medieval Europe, which I’d just started at the time of writing, and Classical Learning and Literature in Medieval Ireland.
In the third, which went up this morning, I talked about reading Chaucer for the first time (The Knight’s Tale) and about how funny medieval magic is sometimes.
As well as being my best month for stats, I also earned my first 24p from Amazon affiliates links! Though I can’t entirely credit the book blog with that: I managed to persuade three people to buy The Tain because it’s only £1.99 on Kindle, but I think it was mostly via Facebook and Discord, not the blog. But still. A whole twenty-four pence. Much riches. Very earning. Wow. I also joined Amazon.com affiliates so that I can share US links as well as UK ones, but as yet that hasn’t proved fruitful. Maybe once I have some 5* reviews where I’m genuinely urging everyone to READ IT. NOW people might actually be moved to buy books? Possibly? At the moment I’m just enjoying getting paid a few pennies to introduce people to the joys of medieval Irish literature.
So, that’s what’s been happening on the book blog this month. If any of those posts sound interesting to you, please do check them out. Moreover, if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to review, let me know (I can’t guarantee anything, especially if obtaining the book would cost me money).
In the meantime, have you got any favourite book blogs you think I ought to check out with my commenting love?