Like, a #bookblogger mini-rant

It’s not often I veer off the path of reviews, but something caught my notice this morning and after a mini-rant with a fellow blogger.

It’s all to do with likes.

I often wander through my WordPress reader or my fellow bookbloggers’ blogs looking for something interesting to read. And if I find a review that I like, I click on the little star and, erm, like it.

Often if I’ve liked something, I’ll share it too. Because if I liked it, then chances are other people might like it too. Share the joy.

There are some bloggers who I know well, who are posting reviews of books that I’ve read and liked, and I may click retweet *then* go and read their posts, but you can count that list on the fingers of one hand.

And, from time to time, people stumble across *this* little slice of the internet, and click the like button and share the post. And for that I am eternally grateful, and I really do appreciate every like and share.

They mean a lot. Like, totally a lot. When you’ve put your time and effort into crafting a review (yes, I do craft them, there’s no need for that), it’s nice to see that someone has, you know, liked it.

Then you stumble across a blog which has HUNDREDS of likes. Much like (sorry) the one above. Over three hundred likes.


But… I do wonder with some of these blogs whether it’s a mutual you follow me/I follow you thing, with people autoclicking the like button.

I know of some bloggers who seem to go through and retweet a bucketload of blogposts. It’s entirely possible that they’re reading them all and genuinely liking/sharing, but the sceptic in me wonders if they’re just going down the list in WordPress reader and liking/sharing.

Now me, I’d love the likes, but would far rather someone retweet/like a post because they’ve actually *read* it and liked it.

Talk to me, folks. Why do you like and share?

Surely there’s been some mistake…

Hello you lovely readers. It feels like a while since we last had a chat which didn’t revolve around me going OMG BOOKS THIS ONE IS GREAT READ IT NOW.

It is still book-related though. You looked nervous. Maybe a little concerned?[1]

So, I’ve read a lot of books recently[2]. Mostly they’ve been really good, but every now and again you get a book where some little detail jumps out at you and jars you out of the story. I’ve had a few over the years, and often wondered what to do about it.

Do I mention it in the review? Should I drop a note to the author? The publisher? Do they even care at this point? After all, the book is out in the wide world, and they’re unlikely (or indeed unable) to fix it at this point.

Case in point – I was reading a book recently which was set in London, but one of the characters came from Yorkshire. The book continued, and it transpired that the character in question came from Sandal & Agbrigg.

Whoa. That’s near where I live. Like, really near. Literally[3] around the corner from my house.

The trouble is that Sandal & Agbrigg isn’t a place. Well, it is, but it’s a train station, between Sandal and, you’ve guessed it, Agbrigg. You’d either say you lived in Sandal, or you lived in Agbrigg, but you’d never say that you’re from Sandal and Agbrigg. Sandal’s that side of the train line, Agbrigg is the other, more or less.

I can see[4] what the author has done – they’ve taken a map of Wakefield, picked a place at random and thought ‘great! A nice little suburb, that’d be perfect for this character’s backstory.’

It’s a tiny, tiny detail, and one which will only be picked up by people who know the area really well[5]. Doesn’t affect the overall story in the slightest, but jarred with me. It’s like seeing a TV show set in your city but the characters turn left down a street and end up on the wrong side of town. You can’t get *there* from *there*, it’s just not how the roads are set up. Or in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Robin arrives at Dover, takes a short lunchbreak and Hadrian’s Wall (boy, was he lost) then home to Nottingham in time for tea.

Worth mentioning to the author? Who can say. Thoughts welcome!

[1] Yes, this is a tortuous Princess Bride reference. You win ONE MILLION POINTS. Well done.
[2] Occupational hazard of being a #bookblogger, I guess
[3] Actually literally.
[4] Well, I can assume what they’ve done
[5] Or live literally round the corner

Sunday musings

Hello gang. Sunday evening, the week is nearly over. Must be time for some sunday musings.

If this is really going to be A Thing, it needs a better name. Suggestions onna postcard.

I’ve set up a thing to ping favourited tweets to Evernote for this post. It seems to work quite well. I do like IFTTT for doing Clever Things With The Internet.  You should try it.

What’s on the list this week?

Author, rapper and all round top bloke Rob Boffard has a new book coming out in his Outer Earth series. Cue much excitement. It’s called Echoes: Stories from Outer Earth, and costs 99p. GO GO GO.

I won a thing from Scrawlrbox, an art supplies subscription service. I’ve had one of their boxes before, and they’re full of lovely, lovely art stuff. If you like lovely, lovely art stuff, you should check them out.

The ever-interesting Christian Payne (@documentally) shows us what the magnetic field looks like on the side of an iPad. Now I want some magnetic field viewing paper.


Off to NUX5 and Thinking Digital in Manchester in the next couple of weeks. Both look interesting, in different ways. I’ve been to quite a few NUX events, but this will be my first time at TDMCR. Much excitement.

It’s October, and therefore Halloween is on the way, with its attendant trick or treating. Some years ago I bought a skull mask from Wintercroft masks. This year I might get round to making it.

Speaking of making things, I’ve just realised that I’ve missed the first two days of Inktober, a month-long challenge to do an ink drawing every day. Ah well. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

Inktober was set up by Jake Parker. I do so love his art.

I was supposed to go to a Thing on Thursday at Waterstones – Faber Books were running a crime thing, taking three authors on tour. I’d booked the ticket in advance to see Rod Reynolds (author of the rather splendid Black Night Falling. Sadly, due to lack of numbers it was cancelled. Waterstones tweeted the bad news, but said that you could get a refund on your ticket. I rock up to the main desk at Waterstones clutching the aforementioned ticket.

Me: “Hi, I’ve got a ticket for the crime thing that got cancelled”
Waterstones Dude: “Ah, yeah. Shame about that, it looked great.”
Me: “I know. Can I get a refund?”
WD: “Sure. Have you got your receipt?”
Me: “Err, no. I’ve got my ticket though”
WD: “ah, you need the receipt.”
Me: “I don’t remember getting one. But look, my ticket!”
WD: “You’d definitely have got one with your ticket.”
Me: “Ah. Possibly. But I probably chucked it, on account of having the ticket.”
WD: “You need the receipt to get a refund. I can do you a gift card for the amount though.”
Me: *sigh* “Oh, go on then”
WD: “You bothered which one?”
Me: “Nah, you pick.”
WD: “Winnie the Witch?”
Me: “Awesome!”

So now I’ve got a gift card with £3 on it. Which I’m forced to spend on books.


Right, that’s about enough for now.

Would love to know what you think of the Sunday Musings. Good? Interesting? Not? Would you rather see individual posts? Or do you like this format? Thoughts, comments and suggestions on a postcard to the usual address.

See you next week, you lovely people you.

Sunday musings

This was never meant to turn into a book review blog. I just sort of… fell into it. And over the past couple of years, it’s developed to the point where it’s taken over.

I’m not entirely sure what to do. I do love reading and reviewing books, but I’d like to be able to have a space for more random musings.

The other week I pulled together a post about things I’d found online during the week. I quite like that idea. I’ve also been inspired and impressed by email newsletters such as those by Christian Payne from Documentally and Warren Ellis’ Orbital Operations.

You should check them out.

So. What to do? Do I set up a new blog for the more random stuff? Keep the random stuff I’ve found here but in a separate section? Set up my own email newsletter?

Thoughts, ideas and suggestions welcome. Especially what to call it.

In the meantime, here are this week’s musings.

Ever wondered what the auctioneer is saying when they’re trying to sell things? (via

Photographer Toru Akai uncovers the Invisible Machinery that defines modern life (via

Anyone got a spare grand? Casey Neistat plays with the new GoPro Karma

I do like Casey’s vlog.

I’ve been musing about starting a YouTube channel myself, but never quite know how to get started. Maybe I’ll do it one day. Would anyone watch? There seem to be a lot of savvy young folk on there – you should check out Sara Dietschy’s channel – hers and Casey’s channels are entertaining, as is the Shaytards vlog.

Is there room for a mid-forties bloke who lives in Yorkshire, reads lots of books, drinks coffee and goes out on his bike a bit? Guess there’s only one way to find out.

I’m also tempted by The InkTober Initiative, set up by Jake Parker in 2009 to challenge artists around the world to do a new ink drawing every day in October and post the results. Last year I decided I was going to learn how to draw, but that sort of fizzled along. I did some stuff I quite liked but then got distracted by shiny things on the internet.

Then it’ll soon be November and NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It’s been five years since I last seriously attempted NaNo and I still have the 50,000 words sat in a file on my computer, gathering virtual dust. Maybe it’s time for another go.

Right. That feels like enough for now. It’s nearly midnight on Sunday, which means another week is just around the corner.

In the words of Bill & Ted, be excellent to each other, folks. Catch you next week.

A fishy tale

Or: He Took A Bite Of His Sandwich: You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next.

This morning, as I was making my daughter’s packed lunch, I realised with some joy that there was sufficient leftover tuna mayo for a whole other sandwich. That’s lunch sorted I thought. Two slices of bread, scrape of butter (not too much), dollop the rest of the tuna on, chop it in half, boom. Done.

Casting around for something to put the sandwich in, I found a tupperware[1] box about the right shape and size. Sandwich in, sorted.

Pleased with myself, I finished loading up LB’s lunchbox with her tuna wrap, popped my plastic box into my bag and set off for work.

At lunchtime I retrieved the box from the fridge, eager to munch on my delicious tuna sandwich.

I took the first half of the sandwich. Hmm, I thought. That’s got more tuna in than I remember. Munch munch, yum.

Still peckish, I took a bite of the other half.

Something was amiss. Awry, even.

There was something fishy about this tuna sandwich…

Actually, there wasn’t.

I opened the two slices of bread. Small flecks of tuna lay nestled on their buttery bed, forlorn.


This was like[2] the WORST TUNA SANDWICH EVER.

Worse even than when you go to a sandwich shop and they’ve helpfully cut the sandwich diagonally[3] so you can see all the delicious filling and it looks really nice and then you buy it but it turns out the filling is all actally up against the visible edge so you’re left with a huge bready margin to your sandwich.

The first half was awesome though.

[1] not *actual* Tupperware. Other plastic containers are available.
[2] actually, I’m sure it *was* the worst tuna sandwich ever.
[3] diagonally-cut sandwiches taste better. True fact.

Stealing time

From “I Steal Time” | MORNING, COMPUTER, by Warren Ellis.

Walking in London with a friend from America who works in film. I stopped at a roundabout near Covent Garden, looked up. He asked what I was looking at. Everything, I said. It’s my practice. I take five minutes every day just for me, to look around and see where I am and be there.
It’s easy to feel like you’re living on borrowed time, and that time is running out. For five minutes a day, I like to turn the hourglass the other way. I’ve stolen six hundred hours from the countdown clock that the world would have drained away from me had I let it.

In the chaos in which we live our lives these days, with the constant pinging of notifications, the deluge of media and advertising, the constant thrum of people doing stuff, wanting stuff, needing stuff from everyone else, it’s important to stop and take a moment.

In the words of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off :

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Take a moment. Look around. What do you see?

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