Liebster Award

This is my magical and all encompassing post in response to being awarded the Liebster Award by Brontë’s Page Turners. I wasn’t aware of the award, but it is really really nice to be nominated. The award is for blogs with less than [insert number here] followers. It appears that this year it is 200, but that is coming down every year. I couldn’t find a huge amount of source info, but quite a few blogs have the award and are sharing it around. The source appears to be here..? Have a Google for the award, you will find a lot of interesting blogs with their Liebster award posts, and here is mine.

The Rules of Liebster

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the Liebster Award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note: the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer the 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 1000 followers.
  6. Create a new list of questions for your nominee bloggers to answer (if you want to).
  7. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!) or list these rules in your post (you can copy and paste from here).

My Answers

1. Thank you

Thank you very much Brontë 🙂 I posted on your blog already, but why say thanks once when you can do it twice??

2. Display the Award

Well, have a look at my front page. There it is, and guess what, it links back here !!!

3. Answer questions posed by Brontë

To paraphrase the poet Ronan Keating – Is Life A Rollercoaster, and Must We Ride It?

Of course it is! Bill Hicks says it is, and I have a blog post about his book. If the roller-coaster is life, then we have to ride it, we have no choice. While we live we accept its rise and fall, its corkscrews and loop the loops. The key is to roll with it, enjoy the ride!

What made you start blogging?

A huge number of books that I had bought and not read. I found myself holding another one and had to check what the hell I was doing. Here are a couple of posts from the early days…

I have always been quite into conservation and environmental issues. Stopping our addiction to consumerism would be a great start. Have I solved my own situation?? No, but I’m working on it and as I do my aims are changing too (watch this space…)

Did you take photos of your book-case as a 9 year-old (see featured photo), or were you quite a reasonably adjusted child?

Nope. I was many things as a child, but I wasn’t into library photography and I wasn’t well adjusted. I don’t think any child is well adjusted, isn’t that the point? Find your own groove (You get your own roller-coaster, with its own twists and turns.)

I buy most of my books from charity shops. Does this make me a fiend for not more fully supporting independent bookshops, or am I just one of Thatcher’s children, always chasing the cheapest price?

A good portion of my library is from charity shops and it will probably return to one if it ever leaves my ownership. I do have a plan to distribute what I get rid of, but I haven’t got round to much literary philanthropy yet. Charity shops are great. If a book gets into one, then the author has seen the sales. The continued circulation of books after their initial sales spike is what keeps them alive. On the other hand, a good independent book shop should be whole heartedly supported. I would actually include Waterstones in that description because our local one is great and is trying to be as involved in the local literary community as it can be. The problem is Amazon. It is stupendously easy, well realised and all encompassing, but at what cost. Amazon represents so much that I like and at the same time, the reason why I don’t like consumerism. When everything is for sale and the machine is so obviously run by very hard nosed accountants. Anyway, high horse dismounted. Charity good, book shop good. Other stuff bad.

Television Book Clubs (e.g. Richard and Judy’s in the UK, Oprah’s in the US, and any others elsewhere around the world that I am not cosmopolitan enough to be aware of): a good or bad thing? (Responders must try not to be swayed by the boyish good looks of Richard Madeley.)

Meh. I don’t really pay attention to them. I obviously already have enough books (I am kidding myself; I am about to get new books for my birthday. Rule 10 ) I do notice the stickers on books in shops and I think that “R&J” offer a fair indication that a book is going to be good. I don’t think that you can get too upset with initiatives that get people reading, whatever they are. You could argue that these things cuts down the diversity of the books that people might read, but if you read you read, and if a percentage of what you read is recommended by someone on the telly, then so be it.

Have you ever inherited any books from a relative and, if so, did you come across interesting finds?

Good Question! I don’t think I can recall a particular book that I have inherited with a story, but I have a good story none the less. My Dad was a magician. He used to read a lot of psychology and fiction (separately!) But, I got some of my reading habits from him as he often didn’t finish a book either! My Dad died a few years ago, but it was not until earlier this year that my Mum, my Brother and I got the power up to sort through Dad’s books. We found pretty much what we thought we would, but… My Dad used to use playing cards as book marks. He used to have various packs of cards laying around, quite often incomplete due to various tricks. We found about half a pack of cards as we went through his books. I think his favourite card was the Queen of Hearts. We found two cards that had cigarette holes burned through them and a high number with people’s names written across the face (“Without me seeing so that you can identify your card later. Now, slip your card into this envelope. I haven’t even touched the card…”) Brilliant piece of history 🙂

Thank you for that.

4. Random facts about myself

  1. I am successful, but I have never gone and done everything I want to in life. Roller-coaster, take me there.
  2. I was 2 months premature and have been five minutes late ever since.
  3. I am training to run a marathon in August 2016.
  4. I used to breath fire, but I haven’t done it for years.
  5. I am not that fast a reader.
  6. I can touch type, so when I write I quite often have my eyes closed.
  7. I make home brew wine, beer and cider.
  8. I love my family more than I know, and more than they know. They know I love them a lot.
  9. I was born in Essex (UK), but I don’t live there now.
  10. I have played Digeridoo in the tower on top of Glastonbury Tor.
  11. My first car was a mini (original one, not BMW.)
  12. I can (apparently) sprout useless facts about myself very easily. It’s getting me to stop that is the problem.

5. Nominate Other Blogs

Here is a list of 5 other blogs that I am nominating for a Liebster Award. I have no idea how many followers they have??? Either way, have fun with the questions guys. I will ready your replies with interest 🙂

6. My questions to be answered…

I have only asked 4 questions as the third one could be a bit involved. It would be great if you get stuck in though!

  1. How often do you blog and why that often?
  2. How much do you pay attention to the “business” of blogging, the marketing and cross posting and shenanigans that goes over and above typing words into a post?
  3. Do you own books that you haven’t read? Presuming that you live on earth and are not a ferret;
    1. Name and link to one book that you own that you are going to commit to read; tell me why you have owned this poor book for so long and not given it the time it deserves?
    2. Name and link to one book that you own that you are obviously never going to read, ever! Why, for goodness sake, do you own a book that you will never read?? tell me that, and if you feel brave, write in the book, put a link to your blog, and one to mine, and take it to a significant place. Release that book into the wild so that it can have a life away from your oppressive indifference. You never know, it might find a new owner who loves it and, y’know, opens it and reads it!?
  4. Last question is one of Bronte’s: Have you ever inherited any books from a relative and, if so, did you come across interesting finds?
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Book Review – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

How I came to buy this book

JoannaCannonReadingI bought The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon at a book reading event that was held at my local Waterstones. Joanna was interviewed by Tom Bromley who Teaches a Faber Academy course that Joanna attended.

The event was a great opportunity to hear about how Joanna had progressed through the publishing process and what inspired her to write her first book. Events of this kind are immensely interesting to me as a reader and a writer. I also found the event interesting as it was the first time I have met other book bloggers. So, Hi to Shaz and Jackie Law at NeverImitate. I’m on a slightly different quest to them and am obviously not as experienced in the ways of book blogging at the new book end of the market! (See my book list for details…)

Anyway, I came away from the evening having had a great time and with a signed copy of the book in my hand. I had not read any reviews and barely knew the synopsis. Everything I knew about the book I had gleaned from the hour or so of the reading event. I tend to prefer things like this as I can make my own mind up without other people’s opinion getting in the way. Without further ado, here is some of my thoughts and opinions on The Trouble with Goats and Sheep!

The book and Me

thetroublewithgoatsandsheepbookcoverThe book starts on 21st June 1976, which happens to be only a few weeks after my birthday. I know everyone says that the summer of 1976 was hot, but it was great to read something set in THAT summer. Chapters in the book are dated, and this triggered thoughts of my Mum and Dad doing what you do with a baby. There are so many events that occur concurrently across the world and you only ever see the ones that directly affect you. As I was having my nappy changed, events similar to those in the book were happening in another place under the same baking sun.

I will also mention here that I really liked the blue of the cover. It fits the book perfectly and because it’s a hardback, you see an edge of colour in your peripheral vision as you start and end each page. It feels like the colour of the summer of 1976…

Tense and Person Prose…

First off in the prose section I would like to mention tense and person! I really liked the way that Joanna has written events in the present of the book in past tense, third person. Memory chapters are written in present tense first person. This works really really well because memories are always internal and subjective, and you remember what you experienced (first person present tense.) It is such a powerful tool that I am amazed I have not seen it in any other book, at least I don’t remember reading it… This tense and person change also provided a very obvious but non intrusive way to stay in touch with what part of the story you were reading 1967 or 1976.

Efficient Prose

During the reading event, Joanna talked a little about “tight” prose. I also had a short conversation about it with her as she was signing my book. I used to wish that I could write a book with an absolute minimum number of words, to evoke a reader’s own imagination and to intrude on that as minimally as possible to direct the story. This is of course a fool’s errand. To take so much away from a story misses the beauty of the prose that keeps you reading and keeps invoking similes in your memory.

Joanna has succeeded in her aim, and I found the writing to be relaxed, effortless and still succinct. At the same time it was also very evocative. There were however times when I think the prose was almost too full or too efficient. I didn’t always get time to savour the depth of what was being painted for me.

This tightness of prose also led to some interesting descriptive passages. Some brilliantly realised:

On Libraries “It smelled of unturned pages and unseen adventures, and on every shelf were people I had yet to meet, and places I had yet to visit.”

And in some cases, slightly odd:

“…the thread of the carpet, worn down by heavy conversation.”

How does conversation ware down a carpet??

Anyway, the odd oddity aside, Joanna’s writing style was brilliant and beautiful. The whole book is told in a way that allows the reader to pour their own experiences into it. A lot of references don’t need to be interpreted, but depth is provided if you take your time. It’s like when “Ron swears” in Harry Potter. My son at 8 had a completely different lexicon for this and a different expectation of hour Ron would use his.

Conclusion

I had some trouble sticking with this book at times, and it took me a while to realise why. This is a brilliant book but it is not an easy book to read. I have already said that the writing is very good, and the general themes are all well realised and well paced, so what is my problem? The book is written around people and relationships and how they react to various problems for example; marriage issues, heat, the miss-understanding of children and people who can not accept differences in race and personality. This means that there is a lot of unspoken suspicion and social menace throughout the book. The reality of people I suppose! I found this tension quite hard to read for any length of time, even though I was enjoying the main thrust of the story.

Then, from nowhere Jesus arrives (He moves in mysterious ways!) and it was lovely to read this section because everyone pulled together. Well, almost everyone. I’m not going to go into the religious aspect of the book too much. It’s there, it’s a device and a good one at that. All to soon Jesus has gone and the tension returns.

Anyway, suffice to say that it was the tension that I was not comfortable with. It was definitely a tension that needed to be there for the story, and as I said, it was a story worth reading.

 

Rating: 8/10