Archive for the ‘Blog Admin’ Category

A Life in Pictures

UntitledLuddite that I am, it always takes me a while to try “new” (we are definitely stretching the meaning of that word here) things – particularly when it comes to social media.  But try them I will: I’ve now joined Instagram.  You can find me there as thecaptivereader.

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Technical Difficulties

Henrietta Street by Peter Snow - this has nothing to do with technical difficulties but isn't it pretty?

Henrietta Street by Peter Snow – this has nothing to do with technical difficulties but I thought we should have something pleasant in this post.

Having some technical difficulties today so the Library Loot post won’t be up until this evening.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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All a Twitter

twitter birdThis has been a big week for me technologically: I finally got a smartphone (my very first non-work cell phone – I was clinging desperately to the 20th Century) and I’ve finally set up a Twitter account (@CaptiveReader).  I clearly have no idea what I’m doing so if you lovely readers have any Twitter tips or would simply like to point me towards your accounts or ones you think worth following, speak out!

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Third Birthday!

The Conservatory by Frances Jones Bannerman

The Conservatory by Frances Jones Bannerman

Three years ago today, The Captive Reader blog was born.  It is strange to think back to that night; I was so anxious and excited to plunge wholeheartedly into the world of book blogging but I really had no idea where it would lead.  I could not dream of friendships I would make, the support I would find, and all the fun I would have belonging to a community of such generous, intelligent, and eager readers.

When I started blogging, I thought it would be a casual thing.  I thought my enthusiasm would settle over time, that the giddiness I felt each time someone left a  comment or linked to one of my blog posts would fade.  It hasn’t.  I still wake up every morning excited to check for new comments.  I still feel so proud when another blogger or writer says something nice about me on their site.  And, most importantly, I still have so much fun writing about books.

I find it so encouraging to know that there are people out there who are interested in what I have to say and who enjoy discussing books as much as I do.  Thank you, everyone.  It has been a wonderful first three years mostly because of your support.

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Forget Me Not

Just a quick note to say that I haven’t completely disappeared, though the lack of meaningful posts lately may have seemed to indicate otherwise. There has been much reading and gardening and general enjoyment of life these last few weeks but clearly not a lot of writing. I have so many books I want to tell you all about (The Astaires, Jennifer Kloester’s biography of Georgette Heyer, Trollope’s Doctor Thorne, Thirkell’s The Headmistress, a handful of novels by Susanna Kearsley…the list goes on) and I hope to get back into the swing of things soon.

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A Bit of Housekeeping

There hasn’t been much bookish chatter here the last few days as I have been working behind the scenes organizing my review directories.  I’ve completely reformatted the Book Reviews by Author page and I’m much happier with it now.  There is a lot more white space and it no longer feels so jumbled – even I, who know what books are there, was having trouble finding what I wanted before.

I’ve also created a new directory page: Book Reviews by Year, which lists all of the titles I’ve reviewed by year of publication.  I love this page and find it a fascinating way to view the distribution of my reading.  For instance, before I pulled it together, I had no idea that half of the books I’d reviewed here were published in the 21st Century or that half of those books were non-fiction whereas almost everything pre-21st Century has been fiction.  But I also hope it may be useful for other people looking for reading ideas for A Century of Books.  Stuck on 1981, for instance, and looking for inspiration?  You can review my thoughts on three different books (Diplomatic Passport, A Countess Below Stairs, Nella Last’s War) published that year to see if any of them might interest you!

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I had just about the most perfect Sunday I can imagine. I began the day snuggled up on the sofa with a fleece blanket and Katie Fforde’s Living Dangerously (not my favourite of her books but still very enjoyable), went outside to prune roses and pull out some sad, straggly heather bushes (which were surprisingly heavy), and, after a quick grocery shop, kicked into high gear in the kitchen.  Soup was made, goulash was prepared, and, most excitingly, cake was baked.  I’ve been wanting to make a Dundee cake since last November and it was just as delicious I had imagined it would be.  I love fruit cakes.  Any other kind of cake or baked good I can usually resist, but not fruit cakes.  Theoretically, this cake can be stored for years.  I’m fairly confident this one is not going to see out the week, given the enthusiastic response it’s had.

I also rewatched Midnight in Paris with my father, who was seeing it for the first time.  I’d forgotten how much I loved Hemingway’s scenes – too perfect!  It is such a charming movie but, like any Woody Allen movie, has those painfully embarrassing moments that make it excruciating for the overly sympathetic viewer to watch.  Does that happen to you?  When I’m watching a movie at home and I know a character is about to do something ridiculous, I sometimes have to walk out of the room until that scene is past (sadly, I do not have this option in the theatre).  Otherwise I spend all my time squirming in my chair, my eyes screwed tight and my face an unbecoming beetroot-colour, praying for the awkwardness to pass quickly.  My father shares this trait so it makes him the perfect movie-watching companion.  Strangely enough, I never react this way when I’m embarrassed – my reaction is always more extreme when witnessing the embarrassment of others.  It does make Woody Allen movies difficult to watch!

I hope to get back on track with my reviews soon but I’ve been having too much fun reading in the evenings to want to put down my book and write.  Usually, I have a very precise schedule I follow to ensure that a few reviews are written every week, blocking off several hours after dinner to work on the next day’s post.  Last week, it went completely off the rails.  Why would I want to write about a book when I could read one?  A fine attitude for a book blogger to have!  I am, however, finally caught up on all the books I wanted to review for January, which feels like a major victory.  I’m going to savour that feeling while I try to figure out how to attack the books from February – War and Peace is proving far more intimidating to review than it was to read!

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Second Birthday!

The Captive Reader turns two today!  It seems bizarre to write that.  Has it already been two years?  Has it only been two years?

My first year of blogging was exciting and nerve-wracking in a rather magnificent way.  When I started, there was so much I wanted to do, so many other bloggers I wanted to impress and befriend, just so much I had to say after having spent years without any bookish friends.  I was intoxicated to find amazing people all over the world who loved the same books I did and, what was even better, loved to discuss them.

This second year has been even better.  The insecurities that plagued me during my first year (will they like me?  Can I say that about this book?  How do I respond to their comments without sounding like a ninny…no, wait, still haven’t totally come to grips with that last one) have largely vanished as I’ve come to feel comfortable in the community and more confident of my role in it.  I look forward to hearing what readers have to say if I post a negative review of a popular title and I no longer worry about reviewing books I loved that I know most of my readers couldn’t care less about (though sometimes you surprise me and those are the best days of all).  I’ve discovered authors I had never heard of or never even considered trying before I started blogged, who have fast become my favourites; it’s difficult now to imagine not loving Angela Thirkell, Guy Gavriel Kay, or Anthony Trollope but I’d never read a word by any of them before last January.  And of course I’m endlessly amused by keeping track of my stats and pondering just what people find when they come to my blog having used the search term “Indian boarding school photos” or “the royal corgis” (and how they decided that this was the most likely link to click).

Most of all, this second year has been wonderful as I feel I’ve come to know so many of my readers and fellow bloggers better.  I value the friendships I’ve made online and was thrilled to meet Simon and Darlene when I was in London in September, both of whom I deeply admire and who I am delighted to call my friends.  I am constantly amazed and thankful that there are so many people in my life now with whom I can share my enthusiasm for reading.  That was exactly what I had hoped for when I started this blog two years ago and the discussions we’ve had over the years, the friendships that have formed, the support I’ve received has far exceeded what I’d dared to hope for.

Thank you all for a wonderful two years!

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Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for a copy of Lauren Willig’s The Orchid Affair.  The winner, as determined by a random draw, is…

Julie E

 Congratulations Julie!  I’ll be in touch via email to get your mailing information. 

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