Today it’s the turn of Anne to be my Blogger in the Spotlight. Anne’s blog is Random Things Through My Letterbox
Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m Anne and I am (too) quickly approaching the big 5 Oh! I was brought up in a small village in North Nottinghamshire, and moved across the border into Lincolnshire just over 20 years ago, when I met my husband Martin.
We live in Gainsborough, a small market town with our two cats; Costa and Nero.
I left school at 16 and have done lots of different jobs, studying for various qualifications as I’ve been working.
I’ve worked at a High Security Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and various other posts within the NHS before taking the leap and going to work in the Voluntary Sector. I’ve worked for a large national charity as a Youth Offending Team Officer, helping kids to learn to read and write and am currently working for a smaller, local charity working as a Community Development Officer, working with communities who live on ex RAF bases.
I’ve been volunteering in lots of different forms for many years; I’ve volunteered with projects that help victims of crime, with kids who are looked after by Social Services, with a teenage arts project and as a ‘friend’ of my local park.
In my spare time (!!), I enjoy my holidays, and try to visit Greece twice per year, I love music and go to as many live gigs as possible. I’ve seen a wide variety of acts from Tom Jones, to Metallica, to Cher. I love cinema and the theatre too. Most of my free time is spent with my nose in a book though!
What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?
Enid Blyton was a huge favourite, and I still have some of my Naughty Amelia Jane books, I loved the Famous Five and the Secret Seven series too. I also read all of the Jill books by Ruby Ferguson, although I’m terrified of horses! I loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and the Chronicles of Narnia – and still have my Narnia box set.
My two favourite books from childhood are; When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson and The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden.
What made you want to start blogging?
Some years ago, I read a book called Guardianwork by a guy called Ian Carpenter. It’s a really funny book; Ian decided that he would apply for every job that was advertised in the Guardian on one particular day and detailed his letters, and the responses. It’s very funny. I went to hear Ian give a talk as part of the Lincoln Book Festival and mentioned to him that I had been receiving all sorts of strange things through the post, usually because I’d entered some competition or giveaway, but couldn’t remember when or where. Ian said that would be a great idea for a blog, so Random Things Through my Letterbox was born. The blog soon turned into a book review blog, as books are far more interesting than random loaves of bread, or stop-snoring devices, and I love books and love talking about them.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Oh, lots and lots of things. I really love the blogging community, and how supportive bloggers are to each other. There are a few exceptions, and sadly, it’s the minority that spoil things, but the bloggers that I associate with are a great bunch and we support each other through the hurdles.
One of the greatest things has been establishing relationships with authors that I’ve admired for many years, and meeting new ones. Social Media has its critics, but I really believe that if you keep within certain circles, then you can avoid the nastiness that goes on, and being able to ‘talk’ to authors, publishers and other bloggers is great.
Blogging has opened the door to various book events that I probably wouldn’t have even known about, let alone been invited to before. It’s been a bit of a social whirlwind at times!
Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!
Random Things Through My Letterbox was born in March 2011, and is largely a book review blog, although I do sometimes blog about places that I’ve been to as well.
I review a wide range of books, in many genres, from lots of publishers and occasionally from self-published authors. I don’t have a particular favourite genre, but you won’t find any science-fiction, fantasy or erotica books on there. You will find lots of modern contemporary fiction, thrillers and crime – you’ll also find quite a bit of non-fiction dotted around too.
Random Things is a place for me to share my love of books and I rarely feature books that I wouldn’t recommend, there are a couple of reviews of books that I’ve criticised, but you’ll have to find those for yourself. Regular followers of my reviews tell me that although I always try to find the positives in the books that I feature, they can tell if I’ve not really loved a book, from how I write my review. I do feel that Random Things is a blog for readers, not for the publishers, or the authors – and personally, I think that reviews should be aimed at potential readers. I would never be intentionally rude about a book, but I am honest, and I hope that authors and publishers respect that. If they want a blogger who is going to rave about their book, even if they don’t really like it, then Random Things is the wrong blog for them.
What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed so far this year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.
Oh, I dread this question! I’m an abandoner, if I can’t engage with a book, then I don’t carry on reading. I do make exceptions for books that I’ve promised to review as part of a Blog Tour and will always finish those, but I do give up on lots and lots of books – I just don’t talk about it.
So, most of the books that I’ve read this year, I’ve really enjoyed, but if I’m pushed hard, I’d have to pick out these three as my favourite reading experiences this year:
A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
The New Woman by Charity Norman
There are so many others that come very very close to these three though!
What are you reading just now?
I’m almost finished a really dark and quite mind-bending novel called Don’t Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler, it’s published by Scribe UK and is a debut novel. It’s very good and I will be reviewing it as part of the Blog Tour next week.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Book, always book, and I have a real fondness for a beautiful hardback, although carrying those around is not always practical. I have absolutely nothing against ebooks, but I just don’t want one. I have so many books to read that I couldn’t justify buying an e-reader. One day, when I’m no longer able to hold a book, or see the print – that’s when I’ll give in, but until then, I’m delighted to remain a paper book reader.
There are no set times for reading, but I ALWAYS read before I go to sleep, no matter how late, or how tired I am, I have to read at least a chapter before I turn out the light. My book is always by my side, or in my bag and I pick it up at any opportune moment. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but do love a good trashy reality programme, but find it difficult to sit on the settee and just watch TV, I have to have my book on my knee – for the boring bits of the programme, and the adverts.
I love reading on the train, and in the car when I’m a passenger, and I’m lucky that I’ve always been able to read in a moving vehicle. I can, and do, read anywhere; background noise doesn’t bother me and I put that down to the experience of working as a secretary on a very noisy ward in a psychiatric hospital – I can block out noise if I need to.
I never read in the bath though!
How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?
My blog can be found at: http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.co.uk/
I also have a Facebook page for Random Things: https://www.facebook.com/Random-Things-Through-My-Letterbox-314296831959887/timeline/
I love Twitter, you can find me at @annecater https://twitter.com/annecater
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Years and years ago, I read Bookends by Jane Green, it’s about a woman who gives up her job to open a bookshop, her friend always wanted to open a café, so they combine the two. I always thought that would be such a fabulous thing to do. I’d love to go to work every morning and serve hot buttered toast, tea and cake to people whilst talking to them about books. I’ve never forgotten that book and I’d love to be the lead character; Cath.