Blogging Other

It’s Time for a Bloggiesta!!

This weekend Natasha from Maw Books is hosting another BLOGGIESTA!!!

The bloggiesta is a time when people come together to celebrate and improve their blogs. I love taking part as there is such a positive energy in the air.


If you have a blog then I highly recommend that you join in.

It is the perfect time to make big changes on your blog – so many people will be doing similar things and everyone helps each other, giving help and advice all the time. I was amazed at how many hints and tips I picked up during previous bloggiestas. 

For more information and to sign up head over to the Bloggiesta Starting Line

Follow events on Twitter @bloggiesta and #bloggiesta

I’m not going to be setting any specific goals, but I will be doing some tinkering behind the scenes. Hopefully I’ll have a few improvements to show for my efforts by Monday!!

Blogging Discussions Other

Do bad books exist?

If you had asked me that question a few years ago then I would have immediately reeled off a list of several bad books. I was under the impression that the world was piled high with them and that good ones were hard to find.

Since I discovered blogging my attitude has slowly changed.

I am finding it easier to discover books that I enjoy reading, but I am also beginning to think that there is no such thing as a bad book. Whenever I come across a book that I hate, I discover a whole army of people who love it. I can’t think of a single book that hasn’t had at least one person stepping up to defend it. We all have a very different taste in books and so it makes sense that one person’s reject is another person’s gem.

Publishers receive thousands of manuscripts each year and only publish a select few.

Surely any book that is chosen to be published is the cream of the crop? Some people prefer the ordinary, others the bizarre – I prefer a mixture of the two!

Family Legacy

Even all those unpublished manuscripts must have some merit, even if it is just to bring joy to the families of the author. My Granny had a short story published a while ago. I don’t normally enjoy short stories, but I love hers – simply for the fact that her personality shines through. I think it is fantastic for a family to have a legacy that will last for years after that person has died.

Guilt free negative reviews?

Thinking about books in this way also makes me feel less guilty about writing negative reviews. There is no such thing as a bad book – I’m simply not the target audience for a the specific one.

Authors should also be comforted by this notion. They should stop worrying about trying to find hundreds of people to read their book and concentrate on finding a handful of people who are the perfect match for it. They should also stop worrying about bad reviews – all this means is that their book has slipped into the hands of someone who isn’t right for it.

What do you think?

Are some books genuinely bad, or do all books have some merit?

Blogging Discussions Other

Can I Review Chocolate?

The title of this post may sound as though it has nothing to do with books, but bear with me, hopefully I’ll manage to get back to them by the end of this post!

A few weeks ago Lee from Chocolate Reviews sent out a message on twitter asking if anyone would like to review some chocolate. I loved the idea of doing this, but said I didn’t feel qualified to review chocolate as I haven’t reviewed any food before. Lee said this wasn’t a problem, as reviewing chocolate is just like reviewing a book:

The book cover makes you want to buy it, just like chocolate packaging; with chocolate its important to have a good beginning, middle and end and if its a good one then you don’t mind telling other people about it.

I’m willing to try anything once, so agreed to see what I could do. I received a beautiful bar of Charbonnel & Walker’s Pink Marc de Champagne chocolate in the post a few days later:

I was immediately impressed by the fancy box. The Royal Crest is like the chocolate equivalent of a book award to me – raising my expectations before I even try it! I have to admit that I’ve I’ve never eaten a bar like this  – I’m more normally found with something cheap from the corner shop!

I opened the box to review a slightly disappointing plastic wrapper, but inside that was the pinkest chocolate I’ve ever seen:

The pink chocolate was much softer than the bars I’m used to – I could easily cut it with a blunt knife. I wasn’t sure about the colour of it – the pink was too dark to appeal to me.

It almost melted in the mouth, having a rich creamy taste. The chocolate truffle centre had a slight alcoholic taste, but I wouldn’t associate it with champagne, as the flavour was too delicate for me to be able to pin-point it’s origin.

Overall, I found it to be a delicious treat, but I don’t think I’d buy a bar myself. I’d prefer to have 8 bars of cheap chocolate than 1 bar of this!

I don’t think I did the chocolate bar justice. I love chocolate, but I haven’t eaten enough bars of a similar standard to be able to compare them properly. I can tell you that I liked it, but not why. I have found a similar thing with reviewing books. Five years ago I’d have been able to tell you which books I loved and which I didn’t, but I wouldn’t have been able to give you any reasons for my choices.

The more books I read, the more fussy I become, but I also start to work out why certain books appeal and others don’t. I think this is a reason I struggle to review graphic novels – perhaps once I’ve read a few more I’ll be able to do a better job of it.

Do you think it is possible to review anything, or do you need to have experienced a large number of similar things to write a proper review?

How many graphic novels do you think I have to read before I can write a useful review for one?

Blog Improvement Project Blogging Other

Blog Improvement Project: Create a Blogging To-Do List

The first task for the Blog Improvement Project is to create a list of things on your blog that you’d like to change.

I am aways fiddling with things on my site and spend hours trying to decide what would improve it. I really need to focus on the important things instead of just tinkering with new plug-ins!

Hopefully this list will encourage me to make big changes, rather than messing around behind the scenes!


My To-Do List

Add new header image

I like the way that my header image gives you an instant feel for the sort of books that I read, but I really need to take a better photo – without any shine!

Edit my challenge tab

I need to change the challenge page to reflect the challenges I’m doing in 2010 and to ensure it focuses on my long-term reading challenges (Booker, Orange, Pulitzer prizes)

Update my categories

Overall I am quite happy with my categories, but there are a few redundant ones, mainly in the challenges section.

Rebecca has a concise category list that I admire.

Improve Sidebars

I’d like to edit the text in my sidebars, so that it is stands out more. The  most popular post section is just a sea of words at the moment – I’d like to look at putting them in boxes, and perhaps use drop-down boxes to reduce clutter.

Rob Around Books has a beautiful set of sidebars. I wish mine were as clear as his.

Improve social media integration

I need to think about adding a twitter feed, and improving the visibility of dig/delicious links.

Paperback Reader’s new blog is only a few days old, but I’m already coveting her social media boxes.

Can you think of anything else I should do to improve my blog?

Do you waste hours playing with the settings of your blog?

Blog Improvement Project Blogging Other

The Blog Improvement Project is back in 2010!

I am pleased to announce that the Blog Improvement Project is going to continue this year!

In 2009 Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness did a fantastic job of creating exciting projects that helped me and many others to improve their blogs.

This year I am joining Kim in hosting the project. We hope to introduce many new ideas and take a further look at some of the popular topics from last year.

We’ve created a dedicated blog for the project —  Please head over there for more information and to sign up if you’re interested.

The first task will be posted on Monday 1st February.

Are you interested in improving your blog?

Which topics would you find particularly useful?

Blogging Other


Congratulations to Beth who left my 10,000th comment! A £20 Amazon voucher will be in your inbox soon.

A few people were wondering how quickly I built up the comments on my blog, so I decided to produce this graph to show you how the number of comments I’ve received each month has grown:

The big dip in October 2009 is due to my holiday and things have quietened down over Christmas, but hopefully they’ll pick up again in the New Year. As you can see I was blogging for several months before I started to receive more than a handful of comments.

While I was studying my comment data I decided to highlight my wonderful, regular commenters. I was amazed at just how many comments some of you have left.

Top 10 Commenters on Farm Lane Books Sep 2008 – Jan 2010


  1. Sandy 348
  2. Beth 263
  3. Claire 251
  4. Simon 181
  5. Violet 156
  6. Steph 121
  7. Rebecca 101
  8. Diane 85
  9. Jenners 82
  10. Kimbofo 81

Thank you so much to everyone in the above list and anyone who has ever left a comment here. I appreciate every single comment I receive.  

Do you encourage comments on your blog, or are they just an added bonus?

Do you enjoy reading comments on other people’s blogs, or just your own?