Tell me about the person behind the blog?
I’m trying out rural life for a bit, with my wonderful husband and two little girls. In a past life I was a Music Journalist for the BBC and had the chance to interview everyone from Adele, to Oasis to Paul McCartney. Then I had my first daughter and my husband got a job in San Francisco, so we moved there for a few years to soak up some sunshine. Now we’re back in England and I’m at home with my girls while foolishly trying to write a novel. So far I’ve learned how hard it is, how much I have to learn and how in awe I am of anyone who manages to pull off a whole book of any kind!
When did you start blogging and why?
I set up my blog last March, for a few reasons really. As a parent of little ones, I just wanted to celebrate those stolen little moments when you get a chance to read. I realised I looked forward to brushing my teeth at night as that was two full, timed, uninterrupted minutes of kindle time! That made me think I should set aside more time to relax with a book (and less watching telly!) and I do everything better, even unwinding, with a deadline. Also as part of this I joined TBC on Facebook, and from there discovered Netgalley. I was so grateful for the chance to read and review these amazing books, I wanted to give back as much as I could, on as many platforms as I could.
What are your proudest moments or achievements to date as a blogger?
I think that would be my first author interview, with Laura Kaye who wrote English Animals. Even though my background is in interviewing, this felt so different. The blog tour made me feel part of a team of book lovers who were all working together to try and find an audience for a really special novel. I loved that, it’s such a privilege. Any interaction with a reader, author or publisher is thrilling to me though. Nathan Hill, who wrote The Nix, thanked me for my review on Twitter and I want to frame it! I think that book is going to be an American Classic – it’s like having a note from Joseph Heller!
If you had to breakdown the components of your ideal perfect book what would they be?
I always love beautiful, lyrical language and characters that surprise me – especially when they teach me to look at something, anything, in a new way. It needs to be complex and subtle, challenging and well constructed. But however much I appreciate and admire something, it will never get 5 stars from me unless I’ve laughed out loud, cried a little bit, felt shocked to my core or best of all been inspired to change my life in some way! I have to have my emotions whipped up to really love something.
What is your favourite genre to read?
I have pretty conventional genre tastes, I tend to like literary or book-clubby commercial fiction. The first table I’ll go to in a book shop is the one with all the prestigious prize nominees stacked high! I keep meaning to be more adventurous in my choice of genres, but I have so many books on my ‘To Be Read’ pile that I know I’ll love, it’s hard to find the reading time to step outside my comfort zone! I have the same problem deviating from well loved favourites in restaurants…
What are your 3 favourite books and why?
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss This is simply the most magical book I’ve ever read. It is complicated and delicate and soulful. The main storyline features the simple quest of a teenage girl to distract her grieving mum, but there is also the charmingly muddled perspective of Leo; an elderly survivor of both the Holocaust and heartbreak, and, finally, excerpts from a book written by Leo which are passages of pure lyrical and romantic beauty. I loved this book so much I named my daughter after the main character.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I know this book divides people, but I was swept away by it. I love its indulgence and its seemingly unedited flights of inspiration. It’s not only completely exhilarating to read, but it changed my views on what makes a family, what makes life valuable and how to reimagine the world to suit you better. I think the famous Mary Oliver quote sums up the heart of it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (One note: In today’s political climate Eggers’ What Is The What is a more timely read and just as good in completely different ways!)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen This was described to me as the “perfect book,” and it didn’t let me down. In the plot, matriarch Enid tries to gather her adult children together for one last family Christmas, which in Franzen’s hands somehow becomes a page-turner. And within this structure the whole of their disparate lives are contained. It is so insightful and perceptive, so funny and brutal, and so full of love for the messed up characters that people our world.
Finally, tell me more about your blog and why we should subscribe?
I only review the kind of books that have been tipped everywhere, with 5 stars across the board in all the broadsheets and a lot of hype and prizes in the industry. So if that’s the kind of book you like then anything featured is going to be worth a go! From there I try to be a bit more discerning and brutal, assuming most people don’t have the time to read all of them I try to pull out the best of the best to narrow down the choices a little. So far only three books have got 5 stars on Those Precious Stolen Moments: Girls On Fire, The Underground Railroad and The Nix. Also my husband is an amazing designer, and he’s made it a really pretty place to admire the gorgeousness of book jacket art!
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