Behind the Blogger – Kath Middleton from Ignite Bookblog

Tell me about the person behind the blog.

My dad taught me to read when I was three years old and I’ve never stopped. He was also a creative person, though he was an engineer. I think I’ve inherited that all-rounder thing, too, as I have a geology degree but I also paint, write and create patchwork quilts. I read fairly widely, though I tend not to read much erotica. It’s probably a great failing in my character but I’m afraid it usually makes me laugh. I love cooking, baking and gardening. I don’t watch much television as I’m usually reading – which I can do with a surprising amount of background noise.

When did you start blogging and why?

I had to go to my blog to find out! I started in September 2012. Initially it was in order to keep all the reviews of my favourite books in one place, for my own information, really. At that time I wasn’t on Facebook so I only shared with the Goodreads group I belonged to. As time has passed I’ve realised that we bloggers can help in getting people’s books known to a wider audience, but even if I never told a soul what I’d read, I would keep the blog going. As you know, though, when you’ve read a book you loved, you want to tell people. It’s why we join book groups. The ignitebooks blog is where I put reviews for the books I’ve given five stars. I’m an enthusiast and I probably give more five star reviews than many but my main criterion is whether I enjoyed the book. That’s what it’s all about.

What are your proudest moments to date as a blogger?

I think when author or publisher take a phrase from your blog and uses it in their publicity it’s something to be proud of. It means they know you ‘get’ their work. But really, reviews are for fellow readers, so all those times you park a review in a book group or forum and someone says your review made them look at or buy the book, these are the little moments of pride that make you smile.

If you had to break down the components of your ideal perfect book what would they be?

I like characters I can believe in. I don’t want them goody-goodies or total villains but I like shades in between – like real people. I want a plot that makes me want to follow it. That’s complex enough to be interesting but not so complicated I lose the thread (and with it, the will to live!). I also really love a book which is different. Many thrillers seem to be almost clones of one another. The big twist which is sometimes too big a stretch to believe in. I like a different view of life. The best feeling is to sit back and say, ‘I’ve never read a book like that before’.

What’s your favourite genre to read?

I’ll have a go at most things but I probably read more crime/thriller books than anything else – probably because I belong to a couple of crime book groups and people keep recommending them! I’ve had a love affair with science fiction from being in my teens and I still enjoy that – even the sometimes dismal post-apocalyptic stuff. I read very little romance but if it’s really well written I’ll have a go. There are YA and LGBT books amongst my favourites too. I enjoy literary fiction, which is a name that can put people off but some of my favourite reads have been in that category. I also love books which defy being slotted into a single genre. Indie authors are great at this. They don’t have a publisher breathing down their necks and shoe-horning them into a single genre for sales purposes. As I said earlier, my Achilles heel is erotica. They say it’s okay to laugh in the bedroom as long as you don’t point, don’t they? Sorry – I pointed!

Can you please recommend 3 books that you would always recommend?

I had a really good think about this and although I could give you a list of three favourites, it would change regularly as new books come into my life. You can only tell if a book has stood the test of time if you can look back years later, so I thought I’d do that. I’d choose books which affected me deeply at the time but which I can still look back on and remember, even recall the emotions they left me with.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart – because I loved the legends of King Arthur and this covers the early years of his adviser and ‘magician’ Merlin. It deals with an outcast child and a secret education which led him to greatness. My mum thought I was ill when I read this as I was quiet for a whole week.

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault – because it deals with the last years of a powerful man, Alexander the Great, through the eyes of one of his lovers, the eunuch, Bagoas. The genuine love and friendship it expresses really touched me.

Winged Pharaoh by Joan Grant – because the ending made me cry. That’s rare – I’m a hard nut! Sekeeta, the winged pharaoh, by the training of her extra-sensory gifts, had far sight and recall of past lives. It gives a real sense of ancient Egypt’s life, laws and beliefs and I found it totally gripping. These books still stand out in my memory. I wonder how many of those I read these days will last in my head so long?

Finally, tell me more about your blog and why we should subscribe.

It’s and it’s so called because I started reviewing not long after getting my first kindle. Ignite means kindle so I picked that name. I got a bit sick of having to explain it – it seemed a good idea at the time! Anyway, I review as Ignite so I stuck with it, and I give the reader the and the .com links to the book as well as my review.

It’s a collection of all my five star reads over the years. I know a few people who go to it when trying to choose a new book to read. Whether that works for you will depend on how similar our taste is, of course, but you soon find, as a reader, which reviewers tend to agree with you and stick to their recommendations. It’s a great way to share your love of a good book.

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