I, personally, am older than one. Considerably so. But I am not bitter. With age comes wisdom (teeth), knowledge, bills, wrinkles and grey hair. But never mind all that. It’s all good. Anyway. Back to the reason for this post. Today, believe it or not, this little old blog of mine turns one. Yup. It really has only been that long. You’d be forgiven for thinking it had been much longer. My epic reviews tend to do that to a reader. But yes. This time last year I took what was, for me, the huge decision to give blogging a whirl. And boy what a journey it has taken me on.
Now (and this will likely meet with derision from my fellow bloggers) just over a year ago, I had no idea blogging was even a thing. I wasn’t really in any book groups on Facebook and those I was part of I didn’t really visit so the whole phenomenon that is book blogging had passed me by. Heck, eighteen months ago it hadn’t even struck me that I could follow authors on Twitter as I wasn’t really a big fan of social media and was only kind of half-heartedly following Stephen Fry and very little else. After I started following a few authors I caught wind of a little event called CrimeFest. I thought it sounded interesting – I had just gotten back into reading and crime/thriller novels were really my go to books – so I figured it might be worth giving it a go. I booked, I went, I didn’t so much conquer as whimper but that’s a story for another blog post (if you read the one from last week you can guess how it went).
Among the many great things I did discover at Crime Fest, one was the idea of book blogging. I was kind of aware of it from being on Netgalley although back then I was simply a ‘reader’. I’d half looked at having my own website for a completely different reason before but not gone through with it. When I looked into book blogging it appeared there was a huge world of bloggers out there, so I was quite daunted and figured it was probably too late to start one for myself. Then I saw a post by a new blogger, a certain wonder called Abbie over at Bloomin’ Brilliant Books. She had literally just started her own blog in the past couple of weeks and seeing this kind of inspired me to give it a go for myself. Maybe there was a little room for a few newbies after all. And so… Jen Med’s Book Reviews was born.
Who on earth could guess that we’d actually both end up posting a review for the same book as our very first posted review? I’m pretty sure Abbie’s was planned – mine was pure luck. I was just cutting and pasting some already written reviews from Goodreads in order to give me some content to start with. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed back then how utterly happy and proud I would be to call Abbie a friend all these months later or that, along with Rachel Gilbey, we’d be setting off on an epic quest to try and read a book set in every county of the UK. And what a fab time we are having too.
Now I never expected to do much with the blog other than having a place to record my reviews and perhaps share a little book love with the authors. If I got a few followers, well that would be cool, but it wasn’t my grand master plan. Obviously the more you get, the more love you can spread, but this really was just an online, very open journal for my reading journey. I had no idea about cover reveals and blog tours. I really was a very, very green blogger. I probably still am now to be fair, but hey. We all have to start somewhere.
I couldn’t have anticipated the simple pleasure I would get when gaining my first auto-approval statuses on NetGalley from Urbane and Bookouture, or the absolute, completely literal bouncing around the living room feeling of receiving my first book post in the shape of four very beautiful books from Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books. All I had done was share my love of the Ari Thór books by Ragnar Jónasson and In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings but Karen took a punt on a useless blogger and trusted me with reviewing her precious titles, something I am extremely proud to say has continued to this day.
How can you beat getting book post like that? Well… I’ve got to admit to having a certain smug feeling the first time I got quoted on an Amazon page – that was pretty awesome. But not as awesome as being quoted in a book! Like an actual book. With pages! Me? Ragnar Jónasson’s Rupture in case you want to check it out for yourselves – just sayin’.
And just before Christmas I got to meet a couple of my favourite authors, Tom Bale and Angie Marsons, as well as having the opportunity to meet my other all stars, John Connolly, James Oswald and Stuart MacBride at book signings throughout the past year, something I know I wouldn’t have had the courage to do if I wasn’t blogging. I say courage but I still felt like an absolute geekish ding dong and totally embarrassed when saying hello like I had no place being there. Ooh, and there was waking up one morning to an email from Rachel Amphlett asking if I’d be on a blog tour for her. Me? As a fan of her Dan Taylor series it was a total whoop whoop moment for me. And I also met some of the wonderful Orenda authors at the Orenda Roadshows which were absolutely epic. Love it. Although I’m not sure if Thomas Enger now thinks I am a stalker. (When asked by Karen if we had been introduced he responded lots of times… I am hoping it was a lost in translation thing and that he just meant we had met before as although he seems like a lovely chappie and probably worthy of stalking, I am mostly sane and rational and not capable/possessed of stalker tendencies so he really doesn’t need to worry.)
There are so many brilliant and wonderful things that I am grateful for from having started blogging. But the one thing which I most grateful for, that I would miss most of all if I were to walk away now, is the tremendous support provided by everyone in the bookish community, especially that of my fellow bloggers, never so evident as it has been since Thursday. You are a special breed of people. So wonderfully dedicated to helping each other and celebrating everything bookish and all for the love of the books. I am proud to call many of you friends and have loved the opportunity of get to know you over the past twelve months. This journey wouldn’t have been the same without you, you fabulous lot. So many times when it would be easier to walk away but then we’ve all been there at some stage or another. I love the books, I love sharing the book love, but I love the interaction between us all too. It makes this blogging malarkey a real pleasure.
Hark at me getting all soft and fluffy like! Don’t worry – normal service is about to resume. I was trying to think of a fitting way to celebrate my first birthday but I’m not much of a party animal so drinking the night away is out. That and I have to work today (boo hiss). So, because I am nice (apparently – at least according to Angie Marsons) I have decided to run a little giveaway. I have a couple of books I collected over the past few months, plus another couple of trinkets, an Amazon Voucher and some chocolate that could all be yours simply by entering this giveaway.
Who knows what the future will bring but right now I am loving the blogging life, have just attended my second Crime Fest and am all set to attend Harrogate for the first time and Bloody Scotland for the second. I’m dragging my sister along for the ride and she’s loving it too. Here’s to a second year of blogging. Hope you’ll stay on the journey with me and good luck in the competition guys. You have until the 31st May to enter.
Happy reading – happy blogger.