I first dipped my toe into the world of bookblogging back in September 2008. I started off on Blogspot as Gaskella, relocating to WordPress some years later, and then moving to my own domain. This blog was rechristened as Annabel’s House of Books in December 2012, and subsequently AnnaBookBel when I wasn’t able to use an apostrophe in my new template’s header font! I started blogging because I wanted to share my thoughts on books with like-minded people.
My Latin Motto: Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book. (My attempts at schoolgirl Latin were honed to perfection with the help of Dr Ridd, a classics teacher at Abingdon School, now retired.)
Contact Me: firstname.lastname@example.org Note: My name is ANNABEL, not Anna
A Bit About Me: That’s me up above, aged around 3. Like the rest of my family, I was an early and voracious reader and have never lost the habit, becoming a compulsive book-acquirer too. A child of the ’60s and ’70s, I hail from the Surrey/Croydon borders and studied Materials Science at university. I worked as a proper scientist in the chemical industry for years, before my biological clock finally went ping. I took several years off work after having my daughter, and went back as a lab technician/H&S Officer in an Oxfordshire prep school. I’m a staunch supporter of literary events in Abingdon, and in the past hosted five literary quiz nights for charity in the town with our local indie bookshop.
In April 2014, together with three other blogging friends, Victoria, Harriet and Simon, we launched Shiny New Books, an online quarterly book recommendation magazine featuring a host of varied book reviews written by many excellent book bloggers and writer friends, plus features and exclusive author articles. I remain owner of Shiny and co-edit with Harriet.
What I Read (or don’t):
- Nearly anything and everything – I try not to be snobby about ‘literature’, so I read from the latest bestsellers to classic novels equally, although I do err on the side of what I call ‘Contemporary Fiction’ and I try to include as many translated novels as I can.
- I read widely from genres too – SF, Crime, Spec fiction plus a bit of historical, and fantasy, and an occasional western or the like. I’m a poetry convert too. Thrillers are probably my comfort reads, especially spy ones.
- I love non-fiction (especially medical, popular science, books about books and rock’n’ roll/movie biographies).
- Although I don’t read many these days, I love children’s classics, ancient and modern, and I am a fan of the best of YA fiction as represented by authors like Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick which are just as good for adults.
- What I don’t read: Saga, and very little romance or commercial women’s fiction.
My review and blogging guidelines:
Dear Publishers, I do love receiving books but I can’t make any cast iron promises to read or review any unsolicited books sent. Those I agree to take a copy of, I will make every attempt to read and review as soon as I can, but again no promises. I read a very wide range of books, so please do feel free to contact me before sending.
- Formats: I do not read e-books – I find reading on a screen a strain. I thus only read print copies. Thank you.
- Self-Publishers: Sorry, I do not review self-published books.
- Book Tours: I am very choosy about book tours, but if I commit, I’ll be there on the day!
- Series: If there is an overall story arc behind a series, I prefer to start from book one, unless books can standalone. Don’t offer me part 3 unless I’ve read 1 & 2.
Credentials: I stopped studying English language after O-Level (GCSE), and didn’t take an exam in English literature at all – my school believed that the then over-analysis of language in set texts turned too many off reading. If I’d not taken sciences at A-Level, I would have continued with English – and always liked the idea of being a journalist. Although I’ve always written reports and articles for newsletters etc, since starting my blog I have found that taking the time to think about what I’m reading has improved my self-taught critical faculties; I try to explain why I like, or don’t like what I read – I hope you agree.
Pictures: – Like everyone else in the blogosphere I download covers etc, and occasionally other images – if you object to their use – do let me know and they’ll be removed pronto. I will credit images used where appropriate.
Affiliations: – I am affiliated to Amazon, Blackwell’s and the Book Depository, and will earn commission on sales made if you click through – in 10 years of blogging I’ve received £100 – so it’s not a moneymaker, just a nice occasional bonus!
Payment: I do not accept payment for reviewing. Likewise, I do not accept sponsored/paid guest posts from external organisations.
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Only ever a snapshot, but I find them useful…
(10/10) Truly exceptional with no niggles. A keeper, one to re-read.
(9/10) Also exceptional, a keeper too, but maybe a minor niggle stops it getting top marks.
(8/10) A super read – well-written; not necessarily a book I’d want to keep or re-read but one I’d definitely recommend to others.
(7/10) An enjoyable read, but not special for me. Maybe some reservations, but worth reading.
(6/10) Average, a fair read. OK but maybe derivative or bitty.
(5/10) or less. Below average. A book I really didn’t engage with, badly written, one I had major reservations about.
(DNF) Did not finish – often accompanied by comments as to why.