Monday, 22 December 2014

A Blogger's Year of Bookish Events

When I started Random Things it was a place for me to share my reviews of books that I've read and enjoyed. I had been submitting reviews to Amazon, Waterstone's and Goodreads for a few years and blogging seemed to be taking off in a big way so I thought I'd have a go at it.

It's been such fun, I really love talking about books and being part of the blogging world. It's still purely a hobby, for my pleasure, and I enjoy every minute of it. I know that some bloggers begin to feel bogged down by how many books they receive, and feel tied to deadlines. I've never felt like that. Yes, I do get far more books through the letterbox than I'll ever be able to review, but if I promise a publisher or author that I'll review their book, I do. If someone chooses to send a book to me without checking first, well that's their gamble - if I can, I will review, if I don't have time, then it will go on the ever-increasing 'to be reviewed when I have the time' pile.

What I never expected, and what has been the most exciting part of being a blogger has been the invitations to bookish events. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be meeting the authors that I idolise, or frequenting such places as The Ivy! Never in a million years!

2014 has been a year of wonderful bookish events. Living in Lincolnshire can make it very difficult to attend launches and parties, as most of them are in London, and the journey is quite long and fairly expensive. I was sorry to have to decline some really exciting invitations this year, but I did get to some fabulous events over the past twelve months.

January; the year began with the Pan MacMillan Women's Fiction Party and launch of The Window
Seat. This was held at Paramount Bar, Centre Point, New Oxford Street and this was the second year that I was invited to attend this party.
We had a fabulous evening thirty-two floors above London, and it was a chance to meet up with my great friends Nina, Jenny and Rebecca. I chatted to lots of authors including Lucy Diamond, Naomi Wood and Rebecca Wait.

February:  February brought two amazing invitations, and also a battle against the striking Tube drivers. I was delighted to be invited to the  launch of Rowan Coleman's The Memory Book being held at The Parlour Bar, Jewel Piccadilly. Despite the Tube strike, I was determined to get there and Rowan tweeted encouragement throughout the day. I did make it, and it was a wonderful night. I was so pleased to meet Rowan at last, along with lots of other of my favourite authors and some new book blogger friends too. Getting home was another story, but I am grateful to the doorman of The Ritz who flagged down a black cab for me (it's a long story!)

Later on in February I found myself at The Ivy, yes The Ivy! I was honoured to be the guest of Cathy Rentzenbrink who is Associate Editor of The Bookseller  at the launch of The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, hosted by Penguin.  I was the only blogger at the party, and it was top secret, I had to keep it secret until after the event. I was in the same room as some of my all time favourite authors; Victoria Hislop, Jojo Moyes and Jenny Colgan. The Ivy is a fabulous venue, the champagne flowed and the canapes were delicious. I really didn't want to leave!

March: Up North this time, just a short train journey to York. My friend Anne who blogs at Being Anne asked if I'd like to join her at the Literary Lunch with Rowan Coleman, part of the York Literature Festival. A three-course lunch at the lovely Dean Court Hotel, another chance to meet Rowan Coleman, a day out with a great friend and a day off work? How could I resist?  We had a great afternoon with delicious food, a funny and warm talk from Rowan and a huge hug too. The perfect day! 

April:  Spring had sprung and I found myself in London again. This time at Penguin's very impressive head office at Strand. Again, with my friend Anne and this time we were joined by our friend Karen who blogs at My Reading Corner. We had been invited to the launch party of One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. All three of us have quotes from our reviews printed in the paperback edition, and we all felt very honoured by this. It was fabulous to meet Tina at long last, she had successfully self-published her novel before getting a deal with Penguin. 

May:  In May I finally got to meet the team from Cutting Edge Press when I attended the launch party for The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings.  I've been a fan and a supporter of Cutting Edge for some time now, they publish some wonderful books that have been a real joy to read. It was fabulous to meet them at at long last. Amanda was a great host too, welcoming and bubbly and very thankful for all the support that she's had. 

June:  Summer was upon us and I was absolutely thrilled to receive another invitation from Cutting Edge Press.  This time it was the launch party for Who Are You? by Lizzie Forbes. I'd been lucky enough to receive a pre-proof, pre-publication copy of Who Are You? and read it long before most people even knew about it, and it's a stunner. 
A taut psychological thriller that sends shivers down the spine. This party was held at the incredibly posh Cavalry & Guards Club in Piccadilly, so swish! I met up with my good friend Nina again, and we were joined by Leah who blogs at Reflections of a Reader and Karen from My Reading Corner. It was a wonderful evening, I met so many people and at long last, I finally met Lizzie herself. She's adorable. I was honoured and thrilled to find that the finished book has a quote from my review on the BACK COVER!  

Also in June, I was really happy to hear that Lucy Diamond would be at Waterstone's in Doncaster as part of a promotional tour for her book One Night In Italy.  I really enjoyed the book and as Doncaster is just 25 minutes away, I thought it would be lovely to go along and support her. I met Lucy earlier in the year at the Pan Macmillan party, and I follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 

July:  Yet again, I found myself in London in July. Myself and Anne from Being Anne were invited to the launch party for Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen. The party was held at Lutyens & Rubenstein bookshop in Notting Hill on a beautiful summer's day. The shop was beautifully decorated and was jam packed with lots of our favourite authors. I was delighted to meet Julie Cohen and to listen to her read from her fabulous novel. Everyone had such a great evening, there was lots of laughter and lots of wine.

A little nearer to home for my two final bookish events of the year. In July, I went along to an event organised by a new independent bookshop in Lincoln. Lindum Books only opened this year, but already it has become one of my favourite shops in the City. I was excited to learn that they were
hosting an event with Pan MacMillan, and that Jessie Burton would be coming to Lincoln to talk about her hugely successful book The Miniaturist.
The event took place at The Collection in Lincoln on another beautiful summer's evening. Jessie's talk was fascinating, she's very personable, very funny and has great talent. I was delighted to meet her after the event and thrilled that she recognised me and thanked me for my review.

And finally, my last bookish event of the year was another local event. I went to listen to Lincolnshire author Rebecca Mascull talk about her novel The Visitors. This event was hosted by Waterstone's and took place in their Lincoln High Street store. When I read The Visitors I hadn't realised that the author was local, she comes from Grimsby - which is officially classed as North Lincolnshire. It was really interesting to listen to Rebecca talk about how she had got the idea for her novel, and I was also really pleased to see so many young adult readers at the event. I got a chance to chat to Rebecca and her beautiful little daughter too.

It's been a full and exciting year of wonderful bookish events. I've met so many authors, publishers, agents and bloggers over the past twelve months. I really love being part of the blogging community, it's great to feel part of this book-loving community, and wonderful to think that we ordinary readers can help our favourite authors to get their books noticed.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who included me in their events in 2014, and apologies to those that I had to decline.

Here's to 2015, and hoping that it is another fabulous book year, filled with parties and fun and laughter.

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  1. Wow, you have had a fabulously exciting year! Have we only bumped into each other once? Also can't believe it's been a year since the Window Seat launch.

  2. I know, I could hardly believe that it was a year ago either. Finger crossed that there is another one in 2015!
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Really lovely post Anne - some lovely memories for me too, and I feel as honoured as you to have been invited to some such lovely events. Above all, your friendship and company was something to treasure. Have a wonderful Christmas, and I'm looking forward to 2015 already xx

  4. My year was all the better for sharing it with you Anne. We had fun! Here's to next year. Have a fabulous Christmas - see you soon x

  5. Lovely post Anne - happy blogging in 2015...

  6. These guys are extremely affordable, and their food was so delicious. My guests could not stop talking about it! The event planning staff is so on top of everything.

  7. Wonderful Anne <3 I just love reading all of the events, more so when people I know have gotten to go. I am hoping to get to some after my studies are finished and hope one day, we can have another Birmingham type meet up <3


  8. Lovely booky year for you. Well done!