There is a symbiosis that exists between the world of blogging and the world of actual writing. There are many of us for whom blogging began as a way of honing writing skills, the next step on a path towards writing the book we’ve thought about writing for years. And there are many bloggers for whom writing a book has been a bi-product of writing a blog.
For some bloggers, the dream of publication has become a reality and I am far more excited for those people than I am for others I know who have added “author” too their Linked In profiles. Pride in a fellow online writer who has made the crossover is- for me- endless, not least if they are someone I have spent a long time chatting with on social media, or someone I came up through the blogging ranks with. It is an honour and a joy to support them.
This year it seems there is a bumper crops of Blogger Authors, and I have loved reading their books as I continue with the #52Books challenge. In fact, let me share with you 5 brilliant books written by bloggers:
Honestly I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this. The first chapter is pretty depressing- the kind that makes you hug your children tighter when you kiss them goodnight, and wonder how on earth someone survives something like that. Then the chapters started to roll by. I warmed to the characters- the policeman who clearly is passionate about his work, and the woman trying to rebuild her life tucked away in a holiday resort in Wales. And then, there was the plot twist. And suddenly I realised nothing was as it had seemed to this point and I started galloping through pages, trying to piece the circumstances together before the nail-biting, cliff-hanger conclusion. It was a total buzz. And the friend I immediately handed the book too as I closed it, the friend who stopped reading the book she was part-way through because I told her she had to read it now, today. She agrees.
Clare wrote a blog called More Than Just A Mother but has since graduated to a far loftier position writing for publications such as The Guardian and Cotswold Life. Check out her website for more information.
I read Rachael Lucas’s first book and loved it so when I knew that Coming Up Roses was, well, coming, I got very excited. I took to my bed with great joy the night I received my copy, praying my children would go straight to sleep and not mess around so that I could get on with the important work of reading. Because I knew I would love it from the moment it began. Even though I am a hopeless- or perhaps hapless- gardener. Rachael’s characters are soothing and passionate and frankly, you are certain before you are a chapter in, that they are your people. You are angry when they are let down and disappointed, and you celebrate their triumphs, victories and getting-one-overs with a whoop. The whole book is tied up neatly and just as it should be at the end and you just know that you will be reading it again soon when you tuck it on the shelf next to the Jilly Cooper books you reach for when you just need to read a book that you know well, that you love, that you imagine you inhabit.
I genuinely thought that this book would be more teen fiction when it began, set in teenage years of youth and hope and adulation of a Boy Band. I recognised my teenage self. I recognised my 20-something self in the pages that followed, though my 20-somethings happened well before Facebook became my right arm. The story of what happens when you get in touch with someone you used to have a huge crush on is such a great read because it plays so heavily on nostalgia. There are certainly one or two former “flames” (as us grannies like to say) that I *may* have periodically stalked on social media….I cannot imagine it ever turning out like this. This may be Stephie Chapman’s first book but it will not be her last. She had everything nailed: the characters, the plot, the back-and-forth, the heartbreak, the sex, and the rock and roll. It made me want to be 10-ish years younger.
There is no doubt that you will recognise one of the many many parenting anecdotes in this book and laugh the kind of laugh that stems from having actual experience of the events and just enough time between then and now to be able to laugh at it. Ericka’s story of loss and love and parenthood, the endless juggling of one-too-many balls, the last minute late-night crafting, the losing a grip on who you are and who you once were and your relationship with your other half, they all ring true. They make you smile but they also make you wonder how you would react in the same situation. No doubt a lot of Ericka’s personal experiences are behind this story which should make it bitter-sweet but it is written so well that the story is charming, funny, heart-warming rather than bitter or melodramatic. Another book that I will go back to and read again.
Ericka is Mum in the South.
A story of relationships and secrets and misunderstandings set in a glorious corner of France, this book is slower and gentler than some on this list. The descriptions of places, and characters gave everything a scenic quality reminiscent of Joanne Harris and I got to the end of the book desperate to see the Dordogne for myself. I loved the character of Isabelle, who you so desperately wanted to find what she was looking for amongst the vines at the heart of the story. A good old-fashioned romantic story with a big happy ending and every thread neatly tied up, it’s the perfect summer holiday read.
*Disclosure: I was sent copies of Coming Up Roses and Confessions of a Mother Inferior with no obligation to write about them. The others were purchased by me. They are nonetheless all excellent books.