The Sunshine Book Blogger Award

To say I was rather chuffed to have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award would be something of an understatement!  So, before I go on, I’d like to thank my agent, my fans, my acupuncturist, my gardener … just kidding! 

But I would like to thank the very lovely Kerri McBook Nerd for nominating my blog.  Kerri is a well established blogger – if you don’t follow her blog, now’s your chance to acquaint yourself – whose reviews and articles I hugely enjoy reading, and freely admit to taking inspiration from.

The Sunshine Blogger Award was created to boost those in the community who are “creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.” As a blogging newbie I’ve been overwhelmed by the warm welcome, and unfailing support I’ve received from this lovely community, and this award feels like the perfect recognition for every blog I follow … which makes rule #3 rather tricky for me! 

the rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog (Thank you, Kerri)
  2. Answer the eleven questions prompted by the person who nominated you
  3. Nominate eleven new bloggers to receive the award and write them eleven new questions
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog

my replies to Kerri’s questions

Q1. What was your favourite and least favourite book of 2020?


Gaarrrrghh!  Pulling out the biggest question first!  I’ve read so many brilliant books this year (which is why it’s taking me a long time to pull together my ‘5* reads of 2020’ blog article).  But I clearly have to give an answer so my favourite would be …

Fields of Grace by Wendy Waters
Fields of Grace by Wendy Waters

It is very emotionally involving, with a cast of characters so vivid and alive they felt like good friends within the first few chapters.  I adore Wendy’s lyrical style of writing; she’s a musician and this delightful talent flows lusciously into her prose.  If you’ve not read this book, I hugely recommend it … you’re in for a treat. If you want to find out more about Fields of Grace, this link will whizz you over to my review.

It’s difficult for me to choose my least favourite book of the year as I have an unassailable respect for authors, and how much of themselves they invest in their writing.  However, I did read one book that had brilliant review soundbites printed on the cover … and which I was really looking forward to … but just failed to live up to the hype.  This book was The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook.  It had so much promise and so much potential, but it felt rushed, and lacked the magic that could truly draw its readers in. Here’s a link to my review, for those readers who want to find out more.

Q2. If you could only read one series/book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Phew, this is an easier one for me.  I am obsessed with the Chocolat series by Joanne Harris.  It’s an entirely emotive decision – my late Mum introduced me to the first book in the series, and we used to enjoy watching the film together too. 

Joanne Harris Chocolat book series

When a friend told me a second book – The Lollipop Shoes – had been published I bought two copies straight away so Mum and I could step back in to Vianne Rocher’s enchanting world together. 

By the time the third book – Peaches for Monsieur le Curé – was published, Mum’s health had declined through multiple sclerosis and it had affected her vision too much to be able to read anymore.  Could anything be more cruel for a book lover?!  So, we read it together … or, more accurately, I sat and read it to her a few chapters at a time, every time I visited.  They were heart breaking and heart warming times, but as I owe my love of reading to my Mum’s (and Dad’s) own book love – and hours of bedtime stories throughout my childhood – reading a book for my Mum’s enjoyment was the very least I could do. 

The fourth book – The Strawberry Thief – is the first of the series that I’ve read alone, but it felt more of a comfort than a lonely experience.  My review of this book can be found by clicking here.

Q3. You have to choose one genre that will disappear overnight. What do you choose?

Erotica!  I’m no prude – at least, I don’t think I am … people always tell me I’m unshockable, and god knows they do try! … but on the two occasions I’ve read books that fall into this genre I found them cringy.  Even the author sounded uncomfortable writing some of the scenes.  The stories lacked any real depth, there were no unexpected twists, and the language was devoid of any real talent.  Ouch! Scathing!  Both were DNFs.

Q4. What is your favourite and least favourite trope in books?

Hmmmm, I find the ‘tortured, dysfunctional detective a rather over-used cliché, but contrarily I generally love crime-thrillers when I know I’ll bump into these tortured souls. So I suppose it’s not really a ‘least favourite’ … but it is rather over used. Having said that, Rachael Blok’s books featuring DCI Maarten Jansen, and Rachel Abbott’s series featuring DCI Tom Douglas both make a refreshing break away from this cliché.

My favourite, is the appearance of real life characters in historical fiction books.  The inclusion of people who’ve really walked the earth within a book adds a certain something for me.  I’ve enjoyed lots of books like this recently:

The Parisians by Marius Gabriel
The Parisians by Marius Gabriel.
Click to read my 5* review
Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan
Sashenka (Moscow trilogy #1) by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Sashenka (Moscow trilogy #1) by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Q5. What is your favourite movie that no one really talks about?

The Goonies!  I love it, even though it’s dated and not at all grown up, or intellectual, or deep and meaningful.  I love its purely unapologetic escapist fun-ness.  My husband had never seen it until a couple of years ago when I gaffer-taped him to the sofa and forced him to watch it.  He still thinks I’m barking.  But I read somewhere once that it’s a cult classic, and that’s validation enough for me!

Q6. What book are you most excited to read in 2021?

How long have you got? I only started book blogging in march this year, and already I’ve given up any pretence of herding my TBR, NetGalley shelf, and Amazon wishlists into anything resembling manageable.  

But, here’s a snapshot of just some of the books my hands are itching to seize and sink into next year:

Our Woman in Moscow – Beatriz Williams
Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Lamplighters – Emma Stonex
One Night, New York – Lara Thompson
The Girls Are All So Nice Here – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
The Last Green Valley – Mark Sullivan
Into The Fire – Rachael Blok
Daughters of Night – Laura Shepherd-Robson
Palace of The Drowned – Christine Mangan
The Summer Job – Lizzy Dent
My Brother – Karin Smirnoff
The Jigsaw Man – Nadine Matheson
Space Hopper – Helen Fisher
Captain Jesus – Colette Snowden

Q7. You’ve fallen into a book! Who do you think you would be: the protagonist, the villain, or the plucky sidekick?

I’m more of a plucky sidekick kind of gal.  Watson to Holmes; the background nerd who gets her kicks from behind the scenes, avoiding centre stage like cats avoid water!

Q8.What is your favourite book that is outside of your favourite genre?

On the whole, I’m not a fan of biographies/memoirs … but last month I read Red Notice by Bill Browder and I was absolutely riveted! Ever since I read The Bronze Horseman I’ve been fascinated by Russia – its cultures, its history, its politics, and its (impossible to ignore) high-level corruption. So, what Bill Browder’s book popped up in my recommendations I couldn’t order it fast enough. Whilst I rushed to buy it, however, I took my time reading it. Red Notice is a truly astounding book … astounding for the story it has to tell. This is the epitome of ‘political thriller’, but what makes it so compelling is that this is not a work of fiction. 

Red Notice by Bill Browder
Red Notice by Bill Browder

The story of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder by the Russian regime is recounted with chilling clarity. It’s a story that deserves to be read, and to be shared far and wide. Not least because this outrage didn’t take place under a Stalinist regime … this took place under the close and guiding hand of Vladimir Putin in 2009, and was followed by a decade of human rights, procedural and legal abuses against the groundswell of protestors. 

Red Notice is a well-written, unquestionably brave book. It took me two months to read because it’s so packed with facts and references that I’d often find myself absorbed in my own extra-curricular reading on the internet, eager to learn as much as I possibly could about this outrageous case. I applaud Bill Browder for his remarkable, relentless pursuit of justice for Sergei, and his courage in the face of tremendous and sustained Russian interference.

I whole heartedly recommend this book. It will pique the interest of non-fiction fans as much as it will for fans of political thriller novels. It packs an immense punch, and its power lies in its unrelenting truth.

Q9. Pick your poison: coffee, tea, or hot cocoa?

Tea! 

However, show me a flake of snow or a sparkle of frost and I’ll seize the excuse for a really good quality hot chocolate (no whipped cream – the devil’s work – and no marshmallows).

Q10. Are you planning on participating in any year long reading challenges in 2021? If so, what are they?

Oooh, well there ’s only one I know about – the GoodReads challenge. But to be honest that one is enough for me.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own reading style and preferences since I started blogging in March, it’s that I need to remember I started this for my love of reading (primarily) and my love of writing (secondary).  I’ve gone a bit OTT with all the lovely bookish resources out there and at times this year the blogging has taken the fun out of reading – I’ve even found myself ‘guiltily’ reading a couple of books ‘off grid’ with no intention of blogging about them  …. just a purely self indulgent treat to myself.  I’ll definitely be a lot braver with my target next year, setting the bar higher for the number of books I want to read … but just the one challenge is more than enough for me.

Q11. Once we’re able to travel safely again, where would you travel to first if money were no issue?

The Caribbean.  I’m thinking Bahamas – I’ve even been languidly browsing the websites of the island’s finest hotels and selecting my suite, spa treatments, restaurants, rum-based cocktails, menu choices etc etc. I’ll just casually waft this vision before your eyes …

The Ocean Club Hotel. Image courtesy of agoda.com

Failing that, I’d be perfectly happy in a remote cabin in Scotland – just a change of scene, lots of good books, and lots of places to sit and read.  

my nominees

Becca @ BeccaKateBlogs
Ellie @ Elspells
Jen @ JenRoseWrites
Jackie @ JackiesReadingCorner
Mairead @ SwirlAndThread
Stephen @ StephenWrites
Shalini @ ShalinisBooks&Reviews
Kate @ FeatheredTurtlePress
Emma @ NeverJudgeABookByItsCover
Zoe @ ZoesBookNook
Kate @ TheQuickAndTheRead

And anybody else who wants to participate in this fun award … spread the blogging love far and wide!

my questions

  1. What – or who – has got you through this tumultuous year?
  2. What’s your favourite childhood book?
  3. If you were an author what would your debut book be?
  4. You have to build a desert island playlist … which songs would you include?
  5. What’s your worst bookish habit?
  6. You’re accidentally locked in your favourite bookshop overnight – which bookshop is it, and how would you spend your time in there?
  7. When was the last time you gave an ‘act of kindness’: what was it, and how did it make you feel?
  8. Which book are you most looking forward to reading in 2021?
  9. What three books do you believe need to be added to the school curriculum, and why?
  10. How will you be spending Christmas?
  11. Looking back to your very first blog post, what advice would you give to yourself back then, knowing what you know now?

10 thoughts on “The Sunshine Book Blogger Award

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