Blogging

The Blogging from A-Z Challenge – 2021 Edition

We’re two weeks away from April (what is time etc) and that means the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge is just around the corner. The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April except Sundays. Not including Sundays, there are twenty-six days in April which matches with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. That means on 1st April you write something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

This will be the eighth year in a row I’ve taken part in this challenge and I hope to complete it once again. It’s become almost a tradition for me to do this challenge and I hope I continue to have ideas for it as the years go by – or maybe rehash old ones as I’m doing this year. I suppose I’d like to do it a nice round ten times, but we will see what happens.

This year my theme for the challenge is favourite characters. So, each day will be a gushing post about a character I love whose first or last name begins with that letter. In previous A-Z Challenges I’ve written about my favourite characters – in 2020 I wrote about my favourite characters from the MCU, in 2017 the theme was a general “My Favourite Things” which included a few characters, and way back in 2016 it was all about my favourite characters. As it’s been five years since then, I’ve watched more films and TV shows and read more books so there’s more characters I like a lot and can easily write about. Plus, I’m taking part in a challenge on Twitter where I’m sharing a character I love each day, so that’s inspired me a bit for this challenge too – that could give you some spoilers for who might appear in this blog in April. It will be twenty-six new characters who I haven’t mentioned in previous A-Z Challenges.

This is where I’d normally say “There will still be film reviews on Mondays and book reviews on Thursdays” but as I haven’t been watching a lot of films recently (just the X-Men movies) or reading a lot or writing many reviews, there might still be film and book reviews in April but I’m not going to promise anything. There will be my X-Men reviews every Saturday though as they’re all written and scheduled.

I haven’t actually got any of my A-Z posts written or scheduled yet so that’s going to be my plan for the weekend. I don’t think they’ll take me long as it’s always easy to write about something I love so it’ll be good to gets some scheduled before April arrives. It will make things less stressful and give me more time to visit other blogs.

There’s still time to sign up for the A to Z in April Challenge. I do recommend it; it definitely makes you stretch yourself to think of something for every letter and it encourages you to be organised – something I’m always trying to be better at when it comes to my blog.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: If you could go trick-or-treating with your favourite book character, who would it be?

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: If you could go trick-or-treating with your favourite book character, who would it be?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a proper favourite character from a book, but I think I’ve got two picks for this. The first would be Izzy from The Exact Opposite of Okay. I think she’d be great fun to go trick-or-treating with, she’d be full of jokes and would probably make an inventive costume. My second pick would be Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastards series. He’d be very good at the trick part of trick-or-treating.

Who would you want to go trick-or-treating with if you could?

It’s Blogtober!

Thought it’d be a good idea to do a little announcement about the fact I’m attempting Blogtober this year – plus, I can then use this post as today’s entry to Blogtober. I took part in and completed Blogtober a few years ago in 2017 but not done it since, though for the past few years I have been doing Blogmas instead.

So what can you expect here during the month of October/Blogtober? There will still be my weekly book reviews on Thursdays and film reviews on Mondays but there will be extra film reviews at the weekends. I plan to watch and review some spooky/horror films and share them every Saturday and Sunday this month. I’m quite the wuss when it comes to horror films so some of these are more on the creepy/happen to include witches rather than being super scary. When it comes to horror I don’t think I mind zombie or vampire films, though they wouldn’t be my first choice when choosing a film to watch, it’s more the super gory, slasher films that I don’t like and I’m also not a fan of the ghosts/paranormal type horror. Maybe it’s because that I know zombies and vampires are not real, and while I don’t exactly believe in ghosts, there’s still the unknown when it comes to death and what (if anything) comes next.

Here’s some of the horror films that I own physical copies of or are currently on my Netflix watchlist, so expect some of these films to make appearances over the next few weeks.

There might be extra film reviews in the shape of London Film Festival too. I have press accreditation for the first time this year and as the majority of the festival is online due to current world events, I should be able to fit a lot of films in around my day job.

Besides the planned film and book reviews, that leaves me thirteen days to find posts for. I’m going to fully embrace features like Top Ten Tuesday and Book Blogger Hop to fill in the gaps, and a few other features that I haven’t taken part in in years and want to bring back to my blog and get in the habit of taking part in. there’s probably going to be a few tags too – some autumnal themed ones obviously. This month there will be a whole mix of stuff on my blog so I hope it doesn’t get overwhelming – for you or for me!

I’m attempting to get as many posts written and scheduled in advance – as I’m scheduling this at the end of September I have 12 blog posts already scheduled which I’m happy with. In October I’ll have work, LFF and (hopefully) will be going to Spain to see my sister and go through my dad’s things so that’s why I want to get as much prepped as possible. I think I will manage to post every day this month, I’ve been successful with previous Blogtober’s, Blogmas’ and April A-Z Challenge’s and once I make a decision about something like this I get myself organised and make it work.

So, to sum up this needlessly rambly post – I’m attempting Blogtober and I hope you enjoy the extra stuff I’m creating this month. Good luck to you if you’re also attempting Blogtober, I’m sure you’ll smash it!

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020 Masterpost

Another A-Z Challenge successfully completed. This year it was all about watching some of the many DVDs that were sat on my shelves and this challenge got me watching and reviewing twenty of them.

Sign Up Post
A –The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
B – Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
C – Carlito’s Way (1993)
D – The Dead Pool (1988)
E – The Edukators (2004)
F – Family Plot (1976)
G – Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
H – House of D (2004)
I – Imagine Me & You (2005)
J – Jarhead (2005)
K – K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
L – Let the Right One In (2008)
M – Monster (2003)
N – National Treasure (2004)
O – Outlander (2008)
P – Playing It Cool (2014)
Q – The Quake (2018)
R – Ray (2004)
S – Sudden Impact (1983)
T – Troy (2004)
U – Unforgiven (1992)
V – Vertigo (1958)
W – West Side Story (1961)
X – XXY (2007)
Y – You Again (2010)
Z – Zookeeper (2011)
Reflections Post

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2020 Edition

Another April gone by, and what an interesting April that was!

I’m thankful I was so well organised this year and had over half of my posts already written and scheduled before April began, because the end of March and April itself was tough. Three of my close family died in March (non COVID-19 related but I don’t know if that’s better or worse) and then there was living life under lockdown. It was good to have this challenge to focus on though and have some structure in an ultimately very confusing time.

I’m very pleased I completed the challenge for a number of reasons. It’s my senventh year of taking part in this challenge and I do like how it’s become a “thing” for me and my blog. I’m happy it made me cut down my unwatched film list by twenty. My updated list of films I own but haven’t watched is on Letterboxd and I’m always looking for recommendations. The six films I reviewed that weren’t part of that list were ones I found on Netflix or similar.

The month started on a high with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which I gave four stars but it ended on a low with Zookeeper which I do not recommend and gave one star. The films I most enjoyed watching a writing about were The Quake, Imagine Me & You and West Side Story. Though I have to say it was hard to review so many films in such a relatively short space of time – my brain’s not made to work that way.

My stats for April this year weren’t as good as last year but were better than the 2018 edition, so I’ll take that. The most popular A-Z posts were my reviews of Let the Right One In, National Treasure and K-19: The Widowmaker. Previous years A-Z posts also got a lot of hits including the posts I wrote about for Bucky Barnes and Happy Hogan last year, and Hermione Granger and Kingsley Shacklebolt that I wrote for the 2017 edition of the challenge.

Because of the aforementioned personal and wider world issues going on, I visited very few blogs which is a shame. I mostly did a good job at keeping up with replying to comments and I should have hopefully got to everyone by the time this post goes live.

Every year in my reflections post I ponder whether or not I’ll take part in the challenge next year, and this year’s no different! But I think as long as I have an idea well ahead of time that I can write and schedule posts for, then I think I will. I think it’d be nice to at least do this challenge for ten years in a row – only three more to go!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my A-Z posts this month. This blog will go back to a roughly equal amount of posts and books and films now. I hope all of you who took part had a successful A-Z in April, and sorry I didn’t get to your blog. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.

The Blogging from A-Z Challenge – 2020 Edition

It’s nearly April so that can only mean one thing – the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge! The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April except Sundays. Not including Sundays, there are twenty-six days which matches with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. That means on 1st April you write something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

This will be the seventh year in a row I’ve taken part in this challenge and I hope to complete it once again. It’s become almost a tradition to do this challenge and I hope I continue to have ideas for it as the years go by.

This year all my twenty-six posts will be film reviews. More specifically reviews of some of the eighty plus films I have unwatched on DVD and Blu-ray. You can have a sneak peek at what some of the films might be by checking out what’s on this Letterboxd list. I’ve had some of these films for so long, some probably for over five years, so this is just the push I need to finally watch them. For the letters where I don’t have a film on DVD or Blu-ray that begins with that letter, I shall turn to the likes of Netflix to find a film.

In April I will still be posting my weekly book reviews as usual. I’m not sure if there will be “bonus” film reviews that are more modern releases/films I’ve watched that aren’t for this challenge, it’ll depend how I feel and how I keep up with the posts/reviews.

Because watching films and then reviewing them takes more time than the average post I’ve done for this challenge previously (especially as some of my unwatched films are really long!) I’ve been somewhat organised and have already scheduled thirteen posts (which is half of them!) and plan to have more scheduled before April arrives. Unfortunately, those thirteen aren’t the first thirteen days of April because I’m someone who has to be in the mood for potentially more serious or heavier films and I just don’t make things easy for myself.

Hopefully having so many posts scheduled already means I won’t be rushing to get the next post out and that I will be more active in visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs during the challenge.

There’s still time to sign up for the A to Z in April Challenge. I do recommend it; it definitely makes you stretch yourself to think of something for every letter and it encourages you to be organised – something I’m always trying to be better at when it comes to my blog.

My Blogging Resolutions

I’m attempting to take part and complete Blogmas again this year. I know the posts during Blogmas are supposed to be Christmas/Holiday related, and mine will have some of those (there’s going to be Christmas film reviews every weekend till Christmas!) but I also take it as a challenge to write and post about anything for 25 days.

So today is going to be about my blogging New Years resolutions. I’ll talk about my film and book-related goals of 2020 in early January, but I thought now was a good idea to talk about my blog, what I like about it, and what I want to improve.

My main blogging resolution is to be better at commenting – both replying to comments I receive and seeking out and commenting on different posts. It can take me weeks and sometimes even months(!) to reply to the comments people leave on my blog and I’m so sorry about that. Sometimes I’m just forgetful. I see the notification and read the comment then think “Oh that’s a lovely thought/question, I must reply to that when I’m not doing X” but then I forget. Then sometimes I leave it so long to reply to a comment it becomes a whole thing like should I actually reply when the person left the comment like a month ago or would that be weird?!

In the end I do reply, or like the comment, because I think every comment deserves a response because someone’s taken the time to leave their thoughts on my post. So, here is where I say sorry to my readers and commenters who I leave hanging for far too long. I will aim to do much better in 2020 and I’m going to set the goal of replying to comments within a week of receiving them. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I shan’t lie, I’m really bad at the community aspect of blogging. I started my blog for me, to get writing again and to share my thoughts on stuff. I’ve never been great at reading other peoples posts about things. I think part of that is I don’t read reviews of books/films I plan to read/watch before I’ve had a chance to read/watch them. I like to go into a story knowing as little as possible so avoid reviews of the media I know I’m already interested in and am making plans to engage with. When it comes to books/films I haven’t heard of or have no interested in, I don’t mind reading those reviews – because you never know, I could then become interested and seek that book/film out. So if/when I do read these posts, I really should start commenting more, even if it’s just like “Ooh I hadn’t heard of this before but it sounds great! I’ll check it out.”

Other posts out there like wrap ups, favourites lists, or more general posts I do read more often (though again, not often interact with) because that’s where people can share a couple of lines about why they did or didn’t like something without being spoilery and it can be enough to grab my attention. It is becoming clear that I’m quite the spoilerphobe.

I think I’m going to set myself the challenge to comment on just two posts a day, if I do more than that then great but it’s got to be at least two. Like anything in life, it’s habit-forming and I need to break out of this quite insular bubble I’ve got when it comes to blogging.

My final kinda blogging resolution is not to be so hard on myself when I won’t meet self-imposed deadlines or schedules. For the nearly 5 years I’ve been consistently posting on this blog, I’ve said that there will be a film review on Mondays and a book review (or something book-related) on Thursdays. For the most part I stick to this, but it does kinda stress me out when I haven’t finished a book by Thursday, or I haven’t watched many films or one that I want to write about that week to post on Monday.

Towards the end of this year I’ve been missing the odd day and guess what? My blog didn’t self-combust! I like having a schedule because I like the routine and having goals to meet, but I also shouldn’t stress about it so much. I’m sure people aren’t noticing when there’s only one post one week instead of two, and even if they do, they don’t hate me for it or anything.

So, to sum up, my blogging resolutions are:
1. Respond to comments I receive within a week of receiving them
2. Comment on two different blog posts a day
3. Don’t get worried if I miss a self-imposed blogging deadline as this is supposed to be fun!

Quite simple and supposedly easy blogging resolutions that I will hopefully be able to stick to, and in doing so, will make my blogging experience more fun, stress-free and more community focused.

Do you have any blogging resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them, and I’ll respond within in a week even though it’s not 2020 and my resolutions haven’t official kicked in yet!

A to Z in April Blogging Challenge 2019 Masterpost

Well this is being posted later than expected – what can I say! Time got away from me. That’s another April gone and with it another A-Z in April Challenge successfully completed. This year it was all about my favourite characters in the MCU. It was certainly hard to narrow it down for some days/letters, but I’m happy with the characters I got to talk about.

Sign Up Post
A – Ava Starr
B – James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes
C – Cassie Lang
D – Carol Danvers
E – Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
F – Frigga
G – Goose
H – Happy Hogan
I – Ivan Vanko
J – Jim Paxton
K – Harley Keener
L – Luis
M – Maria Rambeau
N – Nebula
O – Okoye
P – Pepper Potts
Q – Peter Quill
R – James “Rhodey” Rhodes
S – Shuri
T – Tony Stark
U – Ulysses Klaue
V – Valkyrie
W – Wanda Maximoff
X – X-tras (Clint Barton, Michelle “MJ” Jones, Nick Fury, Hela and Rocket Racoon)
Y – Ho Yinsen
Z – Hemlut Zemo
Reflections Post

Thoughts on… Reading Slumps

I like routines especially when it comes to my blog. On Monday’s I post a film review and on Thursday’s I post a book review and if there’s something else I want to write about it’ll go live on any other day – that’s how I’ve done it for years now. I’m pretty consistent when it comes to that “schedule” but it’s tough to keep up with it when you’re in a reading slump.

I’ve read two books this month and I’m currently in the middle of two more; The Dry by Jane Harper on audio and I’m reading a physical copy of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. It’s not unusual for me to be reading one book on audio and another in physical format at the same time, but what is unusual is that it’s two and a half weeks since I started the physical book and it’s less than 300 pages long.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a reading slump.

I think this one has been brought about by life being a bit more busy than usual. I’ve started a new job, I did a movie marathon for charity, and I have family-related things I’m perhaps I’m subconsciously worrying about. I say subconsciously as I’m very much a person who doesn’t think they get stressed, until my body gives up in some shape or form and I realise I wasn’t feeling that great. Time to read and being in the right headspace to read is definitely the main factor. And while I do find the premise of Frankenstein in Baghdad interesting and I like how it has a large cast of characters, I never feel compelled to pick it up even though when I am reading it, I enjoy it. It’s a weird situation to be in.

This long weekend I plan to either finish Frankenstein in Baghdad or consciously put it aside and pick up something else. I can always go back to Frankenstein in Baghdad when I’m more in the mood for it. Because that’s something I’ve learnt about myself over the many years I’ve been reading – I am a mood reader.

That’s why my TBR’s are often pointless as I might read one or two books from them but the rest of that week/month/whatever I’ll read completely different things. With my Read the World Project I do think I put pressure on myself to read certain books and quickly. The plan with that project was to read a book from every country in the world before I turn 30 which is in less than two and a half years now and I have about 100 countries still left to read. While I enjoy reading books from different people in different places, and I’ve certainly found some favourites that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for this challenge, there’s sometimes an underlying sense of guilt if I’m reading books that don’t fit for the challenge.

I think really for me, reading slumps are something that happens when I’m drained, can’t focus on the physical act of reading, and can’t find a book that suits my mood. To get myself out of reading slumps I tend to go to graphic novels as they are so much shorter and quicker to read than a novel. If I read a couple of graphic novels, I feel like I’ve achieved something and can then attempt to read a novel next.

I’m still learning to tell myself that putting aside a book to try it again at a later date, or just admitting that it’s not for me and DNF-ing it, is absolutely fine. I haven’t “wasted time” on that book and it’s totally OK to just have a break from reading if my mind is not up to it – blogging schedule be damned!

I hope this all makes sense. I was trying to write through how my feelings on reading and how that relates to blogging. I also have a clearer idea of how I’m going to think about my current read, my reading slump, and what kind of book(s) I want to read next. Have you ever had a reading slump? And if you have, how have you gotten yourself out of it? It’s always good to hear other people’s tips and tricks.

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2019 Edition

Slightly later than planned, but here’s my reflections on this years A-Z in April Challenge.

This was my sixth year taking part and it was my easiest A-Z in April in years. I think that was down to the topic. I love the MCU and its characters, so I found it really easy to write about them. In fact, I found it so easy that I got all my posts written and scheduled before the end of the second week of April! I haven’t been that organised during this challenge for years.

My favourite posts to write were all the ones in the Iron Man fam; Pepper Potts, Rhodey, Happy Hogan, Harley Keener and, of course, Tony Stark. I had so much fun pouring all my thoughts and feelings about Tony Stark into that post and it’s a piece of writing that I’m proud of. I wrote and scheduled all my posts before seeing Avengers: Endgame so I feel like writing about my favourite characters was almost therapeutic as I was so anxious about what would happen to them in that film.

My post popular A-Z posts were the ones for Carol Danvers, Okoye and Goose. I guess people like strong women and an awesome cat!

I replied to all comments pretty quickly (for me anyway) though unfortunately I didn’t visit that many blogs at all. While I got all my posts scheduled ahead of time, day to day life stopped me finding the time to look around other people’s blogs. I’m even more grateful for the people who stopped by my blog, liked or commented on posts, and even hit that follow button as I did little to return the favour last month.

I feel like the last few years when I’ve written these reflection posts I’ve said, “I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year” and I feel the same way once again. It’s just that as I take part in the A-Z Challenge again and again, I feel like I’m running out of themes of things I could write about – and enjoy writing about too. I think I enjoyed this years A-Z Challenge more than the last couple because my topic was something I am so enthusiastic about and get so much joy from. If I hadn’t written about my favourite characters from the MCU, I don’t know what I would’ve chosen to write about and if I had thought of something I doubt I’d have had as much fun writing it as I did with this theme.

I hope all of you who took part in the challenge had fun and a successful A-Z in April. Thanks to those who stopped by my blog and liked or commented – it always means a lot. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.