Thursday, May 28, 2009

War on the Margins update

In September 2008, I wrote about Libby Cone's self-published novel War on the Margins, an excellent novel based on real events during the wartime occupation of the Channel Islands. I am delighted to say that the book will be appearing in the bookshops in July, published by Duckworth.

The new cover is more evocative of the book's content than the original was and there is a surprise for bloggers on the back cover: the teaser is a quotation from Dovegreyreader's review. (Click on picture to enlarge)
Much has been said in the media about bloggers reviewing books, mostly suggesting that it is a Bad Thing and that reviewing should be left to The Professionals. Earlier this year, in a debate on radio, Cornflower made an excellent case for the two to co-exist. The major newspapers and magazines would not have promoted War on the Margins but bloggers saw it, loved it and recommended it to one another. Well done Duckworth Publishers for acknowledging the significance of the personal recommendation.


  1. Maybe the critics feel that their jobs are in jeopardy? Which would not be a bad thing as most of them have a tendency to offer up their egos served in the guise of a critique. Did you see Ratatouille? The character of Anton Ego, a food critic played by Peter O'Toole, was absolute perfection.
    I find that reading a review from someone who reads for the love of reading carries more weight than from someone who reads for a paycheck. And an ego trip. ;)

  2. Personal reviews always existed, but were confined to one's friends and family or perhaps a book club newsletter.

    It's the widespread reach of the internet that allows us to find kindred spirits and to research things of interest like book reviews.

  3. Karin, I think journalists in general feel threatened by the internet and 24 hour news coverage on satellite television. I suppose reviewers might think their jobs could be the first to go.

    I like a personal recommendation for a book or a writer - and not necessarily new publications. I am wary of reading detailed reviews until after I have read the book because they often contain spoilers.

  4. e, absolutely right. Book bloggers are the reading public and sharing of views has just become easier with the technology. It isn't a new phenomenon.

  5. Oh boy, isn't this wonderful!! I'm so pleased. I can't count the hours I've spent slogging through long-winded book reviews in newspapers or magazines that told me too much about the book, and way too much about the writer of the review! Boring, boring. I love reading what bloggers write. I trust them. It's a wonderful world and time for readers!!

  6. Nan, have you read War on the Margins? This could be the book to make its way to you!

  7. Hmmm. My wife doesn't usually ask me to read the books her group reads (which run strongly toward Jan Karon), but she ordered me to read 'Guernsey Literary.'

    I was struck by the absence of cows.

    I will now suggest 'Margins' to her.

  8. How lovely, I think both sorts of review are helpful and shouldn't been seen as in competition..that books look like it's a fascinating read

  9. Harry - no cows in this one either!

  10. Nan, I feel the same way about reviews of movies (and coming attractions) and even TV shows. They often spoil the experience for me.

  11. My husband refuses to go to the cinema if they keep plugging the film in trailers, no need to as they show a complete precis.
    Book reviews can be the same (as can the blurb on the cover, sadly) and as Nan said- they just tell us far too much.
    I also agree with Monix that it doesn't always have to be a review of a new release that would catch my eye. Other people's favourites are an interesting starting point.

  12. Yes, M, plenty of room for the two to co-exist and the march of technology being what it is, no doubt other variations will come on stream in due course. Book blogging has, without any doubt, been one of the most exciting developments in reading since the advent of paperbacks.

    However . . . reading some, but by no means all, book blogs has become akin to being on an express train, with at least one and sometimes several books being "reviewed" daily (And, yes, those inverted commas are deliberate.) It can leave one breathless and running to catch up - but only if one feels insecure about these things!

    These days, the demarcation lines between print and online reviewing are becoming increasingly blurred. At one time, dedicated book bloggers wrote about their own books - the books they had chosen to buy or to borrow from a library (and happily, some still do, of course). But publishers now send out new books by the lorryload to many dedicated book bloggers, just as they do to paid reviewers. Absolutely nothing wrong with that but it does shift the parameters a bit.

    As in all things, it's quality not quantity that counts. Your post has made me reflect that I'm now more likely to read a short but succinct review by a blogger who covers a range of topics (ie not just books) and whose own writing is fresh and whose style sits lightly on a web page.

    Ultimately, I don't think it matters, as long as the books keep coming and as long as the public appetite for reading continues. "Oranges are not the only fruit" and we will all have our own preferences. How fortunate we are to have the choice.

    As for me, I like nothing better than to curl up on the sofa on a Saturday or Sunday evening, reading the Guardian and Observer review sections, where the standard of reviewing is, by and large, exceptionally high. Curling up with a computer, even a laptop, just doesn't feel the same. Which probably makes me a dinoreader.

  13. This is proving to be an interesting discussion. We all seem to be agreed that there is room for both professional reviews and book blogs.

    For me, the most enjoyable book blogs are those that tell me about loved books from childhood or found in charity shops and long out of print; or books that didn't make it to the prize lists but really are worth reading. You know what I mean - blogs written by fellow lovers of books.


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