From the web 10 – 15 March

I have been unexpectedly offline for a week and forgot to post this beforehand, so it is a bit late. Nevertheless, rather than leave it in draft I thought I’d press “publish”!

Some good book reviews this week: Keith B. Walters reviews Savage Run by C. J. Box, second in a very enjoyable series. As well as being a review of the book, Keith’s post examines why he was initially reluctant to read one of this series.

Fleur Fisher has written a very nice review of The Burning by Jane Casey. This is a good crime novel which suffers somewhat from inappropriate “packaging” (cover words and image). My review of the same book is here.

Other good reviews this week: Darkside by Belinda Bauer (review by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading); The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg (review by Simon Clarke at Amazon); and Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder (review by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise).

Rob Kitchen reviews The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham. This is a popular series, enhanced by a recent TV adaptation of some of the novels. Rob’s review addresses the question of formula which, however readable and exciting each new title, can have an off-putting effect for those who prefer originality.

And among the new reviews at Euro Crime this week, Michelle Peckham reviews Colin Cotterill’s latest, Killed at the Whim of a Hat, which is not about a coroner in 1970s Laos!

Michael Walters, author of a series about crime in Mongolia, reveals a little about his new book, Trust No-One (by his alter ego Alex Walters) about an undercover police officer called Marie Donovan, to be published in September by Avon/Harper Collins.

There’s an online discussion at The Guardian about whether people trust online book reviews, Amazon’s in particular. My opinion of this question is that it is a non-question. Amazon reviews have various indications of quality – “real name”, “top xxx reviewer”, and “helpful” grades by other readers, to name but three. If one is trying to decide whether to read a book on Amazon, it does not take long to distinguish which reviews are helpful, literate, and by people who have read the book, and which are ignorant, by people’s aunties, and so on. It reminds me of those sterile debates about blog reviews “versus” reviews in newspapers and magazines.

Inspired by the book A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor and associated BBC project, you can now contribute to A History of the Future in 100 Objects. It’s an ambitious project, involving 100 blog posts, podcasts and more, so worth checking out.

I am not a fan of those lists of “books everyone should read”, and this composite of many such lists shows why. According to the various polls and lists that form the data for this cloud, the book that comes second (of all literature!) is The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you are interested, you can see how many of the books you have read that make up this particular analysis.

There are lots of ways an e-reader can be used imaginatively, but this picture shows a good one – as a teleprompter on a video camera during a photoshoot. While on the subject, there’s a good but depressing post at Scholarly Kitchen about the poor quality of free e-books that have been digitised en masse, using Jane Austen as an example. I have read about 15 books in Kindle format, and every one of them has had many gaps between lines and even within a line on occasion, but not, so far as I can tell, any actual content missing. The formatting of the Kindle version is definitely not as good as that in a printed book, though of course in an e-book one can change the font size which can be an advantage.

A non-book-related post: I’m fascinated to learn that all the moaning travellers do about the tube has a basis in fact. Last year there was only one day in which all the London Underground lines ran a good service for the day. The information was unearthed via a freedom of information act enquiry, and comes courtesy of Going Underground blog.

From the Web 2-9 March

About books:
At Books and Writers, a review of a debut novel, White Heat, by M. J. McGrath. From the review, by Keith B. Walters, “An ice-cold crime chiller from debut novelist, M.J.McGrath, this little cracker of a book deals with murder and mystery among the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle – on the island of Craig to be specific……White Heat does what great crime books do best, it tells a good story with a great and interesting central character and has a strong secondary character – the landscape of the place in which the story plays out.” UK Amazon’s listing for the book describes the author thus: “M. J. McGrath was born in Essex. As Melanie McGrath she is the author of critically acclaimed, bestselling non-fiction (Silvertown and The Long Exile) and won the John Llewelyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best New British and Commonwealth Writer under 35, for her first book Motel Nirvana. She writes for the national press and is a regular broadcaster on radio.”

Joanna Trollope has a new book out, Daughters in Law. Here is a BBC Breakfast video of her talking about the book and more generally about relationships between mothers and daughters-in-law. Read more about the book, including an extract, at the author’s website. The author’s 30-year writing career, and her books, are described in this brief biography.

A BBC radio programme in which bestselling author Val McDermid talks about “the rise of Emerald noir” (that’s Irish crime fiction!) is available on iPlayer (no geographical restrictions) for a few more days. The Guardian has reviewed the programme, as has Declan Burke at Crime Always Pays blog, which specialises in promoting Irish crime fiction. A good range of Irish crime fiction authors, with links to reviews of their books, is at Euro Crime. I particularly recommend Gene Kerrigan and Brian McGilloway (see the preceding two links for my reviews of their books), as well as Winterland by Alan Glynn (his first crime novel).

Some good book reviews this week: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain is reviewed at Yet Another Crime Fiction blog by Keishon. This post is a great example of how to review a book that one found disappointing and/or mediocre. The superb reviewer Bernadette takes on Liza Marklund’s Prime Time at her Reactions to Reading blog. Perhaps this book is not one of Marklund’s best but even so it is heaps better than most crime novels in my view. As well as some interesting comments this review sparked some discussion of the quality of literacy and translation over at the Friend Feed crime and mystery group. Glenn Harper, another superb reviewer, has unearthed an example of South Pacific noir at his blog International Crime Fiction: Devil-Devil by Graeme Kent. And Philip posts a review of The Facility by Simon Lelic at his blog To Be Read… a kinder review than I was able to write for this disappointing second novel after the author’s searing debut, Rupture (or 1000 Cuts). Finally of this week’s selections, Terry Halligan reviews James Thomson’s promising first novel Snow Angels at Euro Crime. My review of the same book is here; and Barbara Fister posts an interview with the author on the eve of publication of his second novel in the series, Lucifer’s Tears.

And on the miscellaneous front, some articles that caught my interest this week:
Robert Peston (BBC) on why Barclays bank has just paid its shareholders a hopeless dividend after giving huge bonuses to its leaders.
John Gapper ( has lunch with Sean Parker, said to be the driving force behind several internet companies including Napster and Facebook (he is portrayed in the film The Social Network which is just out in DVD in the UK and which I must watch, together with another new DVD release, Winter’s Bone (my review from 2007), based on the excellent book by Daniel Woodrell).
Philip Ball (Nature News) on how the images from early microscopes are a lot clearer than many have believed.
Future Book (The Bookseller, UK) on how to get a job in publishing.
Joanna Scott (Nature Network San Francisco blog) on the film Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War I. This film has been shown at the Computer History Museum in California – I am not sure if it is going to be made generally available, but here is the link to the museum’s website for those who want to watch out for it.
Guardian Technology blog: first round-up of analysis of and reactions to the Apple iPad 2.
Marbury: A world map of China (via the Economist) which instead of provinces displays the country with the nearest GDP to that province. Fascinating.

A miscellaneous round-up, for a change

In the first couple of years of this blog, I regularly posted "round ups" of various bits and bobs I came across, usually articles on the Internet. About a year ago I more or less stopped doing this, mainly because I can post links to the relevant Friend Feed group if I come across articles of interest, and also because I share my Google Reader selections so anyone can follow those. In addition, of course there is always Twitter, where if you follow me you won't find out what I'm having for tea or think about the price of fish, but you will get links to various items that I find stimulating for one reason or another. (Typepad has a similar "following" service but it is pretty nascent.)

However, a couple of articles and sites came to my attention recently so I thought I'd share them here. First, I received an email from someone called Mike Norman about his website, ungrammatically called Thrillers4u. Despite the offputting title, this site is pretty ace, providing cover pictures and blurbs of recently published crime novels, "a showcase for exciting and engaging thriller fiction. Ignore the siren call of 'best seller' authors. Forget the publisher's hype. These are stories you may have overlooked or never even been aware of." Yes, it is true, Pile-of-book there are some good selections on there, and no sign of James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell and others with huge marketing budgets behind them (though there are some of the better top-sellers, eg Harlan Coben). There is a welcome accent on translated fiction, and fiction from smaller publishers. So this is a site to which I shall be returning, not least for their tagline, "you'll find none of the usual suspects here".

On the more technical side, is this the end for RSS? I was not too sad when I read that Bloglines will soon close – this is an RSS reader that I used a long time ago (before I started a blog, in fact). Although it changed my world at the time, it is a sad fact that Google Reader, when it came along, was even better (and "up" a lot more!), so I switched. bought up Bloglines, somewhat behind the curve, but it seems it has not thrived. I was not too bothered about Bloglines until I learned from a colleague that Google Reader use has declined massively too – by 27 per cent last year –  it seems that RSS readers have been superceded by the echo chamber that is Twitter. How annoying, I much prefer an RSS reader than having to follow people or hashtags or lists on Twitter as there is too much noise that needs filtering out. Still, there may be life in the young dog yet, according to the source itself.

If you are one of those considering an e-reader, there's a useful comparison between the latest versions of the market leaders, Sony's reader touch and Amazon's Kindle 3, at The Inquirer. My Kindle 3 arrived 2 days ago, and so far I am very impressed. I set it up and (wirelessly) downloaded a book within minutes of opening the packaging. (A book that has been on my Amazon wishlist for 2 years or so, but has never come out in paperback — but is available in an affordable e-reader format.) I note that there is a "read aloud" option (where it reads the book to you rather than your eyes doing it); I also note that you can download audiobooks via the Audible website, and you can download your music files in mp3 format if you like to listen while you read, using the built-in stereo speakers and earplug jack. Thankfully, however, it isn't a phone.  I haven't actually started reading the book yet ;-), but the screen and print looks good, so the omens are promising. The choice of books on Amazon is brilliant; the selection of magazines, newspapers and blogs less so — but it is early days. As ever with Amazon, I'm very impressed with the thought they've put into the customer interfaces and interactions between the device and the website.

Finally, for this post, returning to "proper" books – Robert McCrum in the Guardian totally misses the point in his widely reported article Waterstone's has forgotten what bookselling is about. (Incidentally, along with the present tense in novels, a pet hate of mine is assertions in titles. A better one here would have been Has Waterstone's forgotten what bookselling is about?) In the Guardian piece, the author confounds two issues – that of Waterstone's  being unable to deal effectively or well with a journalist's enquiry; and whether or not they are a decent bookseller. Dealing with media enquiries is not easy for anyone, but even the most silly journalist should realise that a company's policy on who can or cannot speak to the media is not relevant at all to what it stocks in its shops. I despise these petty attacks not only because they are prejudiced, unaware of the economics of bookselling and illogical, but because for many of us, Waterstone's is the only bookshop anywhere near where we live. Would not having a bookshop at all, or having to rely on WHSmith, be better? No. And, so far as my own local branch of Waterstone's is concerned, it is quite a nice place to browse and even buy books. Not as good as the old days before the Internet and when the National Net Book Agreement ruled, maybe, but still, not bad.

What kind of a (mystery) reader are you?

Am I alone in feeling permanently guilty for not commenting more on people's blogs? I am always so thrilled when people comment here, so feel doubly at fault for so rarely commenting elsewhere myself. I do read a lot of blogs, courtesy of Google Reader. (The reader is hooked up here so that it is also Petrona's blogroll, therefore if you look to the right and scroll down, you will see I am not telling a lie when I write that I read a lot of blogs!) But somehow, I only comment on the statutory 1 per cent of posts that I read, fulfilling some statistical observation or other. Most of the time this is because even when I have enjoyed a post I can't think of anything interesting to write Reading about it – or if I do have a thought, I go to the blog and find out that six other people have already written it. Some of the time I just can't face going through all the palaver of trying to comment, crashes, signing in or other slowing-down factors. I am around a bit on the internet (see my Google profile for where) and  I do comment quite a bit at the Friend Feed crime and mystery group (for online discussion of crime novels), but I am aware that a comment there is not the same as a comment at the actual blog itself. I will try to improve.

I don't really know why I wrote all that, because what I intended to do when I started this post was to highlight a discussion at Martin Edwards's excellent blog (Do you write under your own name?) about how one reads a mystery. (It was probably my awareness that I have not commented there for a while, and feeling bad about that, that made me write the first paragraph above!) Martin divides such readers into two groups, "those who like to try to solve the mystery themselves, before the solution is revealed, and those who simply enjoy the story and make no serious effort to work out what is going on." He's in the former group, and of the people who have commented to the post, about half are in each.  Here is the gist of my response:

Martin, I am in your camp. Well I think I am. I started out with Sherlock Holmes and ever since have enjoyed the "race" to see if I could work out the solution before the author. But now that I am (a lot) older and have read so much crime fiction, I am not so sure. For example, I have recently finished a really wonderful book, An Empty Death by Laura Wilson (Orion, 2009). It is such an absorbing book, written by a talented author who is so enjoying the universe she has created and conveying it to the reader, in three main plot lines. However, the actual main mystery at the heart of it is not that difficult to work out, mainly because of the dearth of suspects. Yet I found myself deliberately not trying to second-guess the author, because there were so many aspects of this rich book to enjoy, and I was just happy to go with the flow.

So, eeek! I became of the second category without meaning to. 

On the whole, though, I like to try to work out the puzzle before the author reveals all. In addition, if a crime book is not that well written and/or not a lot of effort has been put into it, I like to guess who did it before the author tells me – to get even! How sad or bad is that?!

A picture for Petrona

My daughter Cathy was sorting out her computer and came across this picture, which she says she made for Petrona a few years ago but never finished or sent to me at the time. I asked her to send it to me now, and so here it is. 

Goodbye Vox, hello Typepad for my archived book reviews

Not surprisingly to me, but somewhat annoyingly, I went to archive a book review the other day only to find a notice on the blog concerned that it is closed to new posts. Vox is ending. Six Apart is no longer supporting the platform, and have asked users to export their blogs to Typepad (their other platform, which supports this blog). The old blog archive will remain for now, but will disappear, it seems, at the end of this month (30 September 2010).

I have now done as Vox advises, and exported the blog, so my book reviews are now archived here, at Petrona, on a linked blog with the original title of Book reviews by Maxine. I am in the process of updating the links wherever they appear. 

I am not surprised about this because it has been clear for some time that Vox has been left to moulder a bit. It was never much of a blog, as one could not have a blogroll or use a dashboard. So I am not that sad to move away from it. However, it did have one feature I liked, which is that one could easily create a book library and display cover images of books as one read them, via a service hooked up with Amazon. (This was extended to videos, photos, etc). I have fairly recently opened an account at Goodreads which has a similar function, but it isn't quite as neat as the Vox service. (Goodreads is geared up to people who want to share, review, rank and discuss the books they read over at their site, and for me, life is too short to repost all my reviews manually over there.)

Another reason I am sad about the demise of Vox is that  all my archived book reviews are tagged by country. Exporting the blog over here is fine for the blog posts themselves but, as usual on these occasions, not so good for metadata. So I'll have to tag up all the posts again by hand. I have done this for the first 30 or 40 archived reviews, but there is some way to go as I began my archiving back in 2006. I'll keep up the tagging as a background activity, but for the time being, my review archive tags won't be complete. On the bight side, though, I have made the tagging much richer now, so I (or you) will be able to retrieve posts by country, continent, genre, whether the book won an award, if it is a classic, etc, when I've finished. Which may take some time as tagging is clunky (can only be done for each individual post) and is somewhat boring. However, should you so wish, you will be able (apparently) to subscribe to the RSS feed of the review archive blog by category, so if you are only interested in books from a certain region (or other tag) then you can sign up to be alerted just to those posts.

Book-review archive. Please bookmark and/or subscribe!

As well as the blog you are now reading (Petrona) and this new book review archive, I have one other blog, called Filament, where I bookmark interesting articles and reviews that I find – often reviews of books that I intend to read one day. Like Friend Feed or Twitter, Filament is a microblog, i.e. just for posting quick links or comments. 

Merging internet personae, and the importance of relevance

As more and more of the internet gets hooked up, it becomes harder and harder to hide ;-). I now regularly (instead of occasionally) feel apologetic to colleagues and people I know through work for receiving my crime-fiction-related output, and to those I know through our shared reading tastes to be receiving scientific updates and commentary. It is all down to this "behind the scenes joining up" that is going on everywhere. 

I have been experiencing with interest all the ways in which Typepad, the platform that hosts Petrona, has been interconnecting me with Facebook, Twitter, Friend Feed, OpenID, the shortener, et al. Most of the time I ignore this as to me, blogging is just something I do because I like it, I am not interested in going out there looking for lots of readers, "optimizing", wanting money or ads, etc. If people want to read what I write here, that is great, and even better if they want to interact about it,  but I take the line that they can find me easily enough if we share interests, the internet being what it is. Nevertheless, because it was easy to do, I did succumb to one of these offers last week and created a Facebook page for this blog. I have no idea what that is or what it is supposed to do, particularly as posts I write here are automatically exported to my Facebook account anyway (which saves me actually having to go there), but I was delighted [?] to receive an email from Facebook yesterday morning:

Share good news
"Hi Maxine,

Here is this week's summary for the Facebook Page: PETRONA

0 fans this week (2 total fans)
0 Wall posts, comments and likes this week (0 last week)
0 visits to your page this week (0 visits last week)".

Oh well, either I am doing something very wrong or something very right. (One, or maybe two, of those ''fans'  is me, I am sure. I suppose I should go and double-check to make sure I have not enmeshed an innocent Facebooker, one of these days.)

To date, I am with John Tierney, who wrote in the New York Times fairly recently that in effect people set up their own online "niche networks" by sharing articles that they have read and liked with each other. Facebook et al. do it one (closed) way, but I prefer the open, Friend Feed-style "personal" approach (an example is our crime and mystery fiction readers' group, in which 133 (as of today) people chat about a bunch of self-selected RSS feeds, basically). 

I agree also with the NYT point that much of the news and comment spread and discussed in this way, as well as much better targeted and trustworthy than what you stumble across on Facebook, is positive or constructive. It's a very good, efficient way to filter out not just what doesn't interest you, but a lot of negative stupidity and rubbish (if you don't like stupidity or rubbish). And filtering is the key to getting the most out of all the wonders the internet has to offer you, the individual, whether you are in solitary or sharing mode. It is certainly much more important to me than how many visits to my blog's Facebook page I get (which is just as well!).

My selections for “Triple Choice Tuesday” at Reading Matters

Earlier this week, I was honoured to be featured as part of the Triple Choice Tuesday series at Reading Matters, the blog of Australian reader Kimbofo (a.k.a. Kim). Reading Matters is a lovely blog, and one I have read right since I first discovered blogs (before I began one myself). That, together with Light Reading, showed me the true way. The true way being that one could write about reading on the Internet 
Booksand hence find other people, from Australia to Spain, from Canada to Denmark, from Ireland to the USA to New Zealand, or scattered throughout England, who share one's interests in this strange but compelling solitary pursuit of the mind.

I've been a keen reader since (apparently) the age of about three, when I am told I read out letters from slogans on the side of buses. I remember learning to read: the books were the Janet and John series and my father underlined every new word we encountered with a yellow crayon. I have my late father to thank for instilling in me a love of reading, and both my parents for always buying me a stack of books for every birthday and Christmas while I was growing up. As a family, my sisters, parents and I spent many an evening in quietness, all reading books.

I have read many great novels in my time, but these days I read mainly crime fiction. It's not great literature, but some of it is definitely superior fare (particularly translated novels). I feel a lot, and learn a lot, from reading it. As one who lives a largely solitary life even while surrounded by people, whether work or family, the books I read are my friends.

Enough of all this unusual introspection. Please do check out Triple Choice Tuesday to see my selections of a favourite book, a book that changed my world, and a book that deserves a wider audience. If you don't already know Kim's blog Reading Matters, I highly recommend it as a regular source of reading information and reviews of "mainly contemporary and modern fiction", often with an Australian or Irish accent. 

Challenges to blogging and to reading

First an apology for any readers who have experienced instabilities or squiffy formatting recently. I have been having some templating problems and because of lack of time to sort them out during the week, reverted temporarily to an old design. I spent some time yesterday (Friday) evening working through causes and effect, ending up with a new template and layout. I hope that things here have now settled down a bit, and any previous loading problems are solved. If not, please let me know in the comments

Another type of challenge is the reading "challenge" (I don't regard reading as a challenge so perhaps I can call it "exercise"). Having completed the crime-fiction alphabet exercise, initiated by Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise, I am turning my attention to two other similar ventures in which I am participating.

Scandinaviamap-1  First up, because I think I've finished it, is the Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2010 by Amy of The Black Sheep Dances blog. The challenge is to read six books from Scandinavian countries between the beginning of March of this year, and the end of the year. Here are mine (actually more than six, in case the definition of Scandinavia is the purist one of Sweden, Norway and Denmark only):

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Norway)

The Last Fix by K. O. Dahl (Norway)

The Woman from Bratislava by Lief Davidsen (Denmark) (review submitted to Euro Crime)

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Denmark)

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (Sweden)

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (Sweden)

The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg (Sweden)

The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (Sweden) (review drafted)

Snow Angels by James Thompson (Finland, though the author is American)

And, currently reading: My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland).

The other challenge is more of an actual challenge, it is Dorte's Global Reading Challenge . This is in four levels: easy (read one book from each continent), medium (two books, in total from 12 countries or states), expert (adds Antarctica) and extremist (three plus a wild card). The extremist category is Craig's fault because he's already completed the three previous levels.(But there don't seem to be links to his 
Globus_2achievements in the Global Challenge blog's country listings.)  Like Bernadette, I rather fancy being officially an extreme reader, but I think I am not doing so well on this particular challenge so far, owing to the presence of Antarctica and my current predilection for European translated crime fiction. (One is only allowed to count books read this year.)

So, how am I doing? 

South America – 1 (Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pinerio - Argentina).

North America – 3 (B-very Flat by Margot Kinberg – USA;  Where the Dead Lay by David Levien – USA; Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Canadian author, set in USA). [And numerous others in USA]

Europe – 3 (Captured by Neil Cross – England; Death in Oslo by Anne Holt – Norway; The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt – The Netherlands). [And numerous others throughout Europe.]

Australasia -3 (Truth by Peter Temple – Australia; Blood Sunset by Jarad Henry – Australia; A Certain Malice by Felicity Young – Australia). 

Asia – 2 (Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong – China; The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang – China). [3 if you count The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell!]

Africa – 3 (Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer – South Africa; Like Clockwork by Margie Orford – South Africa; Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer – South Africa).

So by my calculation, I have finished the Easy challenge. To complete the Medium challenge I need to read one novel from South America that isn't Argentinian, one from Australasia that isn't Australian, one from Asia that isn't Chinese and one from Africa that isn't South African. OK, I'll stop there, go for that, and then see what I have to do to meet the expert level (Antarctica looms).

Thanks very much to Dorte (Global Reading), Amy (Scandinavia) and Kerrie (Alphabet) for organising these amusing distractions. 

A big step for Petrona, a small step for blogkind

Petronas Patronus It may not be apparent to many, but it is a big change for me. I have changed the subtitle of Petrona blog to "Reviews, discussion and news about crime fiction. Occasional forays into publishing, science, social media and other topics."(see top of page) Previously, my strapline (or standfirst) was "Thinking and linking about books, publishing, the internet and more".

Why the change? First, over the past 4 years, Petrona has changed from being a blog quite often about the wonders of blogging, social media and new publishing models, to being mainly book reviews and associated news. Perhaps I've said all I can think of to say on those other topics. Second, since setting up the Friend Feed crime and mystery fiction room, I can post links and chat there about them, with other people interested in the topic, rather than writing a blog post collecting and summarising various links, as I did pre-Friend Feed. So that's another class of blog post that has morphed into something else. Third, I have developed confidence in my book reviewing and enjoy doing it. I like the practice, and feel I've learned some techniques in my 4 years as a book reviewer. My blogging friends are enabling me to filter my reading choices so nowadays I read far more books that I actually want to review, rather than books that aren't very distinctive or good – both of which pose challenges to a reviewer who has essentially a constructive heart.

A final reason is that I realise that "out there" (i.e. among the main internet "in the wild", which knows me not!), I am not perceived as writing a crime fiction blog, partly no doubt because of Petrona's name. (An object lesson in hastily choosing a title and regretting it later*.) So perhaps the subtitle will help my blog to be considered eligible for these lists of "100 crime fiction blogs" that currently it seems not to be, as it does not have "crime" or "mystery" in its title.

When I first began blogging, it was all about traffic and comments. Bloggers vied with each other, boasted about their traffic stats, and devised methods and strategies to increase their numbers of comments. I did this a bit and then decided it wasn't for me, for various reasons. Nowadays, the medium has evolved and there is much more interactiveness on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and so on. One's blog can feed into these platforms and so become part of one's internet presence and sociability, not its only evidence of your presence. Even if people are not commenting at your blog itself, they may be debating a post over at FriendFeed or Facebook, or retweeting it.

So, the world moves on and we have to move with it. Hence, Petrona's standfirst has become more reflective of what I realise my blog is about, nowadays.

* Pictures show a Patronus (alter ego), of which Petrona was intended to be a female version, but turns out to be a typing error (Patrona); and Petrona towers, to which I am frequently likened and for which I receive many a misdirected search.