Linda’s Book Bag 2019 Change of Direction and New Year Giveaway

2019

Happy New Year!

Crikey! It’s been a bit of a year here on Linda’s Book Bag and as I publish this first post of 2019 and look back over 2018 I’m a little bit overwhelmed by it all.

I first began the blog in 2015 as a tentative means to share my reviews of the books I read, little believing that anyone would bother to look at it. It seems to have been a bit like Topsy since then and, having hit well over 11,000 followers on Twitter, in 2018 I decided to showcase as many authors as I could through a ‘staying in with’ idea; particularly those writers from small publishers, or authors independently published, who don’t have big teams behind them. I wanted to help as many writers as possible get noticed by as many readers as possible. I was inundated with requests and eventually had to turn away more people than I could accommodate, but 271 different authors came along to ‘stay in’ with me and showcase their books. I blogged 603 times in 2018 with only a handful of duplicate authors so I think I may have achieved what I set out to do!

In fact, I’ve been amazed at the seeming popularity of Linda’s Book Bag and I was certainly absolutely thrilled to win the Best Overall Blog in the Bloggers Blast Awards this year – so a huge thank you to whoever nominated me and to those who voted for me. I was overwhelmed.

award

However, all these blog posts have come at a cost. Over 2018 I’ve been struggling to keep on top of it all and fulfil promises I have made for blog slots, particularly with Mum being so unwell and needing my time and attention so often. Each of my blog posts takes a minimum of an hour to put together, including emails to and from the authors and publishers, tweeting and sharing in various groups on Facebook, setting up the post, researching authors, finding images, author links and so on. Of course, many posts take much longer, and that’s without any reading time for reviews too.

Linda and Steve Uganda Equator

I estimate that average working days are the equivalent of 9-5 with at least 30 minutes off for lunch. This means that, aside from the times when I didn’t blog at all when I was on holiday in Uganda, India, Bali and Indonesia, with the posts I have blogged in 2018, I have spent the equivalent of at least 75 to 80 days or 15 to 16 weeks blogging solidly as if I were still working full time!

gorilla

tiger

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I’m exhausted. I usually spend three to five hours a day on what is supposed to be my hobby and I have come to realise that whilst I’ve been trying to help others to get their books seen by as many people as possible, I have not given myself enough time to do the thing I enjoy most – read. I’ve tried to be all things to all people and I can’t maintain the pace!

Add in the time taken up by my elderly mother, my complete inability to type accurately, osteoarthritis in my fingers and sight problems (a tiny hole in my left retina, an epimacular membrane as a result of PVD, conflicting astigmatisms in each eye, myopia to -12.5 in my left eye and -12 in the right with cataracts now developing in both eyes), I have decided this level of commitment to blogging is unsustainable. And I know I keep saying this, but I really would like to have a go at some writing of my own and finish that languishing novel…

Therefore, I’ve decided to be selfishly kind to myself and I’m taking a bit of a blogging sabbatical in 2019. I did wonder if I might stop blogging altogether, but I love it too much to do so and I am enormously grateful for all the exciting opportunities it affords me, especially when I get to meet favourite authors. I had already agreed to participate in 14 tours and guest posts in 2019 before I made my decision and I’ll go ahead with them as planned and I am already suffering terrible FOMO as I keep declining some utterly wonderful books and tours.

However, I’m involved in what I hope will be a fabulous Literary Festival in the area where I live and I need to devote some time to that.

Lit fest cover

I’m also off to Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia for almost a month, so for the first six months of 2019 it is my intention to step back a bit from blogging and concentrate on reading and reviewing at my own pace without the commitment to guest posts and blog tours that I’m currently finding quite stressful. I already have some cracking looking books for 2019.

I hope all the authors, publishers and tour organisers who’ve asked for slots in 2019 whom I’ve turned down will understand, and I’d like to thank them for their interest in appearing on the blog (except perhaps for the one who sent me an unsolicited e-copy of their book via email with a message that simply said, ‘Madam. Here’s my book for you to review immediately’ with no other salutation or message at all! I confess I put that straight in the trash without replying!).

I’m looking forward to sharing my reviews of some superb books in 2019 – and knowing me I won’t be able to keep up my intention not to take on anything else as I hate letting people down, but for the moment, my blogging new year resolution is to have some time to myself to read, read, read!

Happy New Year everyone and keeeeep reading!

Giveaway

Capture

To celebrate the love of reading that I am going to concentrate on here on Linda’s Book Bag in 2019, and to thank all of you who have been so brilliant in supporting the blog through sharing posts, taking part on the blog and providing books, I’m going to start the year by spreading some book love of my own.

If you would like to enter to win either a £20 or $20 Amazon voucher or a £20 National Book Token if, like me, you prefer to support a local bookshop, click here.

The giveaway is open internationally and closes at UK midnight on Tuesday 8th January 2019 after which time I will not retain your details under those pesky GDPR rules! Good luck and do take part – this is open to ALL.

160 thoughts on “Linda’s Book Bag 2019 Change of Direction and New Year Giveaway

  1. Happy New Year, Linda. I hope your year will pan out as you hope and I respect your decision to take back some time to read. I know how huge your tbr pile is! I’m very grateful for your support, for your review of my short stories and having me as a guest. Really appreciate it. I look forward to reading more reviews in 2019 (if my bank balance can take it) because I’ve found some cracking good reads on your blog. Take care. All the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kenneth Green says:

    I tried to leave a blog post comment on Rafflecopter regarding what book I thought you may enjoy reading while on your sabbatical but for some reason Rafflecopter would not allow me to do so (although it did accept all of my other entries). In the hope that you may accept this as my blog comment instead I would like to suggest “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. It is due out later this month I believe and I will be ordering a copy myself. I wish you all the very best for this brand new year and in what ever you do. Kind regards, Kenneth Green

    Liked by 1 person

  3. if you’re anything like me you will have bought so many books that you wanted to read but haven’t got around to due to blogging commitments so I should take a look at your book shelves and choose the one that you fancy the most. It planning to try & read a couple of my own books each month this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy new year, Linda. I do look at the number of posts you do with awe. I know from my own blogging that setting up posts like the ones you do is very time consuming which is why I ran the Poetry Readathon during my holiday when I had more time. All the best with your new regime. I look forward to reading your reviews going forward. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Liz Waterland says:

    Hello, Linda. I’m quite relieved that you’re stepping back a bit. As long as that won’t include the book group! Happy new year and see you at our next.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lapsapchung says:

    I can well understand your need to step back a bit from blogging. I’ve often thought about starting a book blog myself, but I know from craft blogging how time consuming it is and I don’t want anything to eat into my precious reading time, or make me even more committed than I already am, with Amazon and Good Reads reviews, to reading books that are maybe not what I would have chosen at that point in time.
    I’m envious of your travels, I’d love to revisit Singapore and Malaysia. You’ll need a good long book to while away the hours on the plane so I recommend The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner.
    Jane Willis

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t remember where I first heard about Night of the Living Trekkies, but it was probably on Facebook or maybe another blogger. I vaguely recall it being called a parody. I found a cheap paperback on Amazon and purchased it.

    There’s a YouTube video of the book that intrigued me although it gets some things wrong.

    I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. There were some predictable things, but I was also surprised a few times.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re wise to know your limits! Wishing you lots of luck and blessings as you start 2019. One book I think everyone should read is “Appointments With Heaven” by Dr. Reggie Anderson.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Penny-sue Wolfe says:

    Happy New Year!
    I think you should read The Museum of extraordinary things by Alice Hoffman on your sabbatical. It is a magical and enchanting read.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It has been an honour to appear on your fabulous blog and I can fully understand that need to take a step back. Now, if you require any assistance with carrying your bags on those trips just let me know lol. Have an amazing 2019 Linda, and enjoy reclaiming your reading and writing time xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Karen Mace says:

    Happy New Year and good for you in taking this step! Enjoy the year ahead and I think you should read anything you blooming well like – a real luxury for a book Blogger haha x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks lovely Shelley. I’ve got loads of reviews already written for 2019 and am looking forward to taking the pressure off a bit. Thanks for all your blog support. Have a wonderful, happy, healthy and successful 2019 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear Linda,
    Happy New Year! I wish you and your loved ones a joyful and just good-all-round 2019. Smile, travel, write and enjoy time together!
    You have been so very supporting towards so many authors, I know one in particular.. 😉 you have held her hand so many times and did her the honor of inviting her over to your blog, showed her that her small voice matters. Thank you!!
    Space is but a noun on the blogosphere, but people and words do matter, here and everywhere. Enjoy the thrill of writing some of your very own and the peace of being with your own folk.
    Lots of love and see you soon 🙂
    xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh Pat. You are so lovely. Your comment brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face. Thanks so much for all your blog support. Have a happy New Year and a wonderful 2019. I’ve just turned the page on a certain calendar and have a scene of Brasov! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. bexhillwriter says:

    Happy New Year Linda. I have really enjoyed reading your blog since I discovered it in 2017. Whatever you do in 2019, enjoy it. I suspect you will continue to be busy! Keep us updated on the progress of your novel.
    Claire Baldry

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wishing you a fabulous 2019 Linda, and totally understand why you are taking time away from blogging, it still
    Sounds like you have a busy year a head but wishing you all the best 😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Anne Williams says:

    Absolutely the right decision for you Linda – enjoy your richly deserved sabbatical, and all those wonderful books. And a Happy New Year! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Kate Furnivall says:

    Happy New Year to you, Linda.
    Such a wise – though difficult – decision. You have given so much of yourself and your time to help other book lovers, it is now time to take good care of yourself. (So sorry to hear about the hands and eyes – nightmare!) Enjoy reading again without stress and have a wonderful 2019 with your family and travelling. Hope Mum gives you a break too! Thank you for all you have done for the world of books and writers and readers. Now go and write your own book. Happy New Year. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You’ve had an amazing blogging year and that level of commitment is to be commended. I think it often happens with book blogs that what starts out as a hobby takes over your life and therefore you do have to step back occasionally. Especially as it sounds like you have an amazing trip planned! Will hopefully pop down for the literature festival if I can (my family are in Baston so not far from them.)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Happy New Year, Linda! Back in 2015, you were one of the first people to review my debut, Someone Else’s Conflict, and I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoy your well-deserved sabbatical and immerse yourself in lots of lovely reading. x

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I always look forward to reading your reviews and knowing they will be the result of books you’ve chosen to read for your own pleasure and at your own pace will make them extra special from now on. I’m certain from what you’ve said that you’ve made the right decision for you and for those closest to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Happy New Year, Linda! I hope 2019 and your sabbatical brings you balance and happiness. I’m quite determined to take things slower myself but January is already looking completely overwhelming.

    I’ve been pimping The Murder of Harriet Monckton all over the place for a while now so if you haven’t read that one yet, I’d add it to your list.

    Enjoy your reading and travel! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  23. How lovely Kate, thank you. There may be a certain The Survivors that is one of the books I’m desperate to read! Happy New Year and I hope to catch up with you in person again soon xx

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  24. Thanks Alison. Happy New Year to you. You were one of my first blogging reads! Hope you have a fantastic 2019 and that we’ll get to chat in person again before too long x

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  25. Susan Lacey says:

    Congratulations on being self-aware enough that you need to look after yourself first before you can take care of others. All the very best for 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Oh – I’m not disappearing altogether! I have half a dozen reviews ready to go already. Just stepping back a bit. Been thinking of you and hope 2019 is kinder than 2018 lovely lady x

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  27. Hi Linda you will be missed every day but I really understand too. I pulled back from social media and everything for a while. I was reading because I had to rather than when I wanted to. It really is a pressured hobby that we need to learn to say no xxx

    Enjoy life my friend xx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Linda – enjoy your well-earned rest. Burn out seems to be a common ailment among book bloggers, and with your other committments as well it’s no wonder you’re looking to take a break. As one of those who has benefitted hugely from your generosity and dedication, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks and to wish you all the very best. I hope those batteries of yours get recharged fully. Take care – you’ll be missed, but I’m sure we all understand. x

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sue Featherstone says:

    I think you’re absolutely right to step back. Doing the same thing myself because sometimes blog tours become too overwhelming – and I don’t do a fraction of the tours you do.
    As for reading: go retro. I get a lot of my reading cues from Radio 4: loved the Paul Temple mysteries when they were serialised on radio a little while ago and have started reading the original books by Francis Durbridge.
    They’re sometimes a bit cheesy but I’m enjoying the feel of a different time and place.
    Happy reading x

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I think we all salute you for the terrific job you have done in promoting authors and their books, Linda. It is absolutely no wonder you are overwhelmed, I certainly can empathise with you. So, have a fabulous (long) break, get back to enjoying reading a book and please get on with finishing your own novel. We will all still be here when you get back. Oh, and I’ve put the dates for the Deepings Festival in my diary so shall look out for you there and come and introduce myself in real life!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thank you lovely! I’ll still be here, reading, reviewing and blogging but at my own pace! Hope to see you again soon and that 2019 is everything you could wish for. Happy New Year xx

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  32. Thanks so much for your kind words Tony. I’m not disappearing completely, just stepping back from commitments a bit, I know you understand when life can feel pressured. Have a wonderful 2019 xx

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  33. Happy New Year, Linda! Your decision to take things a bit easier with blogging makes sense, especially now you’ve worked out how many hours you’ve spent on it in the last year. I blog as and when these days, sometimes it’s daily and sometimes I disappear for a few weeks and that works for me. It’s a hobby at the end of the day and is meant to be fun. I’m trying to think which book to recommend you – if you haven’t read The Lion Tamer Who Lost yet then I definitely recommend that one. I also loved Daisy Belle by Caitlyn Davies – it was very inspiring as well as being a fun read. Hope you read some amazing books this year, and I look forward to reading your posts as and when. x

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Wow! I’d love to meet you in person. Tickets go on sale very soon. Thanks so much for all the wonderful support you’ve given my blog and here’s to a successful writing year for you and a happy, healthy
    2019 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thanks Hayley. Louise’s book is awaiting my attention on the TBR! I hope you have a fabulous and especially healthy 2019. I look forward to reading your blog posts as and when they appear xx

    Like

  36. Lizzie Lamb says:

    Hi Linda, I heartily agree with your sentiments. Blogging, reviewing, writing the next novel takes time and effort and, if one isn’t careful, can push what is really important onto the back burner. Hope you have a wonderful 2019 and see you at the West Deeping LIt Fest in May.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Madam, Linda. You must read and review my next book immediately (except I haven’t finished it yet!) 😀
    Thank you for having me as a guest on your ‘Staying in’ series- it’s been fascinating spying on the other authors featured, as well as trying to keep up with your travels. It’s worn me out just following them, so you’ve definitely earned a bit of ‘me’ time. Enjoy taking it easy for a while, you deserve it. Thanks for all your hard work. x

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I completely get where you’re coming from. I took on too much and seriously regretted it. Glad you’re not disappearing completely – I do enjoy reading your posts! Not really sure what to recommend as we don’t necessarily have the same tastes – so I recommend you read what YOU want! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Karl Holton says:

    You’ve done so much for so many, including myself. Thank you so much, Linda and I wish you and your family the very best. Take the time to enjoy … wishing you well, Karl

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Wow – enjoy your travels! I’m moving house in February, not as exciting but also taking a bit of a break and hoping to get through some of the books others have recommended, my TRB pile is a mountain! Happy new year x

    Liked by 1 person

  41. A lovely, a bit sad, but also hopeful, positive, and exciting blog post – exciting to read about your plans for 2019. As to the cataract and eyesight, I’ve had -13/14 up until my cataract operations in October last – what a difference it makes! Hopefully you’ll see in 2019! Thank you for all your support and for your amazing ‘Staying In…’ posts. Always a pleasure reading about the authors. Wishing you a fantastic 2019 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Thanks Caroline. If I say I’m looking forward to cataracts being at the operable stage that sounds a bit bonkers but I think it could make a huge difference to me! Happy New Year to you and thank you for ALL your blog support. I look forward to hosting more of your authors in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Happy 2019 Linda, I totally appreciate you wanting some time out. Life is very precious and seems to disappear so quickly. I’m enjoying Regency Romances at the moment and if you fancy a little escapism back in to the 1800’s I can highly recommend Virginia Heath The King’s Elite series.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Thanks so much. I shall be reviewing as much as I can, just not accepting tours and posts I feel under pressure to get out. Thanks for all your support and Happy New Year!

    Like

  45. I absolutely ‘get’ what you are saying here. I had to give up blogging a few years ago because like you, my hobby had turned into a full time effort and was making me worn out. I can’t express how much I’ve appreciated all the support and efforts you’ve made on my behalf and I can’t wait to hear how your adventures go this year. You deserve this time for yourself. Enjoy 2019, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Wise decision, life’s too short to be ‘lived’ and have blogging take over your life. Enjoy your time off! As for reading, well The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was my fav of 2018 and I look forward to the new book of Riley Sager this year! Happy New Year 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Even though I will miss you, I so understand your predicament. Your number of blog posts in 2018 is just unbelievable! It’s not sustainable to keep on going at that rate, not with all the other things going on in your life. I wish you peace, contentment, good health and time to focus on our own work. [Matches my own resolution for 2019 to return to my own writing.} Here’s to seeing something from each of us soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  48. What a year you’ve had Linda and what a support to all those writers, I wondered where you got the energy and admire your dedication and understand your decision to try and reduce the obligation somewhat and get back to the enjoyment. I’m sure that will be difficult too as you’ve created a passionate habit and developed a strong work ethic around it. Good that you have some quality travel time built in. All the best for 2019, happy reading, enjoy the newfound freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Kathryn Freeman says:

    I was one the authors fortunate enough to ‘stay in’ with you Linda, and to have the support of your blog in many other posts. I’d just like to say a big thank you, and an even bigger … have a fabulous, well deserved break from it all. Enjoy your holidays, your me time, all that reading. I hope 2019 is kind and generous to you xx

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Thanks so much Kathryn. I loved hosting you here and I hope you’ll come back again in the future. I’m thoroughly enjoying the lack of blogging pressure so far! Have a wonderful 2019 and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Penny Jenkins says:

    Enjoy your travels and I hope you get lots of well-deserved time to read. I’m going to explore more non-fiction in 2019 and if you like a bit of history I suggest you try Lucy Worsley’s recently published book about Queen Victoria.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. When you add up all those hours you spend on the blog I’m not surprised you feel like taking a breather. Hope you enjoy your return to reading for pleasure. My recommendation of what to read is a novel by a Malaysian author Tash Aw “Five Star Billionaire

    Liked by 1 person

  53. I’ve had this post sitting waiting in my inbox for a while as I don’t always get to sit down and devour blog posts as often as I’d like. Linda you’ve been epic, amazing and all in between and I think you’ll find it amazing to get to go at your own pace and as you say get to read, write and travel. Best if luck on it all and congrats on all you’ve achieved and thanks again for being such a help X

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Quite right, too, Linda. It’s always important to take some time out for yourself. You will be missed, though I hope we’ll still bump into each other at occasional events in the real world (I have made a note of the literary festival and will aim to get there this time!).

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Thanks so much for all the reviews in 2018, Linda. I discovered lots of new to me authors on your blog. And I really enjoyed being part of your ‘Staying in…’ series and reading the posts by other authors. Wishing you a fabulous time on your travels in 2019, happy reading and all the very best with your writing! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Sounds like you’ll be having a fabulous 6 months of travelling! Enjoy and post photos etc.
    I understand how you feel. Blogging is rewarding, but intense and time consuming.
    I really look forward to your reviews, and you are so kind and supportive to authors who are not traditionally published, as well as traditionally published ones. You are needed in the book blogging world! 💖😍

    Liked by 1 person

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