I grew up in Maryland, USA and have a degree in English and Religion from Hood College.
I first came to England in 2003 as a study abroad student at the University of Reading and returned in 2005 to get an MA in Victorian Literature from the University of Leeds. Meeting my future husband in 2003 gave me a reason to keep coming back, and I’ve now lived in England for 12 years.
Jobs and circumstances have kept us circling around the southeast, but we’re currently based in Newbury, Berkshire.
We maintain connections with nearby Reading, a name that always pleases me as a book-lover even though, of course, it’s actually pronounced ‘Redding’.
For six years I was a college library assistant in the States and then in London. Since July 2013 I’ve been a full-time freelance proofreader and writer, focusing on book reviews.
Editing science journal articles for academic English is my bread and butter.
I have been a member of the National Book Critics Circle since May 2018. I regularly review books for Kirkus Indie (for no byline), as well as for the following outlets:
My writing has also appeared in BlueInk Review, The Bookbag, BookTrib, Fig Tree Books, For Books’ Sake, Glamour UK, Hakai web magazine, The Island Review, Literary Hub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, [PANK], Publishers Weekly, Quadrapheme, Stylist and Third Way magazine.
An archive of my nearly 100 book-themed articles is also available at the now-inactive website Bookkaholic, where I was a staff writer and chief proofreader for two years (2013–2015).
Since I review so many books for my work, this blog is intended as a fun space where I mostly talk about my leisure reading and books I recommend. I started it in March 2015.
My favorite genres to read and review are literary fiction, historical fiction and memoirs. For full-length blog reviews I generally focus on recent and upcoming U.K. releases in those categories, although I also read U.S. offerings through NetGalley and Edelweiss.
I am open to offers of review books, especially when connected with specific opportunities like a blog tour or an author Q&A (see also my “Reading Interests” below).
I prefer to receive finished print copies or print proofs for review, although I can read e-books when necessary.
Please note that I am extremely unlikely to consider self-published books for review, and as a rule I do not read crime, science fiction or fantasy.
I post frequently, with straightforward reviews appearing on the blog up to eight times a month.
In between I also feature books from my own shelves and from my library borrowing (feel free to join in the monthly “Library Checkout” meme); explore thematic connections; report on my literary travels, bookshops I’ve visited or events I’ve attended; and think more broadly and philosophically about my life – career, hobbies, and where it’s all going.
In 2017 I first ran “Doorstopper of the Month” and “Classic of the Month” features to encourage me to read some of the very long books that I own and get through more classics. I’m trying this again for 2019. In 2017 I also created an unofficial Wellcome Book Prize shadow panel (now in its third year) and participated in the official Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award shadow panel.
I read 300+ books a year and, in addition to the above genres (see “Review Policy”), enjoy contemporary poetry, graphic novels, self-help, popular science, popular theology and nature writing.
Broadening my experience of literature in translation is an ongoing priority.
Specific subgenres that I particularly love include medical and bereavement memoirs, “foodoirs” (food-themed memoirs), “graphic memoirs” (memoirs in the form of a graphic novel), true stories of faith and doubt, epistolary and campus novels, Victorian pastiches and books about cats.
Other Literary Interests
- Authors’ houses and graves
- Victorian studies
- Literary prize races (especially the Man Booker Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize)
My big dreams are to be involved in bibliotherapy in some way and to judge a literary prize.
Getting in Touch
I link to my Twitter account in the sidebar on the right. I am very active on Goodreads and a fairly frequent user of Instagram (bookishbeck). You can also contact me via the form below.