Happy First Birthday to The Steel Review!

First birthday cupcake

The start of September marked the first birthday of The Steel Review! I know that was a little while ago now, but I’ve been trying to catch up with all the reviews I already had planned before making  a song and dance about it, or introducing anything new. It’s come a long way in a year; The Steel Review has now been read in 81 different countries/territories/principalities (however WordPress divides/categorises them), and has gathered a very healthy bunch of followers along the way. I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with the response, I really am well chuffed. If you could see my face right now, you’d see I’m beaming from ear to ear! A grand total of twenty four book reviews, twenty four film reviews (not including the silly Fight Club review), seven album reviews, seven gig reviews, and four book vs film reviews have been churned out, all of which can be found through the Reviews tab at the top of the page. These also include 11 of the BBC Big Read Top 200 Best Loved Books and 5 of IMDB’s Top 250 Highest Rated Movies; these lists form part of My Culture Mission, which you can read about in the handily titled My Culture Mission tab. I’m going to re-organise the Reviews tab a bit over the coming days, and also include the date of the reviews in the listings. I’d like to think I’ve improved a lot as the year’s gone by, so I hope you can forgive the clumsy and rather cringey nature of the earlier reviews – rest assured that the very worst will probably be rewritten at some point in the (possibly distant) future.

As The Steel Review is now heading into its second year, I thought it was time for a bit of a shake-up or reorganisation, and a prime opportunity to throw in some new elements. So, here’s what’s going to be happening:

Music Monday will be making a come back! This is mainly for selfish reasons. I’ve decided that I pick and choose songs to listen to without dedicating enough time to appreciate albums in their entirety. After all, we should judge bands not just on individual songs, but on bodies of work. Because of this I’ve decided that I’m going to have an album of the week, so that I can devote plenty of time to getting to know the lesser known album tracks, really pay attention to the lyrics, and generally be a bit of a sap about it all, and I thought as might as well document it along the way. This won’t happen every Monday because there will be some albums that I don’t want to share publicly, either because they’re too embarrassing or because it’s a Bon Jovi album, which I adore but can’t review due to reasons which I’ve discussed here. It will (hopefully) be most Mondays though. I’m not expecting these to be very popular posts because a lot of the albums I listen to are from the ‘80s and are kind of old news but, like I said, I’m doing this for mainly selfish reasons, and for my own enjoyment.

I will also be taking up a Weekly Book Challenge! As you can see from the Goodreads widget thing in the sidebar, I set myself a challenge to read 50 books this year. According to the Goodreads widget, I’m currently 16 books behind schedule. This is a bit of an exaggeration because I’m currently 5 books ahead of updating Goodreads, but it’s still not a promising sign. I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be making the 50 book target this year. However, I am setting myself a new challenge, and that is to try and read one book a week, which also translates to writing more book reviews. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a new book review every week, as my challenge is going to include at least one non-fiction book every month, and I don’t really feel comfortable reviewing those. Non-fiction book reviews call for a certain amount of knowledge of the subject area, and the majority of the time I don’t feel mine would be sufficient. I may be tempted by biographies and autobiographies, but otherwise non-fiction works will be strictly off limit. I’m looking forward to starting this challenge though, and if you’d like to join in or are setting yourself a similar challenge, please get in touch! I’d love to hear how you get on.

A little while ago I posted a poll (which you can still vote in here) asking what people would like to see more of on The Steel Review, and the Book Vs. Film reviews came out on top. I also really enjoy writing them (which always helps), so I’m going to try and write one every month (although this obviously depends on which books I end up reading in my Weekly Book Challenge). I’ll also try and throw in a few Film Reviews more regularly, paying special attention to those listed on My Culture Mission. Basically, everything will hopefully be happening more regularly and more often.

Most excitingly of all, over the next couple of days I’ll be introducing something completely new – a Writers’ Workshop! I’ve just started an evening course in AS Level Creative Writing, and I thought it might be handy for myself (and hopefully for others too) if I jot down what I’ve been learning, the techniques we’ve discussed in class, the methods I’ve been shown for improving writing etc. Now I am by no means claiming to be an expert on this. I’ll say right from the start that creative writing is not something I actively do in life at the moment, or have ever really done other than a 5 minute dabble here and there, but it’s something that I really want to try, and to learn how to do to the best of my ability. The Workshop sections will not be instructions from me on how to write. That would be absolutely ridiculous, I don’t know how to write! But I thought it would be useful to share the learning process, and it’s also a way for me to track my own progress (and will be a handy reminder for when I’m preparing for the exam in May). I won’t be sharing any of my own writing on here, just what I’ve learned in class and what we’ve discussed. This is an area that I’d really love feedback on though. Obviously I’d love feedback on anything and everything that I stick up here, I’m always really keen to know people’s thoughts and opinions on what I’ve posted, but if you have any writing tips and tricks of your own, or if you’ve tried some of the techniques I was shown in class and they did or didn’t work – whether you’ve been writing for donkeys’ years, or you’re just branching out into something new like me, please, please share! I really would love to hear what you have to say.

So that’s that, everything that’s been before and everything that’s yet to come posted in a (rather large) nutshell. I WILL be completely up to date by the end of the weekend, even if it means I have to stay up all night. After that, everything will be posted as and when I’ve read it/watched it/heard it/attended class – there will be no backlog! So expect things to get a bit busy here over the weekend, and keep your eyes peeled for some brand spanking new stuff from next week. Who knows, maybe I’ll also include a little something about me. After all, it’s been over a year now, it’s probably about time I introduced myself properly! Huge thanks to everyone who’s been reading and commenting over the past year, and here’s to another Jam-Packed Year of Stuff for The Steel Review.

Sara x

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