I usually just put up links of blogs I like, without ever asking for permission or links exchange. I think if I like it, I like it, no need to barter trade. I also take off my links if they fail to update regularly (at least once a week, please).
I get multiple requests for links exchange every week. I cannot accommodate all, or else I will have hundreds of blog links on my page, which is no good for anyone.
I generally do not highlight blogs I link up. Though I think "goodstockbadstock" is a winner, and Rasa Malaysia is amazing in showing me how to cook well. ParanoidAndroid should be a writer/photographer extraordinaire. Diary of A Growing Boy makes me yearn for the finer things in life without being condescending to its audience.
The following new link is interesting. It has dashes of romance, poetry, women stuff, gardening, stiff drinks, etc. It makes for an interesting daily read. Check it out: An Undomesticated Blogspot.