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BBAW

    BBAW: 2012 Highlights

    This year I haven’t had as much time to catch up with all the posts around the blogosphere as I did last year. But I plan to do so. It will just be post-event. But even with my crazy schedule, I still managed to take a peek around.

    And I discovered that a couple of the bloggers I’ve known forever decided to participate this year – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads and Two Chicks On Books – a couple others that I’ve known a little but got to know a little better were also participants – The Non Reluctant Reader and The Book Vixen – and I even got the chance to discover a few new blogs I’ll be scoping out – Roof Beam Reader, Short and Sweet Reviews and Musings of a Bookish Kitty.

    I found a new book that I know I never would have crossed paths with thanks to The Busy Bibliophile who swears by Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park. And I was forced to put my thinking cap on to promote a book  – The Incredible Journey – that I thought deserved a bit more attention.

    This year the posts were much more challenging than last year. And I really had to dig deep to put into words just what book blogging meant to me. I’d almost given up but as I am not one to quit without at least giving it my best effort, I pushed myself. And I’m glad I did.

    It also seemed to me that there were fewer participants than last year. Perhaps it was because there were no awards for being the best, most popular, most revered. But it was the lack of awards that made me decide to join in rather than sit on the sidelines. While I was unbelievably flattered last year to have been nominated for the awards, before I even knew what they were, I love that the hosts of this event decided that appreciating bloggers was about appreciating all bloggers and not singling out just a few.

    I think it’s such a wonderful thing to have an event that puts the spotlight on book bloggers who spend their time shining the light on books and authors year-round. It’s nice to know that our efforts are appreciated even though we do this for ourselves, because we love doing what we do, and not for any kudos or pats on the back.

    I am thrilled to have been able to participate in this year’s interview swap, to discover something new about the blogging community – such as bloggiesta, an event that I’d only heard about but now know a bit more about thanks to Sheila of Book Journey’s post on the BBAW blog – and to be able to find out just a little bit more about the bloggers in this community.

    I may be a blogger myself, but I have a deep appreciation for every hard-working, dedicated and book- and author-loving blogger out there, even if I don’t know them all.

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    BBAW Pimping Books: Book Love for The Incredible Journey

    I went back and forth quite a bit about what book I thought needed a little extra love during Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I like to think that all the books I read and love these days are wildly successful and that they don’t need an extra push because they’re amazing and everyone knows it. Whether that’s my wishful thinking or reality, I couldn’t name one book that was crying out for attention.

    And so I thought back to some of my favorite books growing up. Books I’ve read over and over through the years, books that never lost that place in my heart they’d held. And books that maybe aren’t as well-known today.

    While The Yearling, Old Yeller, Watership Down and The Wizard of Oz are classics that will forever be remembered, books like The Phantom TollboothTuck Everlasting, Tiger Eyes, Born Free and The Outsiders might not be as widely known.

    And as it is one of my most favorite of childhood stories, one that I’ve never forgotten, because it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming and magical, I just couldn’t help but show a little love for The Incredible Journey.

    Title: The Incredible Journey

    Author: Sheila Burnford

    Publisher: Yearling (Reprint Edition)

    Pub. Date: 1961

    Pages: 160

    Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

    Goodreads description:

    Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love.

    The Incredible Journey is one of the great children’s stories of all time–and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.

    I really hope this book is as popular today as the description says it is. It is a delightful and heartwarming journey that brought me to tears many times. The writing is beautiful and really made the story and characters come to life. It had wonderful illustrations that gave dimension to the scenes they depicted. And while it is a short book, the story was rich with detail and action-packed and was the perfect length to tell Luath, Bodger and Tao’s story.

    I was so glad they’d released it for the Kindle last year. I’d requested it countless times as my print edition was falling to bits. Now I can be anywhere in the world and have access to a story that captivates me with every read and allows me to escape for a couple hours.

    For just a taste of the author’s amazing way with words, here are a couple short passages.

    The shadows lengthened across the deserted track, and the evening wind sighed down it to sweep a flurry of whispering leaves across the rut, their brown brittleness light as a benison as they drifted across the unheeding white form.

    And…

    The bear halted, then reared up to full height attack, red eyes glinting savagely, neck upstretched and head weaving from side to side in a menacing, snakelike way. The cat uttered another banshee scream and stepped forward with a stiff-legged, sideways movement, his squinting, terrible eyes fixed on his enormous adversary. Something like fear or indecision crept into the bear’s eyes as the cat advanced; she shuffled back with lowered head.

    Well, I don’t know if that was enough to pique your curiosity about this book, or to entice you to read it again if you already had. But both Amazon and Barnes & Noble give you the option to take a peek inside the book. And maybe a longer look will do the trick.

    While The Incredible Journey is commonly thought of as a children’s book, it apparently wasn’t necessarily written as one. Which is probably why it is such an enjoyable read no matter how far away from childhood I am.

    And as this is a lifelong favorite of mine, one I’ve read many, many times I couldn’t let this year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week go by without giving it a shout out.

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    BBAW: What Does Book Blogging Mean to Me?

    I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times already. I think I’m having such a hard time composing my thoughts because book blogging has come to mean so much to me. I may have started this with no real direction, no real thought about the future and no altruistic reason for doing so. But it’s developed into something I love doing and it’s introduced me to a community I’m incredibly proud to be a part of.

    When I started out I shied away from the term “blogger.” But now I embrace it. I see book bloggers as those readers who care so deeply about the books they read that they want to share their love of reading with others. They want to shine the spotlight on the authors they love. And they do all this in their spare time. They do all this without any real compensation. They do all this without any guarantee of success or praise or even notice.

    And it is because of this that I feel so happy, so privileged, so honored to call myself a book blogger.

    Blogging about books has given me an outlet for all those thoughts that rattle around in my head. It’s given me a forum to voice my opinions on not only my thoughts about books but on anything book-related I feel like talking about. It’s introduced me to a group of people who are equally as passionate as I am about the books we read.

    And it’s given me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for sticking with something even when it’s not easy, for trying new things instead of keeping a closed mind, for taking risks when I’d much rather take the safe road and for being myself even though following in someone else’s footsteps might be easier.

    Blogging has allowed me to be creative. It’s shown me that I am capable of things I’d never thought possible. It’s given me back a voice I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. And it’s helped me fill that void of time that television just couldn’t fill.

    Blogging has given me something I can call my own. It’s given me the chance to connect with the wonderfully amazing writers that were simply names on a cover page heretofore. It’s given me the courage to meet new people. And every so often it makes me feel as if something I’ve said makes a difference to more than just me or my friends and family.

    And blogging about books means that I’m doing something I love doing. I’m doing something for me and no one else. And I’m doing it because I choose to do it, not because someone thinks I should.

    My blogs are a little piece of me. Out there. On the interwebs. For the whole world to see. To ignore. To enjoy. To hate.

    But hey, at least I’m putting myself out there. And that’s more than I can say about the me from two years ago.

    So, yes, book blogging means so much more to me than just these few words I can use to express its meaning in this short-for-me blog post. It means creativity. It means friendship. It means courage. It means joy. It means pain. It means hard work. It means heartbreak. It means envy. It means pride. It means sleepless nights. It means secrets. It means drama. It means smiles. It means trust. It means honesty. It means dishonesty. It means laughter. It means love.

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    BBAW Interview Swap: Short and Sweet Reviews

    Last year I didn’t hear about BBAW until it was too late to take part in the interview swap, so this year I made sure to sign up early. And I’m so glad that I did. Because I got paired up with an awesome blog that hadn’t been on my radar until now.

    With as tight knit a community as it is, there are still so very many book blogs out there and without events like this it’s not always a guarantee you’ll bump into each and every one of them.

    So I love that BBAW set aside an entire day for bloggers to meet other bloggers through interview exchanges and gave us the opportunity to introduce those blogs to our readers.

    And I’m so thrilled to be able to welcome Amanda and Sarah of Short and Sweet Reviews to the blog today.

    But before I get to the interview, here’s just a little bit about Amanda and Sarah from the bios on their site….

    About Amanda (a.k.a. Coranne)

    Amanda Copulos is from a small town in Central PA.  After a few short stops at Penn State and Washington DC, she is back in another small town in PA where the only heavy traffic to be found are Amish buggies.  She spends way too much time reading and is trying to get herself diagnosed with an addiction to YA paranormal fiction.  When her nose isn’t stuck in a book, you can usually find her chasing around her speedy son  Micah.

    About Sarah

    Sarah’s also a Pennsylvania native and PSU grad who has since relocated to Chicago, one of the least midwest-y cities in the midwest.  She has her MA in Clinical Psychology and currently works in Human Resources, focusing on policy and compliance issues, at a major law firm.  When she isn’t reading books, she’s maintaining her own music blog (www.howsmyliving.com), hosting a weekly indie-rock-and-also-bluegrass radio show (www.chirpradio.org), or singing in a folk-rock/Americana inspired band (www.jungleofcities.com).  She enjoys dystopian fiction, zombies, peanut butter, and chasing after her cat.

     

    Q. If you had to describe Short and Sweet Reviews to someone who has never visited your book blog before, how would you describe it?

    Coranne: The reason I named it Short and Sweet Reviews was just that. I love reading reviews, but when they get lengthy- I tend to skim. I wanted a site that got straight to the point without retelling the entire book (and giving away everything). So I hope it is just that- we are friendly ladies and we love to talk books!

    Q. You have four bloggers associated with Short and Sweet Reviews – Coranne, Sarah, Mandi and Ericka. Were you all involved from the outset? Had you always planned on your blog being one with multiple bloggers?

    Coranne: I founded the blog and really planned to only be blogging by myself. Ericka, Sarah, and Mandi jumped onboard when I wasn’t saying no enough and needed help. Ericka and Mandi are with little ones and are on hiatus for now, but I have to say- it takes off a LOAD of stress knowing someone else will be there to pick up the slack when you are sick.

    Q. What do you find to be the biggest pluses for having multiple bloggers on board? What are the challenges?

    Coranne: Biggest plus? The help! Not feeling like I have to do everything every day for myself. The biggest challenge? Making sure that you are all easy going about the blog and willing to compromise – it becomes someone else’s baby too – and that someone else may have different ideas than you.

    Q. Short and Sweet Reviews is just over one-and-a-half years old. (Congratulations, by the way!) How has your blog changed over its lifespan?

    Coranne: How has it changed? Content. When I started, I only blogged once a week – now we try to have something every day, including giveaways, and features.

    Q. As veteran bloggers what advice would you give to new blogs starting out?

    Sarah: Read what you love! Post what you want, when you want. There is apparently a lot of drama in the book blogging community, but I’ve been around the internet a long time, and between nearly 15 years of fandom involvement and several years of music blogging, I find it pretty easy to block out. (I’ve seen a LOT of drama and bad behavior over the past 15+ years!) Traffic stats and publisher contacts and comments are nice things to care about, for data nerds, but I really think the essential part of blogging, no matter what your topic, is fun. It shouldn’t feel like work, or an obligation, or something you dread. You should still make time to read books you love, or have been meaning to get to, not just the soon-to-be-published things in your to-be-read pile. Even though most of the books I’ve read lately are new ones that I’m reviewing, I try to throw in something that I want to read just for me every so often.

    Q. While you both review YA, you seem to have different interests in the types of books/genres you read. What do each of you bring to the blog that lets your readers know just who you are? Do you find that you reach the same audience or have you developed your own readership?

    Sarah: I like to think that Coranne is the kinder, gentler blogger, of the two of us. (I say that mostly because I know she’ll make a funny face when she reads this answer.)

    Coranne: I think what she is saying is that I am a big scaredy pants. I’m not denying it.

    Sarah: My reading tastes tend to lean towards darker urban fantasy, horror, sci-fi, thrillers, etc. I still read your standard contemporary romances or fantasy romp, but my real love has always been books that are dark and gritty and moody. I think we both look for the same qualities in books, though — strong characters, stellar worldbuilding, books that make you think. I think my reviews maybe tend to be a little more sarcastic, and I am slowly giving in to the desire to illustrate my deep feelings about books with GIFs. I think we each have our own readership but of course there is going to be an overlap of people who just devour any kind of book review, regardless of their preferred genres.

    Coranne: I agree – I have noticed that since Sarah started blogging – different people tend to comment on her reviews rather than mine. I think that it is great that she can bring more readers to our blog! I echo Sarah’s feelings – although I tend to lean towards the “lighter” stuff, I really just want to read something that is GOOD. I would like to think that Sarah is being dragged farther into the YA world by me 🙂

    Q. What do you like most about blogging? What is your least favorite part about blogging about books?

    Sarah: My favorite part is being exposed to new books and new authors who I may not have ever heard of, had I not been blogging. Blogging has also gotten me back into the habit of reading more regularly — I’ve always been a pretty voracious reader but it’s something that often fell to the wayside when I was busy or tired or whatever. I’ve been much better about setting aside time to read, and have gotten back into the pattern of curling up on a couch with a book instead of wasting more time on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. My least favorite part? Probably balancing my expectations (Read All The Books!!) with reality (I have no spare time!). Or having to push yourself through nine mediocre books before you find that tenth one that’s going to be your new favorite.

    Coranne: Finding out that there were other adults out there that read YA! I always felt like a nerd shopping in the teen section and checking out YA books – turns out I was just ahead of the trend! I can honestly say that my TV time has been cut down to an absolute minimum since I have been blogging – and I love it! I absolutely love spending so much time reading! The downside? The drama. I think I have successfully stayed out of the drama so far – I really want nothing to do with it. I think a lot of times we all forget that real people are behind these books and blogs – people that make stupid mistakes and need forgiveness and grace. If we remembered that first there might be less drama all around.

    Q. You both have lives outside of your blogging life. Have you found it difficult to balance your real life responsibilities with your blogging responsibilities? Do you have any tips for finding balance?

    Sarah: My real life is definitely pretty hectic! It’s a challenge to balance real life with online responsibilities, but I do the best I can. Blogging is one of the first things I slow down on when real life gets too busy — I’m not going to get fired if I don’t put up a review, but if I miss a deadline at work, or a scheduled event for one of the groups I volunteer with, I’m going to get in trouble, for sure. And that’s probably my biggest tip — know how to prioritize, and know when you need to put blogging on the back burner. Like I said before, blogging should be something that’s fun, not a chore or another full-time job that you’re not getting paid for.

    Coranne: Perhaps this is a question to ask my 2 year old… no he will answer, “Mommy ignores me.” I have always had a book at my nose – while cooking dinner, while doing laundry, etc. This hasn’t changed. I always underestimate how long it will take me to finish a post – and then I get behind. How to find balance? Never let it become a chore. Learn how to say NO.

    Q. What are your top five favorite new authors or books that you discovered as a result of becoming a book blogger?

    Sarah:

    1. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.
    2. The Matthew Swift series of books, by Kate Griffin
    3. Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan
    4. The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa.
    5. Monstrous Beauty, by Elizabeth Fama. This is cheating a bit, as I haven’t read it yet, but I had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth at her book release party and she is just the sweetest woman ever, and I have been assured by Coranne that I’m going to love the book.

    Coranne: Sarah! I was going to pick Elizabeth Fama – no fair! Elizabeth is pretty awesome – I stalked her through Goodreads and then through Twitter and I think she has become a wonderful friend. My heart hurt for her earlier when a bit of drama surrounded her, but I know her as a person who is genuine and completely awesome.

    Other books and authors I have discovered? Well Divergent absolutely! I remember reading other blogs right as I started up mine and they were going gaga over it. I think the most fun I have had meeting authors has been through our feature Best Book Ever. It has been so fun working with these 2012 debut authors and following them up to their debuts. Now we have a new crop of 2013 authors and I can’t wait to get to know them more!

    Q. What are the top three favorite posts each of you have written that you’d like to share? They can be reviews, discussion posts, etc. (Links please!) And why?

    Sarah: In no particular order…

    1. My review of Pushing the Limits. I like this one because of its perfect usage of GIFs. Unlike the rest of the blogging world, I really really did not like this book. I could really only express my annoyance in pictures. One of them is of Matt Bomer. You’re welcome.

    2. My review of Feed. This is one of my most favorite books ever, I read it all in one sitting and I love it just because blogging about it gives me the opportunity to try to force more people to read it.

    3. My review of Unspoken, aka that one where I kind of get up on an undercover feminist-y soapbox. I loved this book because it has the kind of spunky, witty, don’t-need-no-help-from-boys kind of main character who I would have loved to read about as a kid, and who I strongly feel that there needs to be more of in YA lit.

    Coranne: Erm… I am awful at this – can I offer up 3 reviews written by other people? I don’t really have three – but I will absolutely pimp Best Book Ever. It is hands down my favorite part of the blog. I had to step down from running it at the start of this pregnancy because I was too sick, but Sarah has done a magnificent job keeping it up. I just wish more people saw it- I really think they would love it!

    Q. You have a feature on your blog called BEST BOOK EVER. What is the best book ever for each of you? (You can only choose one!)

    Sarah: Ahhhhhh this is so difficult. I already want to start throwing lots and lots of books at you. Um. I am probably going to go with Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. It’s definitely NOT a YA book, as it is full of mature content, but I have read this book so many times that my copy’s starting to fall open to certain well-read passages. Carey’s worldbuilding is exquisite and while I think a lot of authors have tried to copy what she’s done, none have lived up to it.

    Coranne: Ha ha, whoops – totally didn’t realize the next question was about BBE when I answered the last one… My favorite book ever? Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marrilier. It is a combination of the 12 dancing princes, vampires, faeries, and the frog prince – it is just perfect.

    Q. What made you decide to participate in BBAW? Did you participate last year? If you have, what was that experience like for you? Did you “meet” new bloggers? If you hadn’t, what do you hope to gain from the experience this year?

    Coranne: Last year during BBAW, I am pretty sure it was just me running the blog. I participated and I had no idea what was going on! I found a few new blogs but really didn’t get a chance to be part of the community more. This year, I really want to focus less on my blog and more on getting to know new blogs. I really haven’t had time during this pregnancy to go out and comment on other blogs as much as I wanted to. I am trying to do more now – and get to know more bloggers, rather than staying in my introverted bubble.

    Quickie Questions

    Print, audio or eBooks?

    Sarah: Print. eBooks are great for convenience and travel, but there’s nothing like holding an actual paper book in my hands.

    Coranne: Print, hands down

    Readers or followers?

    Sarah: Readers.

    Coranne: Readers

    Twitter or Facebook?

    Sarah: Twitter. I resisted it for a very long time until a friend talked me into getting an account. Now, I’m kind of addicted.

    Coranne: Twitter

    Blogger or WordPress?

    Sarah: Our blog’s hosted on Blogger, but I’m a WordPress girl, all the way.

    Coranne: …. ha ha I don’t really care…

    Reading Challenges or Blog Tours?

    Sarah: Blog Tours.

    Coranne: Ditto!

    Thank you so much Coranne and Sarah for answering all my questions and for letting us get to know you, your blog and your reading preferences just a bit more. I definitely plan on stopping by to check out some of your Short and Sweet Reviews and to see just what you both think about some titles that I consider favorites!

    If you’d like to visit Coranne and Sarah and the rest of the team (when they’re back to blogging) at Short and Sweet Reviews, here are a few places to find them…

    Find Short and Sweet Reviews

    Their BLOG

    Their FACEBOOK page

    Coranne on GOODREADS

    Coranne on TWITTER

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    BBAW Giveaway


    For this year’s BBAW giveaway I am taking things a bit literally. This event is about appreciating book bloggers so that’s what I’m doing. Book bloggers not only spend a lot of time talking about books, promoting books and reading books, but we spend a lot of money buying books.

    Whether it’s to give them away to our readers for taking the time to visit our site, whether it’s to help increase visibility and traffic to our site, whether it’s to help spread the word about an author’s book we absolutely love, or whether it’s because we just have to have a particular book in our collection, we tend to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on books.

    So, in order to show my appreciation to those bloggers who, like me, spend most of our spare cash buying the books we love, I’m opening up this giveaway to book bloggers only.

    What’s up for grabs:

    The book blogger’s choice of up to $50 in books from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location.

    The deets:

    1. One entry per HOUSEHOLD.

    2. Giveaway is open to BOOK BLOGGERS ONLY.

    3. There will be ONE winner.

    4. You must be 13 or older.

    5. Giveaway is International.

    6. Contest ends at 9:01 p.m. Pacific on Friday, September 14, 2012.

    7. Winner will be chosen by Random.org through Rafflecopter and announced on September 15th in this post.

    7. Winner will have 48 hours after notification to respond with their details and books of their choice.

    There is no requirement to like or follow, but if you’d like to spread the word that would be awesome!

    Enter in the Rafflectoper form below:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    BBAW Appreciation: Blogs I Love

     Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is “Appreciation!”

    I am super thrilled to be participating in BBAW once again this year. Partly because I love that the event has chosen to appreciate all bloggers and not make it about the awards this year, partly because I’m just so happy to be blogging for yet another year and partly because I think this is an incredible event that shines the spotlight on the book blogging community as a whole.

    With all the drama of the past year, joining together with a group of bloggers to celebrate blogging and getting the chance to set aside, even if just for a week, all the negative stuff that seems to be a growing side effect of blogging is a wonderful way to show just how much the large majority of us love this community, love the authors we interact with and love talking about books with anyone and everyone who will listen.

    There are so many bloggers who work to keep this a community, who continue to persevere even through the tough stuff and who bring joy and enthusiasm to it on a daily basis, that I couldn’t possibly list them all. But they are so very much appreciated.

    This year’s question asked us to share some of the blogs we enjoy reading daily and why. And while I don’t get a chance to read my favorite blogs every day, I do visit certain blogs fairly frequently –  or at least read their newsletters that get delivered right into my email. I’ve spotlighted just a few of them, below.

    ***

    Blogs I Love

    I am a regular visitor of Parajunkee.com. I stop by at least a couple times a week to check out Rachel’s posts. And it’s not just because she’s my favorite blog designer. I love her voice which shows through clearly in each and every one of the posts and reviews she writes. I love the character she brings to her reviews. And I love the informative BB101 discussion posts she comes up with each week. She helps to create a dialogue with her posts that engages the reader and provides a forum, of sorts, for them to share their thoughts about the topic at hand.

    She is a blogger who is active in the community, someone who, by her Friday meme/feature helps to bring attention to blogs that otherwise might not be noticed as easily throughout the blogosphere and she is just someone who is incredibly entertaining and fun to interact with.

    Aside from her BLOG she can be found on TWITTER, on FACEBOOK, on YouTube, at Spine Benders on YouTube and on TUMBLR.

    I am also an avid reader and fan of Two Chicks on Books. I visit Jaime’s blog daily, even when I’ve read her posts in my email. Her reviews are honest and when she loves a book her enthusiasm always makes me desperate to grab a copy and start reading. She is also an active participant in blog tours, and I love getting to read all the exciting posts she has from a variety of authors – some I might never have discovered if it weren’t for her blog.

    Even if we hadn’t become friends I’d still be checking out her site, because I love her voice. And I love the sneak peeks at her favorite passages she includes with her reviews. Jaime is a hard-working, dedicated blogger who absolutely loves what she does. She’s incredibly easygoing, approachable and friendly. And she’s probably the only person in the blogosphere I’m not afraid to send a random Tweet to.

    Jaime can be found on her BLOG, FACEBOOK, and GOODREADS. But if you want to get to know her best, catch her on TWITTER where she’s always a part of the conversation.

    One of my new favorite blogs to visit is The Bookish Brunette. While I don’t get to visit Ashley’s blog every day, I try to catch up on weekends. Her reviews and posts are wildly entertaining to borrow a phrase most often used in reviews. She has a very distinctive voice which shines through in everything she writes and it’s so much fun to read her posts. She’s incredibly enthusiastic about the books and authors she loves. And it’s her passion for them that makes me enjoy checking out what she has to say on her blog.

    She is incredibly supportive of the community and the authors therein, her vlogs are the stuff of awesome and are very much the real her. And when she gets going on Twitter her conversations are laugh out loud funny. Plus, she, too, is an amazing designer and I adore staring at her blog design and avatars, which are ever changing.

    Ashley can be found on her BLOG, TWITTER – you won’t want to miss her there – FACEBOOK, YouTube and Spine Benders on YouTube.

    I am also a frequent visitor of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads. Aside from the fact that Mindy is one of the nicest bloggers I know, and aside from the fact that her blog design is absolutely gorgeous, I almost always discover a new book or author when I visit. I love reading her author interviews – she really makes them fun – and checking out her author guest posts. And when I’ve read a book that she’s reviewed I like to go back and check out her thoughts, which are always honest.

    Mindy is incredibly generous and she loves sharing her books and her passion for books with her blog readers and friends. She’s nice, fun and clever and her enthusiasm for the fictional boys she adores always makes me smile.

    You can find Mindy on her BLOG, FACEBOOK, GOODREADS, TUMBLR and every so often she’ll pop up on TWITTER to say something awesome.

    While I don’t get to read as many blogs as I’d like, as often as I’d like, there are quite a few bloggers that I love checking out when I get the chance. Here are just a few of them….

    Bookalicio.us and Bookalicious.org – Pam is still one of my favorite bloggers, though I wanted to share the spotlight with a few other favorites this year. I don’t know how she does all that she does – blogging, writing, working as a literary agent. She’s truly inspirational.

    BookPics – Alba is one of the sweetest, nicest and most enthusiastic bloggers I know. Just check out one of her vlogs or reviews and you’ll see just how much she loves books and the authors who write them. Whenever I need a reminder of the good things in this community, I visit Alba’s blog.

    Nina Reads –  Nina is a blogger I “met” through participating in a Top Ten meme on one of my other blogs. I checked out her blog and loved the way she writes her reviews. They’re informative and they have such a nice, easy flow to them. I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like, am terribly quiet when I visit, but I love hearing her thoughts about the books she’s read.

    Reading Teen – I love checking out the reviews and posts by Amy and Andye and the rest of the “team” at Reading Teen. While site statistics may suggest that I don’t visit very often, it’s only because I’m subscribed to their newsletter and shamefully read their posts from afar. I think I only noticed their updated blog design a month ago!

    Avery’s Book Nook – Avery is one of my favorite reviewers. I love checking out her thoughts on the books I love. And I love learning about new books I might not otherwise have known about. While she is taking a bit of a break from blogging right now, I am a loyal – if not as frequent as I’d like – reader of her blog and will definitely stick around for when she does find time to post.

    While I would love to list every blogger I appreciate and think is amazing and an asset to this community, I have to wrap this post before it gets out of control. Which is a very real possibility for me.

    And I appreciate every single blogger and reader who stops by the blog, reads my posts, leaves comments, interacts with me on Facebook and Twitter and makes me feel a part of this community instead of just an outsider. I am terribly shy around people I don’t know so I appreciate them all so much for making me feel welcome.

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    BBAW: Blogging

    Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is about “Blogging”

    For the final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week we were asked to name three things that we think are essential practices for every blogger and to come up with a few trends or tools we’ve recently adopted or plan on adopting.

    Wow. This is actually a tough one. Well, the narrowing it down part and then the trends part. Given the fact that I am so not trendy. Though I really wish I were.

    Things I think are blogging essentials…

    Blog for the love of blogging

    I can’t say I had the most noble intentions when I started my blog. I knew nothing about the community. I had never read or seen a book blog before November 2010.

    I started blogging back in November because I wanted the opportunity to beta read Amanda Hocking’s book Torn and being a blogger was a requirement to do so. This was back before I knew what ARCs were or even what a galley was. I just knew that I was a huge fan of her writing and I wanted to get a chance to read her book early.

    Plus, the thought of putting my proofreading skills to the test on something as important as a work of fiction was a dream come true.

    That being said, the only reason I continued blogging past that one post was because I fell in love with it. I have my good days and bad days, but I just can’t imagine walking away. My blog is my labor of love. It is the product of countless hours of thought and research – because there is a lot of research involved when trying to be informative – and just plain hard work.

    I’ve found that what I thought might simply be a fun hobby has turned out to be more of a second job. But it’s a job I am extremely passionate about, so it makes all the late nights, the early mornings and the frazzled brain worth it.

    Blogging can be hard work, but the rewards are incredible. And no matter what your motivation to blog is – to share your love of books, to meet others with similar interests, to interact with authors – without loving what you do each and every day, the effort it takes will soon outweigh the benefits.

    Blog at your own pace

    I have heard this said and I have passed this sage wisdom on again and again. Find a schedule that you feel comfortable with and keep to it. Don’t feel that you have to blog every single day. Or even every other day.

    Of course, I don’t heed any of that advice myself. I have this little voice inside my head that screams at me and makes sure that I have something posted each and every day. Whether I have the time or energy to do so, or not.

    I have enough features, random thoughts, reviews or other items to post that would easily fill up every single day of the week. My problem is that none of these things are written in advance. I have nothing in the coffers. The cabinets are bare. I am one post away from extinction. So, until I sit down to write my post each night, with rare exception, I am that close to having a blog-free day ahead.

    But I don’t feel the pressure from the blogosphere to do so. This is all internal and is nothing new for me. So, as stressful as this pace may be, it’s exactly who I am. It is my pace.

    Some of my favorite blogs to stalk are those that post when they can. Sometimes that’s once a week, sometimes that’s a few times in a day and then nothing for awhile. I know that the bloggers are around, so I’m not wondering what happened to them. It’s just the pace that works for them. And therefore it works for me, as one of their loyal readers.

    Blog in your own voice

    I recently wrote a post about this on the blog. It’s one of the things I think is most important. Speaking in your own voice. Readers want to hear what you have to say. In your words. It’s why we visit the different blogs out there. It’s why we don’t just check out one review and call it a day.

    I visit my favorite blogs to hear what each of those bloggers has to say. For bloggers who have found their voice, I enjoy hearing it in their posts and reviews. It’s why I visit them. I love the different ways people think and express themselves.

    The same is true for books. It’s not the subject matter that changes so significantly much of the time, it’s the voice the author speaks in that makes each book different. The way each author crafts their story, develops their characters and builds that connection with the reader that makes each book feel new and exciting.

    If all authors adopted the same way of speaking through their books, we’d only need one book about vampires, angels, Greek gods, witches, werewolves, etc. It’s those differences in how the author shapes those words and builds those stories that make us want to discover each one of them.

    And this is why we can have so many different blogs that aren’t fighting to fill one spot. There may be blogs more popular than others, but that doesn’t mean we should try and sound like them so that we can be just as popular. It won’t work. While mimicking someone’s style may be possible, it’s probably not something we’d be happy doing day after day.

    Unless we’re putting down our thoughts on the page in the way that we think and write, we’re being disingenuous. We’re pretending to be someone we’re not. And while it may not be obvious at first, it can’t last. Keeping up the facade can be tiresome and it’s just dishonest to our readers.

    Besides, as bloggers we should be proud of our voice. We’re taking the time and energy to express ourselves and share ourselves with the world. Whether we have five followers or five thousand, there is someone out there that wants to hear what we have to say.

    Trends in blogging….

    I am neither a trendsetter or much of a trend follower so it is pretty tough for me to come up with a few that I’ve adopted or am planning on adopting.

    After many hours between that last sentence and this one, the only things I can think of that seem to be popular these days for bloggers are Google +, Tumblr and this little thing called Paper.li which turns your Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds into an online newsletter. I’m not sure if any of these would be considered trends or tools, but it’s all I can come up with.

    While I have a Google+ membership, I have no idea how to use it. I’m not sure if it will be the next best thing and replace Twitter and Facebook, but it’s there as an option thanks to an invite I received from one of my favorite bloggers. I haven’t actually added any posts or images, aside from my profile image, and I only made my first comment two days ago, after having Google + for a couple months.

    I am also not too familiar with Tumblr, but I know that it’s quite popular – not only with book bloggers – these days. This might be something that either really takes off, or goes the way of Myspace and Second Life. I’ve only seen Tumblr through links I’ve clicked on my Twitter timeline, so, once again, I’m not much help in this department. However, it does seem to be a trend with a few of the more “trendy,” for lack of a better word, bloggers. This may be something I sign up for one day – I asked the designer who was adding some custom elements to my blog to create a button “just in case,” so it’s obviously on my radar.

    And then there’s Paper.li. I’ve seen those newsletters, and have even been included in a few over the past couple of months. It’s a cute and fun way to amalgamate some of the daily happenings and it gives you the opportunity to engage with bloggers, authors and readers you might not otherwise have spoken to. While I love seeing and reading the newsletters I don’t see myself doing this. Simply because I have too much on my plate as it is.

    Just a couple other social media resources that bloggers seem to be involved in these days, but I’m not sure I’d call them trends, are Klout and Formspring. I did get a Formspring account and ended up signing into Klout with my Twitter account. But I haven’t really utilized either very much.

    Formspring seems to be a great resource for authors and for more social or more popular bloggers. It’s a place where you can ask any manner of questions anonymously or publicly and sometimes get answers you might have been too shy to ask on Twitter or Facebook.

    As far as Klout goes, aside from seeing my Klout score go way down the less I Tweet, I have no idea of its true value or how it works.

    And something minor, but possibly of interest, is that there seems to be a trend to use Rafflecopter for giveaways rather than Google forms. It was even suggested to me yesterday, since I host one or two giveaways every once in a while.

    I haven’t looked into it yet. It may very well be easier to use than Google forms. But the ones I’ve seen, which appeared to have at least 10 steps, look rather confusing and I’ve actually not entered those giveaways because of that. I try to keep mine very simple – name and email – so I’m not sure if this will meet my needs. That, too, is TBD.

    The one drawback that I have noticed is that it shows the number of entrants, which could discourage someone from entering if there are too many and which looks kind of sad when there aren’t.

    ***

    Final thoughts…

    Just to wrap up this week, I’d like to say thank you to the folks at BBAW for hosting this annual event. As I wasn’t blogging at this time last year I didn’t even know of its existence until two wonderful bloggers pointed it out to me when they told me they nominated me.

    This year’s BBAW has been awesome and I hope to be around next year to more actively participate in some of the events. The daily post topics have been very interesting and I’ve enjoyed reading the articles posted on the site throughout the week.

    And I would once again like to thank the two bloggers that nominated me for an award. It has meant so much to me, and the news came at a time when I was having a really, really bad week and you just lifted my spirits. So, thank you so much.

    I still have no idea how I went from nominations to the long list for YA Book Blogs. When I heard “long list” I figured I’d be one of hundreds or thousands of blogs, so I didn’t think too much of it. I was totally shocked when I saw that this long list was made up of sixteen, most of whom were my blogging idols. So, however that happened, thank you all so much again.

    I still consider myself a newbie. I’m still trying to figure things out in this vast blogging universe. But I am grateful to have met all the bloggers I have and am super excited to meet more in the upcoming year. And now that I’m aware of this event, I will make sure to nominate the blogs I appreciate for next year’s event.

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