Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Between the Tan Lines

Upon rereading my title I figured maybe it might sound a little naughty, but its not, so shame on you! This week over on Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the darling blog The Broke and the Bookish) our topic is Top Ten Books I’d Recommend as Beach Reads. Now I am in Central Alberta, Canada and contrary to popular belief we don’t have beaches and palm trees and movie stars everywhere. We do however have beautiful roasting summer days that are perfect for sitting out on the patio or by the lake, and what better to do while tanning your self then picking up a good book and wafting away?

Now for something to be a good Beach/Summer read it needs to be two things; 1. Easy to tote around/the cover is no so incredilbly embarassing your afraid of people seeing your read it in public*, 2. The story is easy enough to pick up and put down multiple times (cause its the summer and heck if I’m going to spend all of it sitting) but still keeps your interest. So I will go with those two qualifiers and be on my way!
*Obviously if you are lucky enough to own an e-reader of some sort this may not be an issue, but I am personally afraid to bring my Touch Screen Kobo any where near sand and water.

Rose Daughter – Robin McKinley: Two Tuesdays in a row and its far from coincidence. Robin McKinley is a favourite author with a splendid imagination. Her second retelling of Beauty and the Beast is less childish and more complex, but just as beautiful and elegant as you remember. The good points? Its a story that’s familiar to about 99% of us, so we can go and come back and still have a good idea of who the characters are and the general idea of what is going on. Also the cover is rather non-descriptive so your safe from hecklers. Bad points? It starts off a little slow, so don’t give up if it doesn’t grab you in the first 50 pages.

The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon: If you checked out my EOG Book Club review from April you will know just  how much I loved this book. The characters are beautifully written and the author well researched. The story follows Lynnie and Homan and their dash to freedom from their terrible treatment in the School for the Incurable and Feeble minded. Lynnie is recaptured and sent back, Homan is feared lost in a flooded river, and Lynnie’s baby being cared for by the elderly widow Martha. Good points? The chapters focus on one character at a time at a specific moment in time, it doesn’t jump all over the place willy nilly so following the story even after leaving it for a week is rather easy. You also have your choice of covers, all of which are well put together. Bad points? I cant even think of any, this book is perfect.

World War Z – Max Brooks: Not going to lie, I have learned to love Zombie novels! Zombie movies not so much, because they are far too gory. In a book I can choose to jump a gory part, or since its my imagination limit the blood and off screen the gore. A friend turned me onto this book, and after reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth Series (a teen zombie series) which I loved, I was game. Good points? There are enough thrills and chills to keep you coming back for more, but it written as episodic stories of peoples experiencing the Zombie war so its pretty impossible to get lost. Bad points? I personally hate my cover, more cause its ugly then anything. Also if your a wimp like me the chapter in which you meet the first case may terrify you.

The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury: This one is a little heart breaking as we lost Mr. Bradbury last week. He was an amazing writer with an imagination like no other. I remember my first experience with his work in grade 10, we were reading short stories and we had to read a creepy short by him called The Veldt. The story stuck with me and I spent the next 7 years (oh man I feel old now) trying to find a copy of the story.  Two years ago I was searching Veldt on the bookstore computer (a habit I ritually do with 2 authors and a number of out of print titles) and got a hit! The whole collection quickly became a favorite. Good points? Each story is self contained and doesn’t require any previous knowledge of his work to understand. The stories while dense, are  on average 10 pages or less. Bad points? If you don’t like classic science fiction this is not the book for you. I personally find reading 1950’s science fiction in a modern world fascinating. (Was super hard to find the same cover as the one I have, I personally like this cover infinitely more then the modern artsy covers, this is classic sci-fi dang it. Hand drawn is key!)

The Princess Series – Jim C. Hines: If you want a series of fantastic adventure written for grown women, that’s easy to read without being childish, and will make you laugh, yell and cheer I highly recommend this series. It follows the adventures of Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty in the years after Cinderella’s marriage to the Prince. Cliché you say? You couldn’t be more wrong! Hines mixes our Disney girls with the original Grimm tales and a good helping of his own brilliance to make 3  lead female characters you cant help but love and root for! Good points? Its action, adventure and fantasy for women. It doesn’t talk down to you, but is light enough to be enjoyable. Bad points? I really don’t like the covers, especially of the first one, it makes it look like its all cotton candy and bubble gum which its not. Not so embarrassing I wont take it to public (this series and I were inseparable)  but if I had had the option of an e-reader I probably would have gone that way.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind to Nostalgia

Oh man, hello Top Ten Tuesday! Its been a really long time hasn’t it? Well I’m back, and it looks like I picked the perfect week to ease back into it. For any of you lovely people who wandered here through my facebook or twitter Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, which is a delightful blog in and of itself.

The topic of the week is Rewind, which lets us pick any topic we like. The term makes me laugh, remember when we actually had to rewind our VHS tapes? You’d rent it from the video store and it would have that corny sticker that said “Be Kind, Rewind”. Pretty soon kids are going to have no idea what it means. Anyway tangent, the word rewind is making me feel nostalgic so I am going to go with Top Ten Books I Loved as a Kid. It also has me rocking out the Newsies soundtrack from the 1992 movie, man I had the biggest crush on Racetrack… 😛

 The Hollow Tree – Janet Lunn: This is the first children’s historical fiction book I ever read of my own volition. I had done novel studies in school but none of them had ever really stuck with me. Looking back though, all of the the novel studies I can remember also featured male leads, so while the stories were good, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I cant remember where I got my copy, an inkling says my auntie might have picked it up for me, but Its been a treasure ever since. I read it every couple of years and still really enjoy the characters and writing style and setting. It is such an excellently written children’s book with a believable and strong girl lead.

Devil on my Back – Monica Hughes: My first foray into Monica Hughes’ writing was with Guardian of Isis, which is definitely another one of my favourites. I stumbled onto her while stumbling around the stacks of my junior high library. Hughes also being a local author sealed the deal for me. After finishing off what I thought to be the rest of the Isis series (I would find out years later that there was in fact a 3rd book) I greedily devoured the rest of Monica Hughes books and while each one holds a special place in my heart Devil on my Back was my first foray into the dystopian future genre that would later take hold of my life.

There Will Be Wolves – Karleen Bradford: I spent a lot of time in my grade 5 -7 years hanging out in the Library, our Librarian Ms Taylor would let us spend our recesses and lunches in if we liked, and I got the chance to play on the old type writer and browse through the stacks. I found this book during one one such browse. I had never read anything that was set during the crusades and it had a female lead (something I stuck to almost exclusively, Monica Hughes’ books being one of the few exceptions), so I was willing to give it a try. The book had no qualms about showing the harsh reality of life during the crusades, both for those who were being concurred and for those who followed in the shadows of the armies.

Galax-Arena – Gillian Rubinstein: This book was delightfully spooky in places and ridiculous in others. Once again my thirst for a dystopian future with all its terrible consequences. The mix of gymnastics in space with aliens and a little bit of Lord of the Flies. It was also the first book I ever read with a swear in it, which maybe should have traumatized be but instead made me feel so grown up.

A Handful of Time – Kit Pearson: This  book I got from my favourite auntie (I’m a terrible person :P). I had told her all about my love of Kit Pearson’s book Awake and Dreaming and in all her infinite wisdom bought be a copy of  A Handful of Time for my 12th birthday. It had everything 12 year old me could have wanted, a girl who was 12, set in cabin country Alberta, and a watch that let you travel through time. Throw on top of this that the main character was dealing with a lot of the same social anxiety as I was and you had a perfect escape.

Beauty – Robyn McKinley: I grew up on Disney. My mom had a copy of every Disney VHS that came out, sometimes two if they came out with a special edition. The splendour and magic of fairy tales took me out of my boring life and dropped into a place more extraordinary then I had ever known. When I found McKinley’s retelling it took a story I already knew and loved and gave it a whole new dimension. It has since grown my love for retellings and has branched out into the grown up versions of both fairytale and classic story retellings such as the Wicked Years series and The Big Over Easy.

Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien: The first of the LOTR movies came out when I was still in junior high, but the lead up was immense. I was swept away in the thrill of a new fantasy adventure series  and learning it was based on a book series made me determined to finish reading the entire Trilogy before the movies came out. I was sadly not able to finish the entire series before the first film but was able to polish off The Fellowship of the Ring and a good chunk of The Two Towers. If it hadn’t been for the impending movies, and a love of The Hobbit, I dont know if I would have found the will power to muscle through some of the denser chapters of what is now a favourite series.

Exodus – Julie Bertenga: This is the first book I remember buying, like actually walking into a bookstore picking up and paying for it with my money. It was the beginning of my buying beautiful books phase, and it treated me well. I honestly hate the redesign for the series covers, they are ugly and play into the whole “Teen Lit novels need to look dark and moody”. Exodus brought me into one of my favorite genres, it was a step above the distopian future I loved, and dropped me into a distopian apocalyptic future, which was a delightful change of pace. And for all the books in that genre I have read this one still feels beautiful and unique with its watery planet and ancient internet.

Alex Series – Nancy Simpson Levene: Aww man the names of these book were simple priceless! Grapefruit Basket Upset, Hot Chocolate Forgiveness, Crocodile Meatloaf. In elementary I ate these silly books up! They were written by a Christian author specifically to teach morals and values in a fun way for kids. My mom bought me one and I was hooked! Alex was delightful silly and brash and was the epitome of a little girl. I remember on several occasions my mom bribed me with these books to get me to do extra chores around the house!

The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle – Bill Meyers: Another one of those Chrisitan series that was about morals and values, but this one was absolutely hilarious. It was another one of the new exceptions I made to having a boy lead character. But Wally was nerdy and clutzy and all around loveable oaf who on top of living his own increadibly unlikely and funny story was also creating his own worlds and stories on his laptop.

EOG: Only The Good Read Young

I am a terrible leader! 😛 I have been harassing the rest of the members for the last week to hand over their blog posts for May and yet I just finished wrapping mine up an hour ago.

However I will say that our group verges on the point of being too epic to even be described! I was both pleased and apprehensive when our little band of 4 sprang to 6 with the addition of two fabulous new ladies to our group. Would they meld well with the rest of the group? Would they laugh at our stupid jokes? Thank goodness not half an hour in we were all cracking jokes and piping up and getting along just swimmingly!

One of the many many things I love about this book club is the freedom to say just about anything. We seem to have tackled a lot of books lately with real gritty or heart wrenching themes or plots, but have been lucky enough to have one book that is either so ridiculous or so different that we are able to grab something and turn it into a running joke. Last time around it was Genghis and the marvellous poop sword, and this time it was Bumped and the  crazy teen who slept with a boy who looks like Jesus so she could “feel God”.

In between the laughing and joking and eating the amazing vanilla cupcakes filled with lemon curd and lemon meringue buttercream frosting (I almost died from the numminess), we were actually able to delve deep into our books and find meaning in the mass of easy to read fiction.

Jenna dove into Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and found a book that looked unflinchingly at LGBT teens and their struggle to come to terms with who they are, as well as big gay musicals.

Dana read White Cat by Holly Black filled with curse-workers whose very touch can change the essense of who you are and  how you think, it also gave us a good laugh over the term blow back, which were the consiquences of using their touch.

Amanda got a taste of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and was happy to finally encounter a strong female lead in today’s teen fiction, and I tried desperately not to give away all the juicy bits.

Christine read Bumped by Megan McCafferty and was enraged by its interesting premise and terrible execution, but it did provide us with our joke book of the night and so many incredibly hilarious laughs. Read her review of this book and the last 3 EOG Book Club books over at her blog : Delusions of Grace – Sex, tears and books thrown in anger

Andrea fell in love with A Fault in Our Stars which was also by John Green as she found a book that spoke to her on a very personal level and reminded each of us that no day is guaranteed. Check out her review over at: facelessmasses – A Fault in Our Stars; or how to break a nerdfighter.

I read Insurgent by Veronica Roth which gave me a feisty young heroine in a world divided by personality types, and addressed suicide without glamorizing or trivializing. My review is hanging out over at: Where You Go I May Not Follow – Insurgent

We also have a couple people who are joining us long distance and are reading along:

Tawnie is out in Hong Kong right now and gave us a write up on Cinder by Marissa Meyer, nothing like a dystopian future fairytale to get the blood pumping. Take a look at her review over at: There is joy to be claimed in this life – Book Club May

All in all, May Book Club was another fantastic time of good friends and great books.
Looking forward to another Month.

Our Genre for June: Fantasy

 

Our List Thus Far

historical fiction
fairytales
biography
science fiction
fantasy
teen/young adult
memoirs
urban fantasy
romance
mystery
classics
chick lit
thrillers
true crime
self help
religious fiction
children’s literature
dystopian
foreign translated
non-fiction
conspiracy

Insurgent

This Month for EOG Book Club our genre was YA or Teen Lit. This gave me the opportunity to dive back into the rather entertaining Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I read the first book, aptly named Divergent shortly after it came out, and found myself enjoying it. Sadly that meant waiting nearly a year til I could get my hands on and sink my teeth into the next instalment.

As soon as I got it I popped off the dust jacket (I never read with them on, I’m always scared I am going to ruin it!!) and nested down with  my new read. I was very confused! I read the opening chapter and found myself remembering nothing. I recognized one name, the setting of factions and the city, but otherwise found myself drowning in a sea of unfamiliar names. So I popped it on my shelf and picked up the first book for a quick reread before my glorious adventure onwards and  upwards.

Ripping through a book a second time is pretty simple. You remember large chunks and have the option of skipping over parts that are familiar or rereading chunks that baffled you the first time with the benefit of whole book context. It took me til about the middle of the first book to start remembering who everyone was and how they all fit into the first chapter of the second book. The confusion only aided by the fact that several key characters change their names at one point or another. But I got the gist and was back on my way.

For those who have not read the first book let me give you a quick world builder: There is a city and the city is set up in a very particular way. People are catagorized into one of five groups depending on what they believe is the most important value:
-Abignation: selflessness
-Euridite: knowledge
-Dauntless: bravery
-Amnity: peace
– Candor: honesty
If for some reason you are unable to fit or function into any of the factions you are doomed to a life of the factionless, second rate citizens with few rights and no wealth. When children turn 16 they take a simulation exam to determine which faction they are most suited for and help them choose which faction to be a part of for the rest of their life, faction over family. Leaving your old faction means cutting all ties. When our lead character Tris goes for her test she finds that she has an aptitude for 3 factions and the ability to control the simulations. This labels her the danger and unspoken title of Divergent. And when she chooses to leave her life of selflessness for a world of danger, bravery and ruthlessness she finds theres more behind being Dauntless then she ever imagined.

Insurgent picks up quite literally right where Divergent left off. No great span of time has passed its only moments later. Tris and Four, she calls him Tobias which is his given name (and one of the reasons the first chapter threw me off) must escape the fallen Dauntless and Abignation districts of the city along with Four’s father Marcus, Tris’s brother Caleb and the ever hateful Peter. They flee with other Abignation to the Amnity compound and seek refuge from the power hungry Euridite. The book chronicles the movement of Tris and Four as they attempt to save what Abignation is left and muster the forces of Dauntless to retake their city.

I honestly cant say a whole lot more about plot without giving away some key events that really make or break the story, I will however give my thoughts on how it was done.

Veronica Roth does a spectacular and delicate job of handing suicide. We loose someone in the first book to suicide and in Dauntless they are exalted as a hero and truly Dauntless, for having been brave enough to take on the final adventure into the unknown. By so parading something we know to be so blatantly untrue she is able to tackle the idea without trivializing it and alienating people who might have had the same thoughts. She shows suicide as the tragedy it truly is and I applaud her for it. Suicide pops up again in the second book but we see it in another of its forms. Not as the overt taking of ones life, but as acting foolishly and recklessly with no regard for their own life, putting themselves purposely in harms way. It is all too common, but under recognized in a lot of cases. By highlighting it in the way she does, showing the danger and impact it has on others, Roth is again able to call out such behaviour for what it is without becoming preachy or condescending.

The idea that we are more then one dimensional is also tackled in the innovative idea of factions and separation of people for what is considered their key characteristics. This is most prevalent in the writing of the main character Tris, who has an aptitude for 3 different factions and gives her the label of divergent. But it can also be seen in all of the transfers as well. Al, while from Candor shows he can be brave by excepting to join a faction he has no desire for, as well as being selfless in his throwing fights so as not to hurt the other transfers. Christine who is also from Candor never looses her propensity to tell the truth, but her strength and desire for adventure pegs her as Dauntless. Even Peter, who we love to hate, shows signs of his Euridite past along side his violent Dauntless tendencies.

I also have two problems with the books thus far, but they create spoilers. So read beyond the cutline at your own risk.

For those who don’t and do read on, let me say this. The Divergent series has proven to be a very good series thus far. I have enjoyed it immensely. It is a YA title which I know is likely to throw people off but it really shouldn’t. Its not the next great American novel by any means, but it hits on some really important points that more then just teenagers need to hear. Its not quite brain candy with all the serious themes riddled throughout, but it is written in an easy to read style that will have you whipping through it in a couple of days.

This is my pretend cutline because WordPress won’t do it for me!

Warning Spoilers below!

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In the first book we learn through Tris’s fear landscape and just her general personality that she does not do intimacy well. Touching and physical affection is just not something that people in Abignation are taught or are generally exposed to. We get one brief and awkward scene of Tris and Four talking about it and it all seems to just disappear. Suddenly kissing and making out and touching half naked Four is no longer an issue. I get that the fear landscape helped her to face that fear, but it doesn’t make a fear go away. She goes from being shy and uneasy around Four to having zero qualms about getting all up in his grill and being super touchy. The transformation for me was far too fast  and therefore left it feeling unrealistic.

In the first book we see Tris kill Will (told you spoilers) during the simulation attack.  She in reality had some choice about what she did, but in the absolute terror and adrenaline of the moment we have to give her some forgiveness for her actions, it was an extraordinary circumstance. The guilt of this carries on with her through the entirety of the the second book and it drives me a little bit bonkers. I understand that the timeline of the second book doesn’t cover much more then a month at most, and that the drama of killing your best friends boyfriend is going to linger. What makes me the most annoyed is how long she goes with it bottled up and not telling/lying to others about it. She buries it deeper and deeper until it entirely envelops her and stops her from doing what she needs to do, as well as alienating from absolutely everyone she loves when it finally does come out. I get that she is suffering, but she is portrayed and being a thinker and percieving things in situations, you’d think she would look at what she was doing and say to herself “Hey, this is only going to cause a TONNE of problems later, maybe I should just get it out quick and easy!”

The Story Of Beautiful Girl

For all I know this book is a book club phenomenon that has been love and adored by millions. But that is not how I found it, or grew to fall in love with it. I was simply racked for time to pick a Historical Fiction for The EOG Book Club, and couldn’t muster the energy to blow through a Jane Austen novel in a little over two weeks. This lead to me frantically wandering the newly created book section of my mothers local Wal-Mart. (There is only one very tiny book store in town that keeps bankers hours.)

I was about to give up after seeing nothing that peaked my interest, regency royal scandals are not my cup of tea, when I saw this beautiful little blue cover glowing brightly on the top shelf. I thought to myself, it will be too good to be true if this turns out to be historical fiction, but low and behold it was and I was very happy.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon is set in the early 70’s and leads right up to current day, taking place at the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, an institution where the disabled and mentally handicapped are dumped and taken care of only in the most basic way, and rarely even that.

The story follows 3 main characters:
Lynnie – a woman with developmental delays who is housed at the school who runs away with Homan after becoming pregnant due to the abuse of of the the grounds keepers.
Homan  – An African American deaf-mute man sent to the School simply because no one is able to communicate with him. He falls in love with Lynnie, and after finding out about her pregnancy promises to free her from the school.
Martha – A little old woman with no children of her own living on her farm after the death of her husband. Lynnie and Homan turn up on her door step one night and trust her with hiding and caring for the new born baby after Lynnie is apprehended and Homan is lost to the night.

I was incredibly impressed with the writing style and how well the author was able to put across the thoughts and emotions of all the characters. She masterfully delves into the mind and speech of an African American man who grew up in the 50’s, and surmounts the awesome challenge of him having to describe words and people he has never heard of. She also delves into the mind and feelings of Lynnie with such delicacy and insight I wasn’t at all surprised when the author turned out to have grown up with a sister who had a disability.

Without giving too much away I want to say that this book is really amazing, a lot of really important themes were explored in interesting and engaging ways. All the characters were well fleshed out and believable, well all but one but we can gloss over her. And the setting was almost 3 dimensional. I would recommend this read to absolutely anyone, the themes are universal and there is not so much romance that it would turn a guy off reading it.

My only critique was the ending, I felt that it could have been handled way better then it was. It felt a little rushed, and really the only part of the book that didn’t feel believable to me. There are so many ways that the writer could have resolved the story and brought Lynnie’s daughter to the realization of who her family was, it may have made the book a few chapters longer but would have been well worth the extra time. Luckily the story seems to resolve its self before we get to this disconnected feeling last chapter, so it was easy to disregard it and let it end a chapter earlier.

EOG: Inappropriate Cupcakes and a Poop Sword

Good Afternoon everyone!

I hereby apologize (deargravyboat why are all my blogs starting like this lately) for the enormous gap in coverage! Feel free to throw all the pointy rocks and angry glances my way. They are deserved!

So this is going to be a mini update of both months I suppose! March which was Romance Month. And April which was Historical Fiction month.

March as you can expect was filled with all manner of hilarity as we dove into the terrifyingly wacky world of romance novels. Not a one of us was particularly impressed with our chosen topic but we knuckled down under the oppression and sprang forth with great enthusiasm. (That last part may or may not be true.) But truth is four of us procured books for the reading, put our time and energy into exploring these books and came together to talk about them. We were greatly blessed by the baking of man-bit and booby cupcakes by our dear Christine, and ate them henceforth. We then proceeded to crack jokes and laugh mercilessly at the genre.

Here is the break down of our opinions:
1 Reader – Couldn’t get passed the first 30 pages, as there was some pretty gross gaping chest wound sex. This saddened the reader as the premise of vampires that weren’t total sissies and had an awesome wicked sounding back story was rather enticing.
1 Reader – Was not particularly impressed or disappointed in her historical horse circus romance, involving a cock-blocking dog and a perfectly packaged ending. Was deemed an easy read that was good for zoning out.
2 Readers – Inexplicably fell in love with their books which turned out to be series which they both become deeply invested in. One was an urban fantasy which the reader used as a very handy motivational tool for weight loss. Loose weight buy the next book. The other a historical romance which the reader found had a surprising amount of detail and back story, then ran out to buy the whole series…

3 phrases to sum up March: inappropriate cupcakes,  jokes, laughter

April was a little more contemplative but did not fail in its ability to make us laugh like mad fools. We had a wide range of books this time around. Christine read Markus Zusacks’ The Book Thief Dana read Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden, Andrea read the play The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer and I read Rachel Simon’s  The Story of Beautiful Girl. 

Our books all focused on different people groups in different eras, but this did not stop us from drawing parallels between our stories. The Story of Beautiful Girl, A Normal Heart and The Book Thief all touched on the social acceptance of ignoring and hiding the suffering of others based on a lack of understanding and acceptance. The Book Thief and A Normal Heart both highlighted the incredible damage that hate can create not just for the individuals but for the world.

Genghis gave us a fascinating look into one of history’s most recognizable villains, which we learned had pretty good reasons for going crazy and killing people. Two words people… Poop sword… You want that to make sense read the book…. or show up at book club! 😀

Really book club is much more stimulating then this, and we got a chance to look into some really deep issues, share in the heartbreak of eachother’s stories and laugh at the ridiculous parts. We all ranted, and raved and got a lot off our chests and genuinely enjoyed each others company… and the cake…. damn fine rum cake.

For a look into Andrea’s two books check out her post at: Faceless Masses – White Horses and a dose of The Normal Heart

Christine in all her amazingness and madness has covered not only March and April but has tackled and written up her review for May as well! Check her out at: Sex, tears and books thrown in anger

Tawnie one of our distance members (<3) also chimed in with her fantastic April Review over at her blog: There Is Joy To Be Claimed In this Life – April

For a look into my April pick check out my post at: The Story Of Beautiful Girl

Our Genre for May: Teen/Young Adult Lit!

Our List Thus far

historical fiction
fairytales
biography
science fiction
fantasy
teen/young adult
memoirs
urban fantasy
romance
mystery
classics
chick lit
thrillers
true crime
self help
religious fiction
children’s literature
dystopian
foreign translated
non-fiction
conspiracy

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Your Best

Morning beautiful people, fellow bloggers, readers and any combination thereof!

This week over at The Broke and the Bookish its time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday! This weeks topic: Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers. Now obviously I am the most fantastic and revered book blogger out there *crys into work keyboard* and know all the things you need to do, but let pretend that I have in fact only been doing this a couple months and only sporadically at best *shifty eyes*.

But for reals even though I haven’t been at it very long that I have been doing this, and I will readily admit I’m not the most consistent. At the same time I think it gives me fresh eyes and a newbs perspective, so take me with a grain of salt, or the entire shaker, but here’s my tips!

1.  Add Cover Art: One of my biggest peeves is going to someone’s blog and finding that though they are talking about books, and even in some cases cover art and find that there is not a .jpeg to be seen. I can understand if its a once in a while thing, internet is down and your blogging on your phone, or your strapped for time, but really on an ongoing basis its rather frustrating for a few of reasons. a) I want to know what the book looks like. It can be a totally amazing read, but if it has an uber embarrassing cover it might be something I’d rather pick up for my e-reader rather then running to the store to pick it up. b) If I’m at a book store I am way more likely to be triggered by a cover then title or author name, I can see the cover when I’m browsing I can say “Oh wait, i remember this, soandso gave it an awesome review!” c) It gives the reader something to focus on when browsing through your page, a web page of non-stop text hurts the eyes and can be hard to concentrate on.

2. Check Out Other Blogs: I love to read other peoples blogs, everyone has such a unique voice and point of view. And its great to look at how other people write and take a look at books you might normally not read yourself. It helps you gain perspective and open yourself up to new genres and new people.

3. Comment: Lets face it, we all love to hear back on what we have to say. Its life affirming when someone agrees with or compliments on your work, and as hard as it can be critique is what helps us to grow and keeps us from growing stagnant.  Taking the time to actually read someone else’s work and give a thoughtful comment will help you to take and give criticism as well as creating foot traffic on your site. I know I love to check out the blogs of people who have dropped in and took the time to say hello.

4. Try Out A Meme (or two): This is something I would like to work on myself. A meme gives you a structure and a topic to help expand your writing, connect with other bloggers and give you a reason to write even when your not feeling all together inspired. Try one to start yourself off, just to get into the habit of writing something on a deadline and build from there.

5. Be Consistent: Totally something I know I am not good with, but know is important. There are some bloggers that I can count on every morning to be updated. I wake up, have my shower, settle down with my breakfast and pull them up on my phone for a read. They are always on time, same time. Even if its just a quick note to say “Hey guys, can’t get in to do a proper blog this week/today!”, it saves the reader a day of flipping back and forth waiting for something new to show up.

6. Be Yourself: I love stumbling onto a new blog and getting that breathe of fresh air as you read someone’s writing that is totally themselves. Its not necessarily unique, or trendy, but you can tell that they are being open and honest and are expressing themselves openly and honestly.

7. Don’t Get Discouraged: For the most part we are blogging for our love of books, not to get famous, or get money (though I for one am completely willing for both to happen). Its something we need to keep in mind! Never let low page views, a negative comment, or a week or seven of missed posts get you down, remember why your here, pick yourself back up and get back at it!

8. Keep It Clean and Simple: There is nothing more distracting then clicking a link to a site and being bombarded by dancing .gifs, neon fonts, sparking back grounds, and a million count down clocks. Having your blog laid out in a simple clean format makes it easier for readers to see what you have to say and really pay attention. It also allows and invites readers to located and browse through your archives to see what else you have to say. There is nothing wrong with liking bright and sparkly, just remember that if you want people to hear what you have to say you need to make it easy for them to access.

9. Pick Your Blog Host Carefully: I’ve been blogging on and off for years on a variety of formats, and when I finally found and settled on WordPress I was thankful I hadn’t settled anywhere else permanently. I didn’t have any followers who weren’t friends or family so my constant jumping of hosts wasn’t a big issue, on the flip side all those posts that I wrote and would love to share with new friends and followers are scattered over a several sites in various graveyard ghost blogs. Check around, try a couple of accounts and test blogs before you commit!

10. Make Friends: We bloggers are in general really nice people! We love to talk and discuss our favourite subjects and are more then willing to share advice and knowledge whenever we can. Knowing you have friends and creating a community can help you blossom as a blogger and a person. Reach out and make a friend, both your lives will be enriched by the experience.