Posts Tagged With: Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA Day #6 – Wrap-Up & Other Updates

I’d like to thank all of you for making Armchair BEA such a fantastic experience!  When I signed up, I didn’t expect such a fast-paced and wonderful event, or that I’d meet so many new blogging friends.

Here’s a quick recap of my posts:

Here are some of the highlights of the week that you won’t find in my blog posts, as they happened on Twitter or other friends’ blogs:

  • Discovering that Oh, Chrys! and Nancy share my addiction to The Sims.
  • Bitches With Books made a manga-style avatar after seeing mine, which prompted me to update my own.  I’ve worn glasses since January, but hadn’t gotten around to adding them.  🙂
  • After reading discussions on “Keeping it Real,” I decided to update the look/feel of my blog to make it look a bit less dated.  I also added social media buttons in my sidebar to reduce clutter and make it easier for people to find me.  I’m commissioning my little sister (who creates fantastic digital artwork) to create a header for me sometime in the near future.
  • I signed up with two other book tour companies – Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and France Book Tours after discussing books with Words And Peace.  I used to read a lot of historical fiction, but then tapered off.  I’d like to start reading/reviewing more of it on my blog, as it’s one of my favorite genres (aside from SF/F).

Overall, I’m glad that I decided to participate in Armchair BEA.  I’m hoping that next year I’ll be able to attend Book Expo in NYC again, but this was a nice way of being able to network with other bloggers without physically being there.  I really liked that there were both genre-themed and blogging-related discussions, as I got to meet and interact with a lot of bloggers that I normally wouldn’t visit.  It was nice interacting with bloggers who prefer different genres, but who had valuable advice and insight about book blogging as a whole.

Now that Armchair BEA is over, I’m looking forward to more reading and blogging.  I feel a bit silly, but I just realized yesterday that Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge is underway.  I’m hoping to read at least a couple fantasy-themed books before it’s over.

I’m also participating in a blog tour later this summer of “The Chalice,” by Nancy Bilyeau.  Since it’s the second book in a series, I’ll be reading and reviewing the first book sometime before the tour begins.

What are your reading plans for the upcoming month?

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Armchair BEA Day #5 – Keeping it Real and Children’s/YA Literature

Can you believe that Armchair BEA is almost over?  This is the last day of the themed discussions, and tomorrow I’ll post a wrap-up of the event.

What exactly does “keeping it real” mean?  The meaning lays in keeping.  How do you not only grow an audience, but how do you keep them coming back for more?  If you have been around for years, how do you keep your material fresh?  How do you continue to keep blogging fun?

One of the main things that I like to remember when blogging is that if it stops being fun, I’m doing it wrong.  Generally the combination of reviewing books and participating in the occasional event has worked well for me.  I’ve also started participating in book tours, because I like being able to discuss a book that I’ve read with other bloggers.  It’s the discussions and overall level of excitement that I see in the blogosphere that keep me coming back for more.

One thing I plan on doing in the near future is a slight re-design of the look and feel of my blog.  While it currently works for me, I noticed since I came back to blogging that WordPress has added more themes that have a sleeker look and better social media integration.  I’d also like to re-do my avatar, because I got glasses back in January and wanna make her look as close to what I look like as possible.  I always wonder though when I update the look/feel of my blog whether I’m making it harder for people to recognize.  Thoughts?

Our final genre focuses on the younger crowd:  children’s picture books and young adult literature and everything in between.  What are the top 5 (or more) books that every child should have on his shelf?  If you are an adult who reads YA, why do you keep going back for more?  If you are not a reader of these books, think back to your childhood and share your favorites from your younger years.

I was lucky as a child, because my mother valued reading.  She used to read me bedtime stories every night, even when she was exhausted and really ought to have been in bed herself.  It’s something that I’m grateful for.  Some of our favorites, in no particular order, were:

1.  “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle – I’m still enchanted by the Murray family of Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quartet.  As a child, they showed me that it was okay to be different, that it was okay to want to learn, and that religion and science didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

2.  “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney – Beautiful illustrations, and a theme of making the world a more beautiful place.  It inspired me to plant lupine seeds all over my neighborhood.

3.  “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – A sad story, but a reminder of the power of a child-like perspective on the world.

4.  “Mary Engelbreit’s The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen – A gorgeously illustrated edition of the classic fairytale.

5.  “The Story of May” by Mordecai Gerstein – A little girl travels to visit each of the personified months of the year.  I was saddened to discover that it’s out of print.

Moving on to the subject of young adult novels…

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with YA.  There are a lot of brilliant YA novels out there, but there are also a lot of duds.  I have a hard time finding the good ones, and it irritates me to no end when an otherwise good story is ruined by love triangles and teenage angst.  Even when I was a teenager, that kind of drama annoyed me.  Sometimes it makes me want to swear off YA for good.  But then, books like Seraphina, Bitterblue, and Katya’s World remind me that I’m being unfair, and that young adult novels can contain imaginative new worlds populated by strong and resilient protagonists.

What are some of your favorite childhood or YA novels?

Categories: Children's, Fiction, YA | Tags: , | 24 Comments

Armchair BEA Day #4 – Ethics and Nonfiction

IMG_0599This week is going by so quickly, and the pacing of Armchair BEA is particularly intense.  I haven’t gotten a chance to respond to everyone’s comments, but I will get to them as soon as I have a chance.  I’m incredibly touched by how many of you are visiting and sharing books and stories.  It means a lot to me.

Today’s Instagram challenge is Best of 2013. I’d have to say that “The Emperor’s Soul” wins that one, hands down.  The other books in the photograph are some of the books that I’ve read recently and greatly enjoyed.  Actually, despite my hiatus, this has been a good reading/blogging year for me, because I’ve loved almost everything I’ve picked up.

The first discussion topic for the day is ethics.  For me, the question of book blogging ethics is inexorably tied to advance review copies.  I’ve seen a lot of discussions on the subject in the past few days at Armchair BEA.  One one hand, they introduce book bloggers to new and pre-release books.  On the other hand, they can lead to blogs becoming more of a marketing tool for publishers than a creative outlet for bloggers.  It can be a challenge to find a middle ground.  My way of reconciling the two is by not hosting giveaways/interviews/promotional posts of books that I haven’t read and reviewed first.  I don’t mind sharing promotional material about books on occasion, but I want my focus to be first and foremost on reviewing.  I also don’t want to be the type of blog that only reviews ARCs–I want to discover old and forgotten gems and share them with people who would love them as much as I do.

What are your opinions on ARCs?  What challenges do they present for bloggers?

Today’s genre discussion is nonfiction.  During the past few years, I’ve rarely read nonfiction, but there was a time in my life when I read a lot of philosophy.  Nietzsche, Locke, John Stewart Mill, Rousseau, Marx, Aquinas–you name it.  I was in Lincoln-Douglass style debate in high school, which exposed me to political philosophy, and it started me on a several year reading tangent.  Pair that with my fascination with Russia, and I ended up reading a lot of primary sources from the time leading up to and following the 1917 revolution so that I could get some idea of the intellectual climate of the time period.  Eventually the pressures of school and work caught up with me.  My Russian history/philosophy research started to make my brain hurt, even though it was extremely fascinating.  Looking for something a bit more escapist, I re-entered the world of fiction.

Categories: Nonfiction | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

Armchair BEA Day #1: Introduction

Today marks the kickoff of Armchair BEA.  Last year, I had the opportunity to attend Book Expo America in New York City, and it was a fantastic experience.  However, I took a major break from blogging at the end of 2012 (between grad school and a new job, life got really busy) and only recently returned.  I didn’t think it would be fair to go to BEA since I hadn’t been around much during the past few months, but Armchair BEA seems like a fantastic way to share in the networking and conversations.

And now, for my introduction:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Grace, and I’m a librarian.  I started blogging back in May 2011, and when I started, I didn’t even know that book blogging was a thing.  I just wanted an outlet to talk about books, because most of my friends don’t read nearly as much as I do and/or don’t read the same things.  I tend to read a little bit of everything, but most of the books that I review are either sci-fi, fantasy, or historical fiction.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

My favorite book that I’ve read this year was “The Emperor’s Soul” by Brandon Sanderson.  Of course, I haven’t reviewed it yet, because I read it while I was on hiatus.  Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors of all time–he is truly a master of world-building, and his characters are compelling.  Generally he writes chunksters, but “The Emperor’s Soul” was much shorter and is a standalone story.  If you like fantasy, I’d definitely recommend it.

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

My somewhat scathing review of Fifty Shades of Grey.  I don’t write a lot of negative reviews, because I generally decide to read books that already look interesting.  However, every now and then I’ll read something that everybody’s talking about just to see what all the fuss is for.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Hmm, this is a tough one.  It also sounds a bit like a college application essay.  I’m gonna go with John Scalzi, because he’s got a great sense of humor and seems like a fun person to hang out with.  Several years ago, he taped bacon to his cat, which immediately became an internet meme.  I met John Scalzi briefly last year at a book signing at BEA with Memory from Stella Matutina, and we told him that we were going to bring him bacon, but we couldn’t find any at the store that morning.  He thanked us for not bringing any (bacon and airports don’t mix well) and wrote “Thanks for the bacony thoughts” in my book.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I’m going to cheat a bit on this answer, because I already visited it.  When I was studying in Russia, I snuck into the apartment building where Raskolnikov axed the little old lady in “Crime and Punishment.”  There’s nothing like standing in the place where one fictional character killed another.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 31 Comments

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