It’s My Fourth Bloggiversary?! 4 Ways My Life Has Changed in 4 Years of Blogging

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Wowee I cannot believe I’ve made it four years?! Not gonna lie, I’m in a bit of a state of shock about it. So forgive me if I’m gonna get all sappy and talk about all the ways blogging has impacted my life!

book loveMore bookish love!! Before I started blogging, I never would have thought there could be something that would make me love books MORE than I already did. Somehow, blogging has made reading even better. Sharing the book love has made me so happy and it’s one of the things I have enjoyed the most about blogging. Plus, thanks to all the SQUEEING online, I’ve discovered new favourite authors and pick up far more books I like!

choose books2Experimenting with different genres. Because of blogging and *you wonderful people*, I’ve branched out so much in the years since I started blogging. I read graphic novels, try more sci fi, dabbled in mysteries and even listen to audiobooks now. These are things I never thought to try on my own- so I owe a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone that’s inspired me to reach outside my comfort zone!

banana gifThings have gotten more BANANAS! From monkey babies to milestones to ARCs to bookish bingos and so much more- these last few years online have been a wild ride. So I gotta show some gratitude for the bananaholic blogging bonanza it’s been!

 

friends hugMaking fab friends!! I wouldn’t have made it this far if it without each and every one of you that’s made my experience so incredible! I know I say this a lot and everyone knows it to be true: the blogosphere is the *best* place to be online!

So all that’s left to say I guess is…

 
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Have you had any massive changes in your life thanks to blogging? Over to you in the comments!

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Bloggers are Underrated

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Obviously, I’m biased, but here’s the thing: I’m not wrong 😉 Nowadays, it feels like bloggers are low hanging fruit, and everyone wants a piece. I barely go a week without seeing some disparaging comment about “what even is the point of bloggers” or “who even cares about bloggers” annnd I’m here to correct those assumptions- cos as a point of fact, bloggers are underrated. Here’s why:

book love belleEndless enthusiasm for books! Whether it’s in reviews/lists/discussions, bloggers have a way of creating continuous exposure and forming intense fandoms. Blogs are the perfect place to create superfans- which is why I believe some books with strong connections to the blogosphere have the power to do so well.

merlin books sharingCos, frankly, blogs are a brilliant place to cultivate organic interest. It’s not just that blogs have the ability to spread a book far and wide (and oh boy they do- a few book bloggers raving can get a book to spread like wildfire), blogs also manage to make that spread feel less like hype sometimes and more like fans sharing art. Which brings me onto…

book loveThe blogosphere is a wonderful place for readers! You can get some genuine advice on what to read and rave directly with someone else has loved a book. Feedback is super easy to get and real conversation is up for grabs. This is largely thanks to how interactive the blogosphere is, but also because…

friends hugThe community side is so strong. I personally believe it’s one of the more intimate platforms, with a greater connection to other readers and more meaningful engagement. This isn’t to disparage any other platform, cos everywhere has it’s “casual viewers”, but the format of a blog does lend itself really well to communication. And, even better, as we all like to point out regularly, this is one of the friendliest places on the internet. What’s so wonderful about blogging is how friendly everyone is- and this makes a huge difference. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it makes the reading experience so much more pleasurable (and, c’mon, it’s reading, it was already pretty darn awesome!!)

monkey typewriterBlogging also helps us writerly types to develop our craft further. Since we’re all lovers of the written word here, it stands to reason we’d enjoy reading other people’s posts and learning that way- PLUS we also get to improve our own skills every time we post. Really, it’s a win all round!!

 

mood reader 1And lastly, blogging is addictive! You’d probably have to prise our blogs from our cold dead hands 😉 Which doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing, buuut having a blog quickly becomes a way of life. We put so much love and effort into our internet space- and that real commitment is why the blogosphere such a wonderful place to be!

 

 

 

In short, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it 😉 So do you agree? Are bloggers underrated? Let me know in the comments!

Book Blogger Insider Tag!

Hello all! I’ve got no preamble today- I just fancied doing a tag, cos I’m a blogger… which coincidentally is what this tag is all about!

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Thank you so much to the awesome Angelica @Book Cover Girls, super Sam @Rivermoose Reads and the perfect Panic at the Bookstore for tagging me to do this!

1) Where do you typically write your blog posts?

At my desk. I know, exciting 😉 although my desk is something of a paper jungle right now, so it somewhat resembles my natural habitat 😉

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2) How long does it generally take you to write a book review?

That really depends on the book! Also I’ve never kept track lol- I reckon some take under an hour, but I only remember the ones that I slaved over for wayyy too long (it took *hours* to write my post on the Gulag Archipelago for instance).

3) When did you start your book blog?

May 2015! Just before I finished my degree… which was not the best timing in the world.

4) What is the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

Not keeping up with everything and consequent blogging guilt! It’s a killer combination!

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5) What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

ALL OF YOU GUYS!!!

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6) What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Probably one of my satirical pieces like Worst Fantasy Novel Plan or Why Satire is Evil. But I also loved doing my 3 year bloggiversary post on blogging and promoting some other bloggers, cos it was something different that I hadn’t done before.

7) What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Hmm, while I have the most fun doing funny sorts of posts, I probably get the most out of discussion pieces. I get to think through my ideas, hear your ideas, and come up with new ideas after- which is like an idea-xplosion!

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8) When do you typically write?

Usually in the early evening. Or the night. Or sometimes in the afternoon… I really didn’t have a good answer for this except to say *NOT IN THE MORNING*.

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9) Do you review every book you read?

Nope- not even close lol- that’s why I try to talk about some of the other books in mini reviews (and I still don’t get to everything). I’m getting better though!

10) How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddled with your fur baby?

TEA IS A MUST. I swear if I could open a vein and have a constant supply of tea, I’d do it (okay, that’s probably a bit far, but what can I say, I’m British and CRAZY ABOUT TEA 😉 )

crazy about tea

Other than that, it really depends on the book (and how long I’ve been procrastinating over the review)

11) When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

*Coughs awkwardly*. Honestly? It’s usually at least a month… Shocking- I know!! But that helps me plan my posts better and order my thoughts. I also can get a clear view about what I can talk about in mini reviews that way. But yeah, it’s rare that you’ll see my thoughts straightaway.

12) How often do you post?

That realllly depends on the week. Gonna make “it depends” my mantra after this post… except that’s not catchy, so not really 😉

Anyhoo, hope you enjoyed that chill post for a change! I tag:

Kat, Meggy, Book Beach Bunny, Katie, Jenna and Lashaan & Trang

Do you have any weird blogging habits you’d like to share? Are you a tea addict like me? Let me know in the comments!

Bloggers who Deserve More Attention #2

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Hello all! A while back I did a post about bloggers I love who don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve and I thought it would be fun to make an (irregular) thing out of it. Originally I thought it’d be great to nudge you to check out other people while I was away- buuut that didn’t end up happening (/I was busy and wasn’t blogging much of anything). Still- that’s no reason not to go ahead and do it now! Cos who doesn’t love discovering fantastic bloggers and reading awesome content? So without further ado, here’s part 2 of bloggers you should check out:

Lydia @22 is still young adult– Lydia’s reviews are just so beautiful that I always end up adding whatever book she’s talking about to my list. Not only is this blog a fantastic place to grow your tbr, I also find that if I have read the book, her reviews remind me why I loved it and make me all warm and fuzzy about it!

Cindy @Readctbooks– Cindy is one of those bloggers that captures the *need to fangirl* feeling! Loads of her reviews just make me so excited to pick up whatever she’s reading. I love her take on memes and fun updates-  her blog is such an entertaining place to be!

Ayunda Bhuwana– Ayunda is recently celebrating her bloggiversary and I must say she’s taking the blogosphere by storm! With her great takes on books and films, and just sharing her life and travels, she covers a lot of bases in an incredibly engaging way. I also love her slick design and am so glad she’s returned to blogging!

Sarah @Art Expedition– Sarah is one of the most talented people on this platform and her blog most certainly showcases this. Her paintings and photography are simply stunning and I really recommend you check it out- you’ll be in for a treat! She also writes very beautifully about why she chooses certain subjects and Art Expedition all round a great place to visit on the blogosphere!

Maddie @Of Reading and Random Things– the bookish discussions on this blog are always fascinating and get me thinking- which is why it’s worth checking her out! It’s always interesting to explore some of the topics she gets into- like which is better: books or video games? Or blogging vs vlogging? And if that’s not enough for you, there’s plenty of awesome book reviews and tags over there to get fulfil all your bookish needs!

The Bibliophile Empress– one of the things I like best about Kristyn is her thoughtful discussion posts- she eloquently puts forth her point of view and it’s really worthwhile to hear her out. I have to admit, as a classicist, her informative and educational mythology posts make me super excited as well!

Dragons & Zombies– not only does Sarah have excellent taste in books (I’m biased 😉 ) she also brings so much personality to her blog. I love that she covers so many different topics as well- like movies, travel and even wrestling! There’s really no other book blogger like her and I don’t know why you’re still reading this instead of going to check her out right now! 😉

Suziey @Of all the books in all the libraries– if you’re looking for varied book tastes then you’ve come to the right place! Suziey covers everything from Nancy Drew to contemporary romance to classics. Her reviews are always so in depth that you get an excellent idea of what to expect and whether to pick it up for yourself. Not to mention, she does great book hauls (which admittedly can be dangerous for us bookaholics to see 😉 ) Her blog often puts me in a great mood- especially after her upbeat tag about music today! Also, who doesn’t love the reference she’s making with her blog title?

Carolina @Fictionologyst– Carolina is one of the sweetest people I’ve met recently and is super friendly! Her personality comes across so well on her blog and I always enjoy reading her enthusiastic reviews and posts!!

Book Beach Bunny– Book Beach Bunny has such amazing reviews of TV, films and books! They’re honest and will give you the lowdown of what to add to your list- and perhaps also what to avoid. She’s really clear on what the book/film/show has going for it- and that’s really helpful to me! Plus, she has a very entertaining way of doing things and makes me laugh!

If you’re looking for more wonderful bloggers you need to look out for, feel free to check out:

Bloggers Who Deserve More Attention #1

Social Media Tag

Obviously there are loads more bloggers who deserve *all the attention*- so who do you think I should be looking out for? And do you know any of these bloggers? Will you be checking them out? Let me know in the comments!

Reviews are for READERS

So I spent a lot of time last week talking about writing and trying to encourage writers, which almost makes me feel like I neglected the reader-y side of my blog. But *have no fear* ranty monkey is here to talk about why I think reading and reviews!

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You see, like many other people on the blogosphere I’ve noticed an ongoing problem of a certain type of author (#notall) that goes after reviewers when they get a negative review. This is obviously something that’s existed longer than I’ve been around, yet I specifically saw a video recently (that I won’t share because it names the author in question) where a vlogger described a horrible incident of an author harassing them for their 3* review. Now I’m sure I don’t have to state the obvious, but I will anyway: THIS IS NOT ON.

Still the encroachment on what reviewers do goes further than this unfortunately. Because I also see a fair number of authors, every so often, pre-emptively telling would-be readers of their work how they ought to review. Which is also NOT ON. Ultimately I hold with the view: your platform, your rules. I do not see how someone else is entitled to tell others what to do on their own site. Particularly when it comes to opinion pieces like reviews- gah! The nerve!

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Personally I have my own unspoken rules of how I like to run my blog and I see a lot of other reviewers make different choices. And whether they want to discuss certain aspects of a book, leave out negative reviews or only review certain kinds of books is *completely* up to them! It’s certainly not up to the author to determine what makes a satisfactory review.

And I say this not because I think people should avoid advice or never try to improve what they do- we’re all learning things all the time- but because I am seriously sceptical about whether someone who asks for reviews to be tailored for the author’s benefit are really looking out for the reviewer’s best interests. I do not think it is right to tell readers off for not giving a book a high enough rating, or not stating how the writer can improve, or heaven forbid “not getting it” (whatever that means)- dude, it’s not for your benefit. Most of us are trying to write reviews to help out fellow readers.

Sure, you’re welcome to write each and every review as a love/hate letter to the author– that’s your prerogative. In my experience though, most critics aren’t doing that. What motivates me personally, aside from enjoying chats about *BOOKS*, is knowing that I can help fellow bookworms out from under their crushing TBRs to figure out what they *need* to read a book and what they might want to skip. That’s why even if I gush over a book, I try to tell people what it is they can expect and point out that other people might not like it. Some of my favourite books of the year fall into this category- and that’s okay! Everyone has different tastes and is entitled to their opinion.

It’s kind of unbelievable that some authors use reviews as their personal critique anyway. I mean, it is supposed to be a finished product. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the time for critique should be a little earlier than the publication stage. Once it’s entered the market, it’s fair game. Especially if people have parted with time and money.

None of this is to say that authors can’t get something out of reviews. My personal view is that if a review helps an author I like then that’s *fantastic*- I obviously want all the authors I respect to have a long and illustrious career (if nothing else than for the selfish reason that I want to read *all* their future books). And guess what? People still go onto read books that are negatively received. In fact, I’ve gone out and read books I’ve seen people slate (morbid curiosity/monkey-brained masochism- call it what you will). In my experience, what actually puts readers off is whiny authors who moan about reviews.

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And believe me, I get that writers poured a lot of work into it. I’m perfectly sympathetic to that. However, here’s the rub: reviewers put a lot of effort into their platforms too. No one has a monopoly on importance or conscientiousness here.

Contrary to what some writers might think, reviewers can’t control if they liked or disliked a book. Nor are they “out to get” anyone or likely to have personal vendettas against (often unknown) authors. Yet what reviewers do depend on is their ability to critique a book on its merit– and to start meddling with that undermines the whole process.

So I’ll say for the record: my reviews are for readers. Writers who think otherwise can kindly back away- I have bananas and I’m not afraid to use them!

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How about you? Do you think reviews are for readers or authors? Let me know in the comments!

Bloggers who Deserve more Attention

Hello! I wanted to do this post a few days ago, in honour of my 3 year bloggiversary, but it’s been a crazy week so I’ve not been blogging nearly as much as I wanted to (annnd I’m totally not breaking my new rule of not apologising all the time, just explaining a little 😉 )

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Anyway, I mentioned the other day that I owe a great deal of thanks to the lovely Zezee for basically discovering me as a blogger! If you’re not following her already- what the hell are you doing!? In honour of what she did for me, I decided to share some people’s blogs. Now obviously *everyone* on the blogosphere deserves more attention, but that would’ve taken a bit too long, and while there’s loads of blogs I talk about a lot, and who you should already be following, I think there’s a few that don’t get nearly as much attention. So without further ado, here’s some bloggers you should definitely check out!

Fran Laniado– so Fran is great at keeping up with memes, but that’s not why I love her blog! The best thing about Fran is that she reads so many different books that not a lot of other bloggers are talking about. This makes her lists very thoughtful and stands out a lot. If you’re really interested in classics and literary fiction, like I am, then I highly recommend checking her out! Plus she’s highly intelligent and has some great writing discussions that I very much enjoy.

Cameron Graham @Here be Wyverns– not only is Cameron *super smart* and his content realllly detailed and interesting (really recommend his discussions on mythology– it’s phenomenal!), but I gotta say, he frequently makes me laugh and is absolutely hilarious. So head on over there and say hi to his dragon Ivan!

Lucinda is reading Lucinda is just lovely, sweet totally approachable, really funny and very clever. Her review style is always so varied and tailored specifically for the book! Every review is unique and interesting. Plus she reads a great variety of books so you can’t go wrong! Plus, she agrees with me about not liking Gormenghast, so she must be amazing if she’s on the same page as me there 😉

K L Kranes– I had to include her just for how *awesome* her discussion pieces are- seriously, if you’ve not checked out some of those- you are seriously missing out! They’re really thought-provoking! She talks about writing, reading, grammar, tv, travelling and tons of other things.

Eva O’Reilly– Eva has done something on her blog I could never do: a lot of daily content! I am always so impressed when people blog every day or nearly every day, but what makes Eva more impressive is that her content is often profound and strikes a relatable cord for any writers out there! She talks a lot about writing, life, and just check her out okay!?

Joelendil’s Kingdom of Books– I really love the type of books that Joelendil reviews (a lot of classics and SFF!) and he always gives such a clear picture of his impressions and what to expect. Plus, there’s the added bonus of his reviewing  the type of books that aren’t the run of the mill books you see on the blogosphere.

Lost Art of Reading– speaking of reviews, I had to include Lost Art of Reading on this list, simply because she always writes such top quality, thorough reviews- particularly on books you might never have heard of otherwise. Plus, she’s really friendly and great to chat to!

Simply a book drunkard– Milou does such a fantastic variety of content, it’s hard to pin down a single reason why you should go follow her! Her reading is eclectic and if you’re into sci fi/fantasy and graphic novels in particular, then she’s definitely someone to check out 😀

Wordaholics Anonymous– I really can’t mention Milou without giving a shoutout to her other half as well! I highly recommend you check out both regardless, because he does really interesting reviews on fantasy books, has cool music taste and shares some of his awesome poetry.

Angelica @Dreaming of Fiction– Angelica runs a really varied blog and I think this comes from the fact she’s completely unique on the blogosphere- I mean, I defy you to find another geeky opera singer in training! So her content is a mixture and I really enjoy reading about her bookish and music tastes!

Bookwyrm Knits– if you’re into discussions, reviews and weekly memes, then you’ve definitely got to hop on over to Bookwyrm Knits (and I know most of you answered yes to all of those 😉 ) Plus, she also shares her knitting WIP, and I know from my Reverse Q&A that a fair number of you are knitters, so you should definitely have a look! 😉

And that’s all for now! And because I want to spread the love around a bit, I think it would be great if you could share some more bloggers who deserve more attention in the comments! 

3 Year Bloggiversary! Things I’ve Learnt as a Blogger

3 year bloggiversary

Hello all! Well, according to the powers that be over at WordPress, this just so happens to be my third bloggiversary! (well the anniversary of when I got the domain name- we’ll get to what a lousy blogger I was when I started out in a mo 😉 ). To mark the occasion, I took inspiration from Laura @LFBook‘s fantastic “Things I’ve Learnt as a Blogger” series (really recommend checking it out) and decided to share what I’ve discovered about blogging in the last three years!

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Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Before I even started, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t hold back. Aside from being a pretty frank person, I will admit that a lot of this came from being told what I could and couldn’t say IRL. Because I’m a contrarian I decided to stick two fingers up to the busybodies who wanted to tell me what to do 😉 And you know what, even though I’ve touched on some controversial topics over the years, some of which have made me nail-bitingly nervous, I’m glad that I did it. Granted, sometimes I have had to deal with people less than pleased about what I have to say- and you know what? That’s okay. I can deal with it, I’m a big monkey 😉 (also, I have bananas and I’m not afraid to use them 😉 )

On the flipside, I don’t regret the things I didn’t say. Yes, that’s right, I can actually bite my tongue sometimes 😉 As I mentioned in my Drafts, Drafts and More Drafts post, there are posts I’ve decided to shelve for various reasons. It can be good to weigh things up- for instance “will this gripey whiny post about some schmuck annoying me make me feel better?” If the answer’s no, I might just leave it.

Another thing I’ve learnt is to expect the unexpected. Not a lot of people know this, but the first three months of blogging this site was like a virtual graveyard. I’m pretty sure we all go through that at some point tbh. And it’s not like I was expecting anything to grow out of it- frankly the whole project started as a way for me to *shout into the void*. But man, I have to admit that when I started interact more, it became *so much more awesome*. Massive thank you to Zezee for being the first ever person to tag me in something and consequently share one of my posts (yes, I remember that sort of thing 😉 )  I was staggered after that when people started reading, commenting and actually enjoying the content. Which leads me onto…

Blogging is only as fun as you make it! Like I said, I was a lousy blogger when I started and while I had fun writing the posts, it got SO MUCH BETTER once I started to relax and try out new things. I really love making people laugh and if I can make just one person crack a smile, then that’s a good day 😀 I realised how much better blogging is when other people can get something out of it.

Speaking of my early days as a blogger, people are not lying when they say consistency is key. I mean, of course I started out doing that wrong as well 😉 And I may sound really thick for stating the obvious, but I took a while to figure out that when you post more, more people are likely to read *mindblown* 😉

Now I have to say to take that last one with a pinch of salt- because obviously IT IS OKAY TO TAKE BREAKS. (And yes, I’m writing that in capitals, cos I still sorta need to learn that one!) The thing is, blogging can be stressful, we all have lives beyond our blogs and heaven knows we can’t be online as much as we’d like to. In fact, I know that I’m going to have to take a break soon. And that’s *okay*. I still have to keep reminding myself not to apologise at the start of every blog for some misplaced guilt, cos contrary to what my British-brain thinks, constantly saying “sorry!” can be a bit of a pain.

Also, ARCs are not the be all and end all. I can’t be the only person that didn’t have the faintest idea what an ARC was when I started. But when I found out, it would have been easy to get swept up in the allure of *advanced review copies*. That said, I’m really glad I didn’t immediately jump on the ARC train. And, when I found out, I didn’t immediately jump on the ARC train. I let myself think about it for a whole year, before deciding that, yeah, I could fit about one a month into my schedule. Everyone does ARCs differently, which is cool, but I’m very selective cos of that. Even with this small number of requests (combined with how often I get rejected lol) I *still* manage to fall behind in the reviewing side of things, so I’m glad I have this strict rule in place. Especially cos it means that I do a happy dance every time I get an ARC 😉 Which brings me to…

Celebrate every milestone. Sure, I may not shout about everything all the time on here, but I guarantee that I’m SCREAMING WITH JOY INSIDE. Watching this teeny corner of the internet grow has been amazing and I so appreciate each and every one of you that’s makes the blogosphere the most wonderful place to be! And I wanted to say a personal thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for me in the Annual Book Blogger Awards. I’ve been too busy to get involved but it made me feel very honoured. And with that, all that’s left to say is…

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What have you learnt from blogging? Let me know in the comments!