Tag Archives: about: this blog

Unexpected Summer Break

The blog has been quiet for a while, and here’s why:

I am working on a doctorate degree in education, and my summer coursework has been a bit more intense than expected.  Additionally, I’ve had three trips this summer (two international) that took more preparation and energy than I had initially planned.

But I do have good news:

We’re back to normal business starting tomorrow. The upside of all of this travel is that I have ready MANY books, and I am excited to start sharing them with you all again.

FanExpo

This week I’ve ventured north to FanExpo Canada in Toronto. Talk about a humongous convention! (Total attendance expected to reach 140,000. After wandering around here for a few days, I think they probably hit that mark.) It’s been an interesting experience, both as my first visit to Toronto and to be at a convention of this size.

One thing that has hit me, perhaps partly due to just coming off of WorldCon a couple weeks ago, is that I think I’ve become less enamored of the commercial cons. Yes, they’re the ones that bring in the big media celebrities from movies and TV. But they’re also expensive, overcrowded, and clearly focused on making money off of fans. The contrast to a fan-run, nonprofit convention like WorldCon is a stark one.

I already planned to focus more on the fan-run conventions in the next year due to my schedule. But I have a feeling I can expect a better overall experience for me in the end anyway…

WorldCon

I’ve just returned from MidAmeriCon II, the 74th incarnation of the World Science Fiction Convention. It was such a blast and provided the opportunity to connect with authors, artists, and other fans. My first WorldCon attendance certainly hooked me, and I’m excited for the opportunity to attend WorldCon 75 next year.

I collected a number of new books at the con, which I expect you’ll see reviewed here in the coming months. But this also means I’m a little bit behind on a few things. There are some review requests I’ve received that should hopefully get responses today. And book reviews should resume tomorrow.

Pokémon Go

I’m just going to be honest: Pokémon Go is totally cutting into my reading and reviewing time. Anyone else caught up in this utterly simple but incredibly addicting game? I’m hoping now that I’ve achieved quite a bit in the game, I can get back into my reading routine because…wow…I am behind!!!!!

Spring Break on the Blog!

It’s Spring Break Here at ConvergenceBookReviews

I’m currently traveling on a mini-vacation to welcome in spring, so the blog has been quiet for a couple of days and will continue to be through the remainder of the weekend. It’s a spring break of sorts. The upside is that I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading. Of course that means I have some great books to recommend to you all once I’m back home. (I always love the amount of reading I manage to get done when I’m traveling.)

I hope each of you had an amazing week! And I wish you all an even better weekend!

Musings on Book Fandom – Thursday Thoughts #2

Thursday Thoughts

On Thursdays, I take a break from reviewing books to share my thoughts on all things books, fandom, and random. All opinions are my own. Yours may differ. Feel free to respectfully disagree and discuss in the comments.

One of the communities I identify with online is fandom. And fandom is a rather broad term, as it consists of so many smaller sub-communities. So, to be more specific, one of the primary groups I’m a part of is book fandom.

The other day, a colleague asked me about my fandoms. She asked, “What do you spend your time on outside of work? What excites you?” And my response included books, reading, and volunteering. It also included specific television shows and podcasts. And since I’d already been thinking about the nature of book fandom, I walked away with more on the brain.

When I talked about being a fan of books, I left it at just “books and reading.” When I described being a fan of other media, I cited specific examples. And I tend to notice this is the case for many when it comes to fandom. In other media, people tend to identify on a more direct level with a specific work. And while there are books and series that have active fandom groups, I sometimes feel like it’s not on the same level.

For me, I think a big part of this is just the nature of books themselves. As someone who would describe himself as a huge fan of books, I don’t often read the same book twice. There have been a few exceptions over the years. But I usually prefer to read something new if I can. So that means that the experience of reading a book isn’t always a sustained one. Yes, I spend time thinking about a book after it’s finished. I usually review it, recommend it, and talk about it (if it’s a good one!). But I’m onto the next book by the next day.

With movies, it seems a bit easier to do a re-watch. And television shows usually run over a period of days, week, months, or even years. There’s an increased ease with which one can engage with a work over a sustained period in those types of media. Thus, I think it becomes easier to identify with a specific work rather than the medium as a whole.

But that identification with specific works brings its own challenges. Television fandom finds itself segmented, and sometimes that leads to tension across fans of the medium. In book fandom, because we so often jump from book to book, it seems easier to feel like a part of the broader community. I don’t have to watch three seasons of a show to catch up to a fellow blogger. I just need to pick up that book she’s just recommended and see if I feel the same way.

When I try to identify what makes me a part of book fandom, I think of my brother. If you ask him what he likes to read, he will tell you the names of the two books he’s read cover to cover. And then he’ll let you know those are the only two books he’s read cover to cover. If you ask me what I like to read, you best have at least a half hour to even just dip below the surface.

I think what defines book fandom is that people who like to read, well, they like to read. And we will read as much as we can. Even though I’m a huge fan of movies, I don’t often go see a film just to see a film. But I will pick up a book because I’m bored and it looks semi-appealing. Readers are as much a fan of the act of reading as they are the books in front of them. And that’s how I think I will identify myself going forward. I’m not just a fan of books (though they are pretty lined up on my bookshelf). I’m not just a fan of specific authors or specific genres. I am a fan of reading.

BBAW Day 5: Keeping It Fresh!

We’ll be taking a few days off from reviews here to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted by the lovely people over at The Estella Society.

Book Blogger Appreciation 2016 Day FiveHow does a blogger keep things fresh and avoid burnout? I think if there was a single solid answer to that question, the person who found it could make a fortune. The reality is that there is no single formula, and what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else.

For me, it’s about finding a rhythm. When I first started blogging, I did a couple of reviews per week, and that was it. That was my goal and that’s what the blog was about. As I started to become more comfortable with the routine, I pushed myself to try to have a post every day. Having some of those be reviews and some of them be commentary pieces proved to be too much at that point, and I almost reached a point where I stopped completely.

Not wanting to give up easily, however, I took a step back and tried to look at where the challenges were. I determined that I took too many leaps forward without giving myself time to get used to a new schedule. I decided at that point to stick with daily (or as close to daily as possible) posts, but to continue focusing on reviews. I put the commentary pieces on the shelf until I could get more comfortable with the productivity required just to accomplish daily posting of material–and that’s worked well since then.

Participation in this week has reminded me that I never did bring the idea of periodic blog posts on book-related topics back to the blog. The daily reviews routine has worked so well for me that I was fine remaining in that new comfort zone. And while I wouldn’t call it a rut, it certainly isn’t providing me with the challenges that come with producing more original content.

So, I’ve been inspired. And next week, I’ll be launching a weekly series of brief (no promises!) commentary pieces on book-related topics. Look for that to start on Thursday. (I’ve brainstormed over two months of ideas, so be prepared!)

BBAW Day 4: Community Connection

We’ll be taking a few days off from reviews here to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted by the lovely people over at The Estella Society.

Book Blogger Appreciation 2016 Day FourToday’s prompt asks bloggers to look at how they stay connected to the community. And when I think about that, my head definitely starts spinning.

Personally, I would say the way I stay most closely connected to books and readers is Goodreads. Not only do I keep track of my own to-be-read lists, ratings, and reviews there, I also engage with a number of readers with similar (and sometimes differing) tastes. I’m also active in a few groups that offer reading challenges (a great motivator!) and recommendations (awesome for discovery of new books)!

I also have a number of people I engage with (authors, publishers, and readers) on my personal Twitter account. Recently, I started blog-specific Twitter account so that my posts here don’t get lost in some of the other “noise” of my regular, non-book-related tweeting.

One of the reasons I decided to participate in this event this year is to take the opportunity to connect more with other bloggers specifically, as I think that’s one area where I could do more–and would certainly benefit, as well. Unfortunately, this week has turned out to be one of the busiest weeks in recent memory for me, so I’m not able to engage as much as the posting is happening. But I definitely plan to go back and look through all of the collected links once life slows down just a bit…

BBAW Day 3: Blame a Blogger!

We’ll be taking a few days off from reviews here to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted by the lovely people over at The Estella Society.

Book Blogger Appreciation 2016 Day Three

Today the focus is on something that has been recommended by another blogger. And I’ve been trying to pinpoint specific books I’ve read that I could say are the fault of specific bloggers, but I find myself struggling. Many times, I see reviews by bloggers that support books that are already on my to-be-read list, so it just helps move them up on the list. But then I don’t always remember who said what.

But there is one thing I can share that I found as a result of mentions from another blogger (though, again, the specific blog escapes me at the moment): Blogging for Books. Blogging for Books is a book request service for bloggers from Random House Publishing. What makes them a bit different than sites like NetGalley is that a) they offer both print and e-books and b) any books you can see on your list, you’re eligible to request. They only allow you to have one book at a time, but once you post a review, you can request the next book immediately.

It’s through Blogging for Books that I’ve discovered some real gems: City of Stairs (and subsequently City of Blades), The Martian, The Girl in the Road, The Gracekeepers, and The Library at Mount Char–just to name a few. They feature a wide range of titles including fiction from several genres and even nonfiction titles. While I’ve averaged one book a month from them since I first signed up for the service, it’s been a great addition to both my reading and blogging life.

So I figure why not pass it along to bloggers who might not be aware of it. It’s free to sign up, and I truly feel like there’s something for everyone.