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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.

BBAW Day 1: Introduce Yourself

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 OneThe opening prompt is one that is simultaneously very simple and incredibly complex:

Day 1: Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

After a bit of thought, here’s what I came up with…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I credit the Harry Potter series as what got me back into recreational reading in college. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy stories, and this series hit all the marks for me while also being a very accessible and easy-to-follow epic fantasy story.

Greenwode by J. Tullos Hennig

I noted above that I enjoy a great fantasy story, but I’m also one who enjoys well-developed historical fiction. Greenwode offers up both, as an incredibly well-written re-telling of the Robin Hood legend. There are also some m/m romance overtones here, which checks off another element that interests me at the same time.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Many people read books for a chance to escape reality. They’re looking for stories that are filled with happy endings, minimal conflict, and sometimes things that could never happen in the real world. I definitely can appreciate that perspective and often like picking up those books myself. But I also appreciate books that confront the realities of living, that show people working through some of the many complex issues we face in life. Perks is a book that speaks to me on a number of different levels, and it does an excellent job of providing a lens for readers to look at life without presenting a fantastic or unbelievable story.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Where do I even start here? I’ve been a fan of re-tellings of stories from the perspective of the stated antagonist since I first read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs in elementary school. These kinds of books serve as a great literary reminder that there are (at least) two sides to every story, and what readers see is often shaped by the perspective of the narrator or the protagonist. As someone who has been a fan of The Wizard of Oz since I was a young child, this book was one I was very interested in picking up. Also, I read this in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and the parallels between the way Elphaba was treated for daring to question a political leader and the “if you criticize the President, you’re as bad as the terrorists” rhetoric that was rampant in the US at the time, gave this book additional context for me that really stood out.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the few books I’ve read more than once (I have a hard time justifying reading a book again when I could read something new). I’ve read it twice for classes and once on my own. For me, this book represents the way people fear ideas, sometimes without solid justification. Having read this three times, I have a hard time understanding why some people feel so strongly this book should be banned. And from the few reasons for it that I do hear, the people advocating for banning the book haven’t even read it themselves. Which just points out how important it is for people to read, to learn, and to question, We shouldn’t just accept what people tell us is true. We should seek out information and experience things for ourselves, as much as possible, before we allow ourselves to form opinions on a subject or how the world works.

I look forward to sharing more with you all as we continue through the rest of the week!

The Move is Complete!

The blog is now on its new webhost. There are some additional configuration things that need to be handled over the next several days, but I should get back to some regular review posting now that the move is all sorted. The current theme is temporary as the old one couldn’t travel along with the content, but that will all be sorted this week as well. Exciting times!

Transition

Things have been quiet posting-wise as we work on moving the blog to an external host. Most of the pre-work is now done. Posting will resume tomorrow and then the blog will officially move sometime next weekend. There may be some downtime as a result, but we hope it will be minimal at worst.

Some Transitions

Within the next few weeks, I’ll be moving the hosting of this blog from WordPress.com to an off-site host using the WordPress.org platform.  There are a number of reasons for this, among them being that my hosting costs for the year are coming due and that there are some features on the .org platform that I would prefer to be able to use.  Considering the hosting isn’t really that much over what my cost to renew on WordPress.com would be for the next year, it makes sense to make the transition now.

This may involve some downtime–some of the details are still being worked out–but I will post an update here once I have the final plan.

Happy reading!

Summer Travels as a Double-Edged Sword

So I’m into another busy travel part of the summer (hence things slowing down just a bit with posting again), and am off to Texas in just a couple of days for a wedding. The downside is that it becomes a bit more challenging to stay on top of review posting and whatnot here on the blog. The upside is that I read quite a bit when I travel, especially by airplane.  On my July trip to a conference on the east coast, I read a whopping 15 books between the two plane rides combined. So while you may not hear from me much for the next few days, know that I’m queuing up some great books to tell you about upon my return!

Ups and Downs

Lately I’ve been realizing that my reading goes in an alternating set of phases:

1. Extremely Productive (10+ books per week)
2. Moderately Productive (4-9 books per week)
3. Nearly Hibernating (0-3 books per week)

In some ways, I guess this makes sense. Those weeks when I hit 14-15 books probably need to be balanced with a break or some rest. But when I’m in what I’ve listed as phase 3, I always end up feeling a bit stressed because I should be reading more. I know I can, so why am I not doing it?

And then I came across this tumblr post today:

Shoutout to the people who aren’t able to read a lot.

Shoutout to the people who have to work their ass off and can maybe read only half an hour each day.

Shoutout to the people who don’t have the money to buy books every week or month because they struggle to pay their bills

Shoutout to the people who study each day to pass those test and exams and have put their reading aside for a while.

You all are as much a bookworm as the people who read for hours every day.

This brought me back to the time when I didn’t read recreationally, which is basically all through undergrad and grad school as well as for a few years after.  It was just in the past couple of years that I really got back into a groove when it came to non-assigned reading.  And so even in those weeks when I only read one book (or even half of a book), it’s still more than zero and that should be good enough for me.

That should really be good enough for any of us…

Conferences

So things were silent this week as I was off to an academic conference.  Normally I would queue some things up, but I was fairly busy beforehand since i was presenting at the conference, but now I’m back and getting caught up on everything.  In all, I did read 14 books and short stories during the flights back and forth, so it was still very productive on the reading front.

One exciting piece of news to share, though, is that the Gay Romance Northwest Conference registration information has been posted.  I attended this event last year and it was pretty awesome. There was a ton of free books, some great author panels, and a fun author meet-and-greet/book fair following the event.  I picked up a number of free books, purchase a couple as well, and met some of my favorite authors in the genre (and collected some autographs).  The event is running at the same price as last year (17.50 until the end of August, then 25) and the list of attending authors is already pretty great.  I’ll be attending and recommend it to anyone who will be in the Seattle area and has an interest in LGBTQ stories…

Summer Travels

I have a fair amount of summer traveling coming up.  I have cross-country trips by airplane in June, July, and August.  I also have a mini road trip for June and a longer road trip planned for early September.  The advantage to this is that I expect to get a fair amount of reading done–it’s my go-to activity when I’m on the plane or waiting for a transfer and my plan is to be a passenger on all of the road trips too.  The downside is that it means there may be times when posting gets a bit more sporadic.  I aim to try to queue things up in advance so as to not miss a beat, but that might not always be possible.  So if things go silent for a few days, fear not.  Things will pick back up as soon as I get a chance.

Disclaiming Free Books

Every once in a while, you will see a disclaimer at the beginning of a review indicating that I’ve received a free copy of a book from an author, publisher, publicist, etc. in exchange for an honest review.  I believe these disclaimers are important for the sake of transparency and for readers of this blog to make an informed decision regarding their reading of the reviews posted here.  That said, I did want to take a moment to discuss why I accept free books in this way, what impact that has on my choice to review a book and the review’s content, and why I put the disclaimer at the top of the review instead of at the end as a footnote.

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