Tag Archive | bookandahug

Whoosh! 11 years of BooksYALove, a decade of April A2Z!

text reads: reflection- Blogging from A to Z April (2021) Challenge http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Like that snowball rolling downhill toward a cartoon character, growing larger and faster as it goes, time seems to pass more swiftly as the calendar pages flip over.

Eleven years ago today, I stepped out into the then-new world of blogging, thanks to the encouragement of Michelle Rafter’s Blogathon in the early 2010s and the repository of book recommendations that I had written for Barb Langridge’s awesome kids’ book discovery site www.abookandahug.com (still going strong – be sure to take the Reader Personality Type quiz here!).

Ten years ago today, I looked back at a whole month of posts (every day but Sunday) pegged alphabetically from A to Z – wow, I really could create content on a daily basis… for at least one month of the year during the April AtoZ Challenge!

At the end of March every year since, I’ve pondered whether I could really complete another AtoZ, not missing a single alphabetical day (X is so hard). And for 10 years straight, I’ve decided that I should try, and I have succeeded!

Book bloggers don’t get medals or awards for our work promoting books, authors, and illustrators.

Most of us don’t get any money for our writing, some of us get review copies from publishers (thank you, thank you!), and many of us pay out of pocket to host our sites.

We all spend innumerable hours reading, deciding which books to write about, looking at our growing TBR (to-be-read) piles of books…and the books waiting for a review.

Book reviewers may never know whether our recommendation of a specific book led someone to read it… but one review and one book may be what makes life better for one reader – and that is enough for me as I begin my 12th year of BooksYALove.

Have you read any of the 1000+ books that I’ve recommended?

January progress on TBR2012 Challenge (reflective) – read lots, recommended more

Faced with overflowing shelves of 2012-dated ARCs (advance reader copies) and published books as the old year wound down, I leaped at the TBR Challenge posted by Evie on her Bookish blog (I’m #251). So, in January, I’ve re-read and written recommendations on BooksYALove (and am posting the brief reviews for several titles on www.abookandahug.com) for these 2012 books:Fantasy:
Watersmeet,  by Ellen Jensen Abbott

Historical fiction:
A Hundred Flowers,  by Gail Tsukiyama

Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Unnaturalists,  by Tiffany Trent

Realistic fiction – Young Adult:
The Butterfly Clues,  by Kate Ellison
The Difference Between You and Me,  by Madeleine George
Fish in the Sky,  by Fridrik Erlings
Moonglass,  by Jessi Kirby
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy,  by Bil Wright
What Happens Next,  by Colleen Clayton

Adaptation,  by Malinda Lo
Year Zero, by Rob Reid

As you’re hunting up these great books, remember to check with your local library and independent bookstore, since all these titles have been published already. Keeping your book-dollars close to home is good sense and good business, as these singing booksellers remind us!

Yes, I’m making progress on my To-Be-Read stack of new books and 2013 ARCs, while also writing up my To-Be-Recommended books from 2012 (and some from 2011!). Let’s see what February brings…

TBR – books To Be Read AND books To Be Reviewed! (reflective)

cartoon of cat wearing party hat with champagne glassWell, the holiday season is almost complete, the old year nearly done, the new year peeking around the clocktower… and soon I’ll be back in the saddle, writing BooksYALove blog posts, recommending YA books that you might miss if you rely on the big-box stores’ displays and promotions.

So it’s a great time to make resolutions – especially ones that you can successfully keep! I’m taking my cue from Evie over at her Bookish blog and concentrating on my overflowing TBR piles and shelves.

For me, that’s the To Be Read shelves, whose covers I haven’t even opened yet, as well as the other TBR shelves, my To Be Reviewed/Recommended books, the ones that I’ve read and enjoyed, but haven’t quite gotten around to crafting my recommendations for… yet.

And they’re really good books! Otherwise, I just chuck them into the giveaway box. Y’all don’t have time to read ho-hum, formulaic books, do you? So I have stacks of 2012 copyright books that I haven’t told you about…yet.

So that’s my priority for BooksYALove in 2013: to efficiently tackle my 2012 awesome books while bringing you the best debut titles and books from smaller publishers as they arrive, hot off the presses throughout the year. TBR Challenge, here I come!

To keep me honest, I’m registering my intent over on Evie’s blog: http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com/p/welcome-to-2012-tbr-pile-reading.html and will be checking in with a linked post monthly, highlighting my 2012 must-reads, as shared with y’all through BooksYALove (and usually on Barb Langridge’s abookandahug site, too: www.abookandahug.com).

Promising an exact number of posts each week seems unrealistic, but I’ll do my best to make you hungry to read these wonderful books at your local library or purchased from your favorite indie bookstore (keep your money in town, okay?) – and please, let me know if I’m bringing you titles that sound intriguing, unmissable, or out-of-the-ordinary.

Indeed, 2012 was a great year for Young Adult books, so let’s hope that 2013 is equally stellar.
Which genre is your can’t-wait-to-read favorite? Happy New Year, and happy reading!

(celebratory cat cartoon courtesy of DesignedToaT: http://www.designedtoat.com/newyears.shtml)

On ARCs, review timing, and niches (reflective) – my blog = my choices & recommendations

sketch of black cat reading a sheet of paper
from OpenClipart.org

After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)

Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.

I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.

My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.

BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: 
I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.

Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.

Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.

I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all!

If BooksYALove started today… (reflective) – blogging lessons learned in a year

old catalog drawing of manual typewriter

not my typewriter

Today, the 2012 WordCount Blogathon theme asks us to consider what we’d do differently with our blogs: “If I started blogging today I would….”

Hmmm… I’d compare WordPress and Blogger more closely before deciding which one to use. I started BooksYALove just hours before the 2011 Blogathon began, so I went with Blogger where I already had a personal blog for an online technology update course and it was a snap to add another blog.

From reading other bloggers’ experiences with plugins, going to self-hosted blog platform, etc., it sounds like WordPress has an edge over Blogger once it’s time to take off the blogging-training-wheels. But I have gotten used to Blogger’s interface (even when it changed right in the middle of a blog challenge for me) and really like the theme colors and layout that I selected, so I’m staying with Blogger for now.

I wish I’d had enough time and confidence to register my domain name from day one so that all my outreach, publicity, and business cards had pointed to that web address from the very start. I probably will go self-hosted soon to give me more control over my own writings, since BooksYALove is meant to be a searchable archive of great books for young adult book fans.

Some things that I wouldn’t change: I was immensely fortunate in finding my first choice of blog name available; the “YA” in the middle can mean “young adult” which is the book category that I cover or “ya” like the casual “you” since I’m writing recommendations directly to young adult book readers (rather than to librarians or those who purchase books for others).  And every book has to be one that a significant group of readers will love – I don’t review every YA book that I read – so only the books that would rank 4-5 stars get the nod for BooksYALove.

During my first month of blogging in May 2011, I settled on a blog format that suited my writing style, taking some of my YA recommendations posted on Barb Langridge’s www.abookandahug.com website and adding commentary with relevant subject links. Since I hate reading reviews that give away the ending or significant plot twists, I vowed to never do that to my readers – so, no spoilers, ever!

Longtime followers/subscribers have probably noticed some stylistic changes on BooksYALove in recent weeks, as I adjusted font sizes for better readability, added a new logo and blog background (courtesy of my talented daughter, the graphic designer), and started some easy-click book lists in tabs at the top of the page.

And I’ll continue to participate each May in WordCount Blogathons, where I’ve found community (some of us posted in the Blogathon GoogleGroup for an entire year, not just the month of May!), advice, support, and the spark that set me off on this blogging adventure in the first place. Thanks, Michelle & the whole Blogathon crew!

(clipart of antique typewriter courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida)

The right book for the right reader

Did you ever get a recommendation for a book or movie that was just-right, that struck a chord in your heart, that you quoted from long afterward?

This blog will introduce you to young adult (YA) books of every genre, books that often take place far beyond our own neighborhood, yet show us ourselves in a new light. Many are from smaller publishers or first-time authors. All are worth your consideration.

If you’re in high school or older, every book on this blog is for you. I’ll note any significant situations of violence that may disturb sensitive readers, but will assume that you know yourself well enough to put aside any book that embarrasses or bores you. I agree with Daniel Pennac’s Rights of the Reader, seen with Quentin Blake’s illustrations at http://www.walker.co.uk/UserFiles/file/Rights%20of%20the%20reader/NYOR_ROTR.pdf

I blog about fascinating, underappreciated YA books because I’ve fallen in love with them or the characters won’t let me go or the situation portrayed is so startling that I have to make sure you have a chance to experience it, too. Many publishers send me books, and I am free to review or discard any title.

For starting me on the book recommendation path, I thank Barb Langridge with all my heart; every recommendation posted originally on her wonderful site www.abookandahug.com (where I continue to recommend great books for kids, tweens, and teens) will be tagged as such. All selectors’ notes are new to this blog, but no story spoilers are ever given!!

Please share what you think about the books – talking about what we’ve read just makes it better!