ArmchairBEA: Blogging

Today’s the last day of ArmchairBEA and we get to talk all about blogging. I don’t want to give tips about blogging because even though I’ve been blogging for more than a year, I’m still learning things as I go along. Which is what most book bloggers do anyway. With the ArmchairBEA events and Twitter parties, we’ve established how helpful the whole community is so if newbies have any questions, no need to feel shy. If you have any questions that you think I can answer, just leave a comment here. I reply to most (if not all) of the comments on my blog.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about experiencing a blogging slump and how I get tired of reading and reviewing because I feel pressured by my blog. I was surprised to hear that other bloggers feel the same way. So I realized that there’s really no need to pressure myself to read and review as fast as I can. So what if I only have one or two posts a week? The blog isn’t going anywhere and I’m sure my followers wouldn’t mind. I’m not even blogging for ARCs or to get more followers because 1) I barely receive review copies because publishers aren’t willing to ship to the Philippines and 2) I have no idea how many people follow my blog. Free WordPress blogs aren’t allowed to use the Google Friend Connect widget and I use the built-in RSS feed instead of FeedBurner. It’s not that big of a deal for me anyway, I’m just happy that people find what I have to say interesting. Last year when the blogosphere was still fresh and new in my eyes, I was super excited to post and I had no problem coming up with something everyday. But now I want to be more laid back and just go with the flow. πŸ™‚ Real life gets in the way of things sometimes: I have a full-time job (which pays for my books) and I usually go out on weekends to unwind. I blog about books for fun and I want my blog to be a happy place, I don’t want it to feel too much like work.

I’ve really enjoyed the whole week of ArmchairBEA and again, thank you so much to the organizers! Without ArmchairBEA, a lot of us would have been moping around because we couldn’t attend BEA. To all my new followers and blogging buddies, I enjoyed getting to know you guys this past week. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy my posts!

ArmchairBEA: Nurturing Relationships

Today’s ArmchairBEA topic is all about “relationships you’ve formed with a particular publisher, author, blogger, or bookstore.” Since I already mentioned in the post featuring international bloggers that I don’t really receive review copies from publishers, I thought I’d write about relationships with fellow bloggers and authors instead. I mostly interact with authors through Twitter. It’s the main reason I signed up for it. If I loved a book and gave it a glowing review, I’d mention the author in my tweet and sometimes, they’d reply or even retweet what I said. That kind of thing always makes my day. So if you’re a book blogger who still doesn’t have a Twitter account, go and sign up!

When it comes to relationships with fellow bloggers, I’d like to bring up the Filipino Book Bloggers group. I’ve mentioned this group in my other ArmchairBEA posts but I just wanted to say that our meet ups every other month are really a lot of fun. Our meet ups usually start in the afternoons but then we’d move on to explore the nearest bookstores in the area and we’d end up having dinner eventually. Even though only a handful of these bloggers share my reading tastes, like Tina, Celina and Aaron, I still think it’s a great idea to actually meet book lovers in person and talk about anything and everything book-related.

When it comes to international book bloggers, I feel like I always mention the same people but I can’t help it! They’re really the ones who influence my reading and blogging habits and I feel like they’ve become friends even if we only communicate through the interwebs: Holly of Book Harbinger, Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog, Michelle of See Michelle Read, Angie of Angieville and Nomes of Inkcrush. If you haven’t heard of these ladies, you better check out their blogs. Whenever they recommend a book, I’m always tempted to grab a copy as soon as I can. I also appreciate that both Holly and Michelle comment on most of my posts; Janice and Angie have sent me copies of out of print books that I really wanted to read but were not available in the Philippines (Clockwork Heart from Janice and The Road Home from Angie); and Nomes has introduced me to so many excellent Aussie authors. I would really love to meet all of these girls and so many other blogging buddies in person. Maybe sometime in the future when I have a US visa and enough money to go to NYC for BEA. πŸ™‚

ArmchairBEA Interview: Kaitlyn

For the ArmchairBEA interviews, I was assigned to interview a new-to-me blogger, Kaitlyn of Kaitlyn in Bookland. As always, I had fun coming up with interview questions (although it wasn’t easy!) and I hope Kaitlyn enjoyed answering them too. Check out her answers below to learn more about her blog and the books that she likes to read.

1. Give us an idea of what your reading taste is like – what genres do you like reading and who are some of your favorite authors?
I generally have a pretty eclectic reading taste. It’s true that I usually like YA books more than adult books, but I will give anything a chance. My willingness to try anything has allowed me to find some amazing reads that I wouldn’t have found if I would have stuck in my YA comfort zone. My favorite authors include: JK Rowling (this list would never be complete without her), Suzanne Collins, Charlaine Harris, JA Konrath, and John Ajvide Lindqvist.

2. I love talking about characters in books, I feel that sometimes, we can think of them as real people. Who are some of your favorite characters and why do you love them?
You’re right! So many characters seem like real life friends (or enemies). Some favorites of mine are…

  • Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. She’s smart, loves books, and got Harry and Ron out of trouble so many times. Even when her heart was broken, she continued her journey to save the wizarding world.
  • Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. She is so tough. I couldn’t imagine having to support my family when I was 12. She is flawed, but that’s what makes her so real!
  • Pam Ravenscroft from the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. She is so funny. Her one-liners have me laughing so hard. Her sense of humor is so dry and fabulous.
  • Eric Northman from the Sookie Stackhouse series and Shane Collins from the Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine. They’re both babes. Enough said.

3. We all get tired of reading and blogging from time to time and we need a good book to get us excited again. What book would you recommend to get someone out of a reading/blogging slump?
My answer for questions like this is always going to be one of the Harry Potter books. I have a slight (okay, maybe not so slight) obsession with them. But, seriously, how could a journey into a world filled with magic not get a reader/blogger excited? If Harry Potter isn’t your thing (I don’t know if we can be friends…I’m kidding. Maybe.), I would suggest revisiting one of your all time favorites. There’s nothing like re-reading a favorite book. It’s like visiting friends you haven’t seen in a while.

4. How did you get started on blogging? And do you think blogging has changed your life or influenced it in any way?
Last summer I was bored waiting for graduate school to start. I had been checking out book blogs and thought, “Why not?”. Blogging has definitely changed my life. I find myself more aware when reading books when I know I’m going to be reviewing them. It makes me focus more so I know I can write a cohesive and informative review. I definitely try to read more as well!

5. One of my favorite things about book blogging is the wonderful community. I mean look at the organizers of ArmchairBEA, they made this happen for those of us who can’t go to the actual BEA. What’s your favorite aspect of book blogging?
ArmchairBEA was a fabulous idea, wasn’t it? The organizers are definitely awesome. One of my favorite aspects of book blogging is definitely the networking. When I am done with school, I would love to get involved with social media marketing. Book blogging seems like such a good stepping stone for that. I really enjoy communicating with other people via social networks that have a passion for books. Not too many people in my real life enjoy reading quite as much as I do, so it is nice to talk with people who do!

6. Aside from reading and blogging, what else do you enjoy doing?
Oh boy, tons of things! I love visiting with my old friends from college. I miss them every day! Other than that, I love movies, softball, photography, traveling, and going to the zoo. πŸ™‚

7. What are some of the best books that you’ve read this year?
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt. Loved it!
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. This is such a good novel about demigods! So good.
Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith. Furnace would be such a scary place to be.
All of the Pretty Little Liars books by Sara Shepard. These are such a guilty pleasure.
Suck It, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn. Very funny in audiobook form.

8. So many books are being made into movies and TV shows lately. Do you have any favorites?
I feel so redundant, but Harry Potter! Deathly Hallows Part 1 was amazing and I cannot wait until July for Part 2. It’s going to be so bittersweet. A movie that I actually enjoyed slightly more than the book was Beastly. I thought the changes the movie makers chose to do worked very well.

9. I think books and coffee go well together. You mentioned in your blog that you love coffee so what’s your favorite drink?
Ah, glorious coffee. If I’m studying, I brew my coffee and home. Usually I use some flavored coffee beans. A favorite of mine is Sea Salted Caramel. It’s delicious. If I’m going out, I can’t resist an Extra Coffee Caramel Light Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks. That order sounds so pretentious, but it is heaven in a cup. Any coffee that is flavored with toffee or vanilla is amazing as well.

10. Finally, since I’m book blogger from the Philippines, I’d like to get an idea of what you think of international book bloggers.
I think international book bloggers are amazing. It is so fun to get opinions from people from other backgrounds/cultures. It would definitely be interesting to compare book reviews to see if culture has an impact. I’m thinking of a case study!

Thank you so much for your answers, Kaitlyn! I’m a fellow Harry Potter fan, I also enjoy hanging out with both high school and college friends and I love to travel when I could so I have a feeling we can be blogging buddies. πŸ˜› Maybe the next time I’m at the Starbucks near my office, I can give that caramel light frap a try.

Drop by It’s All About Books to see my answers to Suey’s interview questions.

ArmchairBEA: Best of 2011

Tuesday’s ArmchairBEA topic involves best reads in 2011. This post was supposed to go up last night but I had problems logging it to WordPress. I just realized that almost half of the year is over so it really is a good time to look back and see what were the books that made an impact when I read them. Here are a couple of books that made it to my list of favorites, click on the images to check out my reviews:

I feel like the three above make a pretty good mix since there’s contemporary women’s fiction, contemporary young/new adult and an Arthurian retelling in verse form. Some other books that I thoroughly enjoyed reading even if they’re not considered favorites are:

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
A Lot Like Love by Julie James
Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

There’s magic realism, contemporary romance and Aussie YA in this second list. I kind of feel sad that I haven’t added any fantasy books in these lists. Would love to discover more fantasy books to love so maybe I should focus on that genre in the next few months. What about the rest of you, what are some of your best reads this year? If you’re participating in ArmchairBEA and have a post about this topic, please leave a link in the comments section so I can drop by and visit your blog. πŸ™‚

ArmchairBEA Introduction

This introduction is for the new visitors dropping by care of ArmchairBEA. I signed up for this event because I couldn’t go to the actual BEA (Book Expo America). I’m a book blogger from the Philippines and since I live so far away and airplane tickets to the US are really expensive, it wasn’t possible for me to go to BEA this year. As you can see from the categories in my sidebar, I read all sorts of genres: epic fantasy, young adult fiction, urban fantasy (although I’m not a fan of YA paranormal romance), contemporary romance, magic realism, fairy tale retellings, historical fiction and science fiction. I have a list of favorites that you can check out to get an idea of what I like reading. I’ve been blogging for almost a year and a half and I think it’s a lot of fun even though sometimes I feel like Mount TBR has taken over my life.

I have a feature called We Love YA, where I ask a YA book blogger some questions about the genre, and a weekly meme called Want Books, where I highlight the books in my wishlist that I can’t have at the moment. I’m also a member of Filipino Book Bloggers and I think the name of the group is self-explanatory. πŸ˜› We’ve had a couple of meet ups the past few months and those have always been fun.

Random fact about me: I’m really talkative and outgoing. I always wonder if that shows through my posts? I kind of feel that people who meet me virtually have a different impression than when they meet me in person. If you want to get to know me better, I also have posts in other social networking sites: Facebook, Tumblr, Goodreads, Twitter

That’s it for now and for all BEA attendees, I hope you guys are having fun out there although I have a feeling you wouldn’t have time to check your Google Readers. To all ArmchairBEA participants, I’m looking forward to interacting with you guys. πŸ™‚

Photos taken by Ian Villar