BBAW: Keeping It Fresh

BBAW 2016 - Blogger Burnout

Today’s the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) and the prompt is how do bloggers keep things fresh to avoid blogger burnout. This is going to sound totally random but my favorite lip balm brand is Fresh and I just stopped by that store earlier today. And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to the topic that I should be discussing. I think blogger burnout and reading slumps are pretty common, there’s really no way to predict when or how they will happen. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and over the years, I’ve seen how the book blogging community has changed. So many of the blogging buddies, who were newbies with me, have given up on their blogs because other priorities have popped up. Even WordPress has changed its features and layouts during the time I’ve been a blogger. While I’ve never seriously considered giving this up, there have been times when I felt kind of meh about my blog. So what do I do to avoid that? It’s real simple, I read and blog without any kind of pressure. I pick up books based on my mood, and I blog whenever I feel like it. I don’t force myself to read something that I don’t want to, and I definitely don’t put pressure on myself to write a post when I don’t feel like doing so. I read and blog because it’s fun for me. And I hope it keeps being fun for a long time.

I’ve said this before and I will probably keep saying it until I stop blogging: my blog is my happy place. Going back through old posts, I noticed that some of the things I said in one of my BBAW 2012 posts are still applicable today. So I’m going to end this post by reiterating what I said before. I shared a quote about reading and explained why I chose it:

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin

I love this quote because it talks about reading opening up your eyes and making you realize that you’re not alone – the same can be said for blogging. It was blogging that taught me that the things that I loved the most were the very things that connected me with readers all over the world. I feel like my blog keeps me grounded because I get to focus on something that I love. It helps me unwind at the end of the day. I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot more homesick and more than a little lonely if I didn’t have my blog.

What about you, how do you keep yourself motivated to blog?

BBAW: Staying Connected

BBAW 2016 - CommunityConnection

I didn’t even realize that Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) got a reboot and is being hosted over at The Estella Society. I’ve joined BBAW in previous years and would have prepared more posts if I found out about it sooner. I’m glad that I found out about it just in time to join today’s prompt: how to stay connected in the book blogging world. Making and maintaining connections is probably the main reason why I blog. I love being part of the bookish community. I love being able to talk about an aspect of my life that my friends in real life and family don’t really understand. I have been blogging since 2010 (yeah, even I’m surprised at how long it’s been), and I’ve used various methods to stay connected with people over the years. Currently, I stay connected through these:

Blog events – This is the first thing that came to mind because hey, I’m writing this post as part of BBAW. Other blog events that I’ve joined are ArmchairBEA, Bloggiesta and online activities hosted by Filipino ReaderCon. I have also organized my own blog events such as The Queen’s Thief Week, Marchetta Madness, EWein Special Ops and Amour et Florand. I would love to organize more blog events but I haven’t been able to do so because real life has been getting in the way.

Meet-ups – I don’t get to do face to face meet-ups as often as I’d like since I moved to Singapore so I think it’s always great whenever I get a chance to meet an online bookish friend in person. I get so jealous of all the bookish events and meet-ups that are held in Manila, if I was still based there, I would definitely show up.

Memes – Nowadays, the only meme I actively join is Top Ten Tuesday. I like TTT because there’s a new topic every week and it also lets me discover new-to-me blogs.

Twitter – I’m on Twitter as @chachic_ because “chachic” is taken. I joined Twitter the year I started blogging, and I didn’t even have a smartphone back then. I thought it was awesome because it let me interact with authors. My day was made whenever an author replied to one of my tweets (actually I still feel that way until now). Also, it’s easier to keep in touch with fellow bloggers on Twitter because I can just check it whenever I have time like every morning while on the train to work. And it’s easy to send a tweet whenever I have a random thought or question that I want to share. Oh and I find out about book bargains on Twitter too, like when Kindle editions go on sale for just USD0.99 or they’re free for a limited time.

Goodreads – I keep my Goodreads profile updated because it helps me keep track of the books that I read and the ones on my wishlist. I always check my Goodreads shelves whenever I need to make a list or an update for the blog.

Instagram – I’m on Instagram as chachickenpie. It’s probably my second favorite social networking site after Twitter. It’s just a lot of fun for me to take pictures and to browse through my friends’ posts. While my Instagram posts are mostly book-related (and tagged with #bookstagram or #instabooks), I also share random pictures of my day-to-day life here in Singapore.

Facebook – I’m not as big of a fan of Facebook but I do have a Facebook page for the blog, where I share links of my blog posts. My book club, YAckers also uses Facebook to have discussions. I’m a member of some bookish Facebook groups but I’m mostly a lurker in those.

Messaging apps like Whatsapp / Viber – Aside from email, I keep in touch with friends through Whatsapp or Viber. I think these apps are more common in the Philippines and Singapore than abroad? They’re basically like texting. I use these apps to keep in touch with some of my bookish buddies who have given up blogging.

Commenting on other blogs – Leaving comments on other people’s blogs used to be the best way to have discussions but nowadays, more and more people are replying on Twitter or Facebook instead. I guess it’s easier for them to leave comments as they click on links shared. I try to reply to all comments that I receive in all platforms, be it WordPress, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I feel like it’s a way to show my appreciation for the comments that I get. LOL I also don’t get that many comments so it’s not a difficult for me to reply to all of them.

Those are the various ways I stay in touch with the book blogging community. Do we share similar ways of communicating? How do you stay in touch with the community?

What Book Blogging Means To Me

The past few weeks have been really difficult for me in terms of keeping up with reading and blogging. I recently moved from Manila to Singapore for a new job and I believe this has been the toughest time that I’ve had, blog-wise. I’ve been in slumps before but I’ve never thought about quitting altogether, until now. But I didn’t and I don’t think I ever will because blogging means a lot to me. Even though I’m still struggling to find the time to squeeze in blog posts, I think it’s worth the trouble (who needs sleep, right?)

I’ve said this before and I will keep saying it – my blog is my happy place. It’s where I get to rant or gush about the books that I read and that’s something that I can’t do with my friends and family. They do understand that I’m passionate about reading but they don’t really get it like bloggers do. Through my blog, I’ve been able to connect with readers all over the world! I feel like I’ve made some real friends even though I’ve never met some of them in person. Also, it’s so good to find readers who share my tastes in books because that makes it a lot easier for me to decide what to add to the ever-increasing TBR pile. Most of the books that I read are recommendations from fellow bloggers. And can I just say how amazing it is that I’ve been able to reach out to authors through my blog? That’s something that still surprises me – I’m thrilled whenever an author replies to a tweet, leaves a comment on a blog post or says yes to doing a guest post.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin

I love this quote because it talks about reading opening up your eyes and making you realize that you’re not alone – the same can be said for blogging. It was blogging that taught me that the things that I loved the most were the very things that connected me with readers all over the world. I feel like my blog keeps me grounded because I get to focus on something that I love. It helps me unwind at the end of the day. I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot more homesick and more than a little lonely if I didn’t have my blog.

What does book blogging mean to you? Feel free to answer even if you’re not participating in BBAW this week.

BBAW Interview Swap: Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

For today’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic, we get to host interview swaps! Now, this is a fun aspect of BBAW because we get to meet new bloggers. This year, my interview swap partner is Mindy from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads.

Hi Mindy, always nice to meet a new-to-me blogger! Based on your blog’s name, looks like you focus on paranormal and urban fantasy reads. What are your favorite books from those genres?
Yes, I do primarily read paranormal and urban fantasy, but I also read a lot of dystopian, post-apocalyptic and, recently, I’ve been reading a lot of sci-fi. I’ll give you some of my favorites based off of genre.

Urban Fantasy: Vampire Academy and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead; The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

Fantasy: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa; Wicked Lovely and Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr.

Dystopian/ Sci-Fi: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi; Divergent by Veronica Roth.

I haven’t read a lot of urban fantasy but I do love Ilona Andrews’ novels (and so do a lot of readers), would you happen to have recommendations similar to Ilona and Gordon’s writing?

I primarily read young adult (I’ve read very few adult) so, unfortunately, I have not read any of Ilona & Gordon’s books. I do have Ilona’s The Edge series sitting on my bookshelf, and I hope that I will get a chance to read them very soon.

Oooh I hope you get to read the Edge books soon! What are some the books that have stood out to you this year?

Insurgent by Veronica Roth; Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins; Embers and Echoes by Karsten Knight; Cinder by Marissa Meyer; The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa; Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris; and Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate.

Can you give us an idea of what’s it like to be a blogger in your area? I’d like to know where you usually buy your books and whether you attend book events or meet up with fellow bloggers.

My favorite bookish events I’ve attended are: Smart Chicks Kick It Tour in Seattle, WA; NCIBA Conference in San Francisco; and ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.

I attend a lot of book events in San Francisco. I live in Sacramento and the drive (without traffic) is about 2 hours. There are a handful of bloggers (and a few local authors) who attend those events, so I get to see a lot and meet a lot of bloggers when I go. A lot of times, the bloggers (and even authors) will meet up for dinner before an event, or go out afterwards. I have a few blogger friends who live here in Sacramento, and I carpool with them to San Francisco as well.

I purchase my books on because that is mainly where I find the best deals. But I occasionally buy a book at the bookstores that host the events I attend.

First picture is a bookstore in SF that hosts a lot of events I attend. The next is a picture of one of the many awesome events they host that I attended. On the top row, the picture includes some of my favorite bloggers.
And the second row is authors: Bree Despain, Brodi Ashton and Cynthia Hand

The host at the event at Books Inc, allowed a few bloggers to interview an author 1 on 1 in the back room and I was able to interview Bree Despain.

Wow, you’ve been to awesome events! Blogging isn’t always fun because it takes a lot of time and effort – have you ever experienced a blogging slump and what did you do to get out of it?
I actually experienced a blogging slump very recently, and I just barely pulled myself out of it probably a week and a half, to two weeks ago.

I, for one, had to come to terms with what put me in that blogging slump. Mine were actually emotional reasons, reasons that put me in what I call “a funk,” and they had me pretty much hiding from the blogging atmosphere. Luckily, I have a few blogging friends who helped me snap out of it, and I’m determined to fight against it ever re-occurring with a vengeance.

Finally, this is something that I’ve asked in past BBAW interview swaps since I’m a Filipino book blogger based in Singapore – what are your thoughts about international book bloggers? Do you follow any foreign bloggers?

That’s one reason I’m so excited to get to know you!!! I think connecting with book bloggers all over the world is amazing! My first blogger friend outside the US was in England, and I found it extremely entertaining that when I would be saying, “Goodnight,” she would be saying, “Good morning.” And one of my favorite indie authors (who I talk to all the time), as well as quite of few of my blogger friends, are actually in Canada. Lastly, everyone needs to get to know Alba with Book Pics, she’s from El Salvador! She is hilarious, fun, and she has never failed to put a smile on my face!

Thank you so much for the lovely answers, Mindy! Be sure to drop by her blog to check out my answers to her questions. Happy BBAW, everyone. 🙂

BBAW Kick Off: Appreciation

I’ve been participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week the past two years so I couldn’t pass up the chance to join this year’s celebration. Today’s topic is this:

Appreciation! There are no awards this year, but it can still be hard to navigate the huge universe of book blogging. Share with your readers some of the blogs you enjoy reading daily and why.

I feel like I’m a broken record when it comes to highlighting my favorite blogs because I keep talking about the same blogs over and over again. Hey, I can’t help that they continue to be awesome. Just check my blogroll on the left sidebar and you’ll see the blogs that I regularly visit. In particular, I want to show my appreciation for three bloggers who have become read along buddies in the past year or so:

Holly of Book Harbinger

Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog

Michelle of See Michelle Read

I had so much fun doing those read alongs because we got to discuss the books in more detail than with just reviews and comments. We might not always agree on how we feel about all of the novels that we read but I feel like our tastes are pretty similar. Which is why I’m easily convinced to pick up a book when one of them recommends it. They also write insightful reviews that give me a better idea of whether a book will work for me or not. Be sure to drop by and browse through their blogs!

What about the rest of you, who are some of the bloggers that you love to follow? Happy BBAW everyone! 🙂

BBAW Interview Swap: Reviews by Lola

My interview partner for this year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week is a new-to-me blogger, Stephanie of Reviews by Lola. She’s 27-year-old and is from Columbus, Ohio. Lola is actually the name of her first dog as an adult and that’s why she decided to use that name for her blog. Get to know Stephanie through her answers to these questions…

First off, give us an introduction of you as a reader – what genres do you like reading and who are some of your favorite authors?

Over the years, I have gotten a great idea of who I am as a reader. I mostly stick to literary fiction and literary mysteries. Blogging has opened my eyes to other genres and I do feel like I have opened up a little more as far as my reading habits go. Pre-blogging, I rarely read YA, but now I do like to add some YA into my reading diet every now and again. I try to keep my mind open to suggestions from other readers and bloggers now because the majority of my reading selections comes from blogs now.

As far as my favorite authors, I do have a few. Nick Hornby was one that I didn’t love until I read The Polysyllabic Spree and its counterparts earlier this year and now I am ready to read High Fidelity now and some of his other books, because the fiction from him that I have read thus far hasn’t been my favorite, although I did love Slam! Another author I count among my favorites is Joyce Carol Oates. I have had some hits and misses with her as well, but when she hits a home run, it is amazing. Blonde and My Sister, My Love were both phenomenal.

One of the things that I love about the book blogosphere is how nice and friendly everyone is. When you’ve been blogging for a while, you form friendships with fellow book bloggers. Who are some of your blogging buddies or favorite bloggers out there?

One of my favorite bloggers is Amanda, from the now defunct The Zen Leaf. I was so sorry to see her shut down her blog earlier this year but I understand her reasons and I am happy to follow her personal blog instead. I will always miss The Zen Leaf though!

I just love the sense of community that you get from other book bloggers and it never fails to amaze me how friendly everyone is. That is why I love community events like BBAW, because it gives me an opportunity to meet new bloggers!

You have to admit, blogging takes a lot of time and effort, do you ever get tired of it? What do you do to get out of your blogging slump?

I had a big slump for the first few months of this year and my blog remained silent for weeks on end. I really wasn’t sure if I would come back to blogging, but the issue wasn’t really the blog but the fact that I had lost interest in reading. I have been a reader my entire life, so it is no surprise that it eventually went away. However, I have always vowed that I won’t push myself to blog. It is supposed to be a fun hobby, and once it starts to feel like a job, then I will have to reevaluate. Now that I have been blogging for over two years though, it is like blogging and reading go hand in hand for me… almost like I can’t have one without the other!

Like you, I love hearing about other people’s favorite books so I’m going to steal one of your questions (I hope that’s okay!) – what are the books that you can’t stop gushing about?

My two favorite books of all time are Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell and The Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Although they are two very different books, they both involve very memorable characters, which is why they will always remain favorites. Scarlett, Rhett and Ignatius are so real to me and I am always intrigued and amused by the three of them.

As far as this year goes, I have had some very memorable and enjoyable books. I read The Art of Losing, by Rebecca Connell, last month and could not get it out of my mind. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin was another that really affected me. What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller, gave me much food for thought. I feel like 2011 has been a superb year as far as my reading goes, which is really lucky considering how badly the year started off!

Finally, this is something that I like to ask in every interview since I’m based in the Philippines – what are your thoughts about international book bloggers? Do you follow any foreign bloggers?

To be honest, the nationality of a blog or blogger rarely crosses my mind. I usually just find other blogs by word of mouth or I stumble across them, and when I come across a new blog I just browse the past few posts to see whether we have similar tastes. If we do, then I automatically add the blog to my Google reader.

There are two bloggers that I have followed since the beginning of my blog two years ago that are not from the US, so they come to mind first. The first is Jackie from Farmlane Books Blog. Jackie lives in England and has great taste when it comes to books. Occasionally I am disappointed when a book she reviews is not available in the US yet, but it’s a rare issue and certainly not one to dissuade me from her blog! The second blogger is Guatami Tripathy from Everything Distils into Reading, who is from Delhi, India. She has a lot of cultural references in her blog, which I always love, including her beautiful pictures.

Thank you for your thoughtful answers, Stephanie! I had fun getting to know you through the interview swap. I hope the rest of you enjoyed reading Stephanie’s answers to my questions and that you got to know her a little better because of this interview. Feel free to give her blog some love by dropping by to say hi. You can also check out my answers to her interview questions here.

BBAW Post: Yay for Book Bloggers!

It’s time for Book Blogger Appreciation Week again! I can’t believe it’s been a year since the last BBAW. I had fun participating in the daily topics and the other activities so I decided to sign up again this year. It’s going to be a busy bookish week because we’re having the first ever Filipino Reader Conference on Wednesday as well. Anyway, in today’s introductory posts, we’re requested to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for us. I’ve met so many awesome individuals through the blogosphere and I want to mention all of them but I guess I have to settle for the ones that are in my blogroll (check out the sidebar). I feel like they’re the bloggers that I get to interact with the most, through blog comments, Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads and I usually get my recommendations from them. It doesn’t hurt that I think we have similar taste in books. I would seriously love to meet all them in person but I have no idea if I’ll be able to do that. Even if several bodies of water separate me from these bloggers, they’re all very real to me and I consider them friends.♥ They’re all excellent bloggers so please drop by and check out their blogs if you’ve never heard of them.

Sabrina of About Happy Books
Angie of Angieville
Holly of Book Harbinger
Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library
Kristen of Fantasy Cafe
April of Good Books and Good Wine
Nomes of Inkcrush
Nic of Irresistible Reads
Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog
Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile
Michelle of See Michelle Read
Chelle of Tempting Persephone
Capillya of That Cover Girl
Ana and Thea of The Book Smugglers

Whew, hope that list wasn’t too long for you guys. But wait, I’m not done yet! This post wouldn’t be complete if I don’t mention some of my fellow Filipino Book Bloggers. I actually get to meet these guys in person and I love our meet ups and discussions. It’s funny because not all of them read the same kinds of books that I do but we always manage to talk about so many things when we meet in person. It also makes me happy that I get to borrow books from some of them because lessening the number of books that I buy is a good thing, right? So if you’re curious about other Filipino bloggers, please browse through this list:

Tarie of Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind
Charles of Bibliophile Stalker
Honey of Coffeespoons
Chris of Ficsation
Aldrin of Fully Booked .Me
Aaron of Guy Gone Geek
Tina of One More Page
Paolo of Rocket Kapre
Jason of Taking a Break
Celina of The Bookkeeper

I could go on and on but there’s not enough space for all the bloggers that I interact with so I’m sorry if I missed anyone. If you participated in today’s BBAW topic, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section. Happy BBAW, everyone! 🙂

BBAW Future Treasures

Last day for BBAW! Here’s what we’re supposed to write about for Future Treasures: “We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!”

I started this blog only this year so this is the first time that I’ve participated in BBAW and I must say that it’s been a delightful experience. I love how we were all able to highlight some of our favorite books and bloggers thereby encouraging others to look them up. I’ve added new-to-me blogs in my reader and I look forward to reading their posts in the future. I enjoy discovering new blogs to follow and I’m pretty active in leaving comments once a blog has been added to my reader. I’ve also added several books in my wishlist and it looks like I’ll have more material for my Want Books meme.

As for future goals, here are some of mine for next year:

  • Organize more meet ups and discussions for Filipino Book Bloggers
  • Read the books in my TBR and keep the number of books in there to below a hundred
  • Write more posts that will encourage discussion
  • Reread old favorites so I can write reviews for them
  • Have at least one international giveaway

How about you, what are some of your blogging goals for next year? If you’re a follower of my blog, do you have suggestions on what I should focus on next year?

BBAW Forgotten Treasures

Here’s the BBAW topic for Forgotten Treasure: “Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!”

It’s pretty obvious here on the blog that I read a lot of YA. Having read a lot of YA books, I now have several favorites from that genre. You can see them listed here. But if someone asked me what my all-time favorite YA series is, I will still answer that it’s the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

Followers of my blog won’t be surprised that I chose this series for this post because I LOOOOOOVE these books. Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about it. I fell in love with the series after I read the first three books and I kept rereading them over and over again and I’m continually amazed at how good they are. It’s historical fiction that borders on fantasy because of the presence of gods and godesses similar to Greek mythology. The main character is Eugenides, Gen for short, the incorrigible Thief of Eddis. Gen is amazing and I’m always on the lookout for books that have Gen-like characters. This series has all the good things that people look for in books – incredible worldbuilding, great character development, political intrigue, plot twists and turns that will keep you guessing and a very subtle kind of romance that will totally take you by surprise. I know the series has been getting more attention lately because several book bloggers are recommending it left and right but it’s still not enough. It should be popular enough that it becomes a staple read for anyone curious about YA.

I have recommended this series to so many friends and most, if not all, of them have liked it. Hey, you want further proof of how awesome this series is? You know who won the YA Fantasy Showdown a couple of weeks ago? Eugenides!

Oh and look at the lovely Japanese covers of these books, click to embiggen:

I wants them, my precious! Even if I can’t read Japanese. If you haven’t heard of this wonderful series, click here to read my review of the first three books. No spoilers, I promise! Or drop by Megan Whalen Turner’s website.

Okay, enough about my crazy love for this series. What about you, what’s a book that you think more people should read? 🙂

BBAW Unexpected Treasure

BBAW is so much fun! This is my first time to participate and I have a feeling I’m going to join in again next year. I enjoy browsing through everyone else’s posts and leaving comments. Anyway, for today, the topic is: Unexpected Treasure – We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?”

Ever since I started reading, I’ve always known that I liked fantasy. Later on, I discovered that I was more into epic fantasy or high fantasy than anything else. I wasn’t really into urban fantasy until I found out about an amazing series from fellow book bloggers – the Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews. Turns out, I just haven’t been reading the right kind of urban fantasy books. I can’t even remember who was the first one who recommended this series but I do remember that several book blogger friends were excited when Magic Bleeds came out this year. After hearing so many good things about the series, I decided to give it a try and the rest, as they say, is history. I fell in love with Kate Daniels and I’ve been singing her praises ever since. I’ve gotten other friends to read the books and they’ve all enjoyed them as well. So thank you fellow book bloggers for encouraging me to read what has become one of my favorite series! 🙂

For those who are interested in my reading experience of these books, click on the images below for my reviews. I promise, I didn’t include any spoilers so it’s safe to check them out even though you’ve never read the books.

What about the others out there, what are your picks for your BBAW Unexpected Treasure?