Bloggiesta Weekend

I wasn’t sure if I’d join Bloggiesta (hosted by Natasha of Maw Books) this weekend because I don’t know how much free time I’d have to work on the blog but I give in. This will pressure me to at least clock in some hours. I participated in Bloggiesta last June and I was able to accomplish a couple of things.

I already did some work on the blog when the new year started (changed the layout) but here are some of the things that I plan to do this weekend:

  • Post a review of My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr tomorrow
  • Attend the joint meet up of Filipino Book Bloggers and Flips Flipping Pages on the 22nd and write an account of it after
  • Work on the Filipino Book Bloggers site
  • Edit the blog pages that I have: About Me, Favorite Books, We Love YA, Review Policy
  • Invite some bloggers to do guest posts for the We Love YA, I haven’t been paying much attention to that feature
  • Come up with more discussion posts
  • Make a list of books that I plan to read soon because I always have a hard time deciding what to read next
  • Clean my sidebar and my categories
  • Promote the Facebook page of the blog so more people will follow

I think that’s it. Let me know if there’s anything else that you guys think I should work on. What changes do you want to see here? Do you want me to come up with certain posts? And are you guys planning to join Bloggiesta this weekend?

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Bloggiesta is a challenge hosted by Natasha of Maw Books and it is about to come to an end. My starting line post can be found over here. If you click the link, you’ll see that I’ve crossed off the items that I was able to accomplish. I am sorry to say that I wasn’t able to cross off everything but I can definitely say that I’ve been productive and I still feel like I’ve done a lot this weekend. In summary, these were the things that I was able to finish:

– Cleaned up my sidebar
– Edited my About Me page and added a Review Policy there
– Wrote a non-review post about the availability of books here in the Philippines
– Created a new weekly meme called Want Books? focusing on books in your wishlist. Anyone can join in this meme!
– Had a little break from the fiesta and watched North and South
– Created templates for future posts with book cover images, summaries and links
– Made a business card design
– Organized my Google Reader into folders
– New post We Love YA! post featuring my friend Evert
Giveaway of Beauty by Robin McKinley, only in the Philippines

Here’s the breakdown of the number of hours that I put in:
Friday – 5
Saturday – 3.5
Sunday – 6.5

For a total of 15 hours. I’m sure that’s not a lot compared to the other participants but I still think it’s been a great weekend. I had a lot of fun and I look forward to participating in the next Bloggiesta. To all those who dropped by my blog, thank you and I appreciate the comments.

First Ever Giveaway: Beauty by Robin McKinley

I mentioned in my Bloggiesta to-do list that I’ll be doing my first every giveaway this weekend. I won my first ever ARC (Siren by Tricia Rayburn) from Musings of a Reader Happy so it’s my turn to give back this time. One of my favorite books is Beauty by Robin McKinley, which is a fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. One of the first reviews that I’ve written was about this book, read it over here. You can see that the format is different from how I write reviews now.

I have an extra hardcover of Beauty so I thought it would be a great idea to give it away. Just for fun, I’m going to throw in a paperback of The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker, the book where the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog was loosely based on. To join the giveaway, simply leave a comment and answer the question, what’s your favorite fairy tale? WordPress requires people to enter their email address when they leave a comment so I’ll use that to contact the winner. Or feel free to check back here when I announce the winner. No need to follow my blog or anything but I would appreciate it if you would. πŸ™‚ Sorry but this giveaway is for the Philippines only. Maybe next time I can afford an international giveaway. I’ll give you a week to leave comments so I’ll pick the winner on June 20. No multiple entries please. πŸ™‚

Here’s a picture of the books in red color accent:

We Love YA: Evert

In We love YA!, a fellow YA-lover is featured and is asked to answer the following questions: Why do you love YA? What are some of your favorite YA books? What can you say to encourage other people to read YA? At end of which, readers are requested to recommend books based on the featured person’s answers.

If you haven’t seen the other We Love YA! features, click here to view them all. I also added an icon in the sidebar for it, part of my tweaking the sidebar for Bloggiesta. Today, my good friend Evert is featured in this segment of We Love YA! I’ve known Evert for a couple of years now and ever since we met, we’ve been exchanging book recommendations since we realized that we have similar tastes. I’ve recommended several of my favorites to her and she ended up loving them as well. She’s into fairy tales and any fantasy with a strong female protagonist. Outside of reading, she enjoys baking and has her own online bake shop, feel free to check it out at Evert’s Desserts.

Why do you love YA?
What I love most about young adult stories is that you can always go in another world and learn something grounded to reality. YA stories teach you about life without being too blatant about it. They conceal the truth in adventures, magical elements, or sometimes a character. You can travel to places where anything is possible – from mythical creatures to wizards to princesses down to twins living in California. You also learn to love the characters in the stories. It does not matter what setting you are in, young adult stories always capture a certain beauty about real life.

What are some of your favorite books/series/authors?
– Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
– The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle
Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore
– Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Goose Girl and Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
– The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Two Princesses of Bamarre and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

What can you say to encourage other people to read YA?
Hmm, maybe the first step is to encourage people to actually read!

Read YA because you get your share of entertainment and still learn a lot from it. YAs are generally a light read and you do not get a headache from too complicated plots. They tackle a lot of issues and you may actually relate to them.

______________________________________________________

Thank you, Evert, for answering those questions! I would have to agree that it is very easy to relate to the characters in YA books and this is one of the reasons why I love YA so much. As for recommendations, I’d say it’s high time you give Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones a try. They are both great fantasy authors. All of Tamora Pierce’s novels have strong female protagonists and Diana Wynne Jones’ books are just hilarious. For something outside of fantasy, I recommend Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. What about you, dear readers, what are your recommendations for Evert? πŸ™‚

Availability and Such

Bloggiesta has started! Here’s my starting line post to anyone who hasn’t seen it. So far, I’ve tweaked my sidebar – I’ve removed and added some things. I’ve also edited my About Me page. I’ve also gotten some pretty good tips from other Bloggiesta participants in the chat over at Twitter, just search for #bloggiesta. I feel like I’ve been pretty productive in the past three hours. I’m now moving on to posts. I’ve had this on the back burner for a while and what better time to bring it out there than now.

This is somewhat related to my earlier post, where I talked about availability of books here in the Philippines. I know I always complain about not having libraries here and availability and I shouldn’t because it’s really not that bad. The availability of books here in the Philippines, especially in Manila, has gotten better because of specialty bookstores Fully Booked and Powerbooks.

Also, I can order books from online bookstores like Better World Books (which reminds me that my package hasn’t arrived) or Amazon or Mysterious Galaxy (where I ordered my signed copies of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series) but shipping is pretty expensive. Book Depository has been recommended several times. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver to the Philippines. I’ve already sent an email asking them to include the Philippines in their free worldwide delivery list but it hasn’t happened so far. Maybe you guys can help out with this? I’m hoping that if they receive several emails requesting that the Philippines be included, they might be more inclined to do something about it. I also have relatives and friends abroad and I can ask them to get books for me from time to time.

There are also several used book sellers in Multiply such as Celina’s Books and Magazines, Maricar’s Life is Like a Book Page and Julie’s Sari-Sari Store. I know there are more sellers in Multiply but I’m a loyal customer to these three and I’ve already bought several copies from them. I’ve also met Celina and Maricar in person and we exchange messages from time to time about the books that we’re reading.

Another option is of course, to get an e-reader. I’m planning to get a Kobo e-reader because it’s the cheapest one out there but I haven’t figured out how I’m going to get it. Stocks are currently unavailable. If you have other e-reader suggestions, I welcome them wholeheartedly. πŸ™‚ I’m also curious about the Sony Pocket.

So there, I have a couple of options. Still, it’s pretty frustrating not to have the books that you want within reach. This is one of the main reasons why I usually buy a book that I want when I see it because I’m afraid it won’t be available later on. Whenever I see a book that I want, I always think to myself that I should get it because I’ll have a hard time looking for it if I don’t get it right away.

Bloggiesta To-Do List

Bloggiesta is a challenge hosted by Natasha of Maw Books and I decided to participate! Click here to learn more about it. Here’s a brief description:

In short, it’s a blogging marathon. An opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!

So yes, it’s a blog fiesta! We also have fiestas here in the Philippines, do you know that? I think we celebrate fiestas when it’s the feast day of the patron saint of one area. Come to think of it, I don’t remember the last time I’ve been to a fiesta. All I remember about it is that there are banderitas all around and there’s always a lot of food. Anyway, to get back on topic, I chose the things that I’m planning to do from the list at Maw Books and here’s what I came up for this weekend’s Bloggiesta:

– Write reviews.
– Write backup posts for a rainy day.
– Write guest posts. (if someone asks me to write a guest post, I’d be happy to oblige)
– Put out invitations for guest posts.
– Create template posts for your future reads (ie: title, images, linking, tags, etc,) so you can open up, write review and post without being bogged down with technicalities
– Clean up your tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
– Improve your blog template, clean up sidebars, add a favicon, install those plugins that you’ve been meaning to do.
– Add or edit your about me page, review policy, disclosure policy, privacy policy, create landing pages (for example – an about me for Twitter readers page) or any other pages you might have.
– Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve your blog.
– Clean out and organize your feed reader and blog subscriptions.
– Make business cards. (although I don’t know if I’ll ever have a use for business cards. I mean, who will I give it to around here?)

So there, it’s a pretty long list but I think I can do all of these. Plus, I’m planning to do my first ever giveaway this weekend so watch out for that. It’s restricted to the Philippines though, sorry I can’t shell out the shipping for an international giveaway just yet. I also want to come up with a new meme or feature. Yay, I’m excited for Bloggiesta. What about you, are you planning to participate? What’s on your to-do list?