blogging


Blogging, as you can probably guess, is something I consider very awesome. I also love printed books/magazines/newspapers/etc. So you can guess how excited I was to find out about the supercool project that is The Printed Blog. Basically, they’ll take a selection of the most fantastic stuff from diverse blogs across the internet and print it in newspaper form. You can submit any of your favorite blogs/pictures/etc., and I encourage you to do so. Does that not sound awesome?!? Even more awesome, they currently have a great giveaway going on here. Check them out on Twitter and Facebook, too. 

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Steph mentioned the other day that I sometimes review books crazy early, as in, months prior to the release date, and it’s true. Some of you might be wondering why, so I’m going to explain my reading/reviewing process a little.

As soon as I read books, they’re fresh in my mind, but I think through it first (I write down notes immediately and wait a few hours to a few days before writing the review), so I won’t just be caught up in my infatuation with the book (a problem I’ve had before) and I can step back and see its strengths and weaknesses (every book has them). I don’t want to wait too long, though, or I won’t remember the book or my thoughts on it quite as well. 

So why do I read books when I do? Because that’s when they catch my attention. I flip through every book that comes through my door, and they go on a “never read” stack to give away, a “read later” stack, a “read really soon” stack, or I start reading them right away, based on how interested I am. If a book catches my attention, I’ll read it; if it doesn’t, I won’t. That’s so I’m not forcing myself to read something I don’t feel like reading, because I know I won’t like a book if I feel like I have to read it.

I know that some authors/publishers prefer reviews around the release date. Others don’t mind early buzz. However, unless I am specifically told by whoever sends me the book when they’d prefer a review, I don’t know which authors/publishers fall into which category. If I’m told, “don’t review this until April,” I won’t. If I’m not, and it catches my attention in January…then I’ll read and review it in January, even though I don’t know when they want a review. I figure a good review is a good review, and I am in favor of both early buzz AND release date buzz, so I really don’t think it matters a lot (this is the time for anyone who sends me books to tell me if you don’t want early reviews!). 

So pretty much, the reason for my early reviews is that you can’t make everyone happy, and as soon as I read a book, I want to tell you all about it. I lack patience. I know, I should work on it. I hope this explains it all well enough!

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I’ve joined the Amazon Associates referral program. This means that if you click one of my links and then buy something (anything–once you’ve clicked through from my site, the referral is valid on anything you buy in the next 24 hours) on Amazon, I get a referral fee. I’d love you all forever if you did this; I’m a poor student and my work in hell (Kmart) does not support my book habit! Please? I’ll be using these links in my reviews from now on (you can always click the title of the book and go to the book’s Amazon page), and I’ve also put a couple of links to lists of books in the sidebar. One list is recently recommended reads, and the other is a selection of books on my wishlist. I hope you’ll use these links next time you’re doing some shopping on Amazon! Also check out some general teen books by following this link: Teen Books On Amazon.
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I decided to watch my poll (about whether or not I should rate books on some sort of scale) until I got thirteen votes, and then decide if it was conclusive from there. Twelve of my thirteen voters voted in favor of ratings, so I guess I’m rating books. My scale will be out of six windows. Why? Because books are the windows into worlds not our own! Also, see my header. 

image One Window: Would not recommend it. At least it is…in English? I could tell it was supposed to be a novel? I don’t know.

image image Two Windows: Pick it up from the library…if you must. I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless you have an intense interest in the topic at hand or something.

image image image Three Windows: It was okay. I won’t remember it next month and I won’t go around gushing about it, but reading it isn’t a total waste of your mind. This is a library book, though, not a purchase.

image image image image Four Windows: I liked it. Pretty good. It might be worth purchasing if it’s your kind of book, or if you read a library copy first and like it.

image image image image image Five Windows: I really, really liked it. This was a really good book. I was impressed. I will be recommending it to people! Buy this one!

image image image image image image Six Windows: I absolutely loved it! Cannot stop gushing! A truly amazing book! (This one will be used very, very rarely, and only for the most memorable and most awesome books that I have ever read). Buy this one right away!

image Also, a heart for personal resonance–regardless of how I rated it. A book can be technically “pretty good” but have some sort of personal resonance for me, and that will be indicated by a heart. Like the sloppily drawn one at the left.

Any comments or suggestions or whatnot?

Edited to clarify: For the most part, act like this is a five-star rating. One is awful, two is not so good, three is okay, four is really excellent, and five is even better. Just with a sixth level added on for the truly mind-blowingly awesome. I don’t even know if I’ll get the chance to use six windows! Also, you know, the heart for personal appeal.

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I’ve been thinking about bringing back some sort of rating system (not sure what) for books. Any opinions?

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When I first started to blog, it was almost by accident. I love YA books, and I love writing, and I loved sharing my opinions on books. But books are not my only interest. It could have just as easily been technology or music or linguistics or politics or television or travel or movies or the college search or history that inspired me to start a blog, as I’m passionate and opinionated when it comes to those subjects as well. 

I’m very, very lucky that it was YA books. I didn’t know anything about any blogging communities when I started, and I was extremely fortunate that I accidentally chose this one. Why?

The number of blogs about children’s and young adult books is small enough that anyone can break in and be a part of this community. Anyone can find their place, make even a small name for themselves, if they have interesting things to say. It’s not like political bloggers, who number in the thousands; I doubt I’d ever have much of a following as a political blogger. Here, I can share my opinion on a particular book and know that someone is going to read it. Even though I don’t blog because of the audience, that rocks. 

This community is not too small, though, and I discover new blogs regularly. It’s big enough to be a real community of bloggers, not just a handful of people commenting on each other’s blogs. This is the perfect size. If I’d chosen technology, there would be too many blogs. If I’d decided to blog about the college search, something that’s occupied a lot of my time, there would be no community. 

The people in this particular community are supportive of each other, and interact with each other. I comment on other blogs. Other bloggers comment on my posts. I love all the comments, the links, the Cybils, and everything else that makes this a real community. I know some great people from book blogging! 

And then there’s the books. I didn’t really imagine that I could get free books to write about on my blog. I didn’t think that could actually happen, at least not in any significant numbers, but it did, and it rocks. The ARCs are especially awesome; without book blogging, I’d never get to read new books months before they come out! It’s exciting. 

The authors in the YA community are fantastic, too. Most of them keep blogs and have websites and are really in touch with their fans. They are connected to their audience. They’ll discuss their books and do interviews and guest blogs. They are amazing. I love that I get to talk to some of my favorite authors and ask questions about them and their books! Where else would I get to do that? Nowhere.

I should have posted this at Thanksgiving, but I suppose it’s a good end-of-the-year reflection as well. I am very thankful for this community of awesome people and the opportunities this blog has presented me with. Anyone reading this? You all rock.

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I know most of my book blog readers don’t read my personal blog, but because this post was kind of sparked by something related to a wonderful book, I’d like to point you in that direction. Also because I’d like to know your thoughts on the topic! School versus education, that kind of thing.

Also, another note about the whole Alpha Inventions thing–I still think it’s a really cool idea, and I’ve found and commented on some interesting blogs from there. But I’m getting loads of hits, and no comments. I don’t need comments, necessarily, but I’d like to know tha at least a couple of people are really getting something out of it. My hope, and the reason I like Alpha Inventions, is that out of all the people who glance at my blog, a handful of them will actually think it’s interesting and read it. I wish I had some way of knowing if that is happening.

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