Thursday, June 7, 2012

Armchair BEA Day 3: Beyond Your Blog

Posted by Simcha 4:35 PM, under | 7 comments

It's Day 3 of Armchair BEA and today's topic addresses the benefits that come along with being a book blogger, aside from the free books:

 Has blogging opened up opportunities for you beyond getting free, advance copies of new books? Has it helped you get offers to write or review elsewhere (maybe even for pay)? Have you gotten invites to special events or places you might not have been to otherwise?

Well, my answer to the question above would have to be no. Being a book blogger hasn't afforded me any special privileges and even free books rarely come my way since so few publishers are willing to send books internationally. But even though I don't get invited to special events and am not offered gifts and special promotions for my readers, being a book blogger has been a wonderful experience that has taught me more than I had ever anticipated.

Through blogging I learned some invaluable skills about developing relationships online and how to use social media to promote yourself and your website. I learned about the importance of regularly visiting other blogs and leaving thoughtful comments and to not only promote my own content but also the content of my online friends and acquaintances. I suddenly realized that my years of blogging had actually taught me skills that I could use in the workforce, skills which every business now considers to be valuable. So I decided to begin offering my skills and experience to small businesses to help them develop their own online presence, the same way I did with my blog, and I already have my first client.

When I began my blog I had no idea that I would stick with it for so long or that the experience would impact me the way that it did. I don't know if my new plan to become a social media manager will take off or not but I'm excited to try and I'm so grateful to everyone that had helped me along the way.


P.S I can't believe that I had forgotten to mention one of the greatest things that has happened to me as a book blogger, though if you are a regular reader then you already know about it. . An excerpt from one of my reviews was published inside of a book! That was definitely one of the highlights of my blogging career. 

P.PS. And how can I not mention the opportunity that being a blogger has given me to develop relationships with some of my favorite authors? While I am sure the authors would have happily interacted with me even if I wasn't a book blogger I never would have dared to reach out to them if it wasn't for my blog. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA Day 2 & 3

Posted by Simcha 4:57 PM, under | 9 comments

Today's Armchair BEA topic is offline networking:

 For Day 3, we want you to share your positive experiences of using your blog to get involved in your community. This can involve partnerships with the local literary scene, attending author events and signings, or getting together with bloggers in your area. We want to hear it all!

Unfortunately this isn't something that I have had much success with due to the fact that there aren't a lot of literary events in Israel for English speakers, at least not anywhere near me. I had made some effort to connect with the SFF community here but that kind of fizzled out when I realized that nearly all their events are in Tel Aviv and many are centered around Buffy, Harry Potter and Star Trek, which don't particularly interest me (well, I do love Harry Potter but I had moved on from that series several years ago).

So since I don't have anything to add to today's topic I'm going to go back to the one introduced yesterday's which I never got around to writing because I had fallen asleep.

Today’s suggested posting topic is “Best of 2012”: Share some of your favorite books so far this year, and/or the the books being promoted at BEA that you hope will end up among your favorites for the year!

I like this topic because I still have several books that I've read this past year and loved but never got around to reviewing. So this my chance to tell you a little bit about these books and hopefully convince you to read them as well.

I tried to think of one particular book that i would consider my favorite for the year, so far, but I really couldn't settle on any one book. I suspect that once I finish The Wise Man's Fear this will change. For now, though, here are a few books that I really enjoyed:


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:

I really can't believe that I never got around to reviewing this book seeing as how I had enjoyed it so much that I couldn't resist talking about it to everyone that I came across.

Ready Player One is a dystopia that manages to be fun and dark at the same time. The book's protagonist, Wade Watts, spends the majority of the story within a virtual world where he is trying to find the golden egg that will win him a fortune. Wade has been playing this game for years and as the world around him becomes a less pleasant one to inhabit he, along with a majority of the world's population, takes to spending their time within the virtual world of OASIS. There Wade goes to school and hangs out with friends, when he's not searching for the treasure using hints from 80's pop culture. But the game takes a dangerous turn when Wade finds a clue that some people would kill to have and his search for the golden egg becomes a fight for his life.

If you lived through the 80's you are sure to enjoy the frequent references to movies, TV shows and video games that are made throughout this book. They also serve to make the setting somewhat familiar to readers despite that fact that it takes place in the future. I'm not sure, though, how much younger readers will enjoy this story if they don't understand, or care about, the 80's references. But given the popularity of the book I'm assuming this isn't a major issue.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvate

I really didn't hold much hope for The Scorpio Races since the one other book by Stiefvate that I had tried, Shiver, was so ridicules that I only managed to read a few chapters of it. So it was a real surprise to me that I enjoyed The Scorpio Races as much as I did.

Both the characters and the story grabbed hold of me from the very beginning and didn't let go for several days after I turned the last page. The characters and the writing had a genuine quality that was missing for me in Shiver, and I was quickly caught up in the dangerous world of water horse racing, and the struggles of the story's protagonists.

In order to keep her brother from leaving the island,Puck Connolly announces that she will be entering the Scorpio Races, a dangerous race that leaves a majority of the participants wounded or dead. The fact that Puck has no water horse of her own nor has she ever ridden one before doesn't stop her from entering the race. Neither does the fact that a woman has never before ridden in the races and many people are not interested in having one enter now. The only way that Puck has a chance of succeeding is with the help of Sean Kendrick, a loner and an expert at handling water horses. Though Sean has his own troubles, including a rivalry that can bring everything that he has ever worked for to an end.

Highly recommended!


The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt

Tia Nevitt is a blogger-turned-author who has written a very entertaining and imaginative retelling of The Sleeping Beauty from a unique perspective.

When the king decrees that all spinning wheels must be destroyed Talia and her mother are suddenly left with no livlihood. The small sum of gold that they were payed-off with is quickly used up, along with Talia’s modest dowry. And with no dowry Talia’s marriage prospects are gone as well. Devastated at losing out on her one chance for marriage Talia searches for other ways to alleviate her loneliness, and help make ends, at which point the story takes a more "adult" turn (this is not a story for kids!. Although the situation is grim eventually things do look up for our heroine, despite her unattractive features and loss of maidenly modesty, and all ends happily and romantically, just as a good fairy tale should.

Even though The Sevenfold Spell is a novella the story felt complete and the characters fully developed. I don't think anything could have been added to it by making the story a full-length novel, which forces me to evaluate my feelings about novellas in general (which I rarely read).  This book was a delightful surprise and I look forward to reading more of Nevitt's work.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA Day 1 & the excuse I didn't have to give

Posted by Simcha 6:43 PM, under | 14 comments

I was going to write a short post explaining  that I don't have any reviews for you today because I've gotten caught up in watching Community, a fantastic TV show that I just discovered, and which has prevented me from getting anything productive done. But thanks to Ryan I just found out that Armchair BEA has just begun and to participate today all I have to do is talk about myself, which I can easily do without any preparation, so I decided to jump on that bandwagon. Hopefully BEA will provide me with enough topics to write about so the rest of my attention can go towards finishing the remaining season of Community so I can get on with my life.

So much fun!

So it's Day 1 of Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York and those of us who are too far away to attend have the option of participating from home via Armchair BEA. While I am unbearably envious of everyone that gets to go to these conventions in person, Armchair BEA is a fun alternative and I hope it will give me the chance to meet some new bloggers and discover new books. And finish watching Community.

Today's activity is to answer the questions below:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? 

So I've been blogging for about three years now (I think, but I'm too lazy to go and check) and I got started as a way to drive traffic to my website where I sell second-hand SFF books. But then I got so caught up in blogging that I completely neglected my website because blogging is just a lot more fun. 

As for who I am, I'm a 32 year old mother of four, living in Israel since 2003. While this website is meant to be about science fiction and fantasy books I actually end up reviewing a lot of non-fiction as well because I enjoy that genre just as much. I have also learned so much about social media through my involvement in the blogging community that I have recently started working as a freelance Social Media manager, so blogging really did change my life.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I am currently reading The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, in paperback format, Black and White by Jackie Kessler on my iPhone, and Starters by Lisa Price, on my Nook. While I can read more than one book at a time I seem to have trouble doing so in one format.

 Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

Oh wow, I'm having a hard time with this one- trying to come up with something that's not controversial (like my dislike of cats) or too snarky. The truth is that if there is any interesting information about myself  that I haven't shared by now there is probably a reason for it.

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)? 

I really enjoy introducing discussion topics, though I haven't done this in a while

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read? 

Some of my favorite posts include my Readers in the Wild discussion as well as my week of posts from Chanukah of last year on topics related to Judaism and Jews in SFF. 

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? 

Since I just finished reading Wild I would love to have dinner with its author, Cheryl Strayed, so I could ask her about everything that happened from the moment the book ended until today. It would have to be a very long dinner.

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? 

I really enjoy connecting and developing relationships with people who enjoy reading and talking about books as much as I do. I currently have very few friends that read and if it wasn't for the book blogging community I wouldn't have anyone to talk to about books, which would be very sad.

Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

Since I've begun blogging I've definitely been more experimental in my reading choices. Through recommendations of bloggers that I trust I have tried all kinds of books that I never would have considered reading before.

Thank you for stopping by SFF Chat. And now I'm off to read some of the other Armchair BEA posts.


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