Posted in Discussion, Path Or Pantheon, Recommendations, Wrapup

Rock Camp Fatigue: Blog Update

Rock Camp was wonderful and self affirming and seeing the youth and all my fellow volunteers was the highlight of the summer. Now it’s just waiting till fall. Seriously it’s the best thing in the summer, then I have to wait for the air to cool down and for it to be my birthday and spooky season. I have some friends with August birthdays and I’m excited for that, but seriously I don’t like summer even though summer has been really mild here.

I also learned a lesson, don’t try and do a readathon during July, don’t make high reading goals during July. I was too caught up with camp and setting myself up for failure. I think I’ll have much more luck with the readathon I’m planning for August. Though I really do hope Make Your Myth taker shows up again soon because I loved the challenges from Path or Pantheon they just came at a bad time life wise. I’d love to do something about reading for Rock Camp next year but I’m not sure what that would look like just yet. I did a workshop on tarot that went well. So I’m sure I could build something cool.

Anyway expect to see me slowly getting back in the flow of the blog. I did not mean to gone for so long but camp is literally my most important and rewarding volunteer activity all year so sometimes things have to take a backseat.

As for what I’m currently up to while recovering from Rock Camp, I’m playing lots of video games, I’m working my way through Horizon: Zero Dawn and I just got Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin because I needed something like Pokemon until the next Pokemon game came out.

I’m also reading The Companion by Katie Alender. It is very good for a late summer spooky book.

Posted in Discussion, Feature, Path Or Pantheon

Path or Pantheon: I thought this was in June.

So I thought the Path or Pantheon readathon was in June because I wasn’t paying attention. I did get some books to read that met the prompts but I wanted to try this again. I’m doing the Path of Home again and adding the Norse Pantheon to give myself a challenge. I’m going to do a new TBR for the Path of Home ASAP. And luckily for the Norse Pantheon, I don’t have to set one but I’m going to do a kind of setup for what books I might do just to sort of have an idea of what I’m doing.

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Posted in Discussion

Blogger Interview-Reader Voracious

I got the chance to interview my fellow blogger Kal from Reader Voracious. A wonderful book blog that has great tips for SEO and just generally good and helpful content for other bloggers, plus Kal’s spreadsheets every year keep my brain from exploding. So without further ado our interview:

Q1: First, if you would please tell my followers a little bit about yourself? I’ve already told them that I’m getting an interview with the wonderful Kal from Reader Voracious, but if you’d give them a bit more. 

Hi there, I’m Kal — a 30-something gal from Southern California who absolutely loves reading, travel, hiking, tea, video games, and outer space. I’m pretty nerdy and love to dig into the deep themes of the media that I consume… and wrote my senior honors thesis on philosophy and Battlestar Galactica! When not engrossed in a book can be found communing with nature. 

Q2: Where do all your guide ideas come from? I’m still working through all of them and I especially love your one about representation and the one about getting books to people who are represented in the books pre-covid. 

Thank you so much! Honestly, sometimes I don’t even know where some of my ideas come from. I’ve always been an analytical person who thrives on processes and I think that lends itself to writing tutorials and guides. It started with the first iteration of my spreadsheet template in 2018 and kind of snowballed from there! 

Usually when I dig into a topic like SEO or going self-hosted, I wind up writing a guide post to help others with what I learned. So in a way, the ideas come from my own intellectual curiosity. The posts you mentioned about representation and Flapping Pages ARCs were directly inspired by discussions within the book community on Twitter. I have a lot of opinions and am overly verbose, which don’t lend well to the 240 character format.

Q3 : You seem to be focused on helping other bloggers? A one of your Paetron’s I appreciate all the work you put in, where does the desire to help others come from? 

I’ve always liked helping others, especially with breaking down topics. I used to tutor when I was younger, and I’ve developed and written standard procedures and training guides in a number of jobs. I think I get the most fulfillment passing on my knowledge to others. 

Q4: You’ve been a blogger for a few years, what advice would you give yourself as a beginning blogger? 

I can’t believe it’s already been over three years for Reader Voracious! Truthfully, growing up in the 90s I’ve always kind of been into content creation, blogging, and website design. I am soooo glad that my Xanga and LiveJournal accounts are gone so I don’t have to live in fear! Fun fact: I joined Neopets in 2000 and ran one of the most popular petite guides on Premium in like 2005/2006! I lost access to my account ages ago, but LeenaLu is still there… probably with a lot of broken background images.

My biggest piece of advice would be to write what you want to write and the rest will come. Your “writing voice” and style will develop over time and it’s important to just let that process happen instead of forcing it. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, it will shine through and people will gravitate towards you and your work. Don’t stretch yourself too thin by doing too much too soon, or trying to be on all social media platforms. 

There are so many bloggers that burned themselves out and disappear within 3 months, and it’s a bummer. On that note: do not over request ARCs on Netgalley! We’ve all done it, and we all regret it. This post have a list of 6 lessons learned in my first 6 months of blogging… and they all are still relevant to me now!

Q5: Favorite Book? And if You can’t answer this hardest of questions top 5. 

HahahahahahahahahaaHA… top 5 will even be tough! *takes deep breath*

  1. This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (review)
  2. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (review)
  3. A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (review)
  4. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (review)
  5. Dustborn by Erin Bowman (review)

Q6: You were one of the first book bloggers to do a Paetron. What have you learned from the platform? 

It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be! One challenge that I didn’t expect was my desire for feedback and feeling like an imposter not providing anything of value. It took a long time for me to realize that for the most part the people who join my patreon do it to support my work and don’t necessarily mind too much what the benefits are. Patreon has been a way for me to have some meaning and responsibilities as I haven’t been able to work, and I am so thankful to all of my patrons’ support

My Patreon benefits have changed a lot in the past two years. This January I made a lot of tweaks and made the decision to bifurcate my content and provide a home for posts I wanted to do on the blog but didn’t have the space for and didn’t really fit too well. I’m pretty happy with the change and have an excitement for diving into some of my other interests and long-form essays with a much smaller audience.

Q7: Would you recommend Paetron to other book bloggers?

Maybe. It depends on what the blogger hopes to get out of Patreon. For me it has been a creatively fulfilling way to build a small community and help offset the costs of running Reader Voracious, but I would be remiss not to mention that it can be pretty stressful – especially if you’re someone who puts a lot of pressure on yourself. 

Before anyone decides to begin a Patreon, I’d recommend looking at the kinds of things you want to offer and provide. You want to be sure that whatever you’re doing is fun for you. A lot of people offer early access to all blog posts — I used to — but think about whether or not you’re able to schedule posts ahead without stress. For me it wasn’t sustainable in the long term, so I had to limit it to my guide posts. Having a Patreon can be really fulfilling though, so if it sounds like fun I totally recommend it! Just start slow… you can always add more benefits later on. It’s best to not overwhelm yourself, because inevitably it will take more time than you think it will.

Q8: Can you tell us more about self-hosting your WordPress?

Sure thing! I was so scared to self-host my blog… so much so that I went with a paid WordPress plan to avoid it. But what I quickly learned was that I was paying more money for less freedom. Everything I wanted to do (Google Analytics, changing permalink structure, Javascript embeds) was a freaking plugin! I was so annoyed that I even wrote a post about what the guides don’t tell you in the paid wordpress vs self-hosted debate.

So I did a bunch of research on just how much work is it to self-host. It turns out: not that much. It sounds a lot scarier than it actually is but I promise it’s not that bad. And with backups you can revert any boo-boos! I documented my process of moving from paid to self-hosted wordpress in this guide.

Q9: I want to thank you I’ve used your spreadsheets two years in a row to keep up with things. I know that’s not a question but it does lead into my next question. 

😭😭😭😭😭 Thank you so much, I love hearing that my spreadsheets are useful!

Q10. Kal, shamelessly self-promote all your things, Paetron, website, twitter etc. 

You can find me at readervoracious.com, on Twitter @kalventure, and on Instagram @thereadervoracious! I love chatting about books and making new friends! If you’d like to support the work I do and get some cool things like reading vlogs and make me read books like Twilight, you can join my Patreon for as little as $2 a month

Thanks so much for having me!

I really enjoyed talking to Kal from Reader Vorarious, everyone follow them and check out their spreadsheets to help you keep track of the your book count for the year. Without mine I’d have no idea how many books I’d read.

Posted in Discussion, Feature

Finished Books: Easter Readathon Day 3

Finished Books

Starfish

Finished this one, it was a great read.

Starfish by [Lisa Fipps]

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.”

And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Commentary

It is one of the two books I actually finished for this readathon. This was a great fat positive for middle grades which is something I’ve never seen before. We need more books like Starfish for middle grade, and if you have any recommendations that are like this for YA please shoot them my way.

I thought I wouldn’t like it and it would be tough to finish because it is written in verse, but I’m reading more books written in verse, so either I like it more than I thought or the authors I’m reading are just good at it. Ellie is a wonderful heroine especially considering all the things she has to go to, her sessions with her therapists are really hit hard especially if you have any size issues yourself. Glad I got this one read it was really good.

Amazon: Starfish

Lumberjanes Vol. 16

Mal tries to prove her bravery…but ends up stranded in the Land of Lost Things!

DINOSAURS, DANGER & DIMENSION-HOPPING AND …OH MY!

Mal wants to learn to be braver, but when she recruits Ripley to help her face her fears, she ends up somewhere she really should be afraid of–the Land of Lost Things, a pocket universe where dinosaurs still roam the earth, and time doesn’t work the way it should. Stranded on her own in an alternate dimension, will Mal be able to find her way back home to camp? And back on the other side of the portal, will Molly, April, Jo, and Ripley be able to find Mal again and save her? Or are they about to get stuck, too?

Writers Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh (Super Cakes) and artist AnneMarie Rogers present the newest collection of stories from the New York Times bestseller and multiple Eisner Award and GLAAD Award-winning series where you’re never lost as long as you hold onto the ones you love most!

Collects Lumberjanes #61-64.

Commentary

I fell behind on reading Lumberjanes for awhile, due to borrowing restrictions and such. I’m glad to get pulled back to the crazy world of the ‘Janes. I can’t wait to read the next volume, especially with series ending soon.

Ama:zonLumberjanes Volume 16

Almost Finished Books

Sweet and Bitter Magic

I wish I would have been able to finish this one but I got to about 88% and it was like 11pm.

Sweet & Bitter Magic by [Adrienne Tooley]

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two h,ave a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first.

Commentary

I finished this Tuesday afternoon. Okay, so no spoilers but all I’m going to say the final battle with dark witch was so much more interesting than you first assume, also Tamsin and Wren get an ending much closer and maybe even better than a cottage in the forest together. This book is phenomenal I can’t wait to read more from the author. I can’t wait to talk more about in my review, the characters, the magic system, everything!

Amazon: Sweet and Bitter Magic

Unfished Books

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by [Robin Talley]

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.

What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.

Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

Commentary

I got about 100 page into this book on Sunday night, I really like it so far and can’t wait to read more after I tackle some required reading on my TBR.

Amazon: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

Posted in Discussion, Feature

Starfish Review

When I read the blurb for Starfish I knew I had to buy it. After being a fat kid and a fat adult finding a body-positive middle grade book was honestly surprising.

Starfish by [Lisa Fipps]

Summary

Starfish is Ellie’s story. Ever since she wore Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party. Since then she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world.

In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Review

This book deals with fat self hate in a way I’ve never seen any other book do. It wasn’t till the writer mentioned she had gone through all the things that Ellie had gone through that it made sense to me. This had to be an #OwnVoices book. Some of the scenes with the therapists are intense especially if you’ve got some of that same fat hate left over yourself. However my favorite scenes are the therapy scenes with her mom, oh man why did I not realize I needed to do this. Ellie is very sweet and she made me love this novel in verse she I also loved that they showed Ellie having friends who didn’t care about her weight.

The world needs more books like this 5/5 I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

Posted in Discussion, Feature, Uncategorized

Easter Readathon Day 2

Forgive me if this post is a bit late, I got my first COVID shot yesterday then slept off any of the tiredness for the rest of the evening and this following morning but other than that I’ve had no symptoms and oh I can now go UPSTAIRS to my room more on that in my weekend update but to say I had a few things distracting me from the readathon yesterday. But don’t worry today I’ve got some commentary on what I read yesterday for you all.

Starfish by [Lisa Fipps]

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Commentary

Oh, Ellie is getting an attitude and I LOVE it especially against her mother. I love her friendship with Catalina too, the way Ellie gets to see another family’s attitude towards food opens her eyes to what could be possible. I can’t wait to see what her life looks like when she truly faces her mother and finds who she truly is and able to be like in real life.

Amazon: Starfish

Sweet & Bitter Magic

Sweet & Bitter Magic by [Adrienne Tooley]

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is if they don’t kill each other first..

Commentary

Oh no no, I see where this is going and it’s not going to end with Tamsin and Wren in a cottage in the woods happy together, is it? I loved the twist with Vera and I also loved the other big twist. So much emotion coming at Tamsin I mean for a woman who can’t feel you got a hell of a lot of emotional conflicts ahead of her. I also loved Wren’s conversations with Leya, and what she admits to her herself, I think it’s going to become super important as the novel progresses. Oh, man can’t wait to see where this goes and hope it doesn’t break my dang heart.

Amazon: Sweet and Bitter Magic

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by [Robin Talley]

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.

What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.

Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

Commentary

Oh lord, I can already tell Melody has drama issues and I’m just in the beginning of the book. I’m interested to see what taking a break from love does for our heroine, and what happens when the new love interest shows up.

Amazon: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

Posted in Discussion, Feature

Easter Readathon Day 1

TW: mention of child abuse

Hey guys, I read a ALOT today. Mostly from the books from my first two prompts, to remind you what those are I’ll put them up again here.

Easter Prompt Number 1: Spring-y Novel: Starfish

I often think of swimming in spring and summer. Especially since the ‘spring’ here is actually just two weeks where it’s kinda cool then the bugs come out from under the earth and it’s suddenly summer.

Starfish by [Lisa Fipps]

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Usually I’m not a huge fan of novels in verse, but I have found a few that I like and this novel is one is one of them, especially coming up as a fat kid myself. Ellie is relatable. Her mother, well my mother was never that bad, but I think most fat kids mothers faced some level of what Ellie is going through, and Ellie is a hyperbole of it all, because some of the stuff her mother is doing in the book to try to make her thinner are straight up child abuse.

I love the relationship between her and her therapist so I can’t wait to see where that goes, and how the family is going to address the abuse they are directing towards her. More tomorrow!

Amazon: Starfish

Easter Prompt 2: A novel about new beginning: Sweet and Bitter Magic

Sweet & Bitter Magic by [Adrienne Tooley]

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first..

Oh these two! This novel is great. For Tamsin not being able to love her able to sass is surely very much intact. Wren may be innocent-ish but she calls Tamsin’s bluff on ALL of the things magical. And Tamsin HATES it and it’s hilarious. The book has me hooked though I’m interested in how Wren see’s magic as a source and I’m interested, what the hell Tamsin actually did wrong. The rapport though, totally reading for the fact that they are hilarious despite such a serious setting.

Amazon: Sweet and Bitter Magic

Photo by Damon Lam on Unsplash

Posted in Discussion, Feature

Disability Readathon

Disability Readathon? I was on the fence about it because it puts me at 4 readathons this month. A great plan coming out of a slow month, well that remains to be seen but there are too many good readathons going on right now so it’s not all my fault. I’m also doing the Autism Readathon, am I going overboard honoring disability month, yes, probably, but I talk about it all year long so why not put my reading where my talking is.

I’ll go into more detail about the books in my TBR, I just wanted to show what I picked out here.

This readathon has categories so you can customize it as you wish.

For Category 1 the the choices are

Category 1

  • Read a children’s book (middle grade or younger)
  • Watch a video of a disabled person talking about ableism
  • Read a text about traveling while disabled 
  • Read a play by a disabled person

I’m reading a book middle grade or younger. For this one I picked out Song for A Whale

Song for a Whale by [Lynne Kelly]

Amazon: Song for A Whale

Category 2

  • Watch a movie with a disabled actor
  • Read a book set in space
  • Read a text by a disabled trans person 
  • Read a text about service animals
Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by [Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes, Scott Magoon]

Amazon: Rescue and Jessica

Category 3

  • Read a book with green on the cover
  • Read a book from the library 
  • Watch a video about adaptive technology 
  • Read a text by someone with the same disability as you (OCD)
The Someday Birds by [Sally J. Pla, Julie McLaughlin]

Amazon: The Someday Birds

Category 4

  • Read a book written before you were born
  • Read and share three tweets by disabled people of color
  • Listen to a podcast/read its transcript
  • Read a book that’s been on your TBR for over a year
Out of My Mind by [Sharon M. Draper]

Amazon: Out of My Mind

Check out tomorrow to see my Disability Readathon TBR and join me as I take part in a reading sprint!

Photo by Fábio Hanashiro on Unsplash