Armchair BEA 2016 Day 3: Beyond the Books & Blog

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Made by Amber

Welcome to day 3 of Armchair BEA! If you don’t know what Armchair BEA is, it’s a way for those of us who weren’t able to make it to Book Expo America (BEA) to meet with a lot of other fellow book lovers and talk about a lot of bookish related things!

Today’s topics are all about looking beyond the traditional format of the media we consume and create. So think about novels: those are pretty traditional. But what about manga, comic books, webcomics, etc? And when it comes to looking beyond the blog, do you participate in book clubs, take classes, meticulously maintain your Goodreads profile? So these are kind of fun topics to think about and talk about, so here’s what I’ve got:

Some of my favorite alternative forms of novels are manga. I first got into manga back when I was about 11 or 12 years old, my first manga being Tokyo Mew Mew. I loved it and how fast I could read it, plus the art was very lovely. For a while now, manga hasn’t had as much of an impact on my life as it once did, but I do go back on occasion and read some. I love seeing the stories unfold visually and how everything is so detailed.

Some of my favorite manga:

I’m very much into the shoujo type of mangas that are targeted toward girls because of the romance. I love romance so reading about it and seeing visuals of it? Oh yes, I’m in love. Plus, manga really influenced my drawing style. I’m not super awesome at it like some people, but I can get by with my chibis.

Here’s some of my chibis, which you can find more of on my deviantART page:

kameiko___gaiaonline_by_vampiressamilia-d71bpfbellle___gaiaonline_by_vampiressamilia-d6xe01u

chaostrooper___gaiaonline_by_vampiressamilia-d6xim6lkid_quality___gaiaonline_by_vampiressamilia-d768cq0

Honestly, that’s the biggest one that comes to mind. Manga is just one of those things that I think I’ll always cherish, even if I don’t read it all that often anymore.

As for looking beyond the blog and ways I talk about books outside of this blog is my Booktube channel and my Instagram. I find that these are very awesome ways to talk about books because you can engage visually and orally, or you can take a cool photo and ask questions and find likeminded people that way. I honestly love Bookstagram because it’s so cool to see so many talented people taking pictures of books! And then Booktube is just awesome because it’s an entire community of book lovers creating content on YouTube and it’s just… My heart is filled with happiness.

Other than that, I don’t really talk about books outside of my blog and Twitter and social media. I don’t really have the outlets to talk to people about them. I think it’s so awesome to have book communities online as they bring so many people together.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What are some different ways you read books, or different types of books? Are you into comics or audiobooks or graphic novels? And as far as talking about books outside of blogging, do you do it anywhere? Bookstagram, Booktube, book clubs, etc? Let me know!

Armchair BEA 2016 Days 1 & 2

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Made by Amber

Hey peeps, I’m joining in on Armchair BEA once again this year! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a way to join in all of the bookish fun from home while Book Expo America (BEA) takes place. I, like many others, couldn’t attend, so this is just a fun way to join in somehow! Since I totally forgot about this event with all of my excitement yesterday (more on this to come in my wrap up), I’m starting a little bit late. But that’s okay!

Day 1: Introduction & Diversity in Books

So the first day’s fun things include an introduction, so, here’s some things to know about me:

  1. What name do you prefer to use? Rayna is perfectly fine.
  2. How long have you been a book blogger? It’ll be two years in July. Crazy!
  3. Have you participated in ABEA before? Yes, last year!
  4. Do you have a favorite book? If you can’t pick one, then pick your most favorite of this moment. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas is DEFINITELY my favorite right now.
  5. If you could recommend one book blogger, who would it be and why? I’d recommend Dani @ Dani Reviews Things because she’s so upbeat about so many things, and she gives really well written reviews and topics. She’s a very nice person!
  6. If you could create a playlist that reflects your bookshelf, what would be the first song on the playlist? Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. I’m not even kidding. I’m pretty sure 97% of my shelf is by female authors with female main characters who kick ass in some way. WOMAN POWER, WOO!
  7. How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason or not at all? I try to group my books into sections… like, my top shelf is some sci-fi and favorite fantasies, contemporaries… The next shelf is some favorites, the next is more fantasy, then more sci-fi/fantasy, then Harry Potter, urban fantasy, and more fantasy. Then the next is contemporary, lots of mix, but mostly fiction and contemporary, manga & comics, vampires, then a mix. Just look at the picture (this isn’t all of my books, just so you know, and it’s overflowing….):IMG_3143
  8. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far through your reading this year so far? I think I’ve learned that I’ve become a little tougher when it comes to rating books and I try to really think about it more. I’ve also learned that I’m very, very passionate about certain books and my feelings about them. I think that tends to reflect in my reviews, and I love that.

The second part of day one is a discussion on diversity in books and the publishing industry. Whose voices do we see? Whose voices do we need more of? Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that? What about negative or stereotypical representation?

I personally have seen a lot more authors of color, religion, etc. start to become published more often, especially in the YA world. I think a lot of people anticipate for it, and I, for one, enjoy the author’s work that are published! I don’t generally look to see if an author is of a “minority” or whatever it may be, but rather if I’m interested in the story and characters themselves. But I do understand the importance and I think it’s fantastic that there’s more diversity being introduced more and more.

As far as lacking, I think it’s lacking a lot of things. Like, a lot. I’d love to read more about people of different religions, cultures, race, gender, sexual identity, etc. I think that as bloggers we can really voice our concerns on as many platforms as possible until a change is made.

And as for the negative and stereotypical representation: it’s always going to be there. I’m sorry to say, but it will be. Not everyone is of a like mind, or can be, for that matter. But we can still make leaps and bounds to erase it as much as possible.

Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns – Books & Blogs

This topic is all about how we look at books and blogs: pretty covers draw us toward the books, and pretty, clean, organized blogs make us coming back for more. But is that really all there is?

The Books: How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

I don’t know that I judge a book by its cover, if I’m being honest. I seriously don’t! Okay, if a book cover is kind of hideous I’m just like, “What is that?” But I… okay, yeah, I judge. Shush. But sometimes I am surprised when it comes to books because they can have a really hideous cover and have some of the best content, and then some of the most beautiful covers are just…not good inside.

Oh man, I try SO HARD to make sure my covers match in some way, but I know that that’s not always the case. I love it when a series flows so, so nicely. But then sometimes the publishing industry just loves to see us readers squirm and change the covers mid-series. Like. No. But as far as the art matching the words on the inside, yes, I do think it’s important. Don’t have just random colors and big font. Try to make it look at least decent.

Some good examples of the art matching the content of the book:

Like, look at those covers. Not only aesthetically pleasing, but also matching to the content! I love it!

So yes, I do think that aesthetics are important, but they aren’t everything, necessarily.

The Blog: As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?

I’m going to be honest: I don’t think about it super often. Like, I love the fonts I chose for my blog for the titles and the body of my posts. And I love my minimalist theme because I don’t want to be distracted by colors, personally, on my own blog. I’ve changed my banner and icon a couple of times, and I’m still not satisfied, so I think that’s one thing I’m going to change several times, probably.

I don’t know what I’d call my brand, actually. Simple? Clean? Long-winded? I try to make it easily accessible and organized to the best of my abilities, and that’s what I look for in my own blog. When I write reviews, I focus mainly on the characters because they’re, you know, the biggest part of the story. I then try to focus on the plot, or certain aspects of the plot where I can’t spoil things for people (at least not majorly).

As far as recognizability? I don’t know if when people see my blog they instantly think of it as being my blog? When I look at other people blogs, I notice colors or certain fonts or styles in which they write their posts, so I’m assuming it’s the same for people who read my blog?

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

So that wraps up the first two days of Armchair BEA! I’m sorry this is kind of late, but better last than never, right? Tell me all of your thoughts on book aesthetics, as well as blog aesthetics! Do you think about them often and do they affect what you pick up or look at? Also, what do you think about the diversity being shown in books and the publishing industry today?

ABEA Day 4: Book to Movie Adaptations

Today’s ABEA topic is book-to-movie adaptations. Book-to-movie adaptations are one of those things where they either get it right or it’s completely wrong. Some movies follow through with the book almost to a T, only having to change up a few plot points for movie purposes and really bringing the book to life for the reader. Others… well, they just suck.

So here I want to just talk about a few of my favorite adaptations, as well as some of my least favorite.

Favorites

  • The Harry Potter series. Though I’ve only read up to part of book four, the adaptations of the books are really well done. I find that the inner witch in me loves it. Though there’s major differences between book and movie three, I found that the first two really stuck to the story well.
  • The Fault in Our Stars. I found this to be very faithful to the book with a few minor plot points changed or missing. The lines were directly from the book and everything that happened was just wonderful to see. I loved it.
  • Divergent. Despite there being several major things that were changed from book to movie, I really enjoyed the adaptation. I thought it incorporated a lot of elements from the book into the movie and we really got to see what being in Dauntless was like and how living in that society was.

Least Favorites

  • Blood and Chocolate. It wasn’t even the same story as the book! I could understand making the characters older for movie purposes, but major plot points were changed, there was bad acting, and it was just… ugh. I hated it.
  • Insurgent. Okay, so I did a whole review rant about this movie and how horrible it was. So… go read that if you really want to know my thoughts.

So, some of these adaptations either hit it and really showed the true nature of the characters, had awesome CGI and storyline, and was as faithful as could be to the book. Others… yeah, no.

Now, as for books I’d want to be made into a movie or TV show, I believe I did posts on each, here and here.

As for upcoming shows/movies that I’m excited for:

  • Shadowhunters. This is a TV show based off of Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments series. Everything is looking so awesome so far, from the beautiful cast to the set pictures we get every day, everything looks so awesome so far. I’m really excited to see how this adaptation plays out considering the movie was a flop.
  • Mockingjay Part 2. I haven’t read the books yet, but it’s one of my goals this year to read all three before the final movie comes out. I’ve loved The Hunger Games franchise since the release of the first movie and so I am excited to see how it concludes in the last movie.

I think what makes a faithful adaptation is not only the actor’s portrayal of the character they are playing, but also on the director, producer, screen-writer, etc. They are the ones that make the book come to life, and they have one chance to really impress fans of the book. It’s either a hit or miss, and sometimes it’s on the actors’ part or sometimes it’s the graphics, other times it’s the story and script.

What are some of your favorite book-to-movie adaptations? What about least favorites? What would you like to see be turned into a TV show or movie? Let me know!

ABEA Day 3: Blogging Q & A

Today’s ABEA topic choice is one in which was difficult for me to choose from, but I decided to go with talking about blogging and my journey and some tips up to this point. Let me just state now that I am by no means an expert as I’m still growing and learning and expanding in my own blogging techniques. But I have learned several things over the years I’ve been blogging (on this and another blog) and so I’m just going to chat about that now.

My Journey

I’ve tried blogging on several platforms and for various topics, from school required blogging to my writing blog to this one I have here. I’ve used Blogger, Wix, Tumblr, WordPress, and (a very long time ago) LiveJournal. So I’ve been on and off in the blogosphere for several years now.

But nothing really ever stuck for an extended period of time until my writing blog, and even now I rarely post there anymore.

I have fallen in love with this blog, though.

I love talking about reading, discussing topics and issues that pop up in the community, showing my hauls and just having a fun time with books. This has been one of the best ideas I’ve had and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it because I will always love reading and there will always be books out there.

I’ve gained followers and awesome people I can talk to about the things I love who have a common interest, and I love that. It makes me so, so happy to be able to have such a large community I can branch out to and learn from and just talk to about books.

Blogging Tips

Okay, here’s where it may become a little bit fuzzy with advice because even though I’ve been doing this on and off for a few years, I’m still learning. Blogging is an ever changing entity and everyone has their own flair and tastes, so just remember that this will be my own experiences and personal advice.

  1. Have fun with your blog. Whether you’re talking about books, crafts, art, or fishing, you need to have fun with the content you’re producing. If you’re not having fun, why are you doing it? If you don’t have the passion behind it, take a step back and evaluate to see if there’s something that needs to change.
  2. Produce your best quality content. Okay, this one even I feel like a hypocrite about, but it’s true. When you post you want it to be some of the best of your own writing and thoughts about your given topic. Of course when you’re first starting out your content may not be up to par, but the more you do it the better your content will become. I mean, if you check out my last year’s posts, they were really, really bad. I cringe when I look at them, but they were a starting point and now I’m becoming proud of what I post.
  3. Don’t let what other people are posting pressure you into doing the same thing. There’s so many different styles of reviews, so many varieties of memes, so many different experiences out there on the Internet that it can all blend together and make a new blogger – and even an experienced blogger – confused about where to even start. I do a couple memes (Top Ten Tuesday & Top 5 Wednesday) every week if I can because I find them fun and I’m able to share some thoughts on books I may or may not have talked about before.
  4. Keep your blog clean and organized. It’s so much easier to track what post is where if you have dedicated subjects at the top of your blog. Have drop down menus and links referring back to your posts so that they’re easy to find. I find a cluttered blog to turn me off real fast because there’s so much to look at when all I’m looking for is the content. But that doesn’t mean you can’t design it how you want it, just make sure you have navigation somewhere.
  5. Try to post regularly/what fits your schedule. Some people are able to post every day, multiple times a day, and that’s okay. But some people can only post once or twice a week; that’s okay, too. Just be sure to set a schedule for yourself and try to stick to it to the best of your ability.

So there are five tips that I think are broad enough to fit everyone somehow. Blogging is an interactive, engaging experience. Make it your own, though; you don’t need to follow the pack.

Networking

I think it’s very important to network as a blogger. If you want more people to see your content, you need to be willing to branch out and extend to other media. Now I already discussed what my various social media are, but here’s why I personally think that it’s worth while to connect with some of the bigger ones:

  • Twitter: It’s fast, it’s super social, and you can get your content out quickly. So many websites, including WordPress, allow you to link up to your Twitter account so your blog posts automatically post on your feed. I use this one the most in terms of reading and writing related things because there are different hashtags you can use to connect with others who will also potentially follow you and check out your site. Some various hashtags I frequently use are: #amreading #amwriting #booknerdproblems #bookbloggers #writerproblems
  • Facebook: Using a page or personal account can connect to even more people. I mean, Facebook kind of turned into a phenomenon over the last few years and has grown so big that you’re bound to get people to follow or friend you there. Now this can be tricky to use, though, because many people will only follow if they see your link on your personal account or from your blog page. I use it in case anyone on Facebook who isn’t on Twitter or follow my blog can see my posts still.
  • Tumblr: It’s another blog for your blog! Okay, well, this may seem redundant, but there are SO many teens that use Tumblr and who love books that just by connecting your blog posts to tumblr (or actually using the platform itself) can get you a bunch of people to follow and talk with you about books.
  • The comments on your blog: the best place to engage in readership and fellowship. Seriously, there’s no better place to find others who enjoy your content or blog more than in the comments. When it comes down to it, be sure to reply to every comment until you feel that there doesn’t need to be a response anymore. Initializing that first contact with people can make them come back every time, and that’s really what we’re aiming for here, isn’t it?

Don’t be afraid to branch out and let other people into your small world. There’s so many people I have come to enjoy talking to about books that it makes me smile whenever I see them comment or when I see on Twitter that people are engaging in conversation with me or are talking about the same topic.

It’s really great to have all of this blogging community around. I find it to be fun and something I can see myself doing for years to come.

What about you? How do you like to blog? Any tips or advice you want to share? What’s your favorite form of networking? Let me know!

ABEA Day 2: Social Media

So the choice of today’s ABEA topic came down to either visual expressions or social media. Frankly, social media is right up my alley and I have plenty of experience and use with it.

I’m literally all over the internet on many of the big social media platforms (these can also be found on the side of my blog with the icon buttons):

I love social media. It’s one of those fundamental things I don’t think I’d want to ever be without. I mean, I can go for a while without Facebook or tumblr or whatever, but I love, love, love Twitter. Especially since I started blogging did I gain a new appreciation for just how cool Twitter is and how much it can connect people together.

I find that social media is one of those things you need to help boost your stats as a blogger, sure, but I also think it’s important to connect with readers and followers on some level if it doesn’t happen on your blog, per se.

When it comes down to it, I think social media is extremely important for bloggers. Even if you use it just as a link up with your blog, you’re spreading your content more which means there’s a higher chance that people will see it and like it or be able to connect with you.

What about you? How many different social media platforms do you use related to your blog? Do you mix personal and blog together? I do on several accounts, and I’m okay with that. Let me know!