The Follow Up to Blog Hopping in June

At the end of May, I decided I was in a good place with my book blog and the posts I had been publishing that I felt like it was time to up my game. I realized that if I want to build an amazing blog with a modest following, then it’d be smart to know the lay of the land and become more active in the community. These were my major reasons for deciding to prioritize Blog Hopping in June.

I had a really grand plans for the month. I really thought I was going to be able to quickly and easily integrate blog hopping into my daily routine. What I did not realize was:

  1. How much time is required to read and comment meaningfully on others posts
  2. How many of the blogs I already followed read/reviewed books in genres I don’t like or posted content that I do not find remotely interesting

I didn’t want to unfollow anybody, but I did find that it was hard at first to find any posts I could comment on. A lot of blogs I followed in the past produced a lot of blog tour/blitz posts or ARC reviews for contemporaries or romance (neither of which are my go-to genres), which is to say: posts I most likely won’t click on. I’m not here for that. (Although, I will say, I’ve become a lot more interested in contemporaries over June!)

I eventually realized that a lot of these blogs I must have only followed because I liked something about their aesthetic or blogging style and my “Follow” was utilized more as a “Bookmark” for blogs I, at one time, thought I might want to reference again for reasons long since forgotten.

So the first thing I realized I needed to do was discover new blogs! Here’s how I did it.

*  ⁎  Method ⁂ ⁎ * 

Since it was the end of a May when I started, there were a lot of monthly wrap ups and TBRs in my WordPress Reader and Bloglovin’ feeds. These have traditionally always been my favorite kinds of posts to read because they cover a lot more books (increasing the likelihood I’ll recognize a title on their lists) and most often got more personal, which I have always found really appealing in blogs I want to follow. I like to feel like I know more about the bloggers than just their bookish thoughts/opinions.

From these posts, I have a few trails to follow:

  1. I could investigate the blog I was on, finding out what kinds of books they reviewed/liked, look at their most recent posts to see if I anything interested me enough to post a comment.
  2. I could follow shout out links provided by the bloggers of any noteworthy blog posts they found worth reading and, therefore, sharing. I discovered a lot of new blogs this way! (Reason why I want to start doing this on a more regular basis.)
  3. I also could investigate the blogs of people who commented on the original posts. It felt great finding blogs I liked this way because I knew these bloggers were more likely to respond to my comments, making the blog hopping all the more satisfying.

At the beginning this all took a lot of work, taking more than just couple of hours depending on the quality of my leads. I was really looking for blogs I liked a lot, so I was going through older posts to get a better picture of what these blogs had to offer. Once I had a good number of new blogs that I was following based on how I connected to their content, my feeds became much more reliable sources for blog posts I could reasonably expect to enjoy during the month.

Although I ended up discovering a lot of new blogs that I really admired, it didn’t necessarily mean that I found it a lot easier to comment on each post I came across. From the outset of this journey, I knew I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time with quick, generic comments. I also learned, just about myself, that I like I try to read the comments that come before I write mine so I don’t comment the exact same thing. And sometimes even if I enjoy reading a post enough to “like” it, I don’t always find myself having something new or meaningful to comment.

A big surprise for me was learning how engaging some blog tags and memes (like Top Ten Tuesday) could be. Over time, I had come to dismiss these kinds of posts as filler posts of little substance. I still come across blog tags where people don’t elaborate on their answers, which seems like a big waste if they go through the effort of making the blog post I will click on. But there are bloggers out there who I can tell spend a lot of time on them and it was really fun to start conversations from their answers.

•     Before June     •

I did not look at the blog posts in my WordPress Reader or Bloglovin’ feed on a regular basis at all. When I did, it was when I was in need of inspiration. and it was rare I saw a post title that caught my genuine interest. Most of the time I would click on posts, it was because it was the a monthly wrap up or TBR (I still love the broader picture of a blogger that is painted by posts) OR because it was a book review for a title I’ve already read and liked/disliked and wanted to see if my thoughts were confirmed or challenged.

I don’t think I ever commented on anything.

•     After June     •

There are a handful of blogs that’s names come to mind when I think about blogs that I love reading. When I see their blog posts in my feeds I can remember things about these bloggers and am interested in staying up-to-date with everything they post. I better appreciate tags and memes, especially if they come from bloggers I like who I know will put time and thought into these posts. I may not blog hop every day, but it’s a pleasure when I’m all caught up on my blog posts to open up a bunch of tabs and catch up on everything I’ve missed.

❧ ☙ End Note ☙ ❧

I’m sorry this post is coming out a bit late. I had a lot of trouble writing this post. At times, it took a few detours that I had to omit by thinking about what I wanted this post to be. Essentially, I wanted to come away from my experience last month with something that recorded what I did in case I ever take another break from blogging or feel that I’ve started to slack in being a good blog reader.

Up next immediately on Betwined Reads the list of some of my favorite (book) blogs at the moment. I’ll be up late tonight working on it, because I know it’s something that’s been highly anticipated. I did not expect so many people to want to see what blogs I love, but I guess it speaks to everyone’s desire to follow blogs that are doing awesome things. I worry my favorites are not going to be very new discoveries to anyone else!

Thank you for reading!
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Five Word Story Challenge | Blog Tag

Sorry this post is coming late tonight! I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist to do the 5 Word Story Challenge on Sunday! It seemed like a fun little writing challenge to stretch the writing noodle, so I decided to give it a go.

Since I’m currently working on my novel, I decided to integrate this challenge into my story. I feel like I put unnecessary pressure on myself, announcing this on Monday! But once, I realized it only needed to be five words, I was like, “Ok, that’s easy!”

It wasn’t actually all that easy (that last word was intense). I don’t think this little excerpt will work its way into the final draft of my story, but it does feature my protagonist in a scene that could be perfectly well happen, so let’s consider it an outtake.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Close your eyes, open to random pages, and point your finger on a random word in the last book you have read. Articles do not count.
  • Repeat the above rule 5 times.
  • List the 5 random words you have.
  • Create a 5 sentence flash fiction using your 5 random words. Each sentence must contain at least one word from your list. You can change the tense of the word as needed.
  • Tag 3 people.

My Last Completed Book

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (review coming tomorrow!)

5 Random Words

 other | faded | out | hours | symbolize

Story

She lay on her stomach under her bed, the other journal still bound shut under her right hand. The faded and smudged characters were a challenge to read in the dim light. But rather than come out, she was content to stay in the spot that made her feel most at home. It was had been hours since she heard the last door at the end of her corridor shut. Off-hand, she wondered if the carvings at the bottom of her door symbolized anything or if they were just scratches from a small animal who once sought freedom.

I Tag

Elle @ The Nishume Chronicles

Katherine @ The Writerly Reader

Ely (& her co-bloggers if they so wish) @ Of Wonderland

End Note

Feel free to complete this tag if you’d like to! I’d encourage anyone to put their own spin on it.

This challenge reminded me of grade school assignments where we were asked to write a one-page story using all the vocabulary words for that week. I was the weird who enjoyed that kind of assignment. I remember a Halloween-themed story particularly fondly. Why didn’t I have a mom who saved those kinds of things?!

See you tomorrow (6/7) with my book review of La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman!

Thank you for reading!
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Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

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Released: August 29, 2017
Pages: 384 pages (hardcover)
Theme(s): Friendship, diversity, humanity, good vs. evil, loyalty, honor, war
Genre(s): YA / Comics
Age Group: 10+

★★

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

My Thoughts

In this book we meet Diana, the daughter of clay who longs for glory and to be an equal to her sisters, the famous female warriors throughout history who called out to a deity before their death and were deemed worthy to enter the utopia of Themyscira. As she is racing to prove her capabilities to her sisters she hears a call for help at sea and, despite her better judgement, answers it.

After finding that Alia, the girl she saves, is not just poisoning her land (for no mortal may step foot on Themyscira) but also the next warbringer who is descended from Helen of Troy herself. Thirsting for glory, Diana decides to go on a quest to cleanse Alia of her curse and keep the world from spiraling into chaos.

What I Liked

I loved the mythology of this book! I don’t know how much of it existed before or how much of it was Bardugo’s contribution, but it makes a lot more sense to me than that presented in the recent Wonder Woman (2017) movie staring Gal Gadot. That the women came from all over the world by the grace of so many deities made it inclusive in a way that made me so happy.

I also loved that Bardugo took advantage of the opportunity to make this book so celebratory of diversity and diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Alia is half-Greek/half-black and super smart. As we get to know her, we see how her parents raised her to aware of how people may treat her because of her brown skin but also to be proud. Bardugo also avoids tokenism by including a cast of diverse friends in form of Theo and Nim, characters who brought so much humor and heart to the story.

On the subject of friends, I loved how this book celebrated the power of friendship and choosing your tribe. While many YA novels these days make romantic relationships integral to the protagonist’s storyline, this one has friendship at the heart. Yes, there’s some romance in it; but more important is the bond between friends that Diana forms with Alia and her friends. In this book, it’s because of friends that Diana sees the good worth saving in humanity.

What I Disliked

I can’t really fault this book at all. The onus is on me; this kind of book just isn’t really my style. It wouldn’t have been something I picked up if it wasn’t written by Leigh Bardugo who is one of my favorite authors. I also wasn’t the biggest Wonder Woman fan beforehand. While I do love Bardugo’s Diana tremendously, I’m not sure I’d like her written by anyone else.

While I can appreciate what Bardugo has accomplished in this book, it doesn’t really change the fact that I’m not a big fan of stories where the protagonist and antagonistic forces are so disconnected. Saving the world for the sake of saving humanity is the such a basic and boring plot to me. There were some surprises though!

Have you read Wonder Woman: Warbringer? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
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#MakeMeRead It Read-a-Thon Poll | Vote!

I wasn’t sure I was going to participate in the Make Me Read It Read-a-Thon this year as I’ve typically used this read-a-thon as an opportunity to read popular YA titles that I’ve been meaning to get to but the right time had just never come to pick them up (a.k.a. procrastination). Since I’ve burned through almost all my YA titles, I wasn’t sure it’d even be worth putting out a poll on the random literary fiction books high on my personal TBR these days. But, I’ve since had the idea I may use this challenge to knock some classics off my TBR, and therein lies my theme for this read-a-thon!

Read-a-Thon Info

The Make Me Read It Read-a-Thon is hosted by the lovely Ely @ Tea and Titles and Val @ The Innocent Smiley. The way this read-a-thon works is you choose a selection of books that you are willing and able to read this year between August 6–13, 2017, make a poll, and ask for your followers to vote to decide which books you will tackle during the week-long reading event. The theme of this read-a-thon is to force yourself to read books you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Maybe they’re overhyped online or a book that you were supposed to read for that one class…

After you’ve shared your post with the poll, search the tag #MakeMeRead on Twitter & Instagram to find others who need people to vote on their polls!

The Poll

Since I still want to participate as I’ve done very few read-a-thons in the past few months and definitely need to participate in more to catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I decided to give myself more of a challenge by providing a collection of classics that are unofficially on my life bucket list TBR.  The thought of reading any of these books at the moment scares me, so it’s with a twisted sort of excitement that I look forward to seeing what books win!

Realistically speaking, I’ll likely only be able to read about two books during the read-a-thon, so make your vote count (And maybe only vote for about three books maximum)! Depending on how this experience goes, I may be turned  off of reading classics for at least another year 😉

End Note

I will announce the winners of this vote a day or two ahead of the read-a-thon’s start date in August with an official TBR. Meanwhile on this blog, you may soon find a TBR for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon, a read-a-thon which runs next week across BookTube, book blogs, and other bookish social media! I look forward to being more active on here and upping my reading game.

Thanks ahead of time for voting and please feel free to leave a link to your own poll if you’d like me to vote on it! I’m having fun blog hopping and voting wherever I can. 🙂

Thank you for reading!
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Summer Goals ˁ̡̡̡∗★ ̫★ˀ̡̡̡

Hiya!

I didn’t mean to go another whole week without posting again, but it’s taken me a while to decide what I wanted to post next. I decided the most logical place to start is with a summer goals for myself and this blog. But before I get into it, I want to first thank you all for your best wishes on my job search. My interview this week went great, and I got some good feedback. Unfortunately I think the job went to someone who they knew.

I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to set summer goals for myself, but I feel like without a steady structure I won’t get as much done as I’d like. When I first started this post, I only envisioned stating my summer goals, but by the end I realized it might be a good time to think about what I want to accomplish long-term as well. So I’ve listed some of my wildest goals to achieve by the end of the year as well.

➴ Summer Goals

READING

This summer I want to read at least 20 books in order to be all caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge by September. On Thursday I’ll be posting my TBR and participation in the 20 Books of Summer challenge so stay tuned for that (& see the blog post from Rattle the Stars that inspired me ^_^)! My own post is already written, I just need to put on some finishing touches.

➴ BLOGGING

This may be ambitious, but I’m feeling really tempted to jump back into blogging in a major way by committing to posting at least every other day without fail as long as I have ideas. Right now I feel like I have a lot of ideas for things I’d both like to share and also think others would really benefit from. Some weeks I may be really busy or feel like I got nothing. I’m hoping to get through those weeks by planning ahead and actively updating a Google doc of ideas so I don’t forget them.

WRITING

I recently said that I’ve not been in the best of writing moods lately and while I still don’t want to commit to writing a novel this summer, I’m thinking about setting myself a more modest goal of writing an interactive short story. I have some past drafts of ideas that I may be interested in developing further, or I may start completely from scratch. We’ll see how that goes! I think it will also be fun to update you all on this process!

➴ Year End Goals

  1. Have a job I really like
  2. Have successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the first time since November 2014
  3. Have a modestly successful Etsy shop
  4. Have 500 blog followers between WordPress and Bloglovin’

End Note

I think it’s great to have goals for yourself throughout your life in order to continue to grow, even if you’re done with school and happy with your life. I encourage you to think of some seasonal goals and long-term goals in order to access how you might best go about achieving them. At the end of the summer/year I want to evaluate how successful I was at attaining these goals and decide what my next moves will be.

Do you enjoy setting goals? Why or why not?

What are your wildest of creative goals? How are you working on achieving them? 

Thank you for reading!
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