Hi guys and welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday post! This is one of the less regular features on my blog – I don’t think I have written one of these for a couple of months or so.
The topic I have chosen is one I saw posted by Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl, published last month. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Top Ten Changes in My Bookish Life. Jana begins her list from the commencement of blogging, so I’ll do the same too!
Firstly, I read a lot more!
My previous record number of books read in 2017 (60 books) has been beaten; with a couple of weeks to go, I’ll set a new record of 70-something books.
I read a greater variety of genres
I used to read a pretty much only fantasy, both before and at the beginning of my blogging adventure. Now I read a lot of genres, often switching between them for variety. I have diversified A LOT since then.
…And read new genres too!
I had never read a horror novel until I started blogging. Pet Sematary was my first horror novel, swiftly followed by IT less than two months later!
I read less on Kindle than I used to
I used to read nearly 100% on Kindle. However, now I am earning a little more I am buying physical copies of books I love. I also get physical review copies from publishers too!
I have a significantly longer TBR…
Perks of being part of a book blogging community: you have lots of amazing people to talk to and discuss books with. Also, you get to hear about all the books and consequently there aren’t enough hours in the day to read them all…
I started self-hosting my blog in June 2018
I love the freedom this allows me. Mostly. I have wanted to throw my computer out of the window on one or two occasions with it, but in the grand scheme of things it’s great!
I actually have a blogging schedule
When I first started blogging I basically posted when I felt like it. I was far more sporadic than I am now. Now I am drafting and publishing content regularly!
I have a community to talk to/with!
I have branched out with a lot of social media and as such, I have a lot more people to talk to. It’s rare I get to have a bookish conversation offline.
I’m no longer afraid to ask publishers for review copies
This came with confidence and the growth of my blog. Now I have a bit of a following, it’s worthwhile for publishers to send me books to review.
I am very lucky to be on publishers mailing lists
Over time I have gotten myself on various mailing lists, giving me greater access to books and new authors.
It’s fun to look back and consider how you started out and compare it to the present day. How has your reading life change recently or over time?
It’s Tuesday, so guess what guys… it’s another Top Ten Tuesday post I am sharing with you today!
This week’s theme for the post is Bookish Worlds I Love. I am a sucker for world-building so there are going to be some brilliant names on the list! Just because I love these worlds doesn’t mean I would necessarily want to visit them… but yeah!
Westeros (& Essos) – A Song of Ice and Fire series
For obvious reasons I love these… but I wouldn’t like to visit. Knowing my luck, I’d turn up and immediately get run over by a dung cart. That’s probably the best I could hope for. These worlds aren’t exactly known for their smothering kindness to its citizens.
Middle Earth – The Lord of the Rings series
Tolkien paints such a magical and vivid setting in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would love to see the Ents and the power of nature in force. Hobbiton would be pretty quiet and quaint too. It’s just a shame I’ll be too tall to move in…
The Labyrinth – The Relic Guild series
Again, this wouldn’t be the most pleasant place to find myself in, but spectacular again for the magic. I wouldn’t really like the idea of being cut-off from society either.
Valengrad – Raven’s Mark series
Again, a dark world to want to visit, but the fabulous descriptions in the Raven’s Mark series mark this on my map! This is an unusual place on the list, as a wasteland known as the Misery in particular would be an amazing (and amazingly difficult) place to traverse. With a shifting landscape as a result of corrupt magic and few unmoving landmarks, it’s not your typical world.
Roshar – The Stormlight Archives
I’ve only read one of these books so far and already I have fallen in love with Roshar. It has such a depth of history and is so beautifully described. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the books live up to the first in this!
The Discworld – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series
The Discworld is the fictional setting of 41 novels; it is a flat, circular world, balanced on the back of four elephants who in turn stand upon the back of the Great A’Tuin – a turtle. Yep. That pretty much sums up how crazy this place is, but even still I love the real, everyday problems that are encountered here. The Discworld books are really entertaining!
The Sollan Empire (and beyond!) – Sun Eater series
This world is so expansive that I don’t even truly know how to quantify it! I feel this series has a lot more to offer too; I haven’t read Howling Dark yet so I’m sure my horizons will be broadened even further after this book. It has so many unique systems, worlds and civilisations.
Orisha – Legacy of Orïsha series
My favourite element of the world of Orïsha is the cultural aspect. I feel it truly celebrates a unique culture and consequently has a completely new insight into the world and the beauty of it.
Weep – Strange the Dreamer series
The narrative of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer makes Weep sound hauntingly beautiful in its desolation. All her descriptions are vivid and amazing, but the sense of mystery about the lost city makes it all-the-more appealing.
Temerant – The Kingkiller Chronicles
I need to re-read these books and appreciate them again. It has been a really long time. The sophistication of the world-building in this series is why it makes its way onto the list. These books are some of my favourites in the fantasy genre.
Which book is your favourite bookish world from? Do you share any of these?
It’s Tuesday and Day 8 of Blogtober… so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday Post!
Today’s post is all about celebrating my top ten achievements since starting my blog. It’s good to give ourselves a pat on the back sometimes. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about my blogging journey so far!
Starting a blog… and then sticking with it!
I will be the first person to hold my hands up and admit that I am TERRIBLE for starting projects and never seeing them through. I like to try new things and before I found my feet blogging, I was always abandoning one project or another.
Blogging is the exception to the rule! It was a slow start in the first four months or so whilst I got to grips with it. Once I had established a routine though, the whole experience became a lot easier and I have never looked back! Having never really done it before, it was a huge leap of faith. I think it helped that back then I was only doing it for me. It was my outlet to talk about books. Now, I still do it for me, but I do enjoy getting a like now and again! I can’t lie…
Getting onto Social Media
I have always been terrible at using social media. On a personal level, I hardly use it at all except to look at silly cat videos on the internet and the like. My Facebook profile picture gets updated maybe once a year. Yeah, it’s like that.
I never liked Twitter for a personal account. I had nothing to post, nothing to say. My blog changed that. I’m not the kind of person to take photographs all that often either… unless it’s books. That is a blog influence as well though. My personal Instagram account never took off either.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert – far from it! I have a reason to make an effort with it now, and that is the difference!
Engaging with a fabulous community of book bloggers
I started my blog as a means to talk about the books I love; it was primarily for me. By starting it, a new world opened up to me. Other bloggers with the same interests as me suddenly came to my attention and I had an audience to write to. Through bloggers, I have been introduced to more books, genres and authors.
Two and a half years on I still enjoy getting a like or a comment on my blog. I don’t think that will ever change. It’s nice to know that somebody cares to take the time to read something you have put effort into.
Switching to Self Hosting
Probably one of the biggest things I did last year was move my blog and domain name to a self-hosted site. I have never done anything like it before, so it was a total learning curve. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources on the internet to make the process as straight-forward as possible!
It wasn’t hiccup-free, but I got there. Eventually. Those few days whilst my domain was being re-registered were the longest ever!
Going “public” to friends/family
I only did this a few months ago. For a long time, I kept my blog private from friends and family. I had no idea how they would react to my hobby (and having kept it quiet so long). In hindsight, I was daft to worry. I guess I was worried about how they would react to it, or that they wouldn’t and I’d be met with a wall of indifference. My family have been very supportive and I feel a lot better for being able to talk about what I am doing more openly. There were some happy moments but also some disappointments when it comes to friends. I had some great reactions from some friends I didn’t expect to back me at all. There are also friends that haven’t acknowledged it or supported me when I really thought they would. It was bound to happen I guess.
Getting onto Publisher Mailing lists
Receiving copies of books in exchange for a review is always an exciting time! Who doesn’t love book mail? When I first started my blog I struck up relationships with some smaller publishers. As I was relatively new to the scene, they were more willing to give me a chance. After about a year of blogging, I decided to chance my luck and contact Gollancz about a new release they were advertising having ARCs for. And I got one! I was expecting my request to go ignored, but no. I have received several other books since then and I am always looking forward to the next one that catches my eye.
Also… working with indie authors!
Working with indie authors is a completely different experience, but I would argue that it is a lot more rewarding. I have struck up some good relationships with indie authors for whom I have written reviews. Many have come back to me with new books to review as well. Indie authors offer a far more personal experience to the book reviewing process. Many of them don’t have the representation others benefit from, so anything you can do is so much more appreciated and ultimately, grants a greater sense of achievement in helping them.
It may seem like a small thing, but I have noticed an improvement in my writing. Not only is it a lot easier to take those first steps and start a post, but they flow a lot better too. I have found my voice. It’s an invaluable skill and one I use a lot at work. Even my work colleagues have commented on how well I can draft an email.
Completing my Goodreads Reading Challenges
I don’t quite know how I have managed to complete every challenge I have set myself (so far)! Maybe it is because I can be stubborn when I want to be. In fact, for two years I have increased the number of books in my reading challenge, in 2017 and again this year. Equally, it could be that I am just getting quicker at reading or better at managing my time. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that decides how I manage, but it works, somehow.
This has been saved for last because I think it is the most important achievement. It’s also been the longest journey as it starts in my childhood. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve; I couldn’t take criticism at all. Friend or stranger alike, I took people’s opinions to heart. In high school, I started Performing Arts lessons as a way of putting myself under scrutiny. It was a safe way of doing it and it taught me, gradually, to accept constructive criticism as advice, rather than someone being hurtful.
Look at me now; I couldn’t stand out any more on account of my green hair and how I pour my passion onto the internet, practically inviting people to disagree with me.
Confidence isn’t something you wake up with one day, but it builds with time. In its own way, starting my blog, sticking with it and sharing my love of reading has helped me discover a greater sense of self. I am happiest when talking about my blog, or what I am reading. I wouldn’t say I am reliant on it, but the acceptance and inclusion of many has helped. There has been the odd time when I have met with less favourable opinions (or a lack of opinion when I expected one) of my hobby. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, because I am doing what I love to do.
I still wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, proven by the fact that I have gotten a little emotional writing this section. I’m not invincible, as much as I try to be. So whilst I am feeling soppy, let me say thank you. Thank you to everyone who reads my posts and drops likes or comments. Thank you to the friends and family who listen to my rambling, whether you are interested or not. And lastly, thank you to those that reminded me that those who mind don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.
Now that the finale of A Game of Thrones has come and gone, I thought it the perfect opportunity to talk about my favourite characters of the series! There are a lot of mixed reviews about that last episode and I’m not surprised. I have no problem with the ending, but I feel there could have been a little more drama or tension in between. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic series and for us book-lovers, it isn’t truly over yet!
I’ll be taking the books and the TV show into account for this list, (spoiler-free) since up until A Dance of Dragons, they are close to one another. I’ll also be ranking my characters from number ten to one… so here we go!
10. Tormund Giantsbane
Tormund Giantsbane… he’s not so much a friendly giant if you cross him. He is formidable to his enemies and fierce friends with those that see past the furs and wildling exterior. He’s a bit of a drunkard and apt to boasting, but if you can beat anyone who says otherwise into the dirt then why not?
We get to see an intimate friendship between Tormund and Jon. It’s the kind of friendship I think we all look for.
9. Brienne of Tarth
I really love Brienne for her loyalty and her confidence to follow an unconventional path in life. Brienne is one of the few female warriors of the series, and she is frequently bullied for her choice. That, and her appearance. I guess I relate to her in a way because I have been in her shoes – not a sword-wielding knight, obviously, but I’ve been bullied for my appearance too. In my teenage years, I opted for similarly short hair (as Brienne in the TV series). I couldn’t tell you how many unpleasant comments and assumptions were made about me. I didn’t care all that much – I kept it for five years before I decided to grow it back.
If there is one thing I would like to have in common with Brienne more than anything, it’s the drive to do whatever you want regardless of other people’s approval. It’s too easy to fall victim to peer pressure. I think if we were all a little more like Brienne, the world would be a better place.
Littlefinger’s cunning and intelligence win him a place on my top ten list. An advanced player in the political scene, Littlefinger came from pretty much nothing. He’s a self-made man… but not necessarily the type you want to be if you plan on making any friends in life.
Not all his personality traits are admirable by any means, but becoming the Master of Coin proves he has some skill. Deception and manipulation are never far around the corner where Littlefinger is concerned, but these don’t fail to stir up relations and events throughout the series!
7. Samwell Tarly
Sam is just so cute! He’s scorned by his father and forced into a life that without the help of his friends, he’d have no hope of surviving. Thankfully he is the type of person you cannot help but like. Before joining the Night’s Watch, he enjoyed singing, dancing and burying his nose in books… much to his father’s distaste. I don’t profess to be any good when it comes to the singing and the dancing (alcohol is required for the latter), but a serious love of books and studying is something we share in common.
Sam is a bit of a softy and socially awkward, but he is also very intelligent. He’s the type of man I’d like to meet really.
6. Olenna Tyrell
Perhaps there aren’t as many sword fighting women in A Game of Thrones, but plenty have other weapons of choice. Olenna is a wiser and more experienced player of the great game. She won’t have any trouble land on her doorstep, that’s for sure. With a look that could wither anyone less adept at dreading the murky waters of politics, she is a force to be reckoned with!
I love her ferocity in defending her own too! Nothing means more to Olenna Tyrell than looking out for her family, her granddaughter Margaery especially. In what is probably one of my favourite scenes ever, we find out what happens to those that threaten Highgarden’s little flower!
5. Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister is a character that we love to hate, wouldn’t you agree?! It’s easy to point out all her murderous, incestuous flaws, but the one thing we cannot discredit her for is her fierce love for her children. She is, above all, a mother.
Cersei’ s roots in one of the most powerful families make her a formidable foe. Being the Queen definitely has its perks. Being in the spotlight also has its dangers too; it can win you many enemies. Cersei is no stranger to this and uses everything she has about her in order to stay on top. Treading on a few toes to do so is child’s play, let’s put it that way!
4. Jon Snow
Jon is a Bastard by name, if not so much by his nature.
He has spent his life on the back-foot, all-too-aware that he doesn’t fit in. He has grown up believing that he embodies all that is wrong in a family, which I think is one of the reasons he is driven to always do the right thing. Jon will even sacrifice himself for the greater good – somewhat noble, but I wish he would have some self-worth. That said, however, I think we all love Jon’s almost constant state of brooding. Jon is inarguably one of the kinder, more honourable men in Westeros, but as Ned Stark learned very early on, that doesn’t always serve you well.
3. Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, The rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Queen of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. So many titles… all of them are applicable.
Dany is probably one of the better character arcs we follow throughout the series. We get to watch her blossom from a meek child into a strong, commanding, dragon-taming woman.
I wouldn’t want to cross her, just saying…
2. Arya Stark
Here is another lady I wouldn’t cross. Arya transforms from a young, wilful girl struggling to master the etiquette required to become a lady into a woman that re-writes the rules, her way. Arya isn’t one to be told what she can or cannot do – if she sets her mind to it, it’s as good as done.
In the beginning, Arya’s survival was a bit of potluck. She is lucky to fall into the hands of friends in the immediate aftermath of her world being turned upside down. Her fortune doesn’t last, however. She quickly learns how to defend herself after being thrust out into the wide world alone. It’s a learning curve that really defines her character. She is my second favourite character of the series. At one point reading the books I thought she had been killed. I had a tantrum for days and refused to read on, sulking. It was unfounded, but still.
1. Tyrion Lannister
Finally, we get to my favourite character in the series! A Lannister, I hear you gasp! Yes, you’re reading this right.
I’ve always enjoyed Tyrion’s wit and dry humour. There are so many great quotes in the books that are from this character’s lips. Aside from Arya, he is the only character I wanted to make it through the coming turmoil. As long as he lives, I’m happy.
Tyrion is very intelligent but massively underappreciated. The vitriol and scorn he experiences as a result of his deformity have instilled in him a strength that few characters can match. He is also a great lover of books, which always gets you brownie points with me.
So there you have it – my top ten characters of the series! What do you think? Do you agree with me? Who is your favourite character, and why?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme, originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.
Don’t get me wrong – I love being a book blogger. Having the opportunity to talk about books I love is an absolute privilege. My blog has always been about me (sorry that probably sounds really selfish, but it’s true!) Likes, comments and follows are an amazing perk, but my goal with my blog has always been about channelling my passion for reading and writing.
Nearly two years on, I still have a lot to learn about blogging. I’m still not very good at some things; I can be honest with myself about that. Whether you are new to blogging or a veteran, there’s a lot of juggling to do. Taking on such a hobby is a steep learning curve, but it’s achievable if you have the will and the motivation to make it. There are difficult days though. It’s not always going to be plain sailing. Here are my top ten struggles as a book blogger:-
The largest commodity you have (and lose) when it comes to book blogging is time. A review post, when you take into consideration the time taken to read the book in question, can take several hours to produce. On average, for a 300-page book, I probably spend around four hours reading it and at least an hour and a half on my blog post itself. That’s quite a lot, right?
But of course, there is more to life than blogging. We need to eat, sleep, go to work (boo!) or meet friends from time to time etc. All these things snatch an awful lot of time off your hands. You’d be surprised how quickly it disappears!
Sometimes, things are great! You can devour a book in two hours and get a review chucked together pretty damn quickly. It doesn’t always work that way though. If you’ve been slogging away and making slow progress for a little while, you feel the need for a break. There’s nothing wrong with that. My main hobby outside of the blog at the moment is playing Minecraft (such a nerd, I know). If I need a break from books, I’ll either try to build some new structures in my survival world; go explore some caves and/or strip mine or try (and usually fail) to build a redstone contraption. For those that don’t know, redstone is Minecraft’s equivalent of electricity. I’m not very good with it right now.
Being active on Social Media
For some people, this comes as naturally as breathing. On the other hand, I am terrible at it. I’m not religious with posting on my blog accounts (when I probably should be) and I pretty much never post on personal ones. It’s just not natural to me. Some people like to photograph every meal and post it online before they touch it (if there’s no proof it didn’t happen, one may argue). Not me though – I’d rather just eat it…
Reading Other Blogs
As a blogger, you would like to think I would read other people’s blogs. We’re all part of the same community; it’s only natural, right? Yes, you’re right, and again this is something I am prepared to admit I am terrible at.
I have to make a conscious effort to remember to read other blogs. I’m not in the habit. I even tried to incorporate a section in my Sunday Summary post to appreciate the best posts I’d read that week as an incentive. It’s not worked as well as I’d have liked, but I’m working on it. Promise!!
SEO / Marketing
Like, I get the concept, but this whole business is just a whole lot of complicated. I’m never going to be an expert at it so I’m not going to try. If Yoast’s little icon goes green, then I’m happy.
It is far too easy to agree to every blog tour, review request and ARC that comes your way. That’s the quickest way to land yourself in a shit-storm. I’ll be frank. I’ve almost done it. When you sign up for too much or have too many imminent deadlines, the danger is you’ll shut down and maybe even turn away from blogging completely. The best thing to do is try not to take on too much. Learn what you are capable of managing and learn to say no. It’s hard, but you’ll thank yourself later. Trust me.
Writing posts last minute
This is kind of a drawback as last minute PC updates and blog downtime can put a spanner in the works. You might not even be in the right headspace to write that review that’s due to be published tomorrow. I’ve been here too. Whilst it’s a drawback in a way, I also couldn’t plan these things too much in advance. Firstly, I don’t have the time to write material to give myself a buffer, not even for a week. Secondly, I wouldn’t feel the payoff like I do now. By the time a post goes live, it won’t be fresh in my mind; I’ll have lost my connection to it or even forgotten it entirely.
This one sounds a little paradoxical – how can someone who publishes their thoughts and feelings openly online and interact with others about that be anti-social? By this, I’m talking about my people circle here at home. My friends and I aren’t the greatest at making plans anyway, but there are times when I don’t even want to go out and socialise – especially if I know I have a busy stint coming up blog-wise. Sorry guys…
Graphic design/ imagery
I admire people that can put so much time and effort into graphic design. I enjoy doing it, but being my usual last minute self, I don’t have time to produce new graphics for every blog post. I recycle where possible (a lot) and I should probably pull my finger out and try to mix things up a bit more.
Posting reviews to other sites
I know posting reviews to sites like Amazon and Goodreads are so helpful to authors, but I’m not the quickest in getting around to doing it. I tend to do it in batches where possible, but only semi-regularly. I’m just as bad at updating my review index too if that’s any consolation? No, I didn’t think that was going to work, but God loves a trier.
BLOGGERS – How long have you been blogging and what are your top struggles? Drop me a comment below and we’ll see if we have anything in common!