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June 2, 2018

Day 4: Blogging Tips #BookBlogExpo

by Donna Huber



Congratulations! You made it to the final day of the Book Blog Expo. We had a small group this year, but I hope you met someone new. We will have a Twitter chat to wrap things up at 10 am EDT today.  Tomorrow is an optional day if you want to do any kind of final thoughts on your blog.

Day 4's topic is Blogging Tips.

June 1, 2018

Judging Books (by their Covers)

by C.M. North



I remember the days of record stores. I remember browsing through records and CDs, trying to find new music that would inspire and connect with me emotionally. It’s very difficult to do that in the age of Spotify and Pandora—after all, these apps promise algorithms that will expand our tastes, but if they’re based on what we already listen to, then how can it truly veer too far from the beaten path?

No—the exquisite experience of visiting a record store was that you would flip through the albums with nothing but the artwork, and maybe the lyric insert, to catch and engage you. There was something magical about taking home an album that could have been electronic trance or Norwegian black metal, and you didn’t know until you put it on and cranked up the speakers. I got some absolute stinkers this way—but I also discovered some beautiful gems, music I would never in a million years have considered listening to.

All because of the cover art.

Art in any form requires some type of judgment; whether it be cursory or in-depth, it invites a critique of its merit, worth and value. When discussing visual art (e.g. painting or photography), that judgment can be fairly instantaneous—it only takes a glance to know whether you like a painting or not. There can certainly be more in-depth analyses of this type of artwork, but for most people, their gut tells them what they need to know almost before their brain can process what they’re seeing.

For other forms of art, however, it becomes more difficult. Other art—film, literature, music—requires time and investment. You can’t really know if you like a book until you’ve read a few pages; a film until you’ve watched a few minutes; a song until you’ve heard it. And we typically approach this investment with caution: no one wants to invest their hard-earned and precious time in something that isn’t going to be worth it for them.

So for these lengthier forms, we typically rely on something to give us an insight into what it’s going to be like—a preview of sorts. And while that can be a blurb, discussion or review, it’s more often, ironically, a piece of art: an image of some kind that purports to describe the contents at a glance, something that implies exactly what you’re in for should you choose to invest in this particular piece of work.

For movies, this is often represented by the poster. For music, the album art. And for books, the cover art. This has even spawned internet memes, with similar themes calling for similar artwork (find me a contemporary romance novel that doesn’t have a half-naked man on the cover), and even similar color themes for similar genres (I’m serious: Google action movie posters followed by romance movie posters). But for all the humor and cynicism, there is something to be learned from this: the cover of a book tells you a lot about what its contents are (or at least, it ought to).

Sometimes, publishers will even commission different covers for the same book with the intention of selling it to different audiences; consider the infinite variations of something as classic as Pride and Prejudice (my favorite is the faux 50s cover from Pulp! The Classics—“Lock Up Your Daughters … Darcy’s in Town!”).

When I came to publish my own books, the cover concerned me. I had neither the artistic merit nor the money to commission an illustrated cover for either my fantasy work, The Redemption of ErĂ¢th, or my Young Adult book, 22 Scars. I would have liked it, truly, but I had to work with what was available to me. In the end, this turned out to be photography, which is something I can do. And in the end, I found that a single, unaltered photo can speak volumes about the content of the book within. The best part is that I can often make do with my own personal photos, or at worst a stock photo from an online library.

In a way, the thought given to the cover—its simplicity or complexity—can tell you as much about a book as the content of the cover itself. I’m personally a fan of simpler designs, tailored with care; after all, it says something about the author and their publisher (assuming they aren’t one and the same) that they can summarize the entire story in a single image. A complex piece of illustration, with multiple characters and backgrounds, sometimes feels to me overly busy—as though the publisher couldn’t quite decide what the book is about.

What do you think? Do you prefer simple covers, well-illustrated covers … or do you believe that the cover should be independent from the story? Should you be able to judge a book by its cover, or should books go coverless? Let me know in the comments!


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Day 3: Most Anticipated Books & Giveaway #BookBlogExpo

by Donna Huber



Here we are on Day 3 of the Book Blog Expo. I hope you are enjoying these discussion topics either by writing your own posts or by commenting. Check out the entire schedule for Book Blog Expo.

Today's topic: Most Anticipated Books & Giveaway

May 31, 2018

Day 2: Favorite Section in the Bookstore #BookBlogExpo

by Donna Huber



It's Day 2 of the Book Blog Expo. I hope you enjoyed the Twitter chat last night. Remember you can talk all day long at the Facebook party. We will have another Twitter on Saturday morning. See the whole schedule.

Let's get to today's topic: Favorite Section in the Bookstore

May 30, 2018

Ike and Kay by James MacManus ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

Ike and Kay is a historical novel based on the time that they spent together in Europe during WWII. The author did a tremendous amount of research to write this book and it's apparent despite the fact that there are some historical inaccuracies. (I read an arc so am assuming that these will be cleaned up before the publish date). There is still no definitive answer on whether Ike and Kay had a sexual relationship but MacManus writes the book as if they had - which seems to be the prevailing belief of historians.

Day 1: Introduction & Networking #BookBlogExpo

by Donna Huber



Today, we kick off the inaugural Book Blog Expo. I'm excited to meet everyone participating. Be sure to check the daily schedule of topics, challenges, and chats.

Today's topic is Introductions & How to Network.

My name is Donna, and I founded Girl Who Reads in 2011. I manage a team of bloggers that includes 3 reviewers and 4 features writers. We are a daily publication that mostly features book reviews and recommendations in just about every genre. My features writers often discuss pop culture in relationship to literature and writing in general. We are open to guest posts from authors and other people in the publishing industry. You can read my team members' biographies on the About page.

I can be found blogging from my couch in the living room. If I'm being really good about my blogging I will get a full week's schedule of posts all set up over the weekend. If I'm not quite so disciplined, then it is the evenings while I watch television. I manage our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts as they started out as my personal accounts. I've been thinking of separating my personal from my blog accounts, but I'm not sure if I'll get around to that.

I started book blogging as a way to understand book bloggers. I was working for a publishing company at the time and was pitching books to reviewers. I fell in love with the community and decided to continue even though I don't do much book marketing as a professional anymore.

I use to spend much more time blogging and participating in the community. There were always Twitter chats, read-a-thons, and other book-related online events going on when I was establishing Girl Who Reads. I participated in a number memes each week. Then some stuff happened in real life (not related to the book world) and I didn't have the energy to do much more than get out a few reviews. My blog was pretty well established at the point and I didn't want to see it end so I took on a few reviewers to maintain a daily posting schedule. Life rebalanced itself and I found that I missed a lot of the early interactions I had with the community.

I always participated in ArmchairBEA, which is why I wanted to continue the tradition with this new networking event. I've also picked back up on a couple of memes - It's Monday! What are your reading? hosted by Book Date and First Chapter, First Paragraph hosted by I'd Rather be at the Beach. I only participate once a month in the Monday meme. At first, it was because I would be reading the same book for several weeks, but now it is more about the amount of time I have for blogging. I feel bad if I don't get to most of the blogs participating and to do it weekly is just too much. First Chapter, which is on Tuesdays, is a smaller meme so I do it most weeks. I rotate who's book review is being featured.

I recently participated in a book marketing event for authors with Bad Redhead Media, but that was mostly to promote my book - Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Remember there is a Twitter chat at 8 pm EDT. Also, visit the Facebook event page for the ongoing party. Today's Instagram Challenge is Books + Other Interest(s).



Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

May 29, 2018

It's All About the Duke by Amelia Grey ~ A Review

by MK French

The Duke of Rathburne, one of the famous Rakes of St. James, has taken on Marlena Fast as his ward. It's a challenge to try to be a gentleman, especially when he's attracted to her and realizes that she is just as attracted to him.

May 28, 2018

What Donna Read in May #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

The return of warm weather means that my reading time is now being usurped by yard work. While I was 6 books ahead of schedule on my reading challenge, I'm not only 4 books ahead. That is still very good for me. I only read 7 books this month, though I guess with almost a week left in the month I might get another book in.

May 27, 2018

Daily Topics, Challenges, and Chats Announced - #BookBlogExpo


Since there won't be an Armchair Book Expo this year to coincide with the Book Expo of America, I'm organizing a smaller scale event for bloggers to get together to discuss various topics and to network with other bloggers and publishing industry people. You can do as little or as much as you want. The point is to have FUN!

There will be a link up each day for that day's topic (it will be live shortly after midnight EDT each day). Be sure to link up your daily post (if you do one) so we can all visit your blog. I encourage everyone to leave comments.

If you have questions, please leave a comment below as others may have the same question and it will help me by not having to answer the same question over and over.

Remember to include the hashtag #bookblogexpo on all your posts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) so we can find them.

Daily Topics:

Day 1 - May 30 - Introductions & How to Network. Since networking starts with an introduction, we will roll these topics into 1 post. Gives us the 411 on you - who, what, where, when, why and how. Who are you, What do you blog, Where do you blog (also share where to find you on social media), When did you start blogging, Why do you blog, How do you go about your blogging and being involved in the book community (how do you network).

Day 2 - May 31 - Favorite Section in the Bookstore. Do you head straight to the new releases or bargain rack? Do you spend hours perusing the mysteries or perhaps you can't drag yourself out of the young adult section? Or is there something unique about your local indie bookshop that makes it a must stop every time you pass it? Whether you shop in a brick and mortar or an online bookstore, what is your favorite section? Consider discussing the genre itself or providing a list of favorite (or recent) finds.

Day 3 - June 1 - Most Anticipated Books & Giveaway Day. Tells us all about the books you are most looking forward to this year (share even if your most anticipated book of the year has already come out). And since we are talking about anticipated books, what more anticipated than winning a great prize? If you are doing a giveaway, please include it in this day's post.

Day 4 - June 2 - Blogging Advice. Do you have tips to share or need help with some aspect of your blogging? Today is the day to give and ask! This is a time for the blogging community to shine by helping one another out.

Day 5 - June 3 - Catch up & Wrap up (optional). You can use this day to catch up on blogs you may have missed, announce your giveaway winners, or share any final thoughts. Or just catch your breath before going back to your regular blogging program.

Instagram Challenges:

Be creative with these challenges. I'm not going to give much direction here as to what to picture for each challenge.

Day 1 - May 30 - Books + other interest(s). Help us get to know you.

Day 2 - May 31 - Where are your books? Are they on a shelf, next to the bed, holding up one end of the coffee table?

Day 3 - June 1 - To Be Read. Is your pile towering? Which ones are you anxious to get to? Are there books you've forgotten you had?

Day 4 - June 2 - Beautiful Covers. I know we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but some covers are works of art. Have you bought a book just because you loved its cover?

Day 5 - June 3 - Show off. Are you good at spine poetry or at taking an exceptional bookish photo? Show off your most coveted book or your awesome book organization. Toot your own horn!

Chats:

Since only a small number of people have signed up so far to participate, we will only do two Twitter chats:
Wednesday, May 30 at 8:00 - 9:00 pm EDT.
Saturday, June 2 at 10:00 - 11:00 am EDT.
Please use the hashtag #BookBlogExpo. Feel free to chat with one another on Twitter throughout the event, use the hashtag so anyone else available can chat too.

There will be an ongoing Facebook party throughout the event. Jump in whenever you have a few moments to ask questions and share your thoughts. Join us on the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1673172772766673/

Some Tips:

This event is very much about networking and connecting with others in the community. Blogging can be a lonely interest, but it doesn't have to be. I encourage to follow each other on social media, comment on posts, interact on social media this week and beyond.

Plan your posts in advance. If you can schedule your posts in early then you can just focus on visiting the other blogs. Also, don't get overwhelmed with the topics. A short post is fine. A list type post can keep me from rambling and are also easy for the reader to follow.

If you are doing a giveaway, I recommend keeping entries simple (no one really wants to do 10 different entries on 10 different blogs). You can use Rafflecopter or if you just want to draw a number, then I recommend Random.org (it will randomly generate the number). I also recommend keeping your giveaway open through Saturday at least to give more people time to get by your blog.

Remember to use the hashtag #BookBlogExpo!

Have Fun!

If you are planning to participate, link up below so we can start following one another. A daily linkup will be provided for the daily topics.



Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

2 Books That Will Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime

by Susan Roberts

Psychological suspense is one of my favorite genres and I love reading a book that I can't put down until I get to the end.  Thankfully, I am retired and don't have to worry about getting up to go to work because both of these books kept me up long past my normal bedtime.

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