Don’t be a Stranger: How to Make Connections in the Book Blogging Community [ReBlog] [GuestPost]

A HUGE shoutout to Eleanor @ notsomoderngirl for asking me to guest post! I enjoyed thinking and writing about this topic and I hope you will find my thoughts helpful!

Not-So-Modern Girl

This is a guest post written by Carol from the Reading Ladies blog. Find out more about her at the end of the post!

One of the first blogging lessons to be learned was also my greatest challenge: I needed a Community; I desired to make connections and find my people. I knew for certain that no one can blog in isolation, but the solution intimidated me.

I’m an introvert. I’m a reader, not a talker. I love cancelled plans so that I can stay home and read. I’m never lonely because I always have a book. These self-descriptors don’t set me up for making online connections. I also had fears: what if I attract creepers or someone makes a mean or negative comment?

How Did I Move From Frozen to Connected?

To be successful as a book blogger, I knew I had to extend myself, take chances, and…

View original post 967 more words

Is a Balanced Reading Life Important? #NationalBookMonth #LetsDiscuss2021

October 15, 2021

Is a Balanced Reading Life Important?

Is a Balanced Reading Life Important? (white text over a picture of a hand balancing a miniature book on an index finger)

Image Source: Pixabay

October is National Book Month

National Book Month

All through the year there are many occasions to celebrate books and reading!

National Book Month is held each October.
The month-long celebration focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature.

To celebrate, I’m asking a bookish question… or two….

2021 discussion challenge graphic (a blue bird and red fox and wall clock and stack of books graphic)

I’m linking up with Discussion Challenge 2021.

Let’s Discuss!

  • Do you have a balanced reading life?
  • Do you think a reader needs a balanced reading life?
  • What is a balanced reading life?
  • Is a balanced reading life important?
  • What are the benefits of a balanced reading life?
  • What do you do to balance your reading life?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

10 Reasons For a Balanced Reading Life:

(more…)

Ten Favorite Book Settings #TopTenTuesday #LetsDiscuss2021

October 12, 2021

Ten Favorite Book Settings

10 Favorite Book Settings (white text over a field of wild flowers)

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Ten Favorite Book Settings …

2021 discussion challenge graphic (a blue bird and red fox and wall clock and stack of books graphic)

…and I’m also linking up with the 2021 Discussion Challenge for October.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Do you have a favorite book setting?

Do you love a strong sense of place?

My VERY FAVORITE setting is ANYWHERE a MEMORABLE story takes place!

In the following memorable and unforgettable stories, I can immediately and vividly recall the setting (the time and place) of the story. The setting becomes as important as the story.


Setting: A Bookshop

Many of my favorite stories take place in bookshops! A recent favorite is The Last Bookshop in London.



Setting: An Unusual Location

The Woman With the Blue Star takes place in the sewer system of Warsaw, Poland.


Setting: A Beach

Castle of Water takes place on a beach as two plane crash survivors attempt to survive and desperately hope for rescue.


Setting: Atmospheric or Strong Sense of Place

The swamp setting in Where the Crawdads Sing comes to mind when I think of atmospheric settings. Also, unforgettably atmospheric is the dust bowl setting in Out of the Dust.


Setting: Long, Long Ago

The time and place when Shakespeare and his family lived are vividly described in Hamnet.


Setting: Small Village or Small Town

I love the small town community in The Printed Letter Bookshop (also a bookshop setting)

and Gander, Newfoundland is an amazing small community in The Day the World Came to Town (NF)


Setting: the Site of a Disaster

The Nature of Fragile Things (earthquake)

Surviving Savannah (shipwreck)

A Fall of Marigolds (New York City)

The Only Plane in the Sky (NF; New York City)


Setting: Local (or somewhere I’ve been)

Other settings that are so fun are settings that I know well in real life. Two examples are The Beautiful Strangers (Coronado, the Hotel Del Coronado) and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (prairies of South Dakota).


Setting: Rural

I love a rural setting and one that’s especially memorable is the rural mountains of Kentucky found in The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.


Setting: A Diverse Setting

One more setting I enjoy is one that is culturally different from my own. Some examples include The Firekeeper’s Daughter (Ojibwe reservation), The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters (India), Clap When You Land (Dominican Republic), Born a Crime (South Africa), The Girl With the Louding Voice (Nigeria), The Girl With Seven Names (North Korea/China/South Korea), The Island of Sea Women (Korean Island of Jeju), Amal Unbound (Pakistan), The Hate U Give (streets of L.A.), and The Peal That Broke Its Shell (Afghanistan).



QOTD:

What is your favorite setting?
Please share your favorite setting in comments!



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and/or author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Ten Bookish Pet Peeves #TopTenTuesday #LetsDiscuss2021

October 5, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Pet Peeves

10 Bookish Pet Peeves

Background Image Source: Canva

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves!

2021 discussion challenge graphic (a blue bird and red fox and wall clock and stack of books graphic)

I’m also linking up with the October 2021 Discussion Challenge.


Yes. I do have bookish pet peeves!
They do affect my reading experiences!

Do you have bookish pet peeves? Do we share any pet peeves?

I realize that these are only my personal preferences and opinions and you may or may not agree. That’s OK. Reading is a personal experience.

*Reviews are linked as available (and may contain Amazon affiliate links).

Bookish Pet Peeves

(in the general order of their annoyance factor)

(more…)

Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience? #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge #LetsDiscuss2021

September 17, 2021

 Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience?

Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience? (white text over a background picture of a tall stack hardback books on a blue painted table"

Background Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the September installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge ….

…and with the 2021 Discussion Challenge.

2021 discussion challenge graphic (a blue bird and red fox and wall clock and stack of books graphic)


My answer to this question is absolutely YES!

If you love reading, you’re likely to approach your next read with certain expectations. Or perhaps you try to minimize your expectations and go in “cold.” Some readers don’t like to read reviews or blurbs before they read. This post is written with the assumption that you might have some expectations about your current or next read.

I have learned through experience to approach highly buzzed and popular books with caution because high expectations have definitely affected my reading experience. Do you find this true in your reading life? Two recent books that did meet my high expectations were the audio version of Project Hail Mary (The audio was absolutely as good as I expected) and Hamnet.

Currently, I have the highest expectations for Fredrik Backman’s new release (Beartown #3) in 2022.

Sometimes publishers hype a book through social media campaigns and blog tours and the hype doesn’t develop organically from reviewers. At times I’ve read hyped books and thought “Really?” Then later, more authentic and honest reviews start rolling in and the hype is not sustainable.

I need to confess that I have a high level of FOMO (fear of missing out), so I am highly susceptible to buzzed and hyped and popular books. This doesn’t always serve me well. For example, I SHOULD have a review ready for you on the blog today! Truthfully, I need to report that I have been underwhelmed with a few highly anticipated books lately which has negatively affected my scheduled reviews and my reading mojo. This situation has caused me to think about the predicament of high expectations, so I’m opening it up for discussion today.

An author’s blurb (cover endorsement) can cause you to have high expectations for a book. That happened to me last year. I accepted an ARC for a book that was endorsed by one of my favorite authors and I ended up disliking it. So… proceed with caution (curb impulse buying!) when it comes to cover blurbs and check some reviews!

I realize that I may be guilty of raising your expectations for certain books I love and then they fall flat for you. If this has been your experience, I’m truly sorry. It simply shows that no two readers read the same book and that the reading experience is a personal one.

Do HYPE and book BUZZ and HIGH EXPECTATIONS affect YOUR reading experience or reading choices?

Do high expectations (book buzz and hype) work for you or against you in your reading life?

How many times have you turned the last page and thought “I wanted to love it more”?

There are a few courses of action a reader can take when your highly anticipated book disappoints you:

  1. throw that book across the room
  2. take the author off your auto buy list
  3. delete it from your Goodreads shelf and pretend you’ve never read it or wanted to read it
  4. write a negative review
  5. accept it as a lesson learned (once burned…) and vet the next book very carefully
  6. Give the author another chance
  7. no drama needed….not every book is for every reader….move on
  8. donate/give the book away
  9. set it aside to pick up again at a later date (maybe it wasn’t the right time)
  10. spiral into a reading slump
  11. stop buying or borrowing or requesting hyped books
  12. only read from a back list and avoid popular books
  13. throw it in the trash
  14. what have you done with a book you didn’t like?????

My history with disappointing reads: I read on a kindle so throwing it across the room is not a wise option….although I have been known to return digital books to Amazon! I don’t think I would discount a favorite author, but I’m certainly going to read many reviews and refrain from a publishing day purchase. I would probably throw away a book I disliked before I would donate it. If I felt it was just me and others might appreciate it, I would donate it. I rarely set a book aside to read at a later date. I know my reading tastes well and they are not likely to change that much over time. I have been known to delete books from my Goodreads shelf and pretend I haven’t read them. Most of the time, though, I just move them to my DNF shelf. Honestly, I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews and have written very few (usually I leave a one or two star rating and keep my opinions to myself).  Actually, most of the time my reaction is “it was not for me but it might be perfect for another reader” and move on. Life is too short to read bad books or books that don’t match my reading tastes. These days, I’m quick to abandon a book without much guilt. I think I’ve become pickier over the years and embrace the quote from Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

A highly anticipated book that didn’t work out: One book which I set the highest expectations for was Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. Readers have waited thirteen years for a new book by this author and the anticipation was at a high level. Although others have loved it, I was underwhelmed and disappointed (mainly because it didn’t match my reading tastes). Although I don’t write many negative reviews, you can read my goodreads review here. I will certainly take a close look at his next book before jumping in.

A highly anticipated book that did work out after an initial scare: A recent book that made me nervous in the beginning was Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It started out slow and I panicked and thought “Oh no! What if this isn’t a great reading experience for me?!” Then I remembered the author and decided to relax into the read and trust him; to acknowledge that he can take his time to build a story (Beartown); and to know that his message/themes are worth an investment of time. It ended up being a 4.5-5 Star read for me and you can see my review of Anxious People here.

If You’re Curious: Here’s a list of a few recent buzzed and hyped books that I highly anticipated and that underwhelmed me (for a variety of reasons). These are NOT bad books (others have loved them); they are just not to my taste. Brood, Braiding Sweet Grass, The Madness of Crowds, The Road Trip, Olympus Texas, Crying in H Mart. (of these, I abandoned Braiding Sweet Grass and Road Trip…I finished the others but they received 3 stars) The lesson here is that exploring and knowing your reading tastes will help you avoid disappointments. I knew that Crying in H Mart might not be the right read for me (too sad) but I’ve seen it on soooo many lists and I fell under the FOMO spell.

Move On: I think it’s important to realize that every book won’t match your reading tastes and that’s it’s absolutely OK to set it aside or mark it as DNF. In other words, just move on! I think that the more we read and the more we reflect on our reading experiences our knowledge will help us choose the next right book for an enjoyable reading experience!

Don’t feel bad if you’re an outlier. Often in my reviews, I need to confess that I’m an outlier (in the minority) with my opinions. I’m comfortable with that and I encourage you to also embrace this concept as a possible reaction to a book.

Not every book is for every reader: For every book that I do not enjoy, I read many raving reviews from others. Reading is a personal experience and not every book is for every reader. We each bring unique experiences and thoughts and triggers to the reading experience. Embrace what you enjoy and know that other readers will enjoy the books that are not right for you. I think one of the worst things to do is to force yourself to finish a book that doesn’t match your tastes.

I honestly believe that Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations do affect your reading experience. I’m not sure of the best way to avoid that except to read many reviews and to get to know your reading tastes. Often, I read the 2 Star reviews just to see what some major objections might be. If I notice themes or certain triggers, I know it’s a book I might want to skip. Deciding not to read a popular book is difficult, though, isn’t it? For example, I decided not to read a popular new release, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, because I knew I didn’t want to read something that depressing and sad (she has made me ugly cry before and I didn’t like it). But every time I see it on a list, I feel a twinge of regret and then I have to remind myself of why I made the decision.

If I’ve listed a book here that you’ve loved, I’m sorry. I usually avoid talking about books in a negative way. I think the topic of high expectations is worth exploring and it’s always helpful to provide examples. Your examples would be completely different from mine! Please leave your thoughts in comments.

Do you agree or disagree that high expectations can affect a reading experience?



QOTD:

Do you think your own high expectations has ever affected your reading experiences? Can you give an example?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

10 Bookish Confessions From an Ardent Bibliophile #TopTenTuesday

August 17, 2021

“Spinning the TTT Topic”

10 Bookish Confessions From an Ardent Bibliophile

10 Bookish Confessions From an Ardent Bibliophile (white text over a background of a woman reading in a hammock)

Image Source: Canva

Today, I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Places I Love to Read.

The dilemma here is that I can read ALMOST ANYWHERE and I love to read EVERY WHERE! So a more interesting SPIN on this topic is places and circumstances in which I CANNOT read….thus a confession of sorts.

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I can read almost any where and at almost any time!

Readers Gonna Read!

♦ Late at night (into the wee hours) ♦ During most TV programs ♦ Outside or inside ♦ At sporting events ♦ At coffee shops ♦ While standing in line ♦ Waiting rooms ♦ When it’s quiet or noisy ♦ Sitting in a comfy chair, at a table, or on a sofa ♦ In bed ♦ While cooking (e-books or audio books makes it easier!) ♦ Inside or outside ♦ During cold or warm seasons ♦ Instead of other projects ♦ In the bath ♦ At Disneyland (yes I read an entire book one day when my children were old enough to be on their own and had “check-in” times!) ♦ During meals ♦ …

Of all the places and times I read, late at night is probably my favorite because once the house is quiet I can immerse myself in another world for endless hours! However, I don’t have a favorite place or location.

Here’s my confession regarding the Top Ten circumstances in which I CANNOT read!

  1.  I CANNOT read early in the morning (although I can stay up all night reading, I can’t wake up early to read….usually because I’ve been up too late!). I would fall asleep immediately.
  2. I CANNOT read a physical copy while I’m walking (on a sidewalk or treadmill) or while on an exercise bike.
  3. I CANNOT read during my favorite TV shows even though I can otherwise read in the same room while the TV is on. My favorite shows that dictate I set aside my book include The Rookie, Blue Bloods, This is Us, Chicago Fire, NCIS, Jeopardy!, and Gymnastics during the Olympics.
  4. I CANNOT read while children are swimming in my pool (I keep a careful eye on young swimmers at all times).
  5. I CANNOT read an audio book while sitting still……they immediately put me to sleep or my mind wanders! (audio books work for me while driving probably because I’m accustomed to listening to talk radio). Even listening to an audio book while doing chores is too distracting for me. Basically, any time my mind is free to wander, it will!
  6. And this is the most SHOCKING! I CANNOT read at the beach! It’s not for a lack of trying. In fact, I always have a book with me. The sound of the surf and ambiance of the environment overpowers me.
  7. I have DIFFICULTY reading during troubling times. I noticed that in 2020, it was difficult to read during the onset of the Pandemic. When I could focus, my brain craved lighter books and escapist reads. I had no interest in historical fiction during the earliest months of the Pandemic. After about six months, my reading mojo began to return.
  8. I CANNOT read physical books with light, tiny font! I’m used to being able to enlarge the print on my kindle, so on the rare occasion I pick up a physical book and the font is small and the print is light, it’s ANNOYING for me to read and it negatively affects my reading experience! I’m spoiled by my kindle.
  9. I CANNOT push through and read a book I’m not enjoying. Life’s too short to read bad books…or books not to my taste. (see my DNF post here)
  10. I CANNOT reread….at least I RARELY reread. Once I’ve already had the experience, I’m done. The few times I have reread a book, I didn’t derive the same pleasure from the experience as I did the first time. I’m not opposed to rereading….I reread Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Book Thief before the movies came out. I reread The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry because I was desperate for something to read one weekend and couldn’t find a kindle deal and my library hold hadn’t come in and I was caught up on ARCs.  Fikry was already on my Kindle and it had been years since I read it, so in order to have something to read, I dove in. I actually enjoyed my reread! But rereading is not something I do often or seek out like some readers.

Whew! That was difficult for a hard-core reader like me to come up with 10 examples of when I don’t read!



QOTD:

Do you have a favorite place to read?
Do you have circumstances in which it’s difficult or impossible to read?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social:

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

The book covers and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

© ReadingLadies.com

12 Favorite Books: Happy #NationalBookLoversDay

August 9, 2021

National book Lovers Day: 12 Favorite Books (Image: blue text box and white text over a bunch of bright pink balloons)

Background Image Source: Canva

How are you celebrating National Book Lovers Day?

Are you grateful for books?

I think every day is Book Lover’s Day for me!

What would we do without our beloved books and reading?

I REALLY Loved These Twelve Books!

(which just scratch the surface of my lifetime favorites list!)

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

National Book Lover's Day, August 9 (image: a blue coffee mug sits on the spines of a line of books

What are you reading today?

I Love Reading

For National Book Lover’s Day I’m sharing twelve books I REALLY love, books that I could always reread, and books that are on my lifetime favorite’s list, and books that have received 5 star ratings. (in no special order):

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

I love epistolary format and slow burn romance and quaint small villages by the sea.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society y Mary Ann Shaffer (cover) Image: black text on a postcard....a woman dressed in a red coat stands at a railing overlooking the ocean


Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

I love stories with themes of faith and friendship.

Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (cover) Image: white text over an orange leafless tree with sprawling branches set against a bright blue background


The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I love well-written histfic with memorable characters inspired by real life heroes.

a woman dressed in a rose dress stands with her back to the camera overlooking a balcony and a gold wall


A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

I love a multi-generational family story…and the father/son part at the end is heartbreaking and poignant and memorable.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover)


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

I love a well-told, page-turning histfic about real life events.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (cover)

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

I love gently told histfic stories and books about books and slow burn romance.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin (cover) Image: a young woman stands near shelf lined books next to a window holding an open book


The Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

I love this beautifully told WW1 story of friendship and slow burn romance.

last christmas in paris


The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I love books that live in my memory years later….I also loved the unique narrator in this WW11 histfic.

eThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak (coer) Image: a sepia tone picture of a hand pushing over a line of dominoes


We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

I love beautiful endings and this story with themes of music, faith, and family has a memorable and beautiful ending.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (cover)

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

I love a mashup of genres and this story has a bit of everything I love: histfic (1906 San Francisco Earthquake), suspense/mystery, found family, women helping women, and a slow burn romance.

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (cover) Image: blue-toned picture of a woman and young girl holding hands and walking down railroad tracks with backs to camerai


The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this histfic story based on real life sisters with themes of friendship, women’s rights, and abolition of slavery.

The Intention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (cover) (white lettering over a goldish redish sky background) featuring a few small flying birds)


The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

I love this inspirational story promoting equal educational rights for girls around the world.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)



Happy Reading Everyone!

QOTD:
How many of these titles have you read?
Do we share any favorites?
Are any of these titles on your favorites list?



I’m leaving you with a few of my favorite bookish images!

\image of a girl reading with one hand while pulling a wagon piled high with books

giphy

I’m always prepared with book recs! LOL

a young woman sitting on the kitchen floor leaning against a cabinet reading a book (I was going to lean the house, but then I realised...this book isn't going to read itself)

a drawing a young woman reading while sitting on a stack of books among many stacks of books (when I've had enough of reality, I just open a book)

 

4 Year Blogiversary: 4 Things to Share!

July 31, 2021

4 Year Blogiversary: 4 Things To Share

Four Year Blogiversary: Four things to Share (banner, balloons, confetti)

Balloon Banner Image Source: Unsplash

giphy-1

4 Things To Share About Being 4:

Having some FUN on the blog today celebrating an ANNIVERSARY!
If you’ve been with me for 4 years, thanks for sticking around! If you’re new here, welcome!
To celebrate FOUR, I have FOUR things to share with you.

giphy-2



4 Of My Best Blogging Tips:



  1. Consistency (in posting, in promoting)
    Start out in blogging by publishing posts at a rate that will work for you. Don’t jump into posting five days a week if it’s something you can’t maintain. It’s better to post once a week consistently rather than post inconsistently. I think that posting consistently builds trust in your brand. I started by posting once a week and worked up to posting 3-4 times per week. After every I post, I continue to focus on consistency by following a routine for promoting. (see next tip)
  2. Promote, promote, promote (develop a routine)
    This was so hard for me! I’m not one to toot my own horn…..however, no one will find your blog without promotion. Some bloggers choose one social media platform, but I promote across several (and find that each platform reaches a different group of supporters. How do you start promoting? In your blog settings, you can connect to your social media accounts and your post will automatically publish to those accounts when you hit publish. I have my Twitter account linked (for my other accounts I prefer to write a more targeted and specific message). As you tweet posts from other bloggers, they will likely reciprocate. My monthly stats reveal that I receive more blog visits from Twitter than other social media platforms. Pinterest (although not a social media platform) is often tied for first (or at times out performs Twitter. From the very beginning, set up your social media accounts and start promoting. It took me a while to get going on this and my delay is one of my blogging regrets. Here is a post I wrote about social media promotion.
  3. Establish a Routine and Work Smarter
    • I find I am most successful when I follow a schedule (I keep a separate blog planner). For me, I have a goal of posting on Tuesdays (#TTT, a discussion post, or ARC review), Thursdays (#ThrowBackThursday), and Fridays (main review of the week) as a minimum. There are weeks I’ve posted more, but three is a reasonable number to strive for each week. 
    • When I created templates and acquired enough bravery to copy old posts, blogging became significantly easier…i.e. less time-consuming. Using a template is a brilliant hack and I have a book review template, a Top Ten Tuesday template, etc. I also copy previous posts as a jump start (Monthly wrap-ups for example)……there is one danger with this: you MUST carefully edit out old information (like dates, feature image, excerpt blurb, etc.) Templates and copying previous posts are significant time-saving strategies.
    • Working ahead is a hack for working smarter because it reduces stress. In addition to my content schedule, I devote Saturdays to blog maintenance and Sundays/Mondays to drafting and scheduling the week’s posts. On a good week, by Tuesday I have all the week’s content written and scheduled. This gives me “thinking space” for reading, social media, blog hopping, and creating more content. (Also? I’m retired, so I read and blog like it’s my job!)
    • An important tip for establishing a routine (and working smarter) is to create drafts when the inspiration strikes. As I finish a book I will be reviewing, I start a draft of that post and jot down some initial thoughts. You think you’ll remember, but writing that post a few weeks later or even a few days later will cause you to work harder in trying to capture your thoughts and mood. I don’t worry about formatting at this time…I’m just getting thoughts out. If I have an idea for a discussion post, I start a draft. I always start my quarterly TBR posts early…as soon as I have one title (for example, I just heard that Fredrik Backman’s new release is set for October, so I started a Fall TBR draft!…..It’s much easier to work a bit at a time on a post than to work for hours the night before. I will also check out the Top Ten Tuesday list of topics and put them into my blog calendar and start drafts. If you’re looking for one consistent post to start with, the TTT meme might serve that purpose.
    • My last tip I’ll list here is to check your spam folder on a regular basis. Whereas some bloggers might not ever check their spam folder, I like to check it regularly to check for legit comments. I have only found a handful, and I (99%) trust the WordPress spam filter. The reason I suggest checking it on a regular basis is that waiting will be overwhelming. If I wait a month, I am faced with about 1,000 spam comments. So I try to remember to check and delete spam once a week when the task only takes minutes (part of Sunday blog maintenance) and I have peace of mind knowing that a legit comment has been saved. What is your favorite hack for working smarter?
  4. Develop a community!
    One of the greatest joys of blogging is the supportive and friendly worldwide blogging community! I’m an introvert, so I was nervous when leaving my first comments. First, you can be assured that leaving a comment is one of the best ways to support a blogger! Community cannot be underestimated. Jennifer @ TarHeelReader alerted me to the fact my Twitter option wasn’t working and walked me through the steps to straighten it out; Marianne from Let’s Read noticed that my gravatar wasn’t linked to my blog and helped me find the right screen to make that correction; Karen at Booker Talk is always gracious to answer my technical questions; and Kristen at Kristin Kraves Books has helped me with Story Graph and given tips on other apps. Recently, I invited a few (20!) of my blogging friends to collaborate on a post….you can find that post here: Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book. One last note about community is to emphasize the importance of acknowledging all comments with a like or reply (preferably). Comments are blogging gold. It is my goal to reply to all legitimate comments and if I’ve missed yours for some reason, it’s probably because it was filtered into spam. If you don’t respond, visitors will quickly lose interest in returning or leaving comments.

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4 Things To Share With My Followers and Visitors:



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  1. FIRST, a special SHOUT OUT to each of my followers and visitors! THANK YOU! This happens to be my 600th post which is a significant milestone for me! Your views, comments, and shares are treasures to me and they do not go unappreciated!
  2. I return ALL comments as soon as I read them, so if you leave a legit comment and for some reason you do not receive a ‘like’ or return comment, please connect with me in an email because I do occasionally find legit comments in the spam folder. Regarding spam, I trust WordPress to do its thing and filter the spam, so I usually don’t question their filtering system unless I happen to recognize you as a regular commenter. I try to check spam once a week, but they add up fast (hundreds in a month) so please let me know if I’ve missed your comment.
  3. Commenting on a blog is probably the number one way you can support your favorite blogger! (In addition to using my Amazon affiliate links for your shopping!). Thank you for supporting me!
  4. I tremendously enjoy having followers and blogging friends from around the world. The international book community is the best! One of the most treasured surprises this year is realizing how many virtual bookish friendships I’ve made in the book-blogging community! I’m not mentioning names here, but you KNOW who you are if you’ve interacted with me on our blogs! One result of the friendships is this recent collaborative post with twenty blogging friends. From this diverse community and virtual friendships, I’ve gained a support system that I’ve discovered is essential in the blogging community. I hope in your blogging world that you are connecting and conversing!


4 Things To Share With You About My Goals:



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  1. Making progress toward updating all my old posts
    #throwbackthursday has helped motivate me as I reshare one older review each week. By the way, I discovered that updating my old posts has increased my DA several points!
  2. Using the new WP Block Editor
    I need to admit that this is a big fail! As long as Word Press is offering the Classic Editor an option, I’m using a ‘work-around’ by copying an older Classic Editor post as a template. This post shares my frustrations with Block Editor. Karen at Booker Talk has many blogging tips on her website and is always willing to help if she can!
  3. SEO is a work in progress and something I implement in every post to the best of my ability. SEO will also raise your DA.
  4. Increasing the number of Comments
    Rather than focusing on views only, I have been tracking the number of comments which offers me more insight into engagement…a high priority for me. I have found that participating in various memes like #TopTenTuesday and creating discussion posts generate more comments. Book reviews will remain my primary content; however, I think a variety of posts encourages comments, attracts new followers, and overall benefits my blog. In 2018 I had 605 comments (my first FULL year of blogging); in 2019 I had 2,044 comments; in 2020 I had 2,937 comments; so far as of July 31, 2021 I have 2,274 comments (so I’m on track to set a new record). Thanks everyone for taking time and making an effort to comment!


4 Things To Share With You About Stats:



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  1. If you are consistently working hard, your stats will show growth over time. The most important stat to me is the number of comments (see above) because I value engagement and discussion. But comments are the most difficult to generate.
  2. Stats are tied to social media promotion and the support of other bloggers.
  3. I don’t compete with other bloggers. There’s space for each one of us and our unique voices. However, I do compete with myself! I love to look at my stats, and it seems that the learning curve is never-ending. For other stats nerds and new bloggers who are interested in what four years might look like for one blogger, I’m available to answer specific questions about my stats. Overall, I’m very pleased with my stats and I’d love to share in comments (if you have a specific question) so that I don’t bore those who are uninterested.
  4. One big question that bloggers have is how much money can you make as a blogger? Well, my blog is a labor of love (reading, sharing, and connecting) and I don’t sell anything or accept money for reviews, so I haven’t set out to make big bucks…..but I figure as long as I’m doing this, I might as well use Amazon affiliate links and utilize WordPress Ads in hopes of recouping my expenses and padding my book budget. From this standpoint, I feel that I’ve achieved my financial goal. To provide a realistic picture, since April of 2018 (I didn’t monotize for a while) I have received $1,140 from my affiliate link and WP ads. It’s not much (considering the hours I invest!), but this amount covers my yearly expenses for my WordPress blog privileges (I’m on the Premium plan), secures my domain name, and allows me to purchase a few books a year. As the years go on, this amount increases due to increased viewers and traffic.

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Thank you again, everyone!


Regarding blogs, Lashaan @ Bookidote once said, “I cherish its existence with my whole heart.” I completely concur Lashaan! Blogging requires a great deal of effort, determination, persistence, and time…but I love its existence with my whole heart!

Thank you, Readers and Followers, for supporting me with visits, likes, shares, comments, bookish conversation, and clicking affiliate links! I hope my reviews have encouraged you in your reading endeavors and have helped you find some great reads!

Signing off for now because I’ve used up my quota of exclamation points!
With gratitude, Carol

a stack of three hardback books



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



ICYMI:

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book 2021

Summer 2021 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best 6 Histfic Reads of the Year So Far

Project Hail Mary Review



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book covers and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Did You Like the Ending? #toptentuesday #LetsDiscuss2021

July 13, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Did You Like the Ending?

Did You Like the Ending? white text over a background stack of hardback books on a blue wooden table

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I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl. The prompt for today is “Book Titles That Ask Questions.” Hummmm…..I looked through my list and I’ve got nothing! Since I don’t enjoy creating posts with randomly chosen covers or titles, I’m SPINNING this topic into my own question: “Did You Like the Ending?” (Jumping off a previous discussion post: What is a Good Ending?)

I’m also taking this opportunity to link up with the 2021 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight.

Do you love or loathe ambiguous endings?
Which books have you read that leave you wanting more?

I’m Ok with open-ended stories as long as the author leaves some breadcrumbs or inferences upon which I can draw my own conclusion. I loved ALL the following stories, but I wanted more from the endings in each case.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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10 Reasons Why I Love Reading #toptentuesday

July 6, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Reasons Why I Love Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Reasons Why I Love Reading (Image: white text over a tall stack on hard back book on a blue painted table)

Image Source: Canva

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I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Reasons Why I Love Reading.

Why do YOU love to read?

The most simple reason I love reading is that I’m a lifelong reader and have always loved the world of words. I’m the kid who read the cereal box with my breakfast in the morning.

People who love reading and are lifelong readers, usually love it for several of the same reasons. I suppose that many readers could make a similar list. I’m joining in with other TTT list makers today to celebrate the love of reading. Which reason would top your list? Do you have other reasons why you love reading?

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