Monday, September 25, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with Trish Doller

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

I could not celebrate 7 years of book blogging without including one of my most favorite people: Trish Doller. I first "met" Trish as her debut novel SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL was coming out into the world in 2012. I knew immediately this woman's work was something to keep on my radar. Through the years Trish and I have become good friends, and it's all thanks to books. We've shared a lot of conversations about what we're reading, what we're listening to, and what we're feeling. She is someone I am so grateful to this community for. If it weren't for our mutual friend Carla in the UK, I'm not sure if our paths would have crossed. I will always be a champion of her words, always. Please welcome Trish Doller to the blog...

When people ask me how long I’ve been writing, I usually tell them that I started as soon as I learned how. My mother still has one of my kindergarten stories—written on primary handwriting paper with a thick blue pencil—about a leprechaun in search of gold. But I’ve been a reader just as long as I’ve been a writer. Longer, if you ask my mother, who claims I learned to read when I was three years old.

One of my earliest memories is an evening when she was reading to me before bed. We were working our way through an old chapter book called “B is for Betsy” and I adored it. After my mother finished that night’s chapter, I begged her to read just a little bit more. She said, “If you want to read more, you’re going to have to read it yourself.” So I did.

That book was the key that unlocked a hunger for reading. I finished the rest of the Betsy series. I revisited the Little Golden books that my mother had read to me. I went to the library once a week and I’d spend the next seven days rounding up wild ponies on Chincoteague Island. Crossing the prairie in a covered wagon. Traveling down the Mississippi with a turtle named Minn. Getting lost in the Alaskan tundra. Falling in love with a boy named Johnny Tremaine.

These stories grew inside me, inspiring me to put my own words on paper. My first attempts were basically fanfiction, trying to insert myself as the main character of my favorite stories, but my hand usually got tired of copying whole pages. As I got older, I wrote short story romances, usually spending more time on character creation and world-building than actual writing. Older still, I tried my hand at historical romance, but by then I had children and barely had time to write, let alone finish anything.

It wasn’t until I took a job as a bookseller that it all came back. I was walking past the YA section and the cover of Maureen Johnson’s “13 Little Blue Envelopes” caught my eye. I read it in one sitting and as I turned the last page, I thought maybe I could write a book like that. I thought that the ideas living in my head might finally find a home in YA. So I started writing again.

It’s been ten years since I completed my first manuscript (which didn’t get published, by the way) but I wouldn’t be here now, if I hadn’t first fallen in love with reading. Thanks, Mom.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with Heidi

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

To help me celebrate today, Heidi from YA Bibliophile is here to share some of her most memorable reading recs from the book community. I've known Heidi since my early days of blogging and feel that we've grown together in this community. I love that I can still recommend books to her, and she can also influence what I read. Heidi's voice online, as well as offline as a school librarian, is so important for YA books. She's been an amazing advocate, and her enthusiasm for reading is so contagious! Please welcome Heidi to the blog...


First things first, I’m so pleased to be here celebrating 7 years of GReads! Ginger and I started blogging around the same time and I’ve loved getting to know her and talk books (and life.)

One of my favorite things about being a blogger (and part of the online bookish community) is being surrounded by people who love to read and recommend books as much as I do! To celebrate this, I thought I would share ten favorite books I've read because someone else recommended them! For most of them I no longer remember exactly who raved about it. It was likely lots of people! There are a couple I remember and I've noted the recommender :)

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (Recommended by Ginger, of course!)
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (I think maybe because Andi from Andi's ABCs raved about her books!)

Raise by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Read because Melissa Marr blurbed it)
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Grace Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The Ruby Oliver Books by E. Lockhart
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Of course there are so many more I've read because of the buzz pre-pub. These are just the ones I picked up because bloggers and authors I trust were talking about them! Thanks to Ginger for always having great recommendations and for sharing her love of books for seven years!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with Sara

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

I am honored to have one of MY blogging heroes on the blog today, sharing her own story on how it all began. Sara from Novel Novice is someone I've admired and followed since I began my own book blog back in 2010. I remember reading her reviews and following her twitter interactions for awhile before I really got to know Sara. It wasn't until Instagram that we became closer. She's been someone I've looked up to in the community, who's ideas are always thoughtful and true, and her reading tastes are phenomenal, ones I highly trust. She's a great asset to this community and I am so thankful she's still an active participant. Please welcome Sara to the blog...


I’m so excited to help Ginger celebrate SEVEN YEARS of blogging! This book blogging world … man, what a wild ride it’s been. I started Novel Novice in January of 2010, but my book blogging dates back about two years earlier – when I helped teacher (and now author) Tiffany Truitt manage and run her then-fledgling site, Novel Novice Twilight. Tiffany used the site as a way to chronicle how she was using the Twilight books (pre-movie craze) to get her 7th grade students excited about reading and learning. Her students had a reputation for being “difficult to teach,” but using the books they wanted to read and were sneaking under their desk during class, she got them excited about the curriculum and helped propel them towards academic success.

I loved blogging with Tiffany, and getting swept up in the excitement of the Twilight fandom as the movies become a hit was a wild time, and tons of fun. But after a couple years, I started to get Twilight burnout – and I started thinking about where the blog would go next.

I was on a road trip with my dad in October of 2009 when the idea for Novel Novice in its current form was first born. He took notes while I drove, and we brainstormed together. Always, the idea was to remain true to the site’s roots: using the books kids wanted to read to get them excited about the books they were required to read.

Over the years, many things have changed. The Twilight site has since faded away (though you can still find it online, if you know where to look). The look and feel of Novel Novice itself has changed; and my blogging habits have changed as contributors went their own ways, and I moved on in my life to a new career, a husband, a house. And while you can still find me on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve fallen in love with Bookstagram – plus, blogging has also seen the rise of “book tube,” even though I’ve found it a poor fit for me personally.

All this is to say: book blogging has changed a great deal in the nearly ten years (WHAT?!) I’ve been blogging. But one thing has stayed the same, and that’s the people.

I have made some of the best friends through book blogging, in whatever format it takes. I still talk to Tiffany sometimes on Facebook or Twitter. Early in my blogging days, Katie at Mundie Moms was a huge inspiration and supporter of my work – and we finally met in person for the first time last year, and it was like seeing an old friend – not meeting someone new. I’ve met local friends through blogging, and now we get together for drinks or dinner or just to hang out. (In one case, our significant others have become best friends!) And there are people all over the WORLD whom I consider my friend, because of how book blogging has brought us together.

And here I am with Ginger, helping her celebrate her own blogging milestone.

Because that’s what we do. We support each other; we become friends. We form bonds. And that’s what I cherish most about being a book blogger.

The books are great. The friendships are better.

* * *
Sara is the founder of Novel Novice, where she blogs about books. She lives in the Portland, OR area with her husband, in a house full of books, and has been known for reading past her bedtime.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with Amy

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

Today's guest post comes from Amy at Tripping Over Books, who I've gotten to know in the last few years thanks to the bookish community through twitter. It was there I first discovered her blog and learned we share a love for romance reads. Amy has always been a positive light in this community, especially when she started the On the Same Page Secret Sister project with her fellow besties. Her kindness shines bright and I loved learning more about the inspiration behind her own book blog. Please welcome Amy to the blog...


Hello Friends! I’m so excited and glad that Ginger asked me to be a part of her SEVEN YEAR BLOGIVERSARY feature. First of all, CONGRATS, GINGER! That’s amazing. You’ve been doing you and creating excellent content for seven years. WOOO! Second of all, thank you for prompting so many people, including me, to look back on what made us blog in the first place. I think that getting back to your foundations is so important for perspective, direction, and keeping things fresh.

So, with that in mind, I’m feeling excited and nostalgic to share some of my early inspirations for my blog, Tripping Over Books!

I went to library school in the spring of 2009 because I’d recently lost my science/medical publishing job, like so many other people lost jobs in every field, and wanted to pursue a career in something I loved: Books. Library school had been on my radar for a long time, but knowing myself incapable (read: too lazy) to work and go to school at the same time, I’d always put it off. I viewed this as one of those “one door closes, another one opens” kind of moments.

When I started my classes, I was focusing on school librarianship, which meant a focus on YA and MG books. Taking my first Young Adult Literature class was like coming home. I’d already dipped my toe into YA: I’d read all of Twilight, and of course, Harry Potter. But to my awesome surprise, one of the books we were assigned to read that first semester was GRACELING by Kristin Cashore, a book I’d actually already read because I saw a review of it in People Magazine. It all felt like things were falling into place.

But what made me start to notice blogs? Once we’d read a few books--THE HUNGER GAMES was one; it had just come out--I wanted more. So I Googled. And I found some great blogs that helped feed my addiction, and I thought, “I could do this. Maybe. Probably.” The Story Siren had the best posts for putting books on my radar, The Book Smugglers had all-around great content and thoughtful reviews. Good Books and Good Wine had a unique and very conversational voice that I loved. Makeshift Bookmark was the same.

I stewed for a long time because I’d tried starting personal blogs before and lost interest, but I thought that if there was one thing I could always be interested in talking about, it would be books.

I wrote up and posted by first post while I was living in a hotel with my family after Hurricane Sandy, when we had no power for three weeks. I was basically terrified and exhilarated that I did something on the internet.

It makes sense, of course, that I would be inspired to blog by the books I was now devouring. In addition to GRACELING and THE HUNGER GAMES, I started venturing out on my own and grabbed books from the library that I’d seen on my blogs: THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR, and my very first Maggie, SHIVER. I read all of these books before I started blogging, so I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed them properly, but I’ve loved them all for ages, and SHIVER led me to my heart book, THE SCORPIO RACES. Hashtag grateful.

Aside from the other adults in my library classes, I knew NO ONE even close to my age who was reading YA. I made some friends in library school, and that was magic. But then I discovered the community on Twitter, and I was agog at all the people who shared my love. It was hard to put my thoughts out there, even though no one was following me at first. As I continued to post things on my blog, though, including two awesome features for newbs, In My Mailbox and Top Ten Tuesday, the following began to grow, and connections were slowly made.

It was like--CHEESE ALERT--a whole new world opening up to me. It kept, and continues to keep, me going, albeit at a much less frequent rate these days (jobs ruin everything).

All in all, my blog has been so wonderful for me, even if my posting has dwindled lately. It’s brought me some of my best friends, my fondest memories, and legit helped me really come into my own, even when I was well into my 30s.

Congrats again, Ginger!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Celebrating 7 Years of GReads with John Corey Whaley

All month long I'm celebrating my 7th year of book blogging with the help of my bookish friends. To learn more about the event, please visit my introduction post I've linked just below. There, you can also enter to win a book by one of the fabulous authors who will be joining me this month to celebrate, as well.

Today's special guest is very dear to my heart. I first met author John Corey Whaley (or Corey as I know him), back in my early years of blogging. His debut novel WHERE THINGS COMES BACK had just published and I remember thinking: Wow, this is one talented dude! We first met at the Austin Teen Book Fest (now called the Texas Teen Book Fest), and kept up a habit of meeting up at future author events in the Texas area. He's been a great supporter of me and my blog, but also in my personal life as a teacher and educator. His voice in this YA community is profound, and one you should definitely be listening to. It's an honor to not only call him an author I admire, but also my friend. Please welcome John Corey Whaley to the blog...

Why, eh?

There's this funny thing that happens when you write books primarily for teens--you meet people who tell you, in earnest, that maybe one day you'll get to write an adult book. Or, more often, they ask Do you want to write adult books someday? And after this happens a few dozen times, you stop laughing at it and you start to question what this kind of attitude really means--especially for young people.

Why do so many adults still think stories written about teenagers aren't appropriate for them? Adolescence is one of the very few universal experiences that connects us all. We all have to be teenagers. It's one of the reasons I'm fascinated by it, really--it's like a physical and mental purgatory between childhood and adulthood, a cocoon where innocence starts to fade and the cynicism and anxiety of adulthood start trickling in.

I write YA because that teenage experience fascinates me in a way that "adult" life never has. I actually find being an adult quite boring most of the time, which is another reason it's nice to escape into stories of youth and coming-of-age and first steps into the chaotic world.

It should be no surprise that when I found myself welcomed into the YA Community almost seven years ago, blogs like this one opened my eyes up to a world where the cynicism and negativity directed at young people wasn't just unacceptable, but was being actively challenged--not just through the power of fiction, but in the voices of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and authors who set aside competitiveness and the bottom line to constantly come together for the better good of their readers. I met a community where being yourself was celebrated and where discussions of diversity and proper representation continue to evolve and progress everyday. I met a community devoted to speaking up for LGBTQ rights and fighting to get queer kids the respect and dignity they deserve. And I met, became a part of, and fell in love with a community that never, ever devalues young people and always appreciates what we can learn from them about ourselves.

I certainly didn’t find myself hanging around with a bunch of adult literary flunkies who'd settled on writing teen books just to pay the rent. These were artists and teachers who knew the impact they had with their stories could reach beyond the page. And now, after this year of political turmoil, I've found myself in a community that has risen to the occasion of fighting in the Resistance.

Reading has brought me many things. My career. My inspiration. Lessons about humanity and life that can't really exist outside of a good, authentic literary journey. But of all the inspiring things that reading has brought me, that books have provided, I've come to realize that none of them hold a candle to the inspiration I've found in this community of fellow booklovers.

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