Evolution of Review Style
The very first review I wrote was for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Compared to what I write now, it's bad. Really bad. At least in my opinion. It's short, and I only cover the basics, without going into much detail about characters or romance or action or... etc. You may think, "Well, why not re-read the book and write a better review?" My answer is, because it was my first review. That's where I started.*1 And I like to remember where I started, see how far I've come.
As I learnt more about blogging, I got better, started writing slightly longer reviews, and became more certain of myself, my opinions, and my blog. In 2012, I discovered Eleusinian Mysteries, Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me and Saz101, three Aussie book blogs that I adore to this day, despite two no longer reviewing at all and the other busy raising a small child. All three wrote much longer reviews, and went into so much detail. They're reviews were amazing, became the type of reviews I wanted to read everywhere, and the type of reviews I wanted to write. I didn't copy their style - Brodie, Lisa and Sarah have such distinctive voices and such a way with words, that would be pretty much impossible - but I was inspired by them to say more when I reviewed a book. Say absolutely everything I think/thought, feel/felt, loved, hated, expected, was wrong about, etc etc. The whole nine yards. I know that long reviews aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they are most definitely mine, and so saying everything I had to say became the only way I could write. And it's thanks to those three ladies that I write the way I do, and love it! Thank you, ladies! (Seriously, they may not be blogging any more or as often, but their reviews are still incredible. Go check out their blogs and read their reviews. I can guarantee you'll discover fantastic new books, and want to fangirl right along with them!)
Reading books and writing about them is a hobby. It's something I love, and put the time and effort into it because I enjoy it so much. And as much as I love having people coming over to read what I write and start a discussion with me, I review for myself because I love writing - other people benefit from what I write, which is a bonus. If everyone stopped reading my blog, I'm pretty sure I would still write. I don't have many regular commenters, and I'm not sure about lurkers (to be honest, I find all the stats I get given behind the scenes kind of confusing). So I do this for me.
So I am always beyond amazed when I find my words, along with my blog title or my name, in print. It makes me grin like crazy that I can actually dig out my folder of press releases that include quotes from me.*2 Or finding I have been quoted, or have my reviews mentioned, on various websites. It blows my mind whenever I discover I've been quoted in the praise sections in actual books - 14 of them. Absolutely ridiculous! Seriously! Why on earth is my actual name on the inside flap of Insignia by S. J. Kincaid?! How on earth did a whole section of my review end up in a US copy (My words! In other countries!) of Fallen by Lauren Kate? It's unbelievable. Incredible. So absolutely fantastic, I am bowled over every time I am reminded. This is not something I will ever take for granted, and will always be so grateful for. (If you have noticed that I'm quoted in any books that aren't mentioned in the link above, please let me know. I need to go buy them! Thanks!)
Being quotes in books is amazing on it's own. But when the author themselves choose to mention you in their Acknowledgements, it's completely beyond belief. When I won the competition to name the fourth book in the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, I knew I would be mentioned in the Acknowledgements, but it's still pretty awesome!
The real surprise was receiving a review copy of One Seriously Messed-Up Weekend in the Otherwise Un-Messed-Up Life of Jack Samsonite from the author Tom Clempson, and finding Tom had thanked me in the Acknowledgements simply for being a fan and promoting his books! It's unreal! So, so awesome!
It's awesome when your blog or you as a blogger is praised for what you do by those in the blogging community, or are thought well enough of in the book industry to be quoted in books. But when an outside company like Cision tells you they have worked out you are one of the Top 10 UK Teen Literarature Blogs, it's absolutely wonderful! I was one of the top 10 in both 2010 and 2012, and it's pretty awesome being told and having the nifty badge to put on my blog. It's awesome to know that my wee blog is in any top ten, so I'm super grateful for that.
Through book blogging and my publicity contacts, I have been super fortunate to have had a few work experience placements at various publishers, which has been fantastic! I have had either one or two week placements at Simon and Schuster UK's Children's Marketing and Publicity Dept., Little, Brown's Publicity Dept., Orion's Publicity Dept, Hodder and Stoughton's Publicity and Editorial Depts., and Walker's Marketing Dept. I have learnt so much at each of my various placements, met some fantastic people, and had invaluable experience to put on my CV. And I had an awesome time! All thanks to this blog.
The London Book Fair
Last year, I was asked to be a Media Partner of The London Book Fair's Children's Innovation Theatre and a speaker on their panel Blogging: The New Community. I still find it absolutely incredible even now that I had this opportunity. The London Book Fair is huge, and to be picked out of all UK YA book bloggers, along with Casey of Dark Readers, to represent our community... it has got to be mu biggest achievement do date, as a blogger, and as a person. Public speaking is a huge fear of mine, and being given the opportunity to face that fear, talk about something I know well and love, at such a huge event, it's just astounding. I can't believe I did it. I can't believe I was offered the opportunity. It's just so amazing! And seeing my logo on the wall and on all the flyers and brochures... it was just really something. Felt like I had actually really made it as a blogger in the eyes of others, when all I'm doing is reading and writing about books I love. So awesome!
So yeah, it's been an incredible five years! And I'm seriously looking forward to all the awesome things the next five years of blogging will bring!
*1 If we want to be very persnickety, I actually wrote that review in 2008, in around December, when I had a blog on LiveJournal. But it was in March when I discovered the blogging community, learnt how to be a book blogger "properly", and switched to Blogger. It was from March I started considering myself a book blogger, whereas I hadn't even heard of the term before. Before, I was just writing about books. From March, I took it more seriously - that's why I consider 19th March to be my bloggerversary.
*2 Yes, I keep a folder. I may have been blogging for five years, but I have not, and hope I never will, become blasé about anyone thinking what I say is good enough to be printed anywhere.