Armchair BEA 2016: Wrap-Up Post

armchairbeaArmchair BEA is over! This was my first time participating and it was such a great experience. As someone who would have loved to attend BEA in Chicago this year, but was unable to do, this was the next best thing. This definitely will not be the last time I join this fun online event. Let’s take a look at the posts I put together this week.

Day 1: Introduction & Diversity

On our first day, we had a chance to introduce ourselves and answer a few questions including favorite book (Pride and Prejudice) and favorite genre (fantasy). This was also a chance for bloggers to talk about diversity and what we’d like to see more of in the book world. You can read my thoughts here.

Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns

On day two we discussed aesthetic concerns for both books and blogs. Reading through everyone’s posts, it seems most of us are not immune to beautiful covers. I am a sucker for a good cover. Even before you read a synopsis of a book, the cover is the first thing you see and so I think it’s important that a book’s cover be able to grab your attention. Read all my thoughts here.

Day 3: Beyond the Books & Blog

We seem to focus a lot on traditional forms of fiction and our blogs, but on day three we look beyond the books and blog. I talked about my desire to try new forms of fiction, including graphic novels. I’m still looking for suggestions, so share your recs in the comments. Read my full post here.

Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds

Day four was probably my favorite day as we discussed what it would be like trying to survive the fictional worlds we read about. I had tons of fun putting this post together. I didn’t have a ton of time to visit other people’s posts for this day, so if you’d still like to leave a link, I’d love to read what you had to say. My post can be found here.

Did you participate in Armchair BEA this year? Is it something you’d like to participate in again? Leave a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit!

Armchair BEA: Surviving Fictional Worlds

armchairbeaWhat, Armchair BEA is almost over? I can’t believe it! This is our final post before we wrap up everything tomorrow and I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m really excited about today’s topic, thinking about how we would fit into the fictional worlds we read about is always such an interesting thing to discuss. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

Surviving Fictional Worlds

Today we’ll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do?

I’m going to tackle the obvious and say that I’d love to live in the Wizarding World. The Harry Potter series is such an important part of who I am as a reader. I’ve never loved a series as much as HP and I don’t know if anything will ever compare. I have taken various online quizzes to discover which house I belong to and they all say I’m a Ravenclaw. I love books and discovering new things and truth be told, I’m not as brave as a Gryffindor, as driven as a Slytherin, or as kind as a Hufflepuff.

Beside HP, I also wouldn’t mind being a part of the Raven Cycle world created by Maggie Stiefvater. I have a bit of a love affair with her characters. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah are too precious for words and I’d be more than happy to help them search for Glendower. And I know it would be super dangerous, but I would love to be a part of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series about a magician who can travel to different worlds. Just need to get my hands on a magical coat…

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If you really consider it, most book universes are pretty dangerous. Whether it’s evil rulers, blood-thirsty monsters, or a truly twisted world philosophy, most of our books take place in universes that are very unpleasant and if we’re honest, most of us probably wouldn’t survive. I recently did a Top Ten Tuesday entitled Futuristic Societies I Want No Part Of. Included is Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I love zombies. I love zombie books, movies, and tv shows, but I would not want to live in a world where the dead rise and chase after me. No thank you.

How I’d survive: Grab a weapon and start swinging. Kidding. Kind of.

Another fictional world that I’d never want to live in is the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. The whole concept of this world revolves around the fact that men’s thought are broadcast aloud for the whole world to hear. I do not need this in my life. I get tired of hearing what men think when they can control their own mouths, who knows what I’d hear if it was completely unfiltered.

How I’d survive: Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Another story I would not like to fall into is Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers about a boy trying to outrun his father’s legacy as world’s most infamous serial killer. I spent so much time while reading this whole series yelling at the characters because I could not believe some of the decisions they made. It was like watching a horror film and seeing the characters investigate a noise in the basement.

How I’d survive: Get out of town quick.

Which fictional worlds would you like to be part of? Which would you run away from very quickly? How would you survive in a dangerous fictional universe? If you’re participating in Armchair BEA, leave a link to your post and I’ll visit!

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Books & Blog

armchairbeaIt’s Day 3 of Armchair BEA, an online conference for book bloggers not attending BookExpo of America, and today we’re taking a step back from the traditional formats for both books and the blog. Let’s discuss!

BEYOND THE BOOKS:

Beyond the traditional form of the novel, what are your favorite alternative forms (graphic novels, audiobooks, webcomics, etc)? Do you have any favorite works within these alternate forms? How do you think the changing format affects the reading experience?

This is something that I find really lacking in my own reading life. I basically stick to traditional books. I’m not even a big fan of ebooks. I just find it a lot easier and more delightful to have a physical book in my hands. Right now, my consumption of ebooks is limited to ARCs I get through NetGalley.

I really want to read some graphic novels. I’ve never done it before and there are a few that I’ve heard loads of good things about. I’m not sure what’s holding me back, but a part of me is nervous that I won’t be able to become fully emerge in the story because of the different format. I’m open to suggestions as a newbie to graphic novels, so let me know in the comments what you’d recommend. Here are a few graphic novels I’m considering picking up, if you’ve read them, I’d love to hear what you think. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

Audiobooks is another format I have very little experience with. On one hand, I’d love to hear a story spoken aloud, but I just find that I can read a book faster on my own. There’s also the fact that sometimes the narrator just doesn’t mesh well with you. I do want to try listening to a Neil Gaiman audiobook, since he narrates his own stories.

BEYOND THE BLOG:

Our secondary topic, beyond the blog could focus on the ways you engage in talking about books outside of your blog. Do you participate in book clubs, take classes, meticulously maintain your goodreads profile? Let the world know!

I’ve never taken part in a book club before, but I’ve always wanted to. Outside of this blog, I interact and talk books the most on Twitter and Tumblr. I’ve only been on Twitter for a year, but there is so much opportunity for us bookish people. You can connect with other bookworms, publishers, and authors and it’s overall just a great way to be a part of the larger book blogging community. I originally joined Tumblr in order to follow a favorite show, but quickly became immersed in the book blogging side, appropriately called booklr. There are so many wonderful book photographers on Tumblr and I’m convinced it’s the largest book blogging community. I haven’t been as interactive as I used to be, but I still enjoy taking part in book photo challenges and I credit it for making me a better photographer. Feel free to add me on either format!

What formats outside of the traditional book do you enjoy the most? Have any graphic novel suggestions? What’s your favorite audiobook? Which platforms outside of your blog do you have a heavy presence on? If you’re participating in Armchair BEA this week, leave a link to your post and I’ll be sure to visit!

Armchair BEA: Aesthetic Concerns I & II

armchairbeaSo excited to be a part of Armchair BEA this week! For those unfamiliar, this online conference takes place beside BEA (BookExpo of America) for those unable to attend. This is my first year participating and I’m already having a blast. Today we’re discussing aesthetics, both book and blog based.

THE BOOKS: 

How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

Ugh, I judge books by their covers far too often. This doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily by the book, but I’m more likely to reach for them in a bookstore or click on them on a website if the covers are pretty. Sometimes you’re often let down, a book can have a stunning cover, but this doesn’t mean the story inside is anything to write home about.

I used to not be too bothered with the condition of my books, whether I owned a paperback in a series and the rest hardbacks, or if the covers didn’t match, but I’ve become a vain bookworm! I was in a frenzy when we learned the publisher was going to change the cover art for the final book in Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Trilogy and I’m so glad they decided to listen to readers because look at how pretty the books look together.

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I’m actually trying to be better at accepting that just because a book isn’t in pristine condition or because it comes in paperback and not hardback, it’s still the same story and if I’m really serious about saving money, I need to buy more used and paperback books. I’m trying. I will say that it sometimes drives me crazy when models on covers do not match the ones in the book. There is one cover in particular that features a brunette on the cover, but the protagonist is blonde. I do not understand how that came about.

THE BLOG:

As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?

When I first started blogging, I knew nothing about blog graphics or anything. My blog had a very simple look to it and I started incorporating my own photos to give it that “me” vibe. I wasn’t satisfied (mostly because I wasn’t that great a photographer) and spent every few months revamping my blog. Then I came across Canva when a fellow blogger did a post on how she designed her blog’s graphics. It was a lifesaver. I was able to make my own graphics and eventually found a consistent and pleasing design for everything. Finding the right colors, designs, fonts took a while, but I finally feel that my blog’s aesthetics reflect me as a blogger.

How important are book aesthetics to you? Do you make an effort to make sure your books match in series? Does it ever drive you crazy when the cover doesn’t match the content inside? How have you developed your blog’s look? Have any sites you’d recommend to bloggers looking to redesign their graphics? If you’re participating in Armchair BEA, be sure to leave a link to your own post in the comments!

Armchair BEA: Introduction & Diversity

armchairbeaI usually regard book conferences with a bit of envy; after all, what bookworm wouldn’t want to spend days surrounded by books, authors, and fellow bookworms who all share the same passion for reading? I haven’t had the opportunity to attend one, but maybe one day. This week BEA (BookExpo America) is being held in Chicago and my Twitter feed is exploding with excitement.

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to attend, we have the opportunity to join Armchair BEA, an online convention which coincides with BEA, providing a way to for those unable to attend to still enjoy interacting with other bloggers. This is my first time participating and I’m super excited to dive in. Today we’re making introductions and discussing diversity, let’s get started.

Introduction Questions – Group 1:

My name is Alicia, pronounced A-lee-sya, just in case you were wondering. I’ve been blogging for about two years. Deciding to start a book blog has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As I mentioned in the intro paragraphs, this is my first time participating in Armchair BEA.

Introduction Questions – Group 2:

Do you have a favorite book? If you cannot choose a favorite book of all time, pick your favorite book today – just this second. Remember that favorites are allowed to change if something affects you deeply enough.

The dreaded favorite book question! I have many favorites, but I tend to fall back on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because it’s the book I’ve reread the most and I may own an absurd number of editions.

Do you have a favorite genre and why?

My favorite genre is fantasy. I think it very much embodies everything I love about books. It’s imaginative and escapist, it has the ability to teach real life lessons in a magical setting, combining make-believe and truth in a very exiting package.

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAshelfie)

I love rearranging my bookshelves, I find it so therapeutic. I’ve tried all kind of different ways to organize my books: by genre, author, spine color, rating. Currently I’ve separated my books into the following categories: classics, books I like but don’t love, completed series, ongoing series, standalones, and a to-be-read shelf.

It’s difficult to include all of my shelving in one picture, so this is the best I can do…

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If you could choose three characters to have lunch with, who would they be and why?

If I could choose three characters to have lunch with, I’d immediately choose Elizabeth Bennet. We basically have the same sense of humor, so I’m sure we’d get along. It is so hard to choose only two other characters for this question, but I’m going to go with Yael from Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin and Richard Campbell Gansey III from the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Both would provide really interesting conversation topics.

Diversity:

There are so many different facets to diversity and you can approach the topic from different angles including race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities, but the most important thing to me is to hear from individuals in each of these categories. I feel that the best way to approach this topic is how it affects me personally. As a Mexican-American, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Latinos are highly underrepresented in all forms of media, despite comprising 17% of the US population. Growing up, I don’t remember seeing a lot of Latinos in starring roles on film or television and I certainly was never assigned to read a book in school by a Latino writer. With this lack of representation comes these skewed ideas about Latinos. We’re often cast in stereotypical roles. We’re landscapers, maids, pregnant teen girls, criminals, illegal immigrants. For Latinas, we’re often represented as voluptuous, loud, and feisty. We’re confined to a very small (and mostly negative) box and because there is so little representation in the media, this has adverse effects on how other people perceive us.

Over the past year I’ve been seeking out more Latino authors because I’m simply starved for protagonists who look like me, who have a similar background to my own. I read all these stories featuring white protagonists and wonder why can’t a Latina be the protagonist, why can’t the Mexican-American girl save the day? When are we allowed to be the chosen one? I’m happy to report that over the past year, I’ve come across more and more Latino authors. I’m still finding it difficult to find fantasy books (my favorite genre) which feature Latino protagonists, but I’m hopeful.

Bloggers have a great impact on readers. We’re vital when it comes to book promotion and publishers know this and take note. I believe if we as bloggers push for more diversity, if we promote POC authors, for example, publishers will take notice. It’s also an opportunity to expose readers to authors and stories they may not normally reach for, to help broaden their world view and make them more sensitive to the experiences of someone who may be different from them but whose voice deserves to be heard nonetheless.

A few Latino authors and books I’d recommend:

What are your thoughts on diversity? What do you think bloggers should do to promote diversity? Can you recommend any Latino authors? Are you participating in Armchair BEA? Leave me a link to your introduction & diversity post, so I can visit!