BBAW: Read this book. Please.

If there’s one book you’re going to hear me discuss to death for the remainder of 2012, it’s Jennifer Gooch Hummer’s Girl Unmoored. And not because Jennifer is an incredibly nice person (she is) . . . but because this book made me feel All The Things, as Raych would say.

Here is a list, in no particular order:

• Joy
• Rage
• Sorrow
• First love — and the excitement therein
• Unrequited love — and the disappointment therein
• Contentment
• Fear
• Hope

When I picked up this book in April, I went into it without expectations — and maybe that’s part of why it completely blew me away. Though it hasn’t yet gained all the exposure it deserves, if I have my way? I will single-handedly slip this book into the backpacks, purses and briefcases (sure, why not) of people everywhere. And I will sit nearby as you read it, admiring the way you effortlessly giggle, tear up and restore your faith in mankind.

And I’ll give you a cupcake, too. Because I’m not totally unreasonable.

So you can read about this book more on Goodreads or LibraryThing, or you can buy it from Amazon or the indie store of your choice. It’s in paperback and Kindle format — and I’m also available to read aloud to you before bedtime. And I’ll bring your glass of milk.

Totally your choice.

BBAW: Meet Linda of Silly Little Mischief

Today I’m pleased to welcome Linda, a new-to-me blogger, to write meg! Linda runs Silly Little Mischief, a really fun blog about reading, food and life. I’ve enjoyed perusing her page and getting to know her better through Book Blogger Appreciation Week’s interview segment, one of my favorite parts of the event. (In the past, I’ve interviewed Gwen, Laurel Ann and Jodie.)

Designed to celebrate the effort and passion book bloggers devote to championing reading, authors, literacy and more, BBAW is an annual event bringing together our widespread book-loving community. Find out more at the main page, and get to know Linda below. (My interview is up here.)

1. Hi Linda! Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and how you entered the world of blogging.

I’m a native Washingtonian. I live about a mile from the home I was raised in, in a suburb of Seattle, WA. I started blogging in 2007 after getting engaged to my then-boyfriend, now husband. Originally I was a bride blogger but knew that I wouldn’t continue the wedding talk past the wedding. I always saw Silly Little Mischief as a place where I would talk about my loves in life — books, foods, and adventures with my husband.

2. I saw on Silly Little Mischief that you’ve read Julia Child’s My Life in France, a book that’s been on my nightstand forever. I’m a huge fan of Child myself. How did you feel about Paris after finishing the story? Did it inspire you to want to cook more, or take a walk through the French countryside?

Reading My Life In France gave me the courage to cook more. I was cooking before reading My Life In France but I limited myself to recipes that were easy, looking to use the skills I already had. Child gave me permission to try above my skills, to look beyond what I could do. My Life In France only fanned the flames of my desire to travel to France but the biggest takeaway for me was that life is about constant learning. Child learned to cook at 37 and despite that she failed sometimes, she kept on trying. I try to emulate her when I’m struggling!

3. It looks like you’re an avid fan of your local library. I didn’t get my first library card as an adult until last year. Why do you think supporting libraries is so important? How many books do you typically check out at a time?

I’ve always been a fan of libraries. I remember being 4-5 years old and bringing home bags of books from the library. My mom would take me 3-4 times a week so I could replenish my stack. I still have the same library card and account number from when I was a tot.

Libraries bring so much to the community. Not only are there books, but libraries also have computers, classes, author readings, story time for children, book clubs, and homework help. Libraries have something for everyone. When my dad started to loose his eyesight he wanted to buy some adaptive equipment, but wasn’t sure what he needed. Our local library has a selection of adaptive equipment that my dad could check out so he could see what would suit his needs. The closest library to me is situated in a mall. It has the latest books so I can always get my hands on a bestseller. Our community is very multicultural so I love walking through the library and hearing visitors and staff speaking in Hindi, Russian, Spanish, or Cantonese.

It really varies on how many I check out at a given time. I try to place a lot of books on hold so I can just pick up what I want. But if I browse the shelves or go to a larger library, then I can pick up anywhere from two to twenty. I typically have between twenty and fifty library books in my pile at any given time.

4. What’s your favorite genre? Which book would you recommend to readers who might not have explored those types of books before?

I’m a fan of fiction. Such a broad category, I could never select one book for someone. If I was going to recommend a Young Adult book, I would suggest The Fault In Our Stars by John Green or Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson if you didn’t want to use up all your tissues. For Urban Fantasy, I would suggest either Kelley Armstrong’s Women of The Otherworld series or Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series. If you wanted to try Steampunk, I loved The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.

5. Your recipe for peanut butter cup brownies made my mouth water. What’s your favorite dessert? Do you have any recipes you always reach for when asked to bring things to work or family functions?

My favorite dessert is cookies unless there is chocolate cake. I’m happily addicted to Pinterest so when I need to make something I usually browse my pins till I find something suitable. But I have made these Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies, Salted Caramel Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Brownie Surprise (photo at right, by Linda) for parties and not walked out with a crumb left.

6. What appeals to you most about blogging? Do you see yourself continuing to discuss books five years from now?

I love the community that blogging brings. Books have always been part of my life and I can’t see them going anywhere. I can see myself talking about other things (hopefully some travel) but food and books will always be something I blog about.

7. Did you have any book series you loved growing up? What’s your favorite children’s book?

I read the Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley Twins, and Amelia Bedelia. My favorite children’s book was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by EL Konigsburg. I wanted to run away to a museum or library as a kid.

8. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Or could you never live on one book alone?

Right now I would choose Ready Player One by Ernest Cline on audiobook. Not only am I in love with the characters and the world that Cline made, but I love listening to Wil Wheaton read it.

BBAW: Celebrating the vast awesomeness of our community

Though I give this same spiel every year, I can’t believe it’s almost September — and time again to celebrate Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Now in my third year of blogging, I see with clear eyes how much work and dedication it takes to make a site succeed. It’s not just about reading books and reviewing them, as we all know; it’s about personality. Panache. Passion. (And some other “P” words I can’t think of right now.)

BBAW is our yearly celebration of all things book blogging — and the voices behind those websites: yours and mine. Speaking at the Book Blogger Convention this year reaffirmed my commitment to and love of all things book blogging, and I hope you’ll take some time to honor your favorites by participating this year.

The awards process has changed for 2011 — basically, you create an account with the site, register with your own profile and then nominate your much-loved blogs in many different categories. Also note that self-nomination is not allowed this year, which is a change-up from previous BBAW celebrations.

But BBAW isn’t only about awards. In the past, our blogging community has come together to interview one another, celebrate books we’ve loved in the past and so much more. Last fall, I shared how blogging has made my life pretty awesome — and I still mean every word. The idea is really just to celebrate one another, raise our collective (metaphorical) champagne glasses and toast one another’s hard work.

Because we’re important. Our voices matter. The publishing industry takes us seriously. Some of our favorite authors know who we are. And you know what? We’re pretty great. Talented, erudite, honest and great.

I mean, I love us. So let’s all spread that through BBAW participation.

Award nominations are happening now through August 13 at the site, so don’t forget to march your little self on over there and get to it!

BBAW: Meet Gwen from Chew & Digest Books

In keeping with our Book Blogger Appreciation Week festivities through Friday, today’s prompt asked us to get to know another member of our awesome and rapidly-growing book blogosphere (do y’all like that word: blogosphere? I remain undecided, though I use the term often. Out of necessity).

My interview partner is the lovely and talented Gwen of Chew & Digest Books, tagged by its creator as “mostly nonfiction book reviews for book lusters.” Paging through a few of Gwen’s most recent posts, you’ll come across an enticing mix of bookish and personal posts — and those are often my favorite sort of blogs. As Gwen and I discuss later in the interview, I really love sites that allow me to get to know the author as well as — if not better than — the subject on which they’re writing. And after spending some time over at Chew & Digest Books, I’m well on my way to being one of Gwen’s big fans.

And check out my answers to Gwen’s thoughtful questions!

1. Meg: In your “about me” section — which was hilarious, by the way — you state that while you mostly read American history, memoirs/biographies and mystery/suspense, you’re “never opposed to try[ing] something new.” Why do you think so many of us tend to stick like glue to our favorite genres? How have you busted out of that and expanded into reading different things?

Gwen: First, I think that people are human and being human, they dislike change. Once you find a genre or style of reading that you like, you tend to stick with it. We also make a lot less time to read in these days, so taking a risk on a new genre could often wind up a big waste of precious time if we pick the wrong one.

Personally, I think the above is hogwash and short sighted. If you never try anything new, you get stuck in a rut and reading is the one place in your life where you should take risks because really, what are the consequences? The worst thing that could happen is that you are out the $10-20 for a book and an hour of your time. It isn’t like skydiving where you pay $350 to get up in a plane only to realize that you are terrified of heights! It is a book, not a death-defying act or a tattoo related act of rebellion against your parents.

Second, has a lot to do with blogging. Niche. Let’s all take a moment to thank the French for creating one of the major buzzwords of blogging. Some blogs can pull of being about everything, but let’s face it, most can’t quite pull it off successfully. By focusing on one subject, or in the case of book bloggers, one genre, our audience knows what to expect. By planting your flag in one genre, you tend to find lovers of the same genre to subscribe to you.

I am a freakishly eclectic in just about every aspect of my life. That is a nice way of saying that I have the attention span of gnat. I have had a million jobs in many different fields, listen to everything from classical to Irving Berlin to Maroon 5, cook, paint, sew, refinish furniture, landscape, bungee jump, etc. I have no problem trying new things, but sticking to genres? Well, that is hard.

2. You focus pretty exclusively on nonfiction at Chew & Digest Books. For you, what is the appeal of nonfiction over a novel? What do you experience in one that you cannot experience in the other?

The short answer- I have a dream of being on Jeopardy and every nonfiction book is another step in that direction.

The long answer- I read nonfiction because I have always had a thirst for knowledge and learning. Each nonfiction is a lot like a scavenger hunt with the clues. For example, I just read a book called The Associates by Richard Rayner and in a couple of sentences about Horace Greeley intrigued me. After losing the Presidential Election in 1872 to Grant, Greeley went mad and died a month later. How can you not be intrigued by a man that was put in an asylum and died just a month after running for president?

Little things like that get me excited and start me on a trail to another book. Which in turn, might lead me to another book, etc. Fiction doesn’t really do that for me. Sure, there are sequels and reoccurring characters, but there isn’t that wee trail of bread crumbs leading you from one subject to the next.

3. I love your “A Bit About Me(Me)” posts. For me, part of the fun of reading someone’s blog is getting to know them as a person. Do you feel that way, too? When visiting a book blog, how much of the blogger’s personality do you want to show through in their posts?

Personality is HUGE for me in a book blog, or any blog really. If I don’t know what makes you get up in the morning, how I am going to trust your review of a book? So much of what makes a book good or bad is how it reacts with a person’s lifestyle and their life experience. When a blogger reviews a book by telling me how it relates to them, I am on the bus. It is a risk to put yourself out there, but a calculated risk.

By putting yourself into your blog and your reviews, you are giving a gift and helping to create a community. You are talking with me as opposed to talking at me. Totally win/win in my book.

4. A stereotype surrounding most avid readers, like us, is that we’re mousy, quiet and naturally introverted. How do you defy or embrace that description? Are you introverted or extroverted by nature?

I hate stereotypes and labels! There are three kinds of people in the world of Gwen; Cool people, people that aren’t cool but I am related to them in some way so I have to put up with them, & people that I don’t know yet.

I think that I am a homebody extrovert. I rather be at home with a good book, but if you take me out I am open and outgoing. I tend to be a leader when out in public. Hmm, I wonder if that is why I work best from home?

5. In a recent post, you mention shopping for bookcases. Just how bad is your “to be read” stack? Has it taken over your living space and threatened to consume you, or have you kept it at a manageable level?

We downsized houses earlier this year and there is nothing like moving to make you realize that your book collection is out of control. I instituted a policy of not going batcrazy with books, so my TBR stack is a manageable 40ish books. (call it my own version of the one-in-one-out theory)

6. When do you get the bulk of your reading done — morning, afternoon, evening? In the tub, on a treadmill or on a lunch break? How and where do you make time to read?

I work from home and read constantly. Part of my job is reading and reviewing books, so that gives me the perfect excuse for not cleaning as often as I should. “Sorry honey, these 6 books are due on Monday. No time to make you a birthday cake.” The only time that there isn’t at least one open is when I am sleeping. Even then, my iPod with the Kindle app is right under my pillow.

For me, it isn’t so much as making time to read, but making time to live.

7. Like me, you’ve been blogging since June 2008. What’s been the most challenging part of maintaining an active book blog for two years? The most rewarding?

Coming up with my own ideas so that the blog isn’t all reviews, all of the time is the hardest part. I am lucky, my work means that I get to finish about a book a day and I could throw up a review for most days of the week. The problem is that it wouldn’t be very interesting for readers and wouldn’t allow for me to use sharpen my chops as a writer.

The most rewarding is the friendships that I am developing. Like I said, I work from home and that means that I don’t often get the opportunity to get out and about amongst people that I have things in common with. Sure, I can tell my dog or boyfriend about the most hilarious thing I just read, but it doesn’t work for long. And- I also thing that the boyfriend has been giving the dog eye rolling lessons. Not cool when your dog starts rolling his eyes at you.

8. As an animal lover, what are your favorite books featured our favorite furry friends? Any you recommend to avid dog lovers that won’t make us burst into tears?

Shockers! I don’t read animal stories because no matter what, they always end up dying…. even if it isn’t in the story. You know that there have been like a million Goldens with the name Air Bud for the movies, right? Just like there were how many Rin-Tin-Tins and Lassies, too depressing.

BBAW: First Treasure

The fun has arrived! Today marks the start of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, five days of fun celebrating the hard work, dedication and zaniness of folks who spend their days (and nights, and weekends) discussing, analyzing and promoting the written word.

If you’re new to write meg!, welcome — I’m Meg, an editor, writer and — yes! — book blogger from Maryland. I love long walks on the beach, pumpkin spice lattes and cupcakes. Lots of them. If I can have or do any combination of those things and have a book in my hand, I’m a happy lady.

Our first day of BBAW prompts, “We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year! If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered. Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.”

Through the course of any given day, many book blogs keep me entertained with great reviews, thought-provoking discussions and, above all, awesome content. Since the start of last year’s BBAW, which I discussed here, I’ve started spending plenty of time with a variety of bloggers — and their wonderful sites! But I can’t mention new ones without bringing up the tried-and-true favorites. So, because I’m me, I’ll make two lists.

Meg’s fresh finds

Chick Lit Is Not Dead Liz and Lisa, novelists themselves, run a great blog dedicated to promoting — what else? — chick lit and women’s fiction authors through interviews, reviews and giveaways. And their giveaways? Fan-freakin’-tastic. And constant. Don’t miss out — I won an audio version of Emily Giffin’s Heart Of The Matter earlier this year.

The Book Chick — Jonita’s blog is filled with fresh, interesting reviews on all the books I love to read, and I rarely leave without adding a hefty amount to my wishlist! She always answers the questions I most want to know about a book, too, and her opinion carries tremendous weight with me.

Hist-Fic Chick — Another “Chick” blog, but hey — it works. I only recently discovered Allie’s blog, but I enjoy her way with words and the lovely look of her site. Just as I judge books by their covers, I judge blogs by their layouts. There’s just something . . . incredibly harmonious about it.

Can’t forget the classics

Austenprose — Laurel Ann is my go-to for all things Austen, and I’m never left unsatisfied after stopping by Austenprose. Her informative, fun posts keep me in the know on all things regarding our dear Miss Jane, and I’m fortunate to call her a friend.

Book, Line, and Sinker — Natalie is one of my closest bloggy buds and her posts on everything from taking better photos of your TBR stack to crafting envelopes from old book pages are as fun as they are inspirational. I love her witty sense of humor and succinct, intelligent book reviews, always trusting what she has to say. And she introduced me to Marcus Flutie so, you know . . . I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. A formal invitation to the marrige of Meg and Marcus is forthcoming.

The Infinite Shelf — In addition to being an incredibly nice person, Kay is another blogger whose opinion I know I can always rely on. We have very similar tastes in young adult and contemporary fiction, and I can’t get enough of her hilarious comics and gorgeous photography! Seriously, she’s a master. I die in envy each time I see one of her travel posts. Die.

Steph Su Reads — Steph is another blogger I trust whole-heartedly and so look forward to her reviews! She manages to say something intelligent and kind about even the most not-so-interesting-sounding reads, and I really appreciate her insights on the books I’ve loved and ones I hope to read someday. Her blog is another I can’t leave without adding a million books to my TBR stack.

BBAW will soon be upon us

Though summer still spreads before us like a glorious picnic blanket, it’s already time to start talking about Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010. Last year’s festivities were such a blast, there’s no way I won’t be participating in this year’s events, too. If you’ve forgotten, friends, I interviewed Laurel Ann of Austenprose (adore her) and Tiffany of Tif Talks Books and chatted about some of my other favorite bloggers.

In between all that, I voted and communicated and found tons of new book bloggers, some of whom I still visit regularly. It was like a giant ice cream sundae for the book blogging community of which we’re all a part — a way for us to recognize each other for our hard work and dedication to the literary world. Sometimes it all goes unnoticed, we think, but then something like BBAW creeps up on us. Then? Not so unnoticed.

Voting this year is working differently than last September — mainly because now, we’re nominating ourselves! Visit the website to check out the niche categories and featured categories, then put yourself out there in the category you feel fits your blog best. This isn’t the time to be humble, friends; nominate away!

So I didn’t really know what niche category in which to settle write meg! I don’t write exclusively about any one genre and focus, instead, on young adult, women’s fiction, literary fiction, Austenesque novels and the occasional fantasy. In that vein, I threw my hat in for Best Eclectic Book Blog and Best Written Book Blog. To illustrate that, here are five posts to help me put my money where my typing is:

Best Eclectic Book Blog
Book review: French Milk by Lucy Knisley (graphic novel/memoir)
Book review: The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek (literary fiction)
Book review: The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
(young adult historical fiction)
Book review: North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley (young adult contemporary fiction)
Book review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer, Barrows
(historical fiction)

Best Written Book Blog
Book review: Fat Cat by Robin Brande
Book review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Book review: Blankets by Craig Thompson
Book review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Book review: Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

Pop over and learn more about BBAW ’10!

BBAW wrap-up & giveaway winner!


Well, I have to say — Book Blogger Appreciation Week was a roaring success! I discovered so many new book blogs, absolutely loved getting to know Tif and learning even more about the awesome Laurel Ann, and am very thankful for all the kind words folks shared with me. Thanks for making me feel so special!

In the coming year, I hope we’ll all continue to read awesome books, talk endlessly about them with each other and find even more ways to connect! I know I’ll be a reading fool until my eyes no longer work — and it would be physically impossible for me to stop writing. So you know where to find me!

And now — for the winner of Heather Gudenkauf’s The Weight Of Silence! Out of my awesome 48 entrants, has selected . . .


I’ve dropped her an email to let her know the happy news! Thanks to everyone for entering — as always, I wish I had copies for everyone. Still, be sure to check out the book — definitely worth the read. And who knows . . . I might have another giveaway right up my sleeve!