Adventures of a Book Blogging Newbie: BE THE HOST(ESS) WITH THE MOST(EST)


What is a book tour/blog tour? 
A book/blog tour is a virtual tour that hops from blog to blog. Publishers connect with tour companies, and tour companies connect with bloggers! Generally a tour company will arrange for the blogs that will host the book and on their given day, the blog will post a review of the book and/or any promotional material. In exchange for participating in the tour, the blogger will receive a copy of the book. This could be a finished copy or an ARC. Some tours also allow for giveaways!

Why get involved in book/blog tours? 
Getting involved in book tours creates valuable contacts (with the company, publisher, author, and other bloggers) and provides the blogger with a great opportunity to produce quality content. While your goal in participating should not be to get a free book, it is a plus! This is a great way to affordably access new/buzz-worthy content (like new releases) and get your readers excited about upcoming books. My favourite part of participating in tours is visiting the other blogs that are hosting stops. We immediately have something in common to chat about and I love seeing that other people think of the book! 

How do you get involved? 
Tour companies are generally easy to find via Google! There are plenty of them out there, and more crop up each day. Generally, each website will have a tab that says something along the lines of “Become a Tour Host.” This will provide you with the information you need. What kind of bloggers are they looking for? What kind of services to they offer? How do you apply to become a host? There is usually an email form for you to submit! 

How do you pick a tour company? 
Like I mentioned, there are tons of tour companies out there. They are generally specialized, so look for tour companies that are in your niche. What kinds of books do your readers want to hear about? This should help you narrow things down. From there, look into past tours they’ve hosted, and what other bloggers say about their services. Are they good to work with? Do they have quality books that interest you? Another thing to look into is whether they require you to rate the book 3 stars and up. Some companies will only want you to post a review if it is positive. They would rather you substitute in promotional material or a guest post/Q&A rather than post a review that is less that 3 stars. If this is the case, would you be comfortable with that? 

I personally host tours for TLC. They are very professional and friendly, and offer a wide variety of awesome books. The genres they offer are usually general (adult) fiction. I have a wide range of interests, and TLC usually touches them all! They don’t require a positive review, and often arrange guest posts or author Q&As in addition to your review. I’ve had a great experience with them. 

General Dos and Don’ts?
Don’t participate in too many tours. If your blog is all book tours and no original content, your readers will get bored and your traffic will decrease. I know it can be exciting at first—LOOK AT ALL THESE BOOKS I COULD GET FOR FREE—but it can hurt your blog, and seriously stress you out. When I first started hosting tours several months ago, I can remember one month where I hosted three tours! Those deadlines were stressful and often took the fun out of reading. Make sure you know what you can handle while still being able to produce a majority of original content on your blog!

Don’t participate in too many cover reveals and blitzes. A lot of people consider these spam, so be choosy!

Don’t let yourself feel pressured! Whether it’s the deadlines or the need for a positive review, make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If the deadlines are too much, cut back. If you feel like you need to be positive but you didn’t like the book, be honest. That’s why your readers trust you! 

Don’t feel the need to clutter up your sidebar with tons of tour company buttons. Yes, it’s totally fine to be a proud tour host for multiple companies, and yes, it’s fine to put buttons in your sidebar! But remember not to overload your visitors. 

Do make sure you only agree to host books you’re actually interested in. Make sure you genuinely want to read the book! This will make you a better host, and will allow you to have a better experience! 

Do take advantage of the opportunity to connect with the author—via Facebook, Twitter, whatever—and chat about their book! This can be fun and rewarding. They might even like to do a guest post or Q&A (though it’s always a good idea to try to go through the tour company).

Do connect with the other bloggers on the tour! With TLC, there is only one stop per book per day. This highlights each blog! Check out the other books on the tour and see what they thought. Connect with them! But don’t just advertise your own post. 

Do be creative and original in the way you present your content. Do you! 

Some of these things I have learned the hard way (and I’m definitely still learning). However, I have found, overall, that hosting book tours is fun and rewarding. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if it sounds appealing to you, give it a try! I haven’t used a ton of different tour companies, but I can definitely recommend TLC Book Tours.

Have you ever hosted a book tour? What do you think?
Do you find book tour posts interesting to read? Do you have any advice for potential tour hosts? 

New & Noteworthy Releases!

Let’s chat about exciting new and upcoming releases!

Two weeks. That is the time span in which the following ten books are released! So much goodness and exciting-ness in such a short time! Let’s get started, shall we? 

January 27th, 2015:

Fairest by Marissa Meyer [Purchase]
YA Fantasy/Sci-fi, Fairytale Retelling
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published by Feiwel & Friends
This is the latest instalment in the Lunar Chronicles series. This book tells the story of Queen Levana. At the moment, that means absolutely nothing to me because I have yet to start the series. However, I do own the first two books (Cinder and Scarlet) and am pumped to read them! They sound really good and people seem to be really enjoying them. Therefore, this is an exciting release! Yay!
I Was Here by Gayle Forman [Purchase]
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published by Viking Juvenile 
I think it’s obvious that I am excited about this new release, as I featured it last week as my first “Waiting On” Wednesday! I’ve listened to the audiobooks for both If I Stay and Where She Went and am quite excited to read this one. This story grapples with the difficult theme of suicide and I am interested to see how Forman handles it! 

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon [Purchase]
Science Fiction
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published by Bloomsbury
The Bone Season is still currently sitting untouched on my shelf. However, it sounds excellent and has pretty good reviews. That’s enough to make me excited about a sequel! 
February 3rd, 2015

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Other Disturbances 
by Neil Gaiman [Purchase]
Short Fiction
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published by William Morrow
This is a collection of short stories and is highly anticipated! Gaiman is a beloved author and I am looking forward to reading this collection. If we’re being completely honest, I haven’t finished any of Gaiman’s works yet… BUT I PLAN TO. 
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby [Purchase]
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published by Riverhead
I haven’t read any of Hornby’s books, but I’ve seen the movies adapted from them and loved them. With this new release coming out, I am definitely tempted to pick it up and actually read some of Hornby’s work! And it’s set in 1960’s London, no less. Sounds excellent! 
February 10th, 2015
(This, apparently, is a popular day)

A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler [Purchase]
Literary Fiction
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published by Bond Street Books 
I am very excited about this one. Again, this is one that I’ve feature for “Waiting On” Wednesday! This one is a literary fiction about family. I just love those. Can’t wait to read this one! 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard [Purchase]
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published by Orion
This book has gotten so much hype lately. I know that when that happens, it’s important to lower your expectations because otherwise you might be disappointed! I’m sure this one will be a great read, but I won’t let the hype influence me! 

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton [Purchase]
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
This one is a YA High Fantasy I believe. I’ve got an eARC of this one from NetGalley and can’t wait to get into it! Also, the author’s name is Arwen. How cool is that? I wish my name was Arwen. And that I could marry Aragorn. 

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand [Purchase]
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published by Harper Teen
This is a YA Contemporary that sounds really intriguing and poignant. I believe this is another one that deals with the theme of suicide and the impact such a loss can have. This one sounds like there is also a mystery element to it, and I love that! Wee!

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3)
 by Maureen Johnson [Purchase]
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published by Putnam Juvenile 
This is the upcoming instalment in Johnson’s the Shades of London series. I haven’t read the first two books in this series yet, but I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s work before and can’t wait to read these. I’ve heard great things about the series! I believe it involves Jack the Ripper. Fun times! 
Are you excited for any of these releases? Which ones are you excited for most? Are there any you’re pumped for that I haven’t listed here? 
Please note: Purchase links are Book Depository Affiliate Links. Fuelled by Fiction will make a small commission on purchases made using these links. Please see the Support page for more information. Thank you. 

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis: Tour Review & Giveaway [closed]!

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by William Morrow & Company (first published in the UK April 7th 2013)

An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I received this copy for my honest review and participation in the book tour. 

Enigmatic Emily is a mother, pregnant with her second child, and happily married. However, the next second she is manically changing her name and running away from her life. Her family, her friends… everything. What compels her to do this? There is something that has happened to her that left her “understandably” distant and depressed. This leaves us all wondering… What happened to Emily? 

This novel is a story of reinvention, pain, and acceptance. When we meet Emily, she is making her transition to Cat, London’s newest resident. She finds herself at the mercy of a girl named Angel (both aptly and ironically, it seems). They become fast friends in dirty old house filled to the brim with roommates. “Cat” makes the best of it, and manages to eventually find herself a job. Can Emily become Cat without losing who she really is? Why does she even have to? 

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were poignant and complex, each with their own backstory and baggage. Everyone is equally messed up, it seems. The story is told from multiple POVs, and at different times. The main narrator, though, is Emily—or Cat. I generally am not the biggest fan of shifting POVs, but in this novel it worked quite well. We get bits and pieces from other people in Emily’s life, and it helps round out the story. I especially enjoyed reading bits from Caroline’s perspective—Emily’s twin. 

Emily and her twin, Caroline, never had the typical twin relationship. Dysfunction and favouritism in their family led to a lot of resentment, misunderstanding, and bitterness. The Brown family is essentially a hot mess, that spit out one fully functioning girl (Emily) and one broken force of nature (Caroline). The family history here is rich, complex, and fully fleshed out. It was one of the best aspects of the story.

When the story got to the last stretch, however, I was not completely impressed. The final revelation felt a bit cheap to me—it felt more like a technicality than a solid plot device. I think that this novel might have been better perhaps if the focus was on the rich cast of characters and not on cheap thrills. This books might have been A+ material for me if it explored these relationships in more depth and without the distraction of the mystery element. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mystery/thriller. But I don’t think it really fit here—at least not in the way that it was done. I don’t think the question should be “Can you figure out Emily’s secret?” but, “Who are these people, really?”

Storyline B
Structure/Execution B-
Writing A-
Characters A
Conclusion C

While I don’t think this is a proper mystery/thriller, I think the writing and the exploration of family make this a worthwhile read. 
About the Author 
Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, England, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent more than twenty years working in marketing and advertising. One Step Too Far is her debut novel, and was first published independently in the UK, where it shot to the #1 spot on the bestseller list. Her second novel is forthcoming. She lives in North London with her husband and son.
Find out more about Tina at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tina’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, January 27th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, January 28th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, January 29th: Fuelled by Fiction
Monday, February 2nd: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, February 3rd: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, February 4th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, February 5th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, February 6th: Books in the Burbs
Monday, February 9th: The Well-Read Redhead
Tuesday, February 10th: Vox Libris

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“Waiting On” Wednesday #2: A Spool of Blue Thread

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme  hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

This week I am Waiting On A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler! 

Literary Fiction
Hardcover, 368 pages
To be published February 10th, 2015 by Bond Street Books
[Pre-Order Now]*

Here is the synopsis of the book via Goodreads:

“From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning authornow in the fiftieth year of her remarkable careera brilliantly observed, joyful and wrenching, funny and true new novel that reveals, as only she can, the very nature of a family’s life. 
     “‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.’ This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole familytheir two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dogis on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red’s father. Brimming with the luminous insight, humor, and compassion that are Anne Tyler’s hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, this book sounds positively, absolutely amazing. I have not read one of Tyler’s books before, but coming from a Pulitzer winner, I’m sure the writing will be astounding. 

Family is one of my favourite themes to read about. There are so many different kinds of people, and therefore, different kinds of families. But no matter what, there are certain elements that are universal, and can be felt by all—even if we connect with them differently. 

I’m eagerly anticipating this family saga, and will surely be picking up a copy when it is released. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Are you looking forward to this book as well? If you participate in this meme, be sure to link up your post in the comments!

*This is an affiliate link to the Book Depository. For more information, see here. 

Top Ten Tuesday #7: Book Club Picks!

Top 10 Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club, If I Had A Book Club (in no particular order):

top ten tuesday book club picks

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
This books just sounds really interesting. I think it will explore some topics that would make for great discussion! 

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
I read this in 2014 and when I was finished I just wanted to talk about it. I think that this book would be great for a book club discussion, and Book Movement agrees with me! It was a number one book club pick for quite a while! (Find my review here).

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
I read this book in 2014 for a TLC book tour. I really enjoyed this book for the most part, and in the end there were some things I seriously wanted to discuss. I even created a discussion post with spoilers in addition to my review because I just really needed to let it out! (Find my review here).

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi 
This book has been on my TBR since it was released, and reviews that I have read/watched about it say that is does indeed explore some interesting and difficult (but important) topics that would make for some great discussion. And, it’s a retelling of Snow White. So that adds another layer to chat about! 

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
I have heard tons of great things about Zadie Smith but still have yet to read anything by her! I own two of her books (this one and White Teeth) and think that they both sound like good book club picks. 

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard of this one! It came out last year to rave reviews and the momentum is still going! I’ve had a copy of this one since it was released but still have yet to read it. It sounds like a great story, and one that would lend well to book club chatter. 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
I read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and really enjoyed it. I’ve had this one since it was released but for some reason have yet to pick it up. However, if it’s anything like The Husband’s Secret, I’m sure it’s got some interesting topics to discuss, especially as they relate to family.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  by AS King 
(anything by AS King I think would inspire good discussion!!) 
After I read this book I had such a huge book hangover. I just wanted to talk it out. Once I have fully digested this (yes, I’m still reflecting!) I will post a review! 

Lock In by John Scalzi
This Sci-Fi has some really great themes that I would love to chat about. (You can find my review here).

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
I just loved this book so much and would want to share the love with other book-loving people. This is one of my top reads of 2014! (You can find a short review here).

So… Anyone want to start a book club with me? I’d love to be part of a book club. 😛

What would your choices be? If you’ve participated in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, link it up in the comments! 

“Waiting On” Wednesday #1

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme  hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

This is my first time doing this meme. I figure it’s probably a good idea to be in the know about upcoming releases, because I’m generally bad at that… SO. Here’s my first effort!

This one is getting a lot of buzz and comes out in less than a week. I listened to If I Stay and Where She Went in 2014 and am looking forward to reading more of this author’s work. So, without further ado, this week I’m waiting on …

I Was Here by Gayle Forman (obviously)
Hardcover, 288 pages
January 27th, 2015 by Viking Juvenile 

Here’s the blurb (via Goodreads):
Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

“When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
“I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.”

This books sounds a bit heavy and dark, but I like those kind of reads. And, it’s Gayle Forman! It promises to be a good read. And I will certainly be picking it up when it comes out on January 27th!  

What about you? Will you be picking up I Was Here? What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Short review of SNOW LIKE ASHES

snow like ashes sara raasch
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, 422 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
$21.99 (List Price in CAD) [Goodreads] [Purchase]*
Snow Like Ashes is a riveting YA Fantasy about the land of Primoria. Primoria is divided up into eight separate kingdoms, each falling into one of two categories. There are four Rhythm kingdoms—Paisly, Cordell, Ventralli, and Yakim—who each experience the changing of the seasons. Then there are the Season kingdoms—Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring—who each experience one static season. The rulers of each kingdom possess a conduit, or a item that contains the magic of their kingdom. The conduits allow the rulers to help their kingdoms prosper. Four of the kingdoms require male rulers to use the conduits, and the other four require female rulers to use the conduits. 

The story begins with a band of refugees in exile. There are eight in total, each a survivor of the fall of Winter. For the past sixteen years, they have been trying to take back the conduit that was stolen from them in hopes of rebuilding their kingdom. 
Meira has spent her whole life as a refugee. She was orphaned during the attack on Winter and has been raised by Winter’s General. She has been taught to be a warrior and hopes to be able to contribute something to her Kingdom. Soon, things go wrong and Meira must face dark powers and equally dark political ambitions. Along the way she struggles to find out who she really is, where she fits, and most of all, where her destiny is taking her. 
This is an amazing YA Fantasy with some first class world building. The characters are real and three dimensional, facing compelling obstacles. Occasionally, I found the backstory a little convoluted. The reader is immediately thrust into a world with eight kingdoms with different alliances and backstories to keep track of. In the beginning it was a bit of an information overload. After you get into the story, however, things get easier to grasp and the focus narrows to three of the eight kingdoms. 
Once I got into it, this book was impossible to put down. There’s lot of action with a butt-kicking heroine, epic battles, and epic love stories! I loved this book and highly recommend it to fans of fantasy. This book is the first in a trilogy and I am dying for the next instalment to be released!

Adventures of a Book Blogging Newbie: INFORMATION OVERLOAD

You know how sometimes you’re on a website or blog, and the home page is just filled to the brim with content? The posts are there in their entirety—so many words and images it can be rather overwhelming? As a newbie, I knew this wasn’t my favourite thing as it could make for difficult browsing. But I didn’t know how to do anything about it. I’d see other people’s blogs with their lovely “Read More” buttons and I’d be super jealous! Thinking back I probably could have googled it. But I think I thought it was something only a more seasoned blogger or web designer would know how to solve. BOY WAS I WRONG! 

If you’re using Blogger, it’s the simplest thing in the world! There is this handy little button that inserts a page jump! I feel like an idiot for not knowing this. But at the same time, how would I know what that little button did if no one ever told me? And I never sought out the answers? I think I was being a bit lazy bananas. 

blogger page jump read more tutorial

Using this tool cleans up your homepage and makes it look much nicer (in my opinion)! I wish I had found out about it sooner. However, better late than never! If you’re planning on starting your own blog, or refreshing an existing blog, I recommend using this feature! It makes your home page much more clear-cut, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate. It gives the reader just a snippet of the content, hopefully catching their interest. If it does, they can click to read the rest of the content! If not, they can happily keep scrolling until they find what they are looking for. This way they get exposed to more of your content, because you can fit more on the page! 

What do you think? Do you prefer snippets with “read more” buttons, or do you like to have all the content right there? Bloggers, do you use “read more” buttons? 

Bout of Books 12.0 WRAP UP!

Howdy folks,

It’s January 12th and already I have completed one of my 2015 resolutions! That resolution was to participate in one Read-a-thon! From January 5-11th I participated in (as you probably know) the Bout of Books 12.0 Read-a-thon! My goal was to read five books this week. Let’s take a look at how I did.

Books I completed reading during Bout of Books:

Stats time! 

Lock In by John Scalzi—337 pages
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King—326 pages
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger—202 pages
Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi—192 pages
Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi—224 pages
Captain Marvel: Down by Kelly Sue Deconnick—150 pages

That’s, ahem, SIX books! So yay! I met my goal!

Books I read during Bout of Books but did not complete: 

Stats Time!
Magyk by Angie Sage—100/564 pages 
                 This books I DNF’d. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but I either just don’t  
                 enjoy middle grade books, or I wasn’t in the mood for one. I’m glad I gave it a try though.
Fables: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham—30/190
                 I read the first issue of this volume. I’m still reading it!
Jackaby by William Ritter—123/299 pages 
                I’m still reading this one; I just haven’t finished it yet! 

Overal Stats:
Books Completed: 6
Books Not Completed: 3
Books Read/Attempted: 9
Novels Completed: 3
Novels Not Completed: 2
Novels Read/Attempted: 5
Graphic Novels completed: 2
Comic Trades Completed: 1
Comic Trades Not Completed: 1
Comic Trades Read/Attempted: 2
Pages Read: 1684

Bout of Books Challenges & Twitter Chats:
I wish I had participated in all of them! However, I did participate in a couple! I did two of the challenges—the Day 4 challenge and the Day 7 challenge. The Day 4 challenge was to create your own short synopsis! The final day’s challenge to create your own fiction dysfunctional family! I also participated in two of the three twitter chats and it was a blast!

Overall I think this was a successful Read-A-Thon! How do you think I did? Did you participate in Bout of Books 12.0? If so, how did you do? If not, do you think you will participate next time?
Let me know in the comments!