I think that after this wonderful review year I should throw down a little of my book review history. I have only been on WordPress doing book reviews for about 2 years, but I’ve been reviewing books much much longer.
I have always loved books, as long as I can remember I was either asking someone to read to me or reading myself. My Great Grandpa was a big reader and had his own library along with a smaller one of kid’s books that I loved going through. My mom was also a reader, but more on the magazine side (we were wild children that rarely allowed her a chance to sit down a read lol) unless we grabbed a book to ask her to read to us.
When I was in middle school (13 or 14 I think) I’d heard of a program called “Pulse-It” hosted by Simon & Schuster. It was essentially an early online book review platform – before Amazon and Goodreads and all that stuff was a thing. As a teen you could sign up to receive one new free random YA novel a month and all that was expected of you was that you write a review on their site of the book you’d received in that months time frame. If you didn’t the service would be cancelled and you’d not receive any more books. FREE new books and all I had to do was write reviews online? I could definitely do this! I did this for quite a while, maybe 2 years, filling my shelves with wonderful new books and experiencing different genres. I loved feeling like my voice mattered and seeing what other teens thought about the books we’d all read. My sister and I were both signed up and we would compare what we thought about the books we received and if we got different ones we’d always swap and share the reading. When the program changed to eBooks only I had to give it up though (I didn’t have constant access to internet back then), so my review career met it’s first pause. They still have a similar eBook program going. I believe their new program to see teen books and read some for free on their website is called “Riveted” if your interested in looking into their program. I definitely recommend it, because Simon & Schuster have some great teen books out there.
My junior year of high school I joined the school newspaper. I wrote articles about vo-tech classes, sporting events, and most importantly (to me) book reviews! Our paper wasn’t “controlled” by the school which meant that the only approval for the things I read had to come from the paper’s editor and advisor. Since our advisor was also the creative writing teacher and a HUGE book advocate she let me choose which ever books I pleased to write about. I’d write about one or two books in each issue and since they were Opinion pieces I felt free to be honest, but not cruel, about how I felt. This is where I learned how to say nice things about something I didn’t like, because even if I didn’t like the story someone else might and I never want to discourage reading. For two years I write short and sweet book reviews for our school newspaper about anything I could find in the school library or in my own personal growing library. Whether my reviews got read by the school’s population I don’t know, but I enjoyed writing them!
Graduating high school caused the second, and longer, pause in my book review career. College was super busy for me, so busy that I pretty much put off reading for pleasure for the majority of the college career. I didn’t have time, or the space, to read in my college dorm. My junior year I had a 6 month internship where I spent 95% of the time traveling alone across the U.S. to work on projects. My first plane trip I had a long layover and was walking around the Dallas airport and happened into a bookstore… my old familiar stomping grounds! After browsing for a long time (I didn’t recognize any of the new titles!) I settled on buying one book – Matched by Ally Condie. After a three year hiatus I was back into reading and was craving more – instantly. Reading is very addictive for me. I was almost halfway through that book before my time at the airport was over so I went back and bought the second book in the series before I left the airport. I was going to have a 10 hour flight to Brazil where I’s be for over a week and wouldn’t be able to find books in English – so I needed to make sure my bookish needs I were covered. Every night in Brazil I would read before falling asleep and felt that familiar need to finish the series. As soon as I landed back in the states I went to the closest bookstore and bought the final book in the trilogy. My book addiction was back and stronger than before, Every week of my internship I was buying more books no matter where I was located. Some were good, others not so good, but I was left chasing the high that Matched gave me and the need for more books just as good. I never found a book that made me feel the same as the Matched series did, but I didn’t quit looking. When my internship was over and I had to go back to school my reading slowed down, but didn’t stop! I have been reading consistently every since.
After college I moved away to a town where I lived right next to a Barnes & Noble! I bought a Nook to make night reading and reading at work easier and discovered that I could write a review of something I read right on my Nook! I began to look again at the online book review forum and would write one or two lines about any book I could rememeber reading. Then with Blogger I decided I’d try writing full length book reviews again for a more consistent audience. That didn’t last too long, I found the platform difficult to use and the app was NOT what I was looking for as far as usability goes. I gave up that blog adventure and went back to just reviewing shortly on Goodreads, Amazin, and my Nook. When I got my Kindle I enjoyed being able to write notes about what I was reading and highlight parts that I wanted to remember to help make my reviews more meaty. I still wanted to write reviews for an audience though, so here and there on my personal Instagram I’d write a blurb about a book once I’d finished reading it on my Kindle.
Then finally WordPress! I started about 2 years ago writing book reviews when I found the time, and only for books that I felt really strongly about! At the beginning of this year I decided that I’d do book reviews more consistently and on a broader scale, I had been reading free Kindle and Nook books for a while and decided that I’d write about anything I read – whether I liked it or not, and whether it was kindof in the middle of the road for me. This year I also created a Bookstagram to help promote my reviews and do other bookish posts! Through Bookstagram I found that authors, expecially indie authors, are willing to give me books to read in exchange for my reviews! My whole view on the review world changed when I realized how important reviews are for authors, I needed to be honest and fair and make sure I talked candidly about the books I was reading. I still read books that I chose, but I can’t stress how much I’ve loved reading books that the author actually reached out to me about. It’s a special feeling, especially when they come back for more or keep in touch!
I have loved my review career from the beginning alomg with all its changes. Now I have no plans on stopping any time soon. I already have authors lined up to contact next year, a few books chosen to be read, and plans to make my blog and Bookstagram better than before!