On Slow and Steady Blog Growth | My Book Blogging Journey

Hello everyone! Some of you have been on this journey with me since practically the beginning, but I think most of you are pretty new (to me, at least). I’ve officially been a book blogger since March 2015 which means I’ve been doing this for almost 4.5 years (yikes). I originally started my blog because I was at a time in my life when I was reading A TON of books, but not retaining much about them. I had just graduated with my undergrad and was working part-time, but my husband was still in school/doing homework, so I had a lot of free time on my hands (thus the much reading).

I was frustrated that I would read a book, but then couldn’t remember anything about it. So I started this blog so I could have a place for my reviews and could hopefully remember more about what I was reading. I had (briefly) run a personal blog before this (super embarrassing and long deleted) so I sort of knew what I was doing, but not really.

My blogging journey since then has had a lot of ups and downs. I would go through spurts where I would post EVERY DAY (sometimes more than once) but then others where I wouldn’t post for weeks. This is what my yearly blog stats currently look like:

Yearly

2016 was clearly my most productive year, but that’s also when I started Library School and I had to do blog posts for some of my classes. Thus, a lot of those views are actually from classmates and don’t really count since, you know, they were doing it for a grade.

My next (and biggest) dip came right after I had my baby in April 2018. Some of you might remember that he came 5.5 weeks early and then we promptly moved up to live with my parents in Seattle for an internship. That summer was a HUGE dip in reading and blogging and it’s been hard to get back in a rhythm since. As soon as I whip out a book, my baby MUST come over and see what I’m doing, so it’s been harder to get reading time in. Despite that, in the beginning of 2019 I recommitted to this blog.

But then, life happens again. Another turbulent April. My grandmother unexpectedly passed away, we had three weddings around that time as well, plus my husband was graduating from Grad School, and then the next month I was trying to wrap everything up at work since we were moving to a completely different state…it was a lot.

Now we’re here. Life has calmed down significantly as we find our new rhythm in California and as I figure out what it’s like to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m hoping to be able to dedicate time to reading and this blog again on a more consistent basis (fitting blogging and reading in at naptime/bedtime).

From a mildly seasoned blogger, I just want to convey the message that it’s okay if your blog isn’t growing as fast as you want it to or think it should. I cannot count the number of posts I’ve seen where someone is like, “OMG I’ve been blogging for 6 months and just hit 1,000 followers thxsomuch!!!” Which is fine, good for them. Honestly, I have no idea how they do it. I’ve been blogging for years and currently have 918 followers–at least half of which I’m SURE are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s a look at my monthly views since this blog’s inception:

Monthly

So if you’re a new (or old) blogger and you feel like things aren’t happening for you just…don’t get discouraged, okay? Remember why you started your blog in the first place. It’s a journey and it can be frustrating, but in the end you started your blog for a reason and I’ve found significant comfort in regrounding myself in that reason.

I have no idea how my stats compare to other blogs, but those are real numbers and I’m only looking to compare my blog to where I’ve been in the past. This June has been looking much better than last June, so that’s enough for me.

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5 Best Reality TV Shows for the Summer

This is a departure from my usual, I know, but in addition to reading books, I also love watching TV! My husband and I have a few reality TV shows that we especially love to watch over the Summer.

Best Summer Reality TV

The Amazing Race

If you love traveling but you’re also broke (it me) then this is a show for you! You get to see a ton of cool places while the contestants travel and their challenges are also fun to watch. Their current season is about to wrap up, but if you have time and want to get a CBS All Access subscription (I know, it’s annoying) then you can watch all the back seasons as well as this current one. I liked this current season especially because the contestant were past Amazing Race teams as well as teams from previous Survivor and Big Brother seasons. Which brings me to…

Big Brother

CBS just does reality TV right (we’re also HUGE Survivor fans). The new Big Brother season starts TONIGHT. Since we don’t actually have real TV, we’ll be watching it tomorrow, so no spoilers! I was actually surprised when my husband got into Big Brother too. He already liked Survivor and The Amazing Race, but I thought he’d think Big Brother was dumb since it’s so much more about the social drama. Much to my delight, he’s just as into it as I am! I LOVE the drama and the social politics and it always gives me such pleasure when people are super petty when voting for the winner at the end. Karma, baby.

America’s Got Talent

I’ve been sort of in and out with AGT the past few seasons, but this Summer, I’m solidly in. I really love Terry Crews and I’m excited for all of the fun dance/magic/comedy/variety acts that they have this year.

Songland

Who else has been watching this gem? It’s new this year and my husband and I have been LOVING IT. It’s fascinating to see the transformation that songs go through from conception to being recorded by an artist. I really hope this show comes back next summer because it’s amazing!

So You Think You Can Dance

My OG Summer obsession…seriously though, I went to the Season 4 live tour and had their poster in my room (aka I liked tWitch before he became Ellen’s DJ). I’m SO glad that they don’t have Vanessa Anne Hudgens back as a judge this year and I hope that D-Trix isn’t just a judge for the auditions. I love the new audition stage plus the 360 cameras. The live show format has changed over time, so I’ll be interested to see what they do this year. I liked last season where the contestants got paired up with each other as in the OG seasons, so I hope they do that again.

What TV shows are you watching this Summer? What are some of your favorite shows in general? Let me know in the comments! And if you want to talk about any of these shows I AM HERE FOR IT.

Update on My 2019 Reading Goals

At the beginning of the year I had this post listing my reading/book goals for 2019. Now that we’re about halfway through the year, I thought I’d give a little update as to where I’m at! For those of you too lazy to click my link (sheepishly raises hand), here are my 2019 goals:

  • Reread the Harry Potter series
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Neil Gaiman books in general
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Jane Eyre
  • VE Schwab books

2019 Reading Goals

Reread the Harry Potter series

Hello goal that is apparently never going to happen. I checked out the audiobook for The Sorcerer’s Stone at one point, but never got around to listening to it. I thought audio could be the way to go, but I’m so

bad at listening to audiobooks when I’m subscribed to too many podcasts. The holds lists are always so long for these books too…I honestly don’t know if this will get completed.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Yeah…haven’t even gotten close on this one.

Neil Gaiman books in general

I did purchase an eBook copy of Good Omens when it was on sale a few months ago. That combined with the TV show…I think I’ll get to it this year. Beyond Good Omens, I have a physical copy of The Anansi Boys on my shelf. I’m pretty sure I read that one way, WAY back (when I was probably too young to be reading it) but I want to read it again when I’ll actually remember stuff. I’ve also heard good things about Norse Mythology so that’s on my list. Oh! And I read Coraline.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Confession: I had a physical copy of this book, but I’d bought it secondhand from a library book sale and it wasn’t in great condition. So in this last move, I got rid of it *puts face in hands*. However, I did this fully intending to check it out from the library. It was one that I figured I would definitely be able to check out. Long story short, I’m still planning on reading this!

Jane Eyre

A couple of years ago, I posted about this wonderful app that allows you to read classic books in digestible little chunks. I stopped using it after finishing Northanger Abbey but writing this post has given me a burst of (perhaps misguided) inspiration! I’ve just redownloaded the app and added Jane Eyre to my list. So we can mark this goal as “IN PROGRESS”.

VE Schwab books

Finally, the only goal I actually feel good about. Yes, I finished the Shades of Magic trilogy and LOVED IT. I’m so glad I finally read these books! I’m currently on hold for Vicious and I intend to love it just as much as Shades of Magic.

So by my count, I’ve finished like… 1.5/6 goals. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes!

What were your 2019 reading goals and how are you doing with them?

Discussion: How do you feel about affiliate links?

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about a (potentially?) touchy topic: AFFILIATE LINKS.

discussion posts

I signed up for the Amazon Associates program back in January. For the first six months, you’re on this trial period where you have to produce three legit sales before you’re officially an Associate.

Now, the reason I decided to go this route is because I’m trying to monetize my blog. I thought it would be awesome if I could make a little money doing something that I was already working on anyway. And especially now that I’ve transitioned into full-time stay-at-home mom status, it would be AMAZING if I could make a little extra money on the side. With that being said, in the almost six months that I’ve been doing this, I’ve produced about 20 sales netting me a whopping $2.86 (which I can’t even cash out, because there’s a $10 minimum).

That got me thinking about how affiliate links might be perceived by readers and other bloggers. I feel like sometimes there might be a perception that bloggers posting affiliate links are greedy? Or perhaps disingenuous? I’d honestly love to hear how you guys feel about affiliate links in the comments. Personally, I don’t mind using affiliate links if I was already planning on purchasing an item or if the post made me interested in an item. For example, I was researching sippy cups for my son to use and had no problem using a blog post’s affiliate links when making my purchase. But I’m not going around to random blogs and purchasing stuff from their links just for fun.

Here’s my policy for posting affiliate links

For general review/mini-review posts:

If I would recommend a book (generally 4 stars or higher) I’ll include links for all the different available formats. I don’t feel good about posting links for books that I didn’t particularly enjoy. That IS something that feels disingenuous to me. I only want you to buy it if I also enjoyed it. I’ve also decided to post links for all of the different formats because I don’t want my readers to feel like I’m pushing the most expensive format onto them so I can get the most kickback. That’s not my goal either.

For my “Best Book Deals” posts:

I get a ton of emails listing discounted eBooks, so I decided to compile some of those and post them on a weekly-ish basis to make things a little easier on you guys. Now, I certainly haven’t read every single book that I link, but I try to provide a really good variety. I’m mostly looking to post YA books and other adult/non-fiction books with titles, authors, or subjects that I think you guys might be interested in (I’m certainly NOT posting every single book deal that’s sent to me–that would be madness). Then, I have a section at the bottom of these posts highlighting the books that I recommend. The books in the “recommended” section are all books that I HAVE read and legitimately recommend.

For other posts:

I don’t have any hard and fast rules for other posts like I do for my reviews and book deals. If you look back in my archive, you’ll probably find a mixture of me inserting Amazon links and not.

I’d like to make a little more money with my links, but I’m not about to start linking to everything on Amazon just to try to get you guys to buy things.

But what do you guys think? Do you generally have a more positive or negative feeling towards affiliate links? Are you currently using them/have used them in the past? How did that go? Let me know in the comments!

SARAH DESSEN + NETFLIX = HEART EYES

We have all heard this news by now, yes? If not, brace yourself…Netflix has optioned not one, not two, but THREE of Sarah Dessen’s books! I am BEYOND excited.

Sarah Dessen Netflix

We all know that I am a Sarah Dessen STAN. I almost died when she retweeted this blog post of mine. My brother-in-law even noticed and said something. If that doesn’t show my true devotion to this queen, then I don’t know what does. According to this article by Hollywood Reporter, they’ll be doing Along for the Ride first which I am so pumped about. All I’m saying, though, is that they better include The Washroom because it is the best Sarah Dessen location of all time.

I’m also eager to see This Lullaby turned into a movie. I’ve long thought that this is the one that would be most suitable for a movie. I hope they get Remy perfect and I can’t wait to see her and her girlfriends on screen.

Though I’m sad they didn’t pick my fave (The Truth About Forever) I am happy with the choices they made and am BEYOND excited to watch them. Until then, did you guys know that Sarah Dessen has already had two of her books made into a movie? They combined That Summer and Someone Like You into one movie starring Mandy Moore which you can rent on Amazon Prime for $2.99. It doesn’t have like…GREAT reviews, but I liked it.

How excited are you guys for these movies? Who would you pick to play the main characters? Let’s chat in the comments!

Life, man. It happens. [Life Update] [Obviously]

Okay, okay. I know I said I’d be back this month after last month’s two weddings and a funeral, but more things are happening! My husband just graduated with his Master’s in Public Administration and had been applying for jobs all last semester. Well, we finally decided on one so we’re going to be moving! (Yay…) No, but seriously I am excited, just moving is always a beast and this is the first time I’ll be moving out of state with like…STUFF. We’re currently living in Utah, but around the beginning of June we’ll be moving to Central California!

It’ll be a big change with location and we won’t be near family anymore. I’m going to take a break from working for a bit (at least while we get settled) so I’ll be spending a lot more time at home with the baby and maybe (hopefully?) that’ll give me more time to blog? I’ll have to play it by ear, but maybe don’t expect too much from me this month. My reading has actually been going pretty good, but I haven’t had much of a chance to sit down at my computer to post reviews. Thanks for bearing with me and I hope to get back in the groove soon!

The Umbrella Academy: Graphic Novel vs Netflix Show [spoilers]

If you haven’t heard of The Umbrella Academy by now, where have you been? It’s a super popular Netflix show based off of the graphic novels by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance fame). I, personally, watched the show first and quickly became OBSESSED. The show is quirky and fun while also having a generous amount of darkness and violence. After finishing the show, I turned to my library to read the graphic novels and was surprised by the differences I found. This is actually a case where I prefer the on-screen version, but there are things I like about the graphic novels as well. I’m going to do a character by character comparison and then at the end I’ll do a general comparison.

The Umbrella Academy netflix

The Umbrella Academy vol 1: Apocalypse Suite – eBook | Paperback

The Umbrella Academy vol 2: Dallas – eBook | Paperback

The Umbrella Academy vol 3: Hotel Oblivion (preorder) – eBook | Paperback

Luther/Spaceboy (Number 1)

maxresdefault

First, let’s all just agree that Luther is the worst. Like, actually the worst. He’s not quite as bad in the comics, but in the show he’s SO moody and self-righteous and escalated things in a terrible way. In the GN, he’s still a bit of a baby but he’s more tolerable. Maybe that’s just because we don’t see quite as much of him…

Diego/Kraken (Number 2)

Diego Umbrella Academy

In the GN, Diego is missing an eye for a reason that has not been explained. Obviously, they felt they didn’t need that in the show. Perhaps in a later season? In both the show and the GN, Diego has a lot to prove and feels that he should be the leader, not Luther. I feel like the GN makes that tension feel a little more angsty though. Netflix Diego is a lot more likable.

Allison/The Rumor (Number 3)

Allison Umbrella AcademyAllison is a pretty sympathetic character in the show, for me, even if I think she’s too easy on Luther. In the comic, Allison is super angry and we don’t get to see as much of her backstory with her husband or Claire. I think the way they’ve extrapolated Allison’s power for the show into helping her achieve fame, etc. is really interesting. Even though it’s not quite “canon”, I find her Netflix backstory very compelling.

Klaus/Seance (Number 4)

Klaus Umbrella Academy

In the GN, Klaus is a way more helpful character. In fact, he’s actually the one that stops the apocalypse…kind of. In the show, I wondered how helpful he would actually be in battles. His only power is to summon the dead and he’s scared to do it. So how does that help? In the GN, he’s not scared of summoning the dead and uses his communications with them to get information that is helpful for the rest of the team. Also, he has telekinesis. The Klaus in the GN is a more enjoyable character for me, but Netflix Klaus is more interesting.

Number 5

Number 5 Umbrella AcademyNumber 5 is CRAZY in the GN. Like, seriously unhinged. Netflix Number 5 appears to be more human and actually cares about his family, whereas I’m not convinced GN Number 5 does. (Actually, I’m not really convinced that any of them care about each other). Another interesting difference, GN Number 5’s power is to jump through time. He uses microjumps to make it appear like he’s moving from place to place. Netflix Number 5’s power is to teleport, essentially, and then he figures out how to travel forward through time as well as space.

Ben/The Horror (Number 6)

Ben Umbrella Academy

Similar to the show, the GN doesn’t say what happened to Ben. Unlike the show, the only time we see Ben in the GN is in the flashback scenes (and his statue in the courtyard). I liked that the show made Ben more of a character by having him hang around Klaus (because OF COURSE). I’m excited to learn more about him in both future volumes and episodes.

Vanya/The White Violin (Number 7)

Vanya Umbrella AcademyVanya is a lot more angry in the GN than she is in the beginning of the show. Her progression to becoming the White Violin is more subtle and measured in the show, where the GN it just kind of happens to her. Also, in the GN she and Diego seem to have had a thing in the past? Weird. Overall, she seems a lot less rational in the GN than the show (even though she has her moments in the show too).

Reginald Hargreeves (The Monocle) – In the show, it’s a little confusing who Hargreeves is, where he came from, or what he wants with the kids. The GN makes it clear right away that he’s an alien? And that his face is actually just a mask. Also, his monocle plays a much bigger role in the GN as it seems to have some kind of extra power–that doesn’t really play into the show at all.

Mom – She seems to have a lot more awareness in the GN than in the show. I like the GN version a bit more, but I found her origin story on the show pretty interesting.

Cha-Cha and Hazel – Netflix has definitely humanized Cha-Cha and Hazel by 1,000,000%. In the GN, they are ruthless killers and we never see their faces. In the show, you actually have sympathy for them.

Pogo – Netflix Pogo seems nicer. That’s kind of my only take-away.

Show vs Graphic Novel

As I said before, I like the show a little better than the graphic novel because I feel like we get to know the characters on a deeper level. I thought the diversity that they included in the show seemed really genuine–it makes sense that these babies would be of different races. The medium of the show lends itself to taking more time with characters and plot points and I think that’s important with a story this complex. The GN is still enjoyable, but feels like it’s much faster paced because it is. The way that the Academy stops the apocalypse is quite different between the Netflix show and the GN, so I’ll be interested to see where season 2 takes it–whether they incorporate more things from volumes 2 and 3 of the GN or not.

Have you watched the show or read the graphic novels? What did you think? Who’s your favorite character?