Mar 19, 2018

Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Juggling Life and Blog

"The idea behind Bloggiesta is to spend four days working on perfecting your blog and connecting with other bloggers who are doing the same thing. Spread the word and get all your friends to come and fiesta with us!"
-Join in using the Button Below-

Bloggiesta Spring 2018  Officially Starts  (TODAY) March 19 and runs until March 25!

- Mini Challenge - 
Juggling Life and a Blog

I have been blogging for about 6 years now and some things have changed in that time, like, I have gone through a few jobs and I have moved to a new state. 

When I started blogging it was because I was done with college and graduate school and after those things I had all this time on my hands and needed something to do. I was a reader so blogging about the books I was reading seemed like an easy solution... 

Let's just put this out there now - the idea of blogging is easy, sometimes the content comes easily, but if this is your hobby, you know that it really is far from it - and why is that? Because Life Happens... that's why. So lets take some time to talk about some techniques I have learned over the years that may help you juggle your gorgeous blog and your wonderfully-event filled life.


Background: I am a blogger who also works 40+ hours a week. I don't have kids but I am married and have a few pets to take care of as well.

Some quick rules that I try to hold to - 

First things first - Prioritize! Your blog is probably your hobby if you have a day job or if you are going to school, so if it falls out of sync for a bit - THAT IS OK!  Acceptance is key here (I still work on this sometimes). If you have a following they won't completely forget about you if you take some time off. Do what you need to do, then jump back in.

Organization is key when you are juggling life or a blog. You would do the same thing at your job, with school work, or if you have a family. Staying organized just makes things run smoother. That way when sh** hits the fan , you will still be ok. BUT - plan YOUR way, my methods might not be for you, so play around with a few to see what's right.

Do things on Your Time - if you don't feel up to blogging, don't. If you force yourself to do ALL THE THINGS - especially a hobby, when you don't want to or aren't feeling it you could get burnt out really quick. And then we (the blogging community) would miss you.

On to the helpers...

Easy Projects to Get Organized
Here are a few things that I do to help me stay focused when I need to blog.

Image result for email inbox
Keep that inbox clean - or as clean as you can. This seems so simple, but it is SO HARD! I am not even a popular blogger and I get so many emails. I have started using the Gmail's multiple inbox feature. If you aren't, I highly recommend it. I have the following categories - Pending Review, Awaiting Info, and Review Requests.   

  • Pending Review is exactly that, anything I have agreed to review on a timeline. 
  • Awaiting Info is for anything that I need more input from the sender on - so if I am part of a blog tour and need the materials or if I said I couldn't review but would be willing to promo for an author and need that info.
  • Review Requests is unsolicited requests to read that have included the ebook in the initial emails OR ones that I have agreed to review but on my own time versus on a schedule. 
  • Then only the Main Inbox and Archiving is what is left. I archive things as I need to, for example - if I finished a tour or book review. then anything in my main inbox is only new stuff that I have not responded to or need to do. This way I can find things easily and see what needs to be done quickly.

Calendars - How do you schedule your time? Do you think a calendar will work for you? 

As a blogger we do a lot of things: reviews, discussions, promo spots, blog tours. There is a lot going on. So for me- I need a calendar. I use the google calendar linked to my gmail. I have also tried a paper calendar and planner, but the online version is what worked best for me. That way I can click it open while I am in my email and see what is on the schedule and it is less that I have to keep in my brain (things tend to get lost in there).  This also helps if you do things like Waiting on Wednesday which are reoccurring but you might not do it every week.

Scheduling and Autoposting -  more on this below, but it is so important I am going to note it a few times. Like using the calendar above, I adore scheduling.
The best feature that Blogger and other platforms have is the scheduled post. You can write your review in January and in March your review can magically appear on a day and time of your choice... tada!!!! That way you can read to your hearts content and still have media later on the blog closer to release dates. Don't get me wrong, I still fly by the seat of my pants on a lot of posts (ahem- this one) and post pretty much the same day, just depends on how much I feel like procrastinating. 

So those are my recommendations for easy-ish things that can help you out. But what about other stuff? There is so much more that goes into blogging than keeping your inbox clean, right?!  And organization can only get you so far!

Of course - in the long-term you need some more concrete plans. So what do I use you might ask?.. Keep on reading...

Long-Term Helpers
There are the things I almost ALWAYS do to keep my blog running.

Bloggiesta - you read that correctly - THIS EVENT! It is my happy place. It MAKES me remember to do all of the above plus a few other things that I always put off. Bloggiesta is the best blog-maintenance time. If anything is broken, links etc - now is the time to fix them. Have you been cross-posting reviews? No, now's the time for that too, and you have the support of all the other people participating too. It is like peer-pressure in the best way. 

I blog when I can. Like I mentioned before, I work quite a bit, but a lot of that work can be waiting for responses to emails so that I can progress in my day - during that time I can cross-post some reviews and back up the blog. I know not all jobs have this down time, but if you can work it in, it helps a lot! 

Also - being married, I love having events like this. I can say "Hubs - this week is Bloggiesta, and I need to do it" and he actually knows what that means and will encourage me to sit down and work at it. It is a set of dates that I cannot break away from if I really want to participate. (the Hubs is also very supportive of the blog and does try to leave me alone to blog when I need to).

'Blog Sprints' or Blog Ahead - Ahead is a challenge I like to participate in, there are month long versions and some shorter ones as well. It is run by The Herd Presents:
"This challenge is all about getting a jump on your blog posts and building up the number of completed and scheduled posts you have ready to go. It's a lifesaver for trips, emergencies, blogging slumps. Absolutely what keeps my blog going year round. " 

Or you can just "Blog Sprint" - Like I am doing today. I have to finish this post, then write my reviews for the week - there are 2 and I would like to prep one to go live later. I have set aside the morning to get it all done. I have a list and coffee (and sugar) to keep me moving along. 

Book Blogger? 

File:Book sale loot (4552277923).jpg
Bringing a book EVERYWHERE - as a reader, this always happens for me anyway, but as a blogger too it is much more important now. If you have the time to read a few lines or paragraphs - do it! Keep an ebook on your phone - they are great for bus rides and audiobooks are great while at work if you are allowed or while you are doing chores at home. Sitting down with a physical book isn't your only option and none of the above is 'cheating'... and, BONUS!, you get more reading done to help prep content on your blog.
A running TBR list - With physical books you can have a pile on your shelf or nightstand that you need to read ASAP, but with ebooks and audiobooks added into the mix keeping everything straight can be difficult. Since I love lists - I have a giant spreadsheet and it has SO much info in it. It has the book, author, release date, when I need to review, who sent it to me, where I have to load the review (ex. Netgalley) plus a bunch more. It is organized by month so I can see how many books I need to read and when to should start reading them. You might have another system but this works for me. And now that I am thinking about it I should save it as a Google Drive document so I can access it all the time versus just on my home computer. (I need to add this to my Bloggiesta to do list).


Now for some application and a GIVEAWAY!
Do you use any of these methods? Do you have some to share with me? How do you juggle everything?

RULES to Enter: 
Must be participating in Bloggiesta this round.
Must be 13 with parent permission or older.
Must complete all Mandatory entries.
US Only - (Sorry, shipping can get $$)

Goodies from the shelf may be a book or two, excerpt packets, bookmarks, pens etc. 
We will see..... don't you love a surprise.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mar 18, 2018

Building the Book Pile #246

Welcome to Building the Book Pile!  A Weekly meme inspired by Stacking the Shelves

Hello Readers, Bloggers, and Awesome people! 

Happy Weekend All! I am getting back on track, slowly, but surely. I had a few reviews up this week and this upcoming week is Bloggiesta! So I will be kicking myself into gear and sprucing up where I need to. I also got some reading done and need to write reviews (yay!)

How has your week been so far?
Share about your week with me in the comments below!

  Giveaways  on Cover2CoverBlog!
One soon for Bloggiesta!

Coming up on the Blog

Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Juggling Blogging and Life
Early Reader Review: Craft Cat and the Great Butterfly Battle by Charise Mercie Harper (GN, MG) 
Recent Reads: Maribel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett (MG, YA)
Recent Reads: Saga Volume 3 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Adult, GN) 


Possible reviews, depending on my reading:
Hardened Hearts by Various (Short stories, Adult)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (YA)

Books Received this Week

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour 

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels - From Librarything Early Reviewers and Tundra Books for review.

Have you missed anything lately?

Comment and leave me a link to your Round-up/ STS/ Weekly...anything, post and I will happily stop by and say hello!
Happy Reading!

Mar 16, 2018

Bloggiesta Spring 2018: To Do List

"The idea behind Bloggiesta is to spend four days working on perfecting your blog and connecting with other bloggers who are doing the same thing. Spread the word and get all your friends to come and fiesta with us!"
-Join in using the Button Below-

Bloggiesta Spring 2018  Officially Starts March 19 and until March 25!

Get your To-Do Lists ready!


Here is my to do list with a lot of the repeat offenders (I not for this event a lot of this would never get done):
  • Back up the blog !
  • Update my "Reviews by Author" Tab  
  • Cross post onto Amazon and Goodreads as needed
  • Update my TBR spreadsheet with recent books in/out 
  • Clean up my email inbox 
  • Do a mini challenge (or two)
  • Visit as many Bloggiesta blogs as possible (IF NOT ALL) to cheer people on :)
 (I will be using strike through to show the tasks completed)

Added Items:
If I think of anything else, I will add as I go down here:
  • Add TBR Sheet to Google Drive
  • Write Reviews for the week

    Mar 15, 2018

    Early Reader Review: Unicorn of Many Hats by Dana Simpson

     Source: From Netgalley and Andrew McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

    Unicorn of Many Hats (Heavenly Nostrils, 7)
    Unicorn of Many Hats by Dana Simpson
    Series: Heavenly Nostrils
    Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing
    Publication Date:  March 20, 2018

    Format: Ebook



    Goodreads Synopsis: 
    In this installment, Phoebe decides to start the school year off right by offering a peace treaty to frenemy Dakota, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils becomes the unlikeliest of babysitters, and Phoebe is totally surprised to find out that her Secret Santa isn't Dakota or Max!
    I still haven't read the first books in this series but I am still really liking the ones that I am picking up as the story continues. This is another collection of Phoebe and Marigold, not a full story like the last one, but more like comic strips in one book. If you haven't read any of these, they aren't hard to pick up and just start - as long as you just go with the fact that Phoebe has a unicorn for a bestie.

    The illustrations are fun and vibrant, and the dialogue is clever and sarcastic and wonderful for a lot of age groups. I always laugh out loud when I am reading this series and I can't wait for the next one. 

    Mar 14, 2018

    Early Reader Review: Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang

    Source: From Netgalley and Annick Press in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

    Sugar and Snails
    Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang

    Publisher:  Annick Press
    Publication Date:  March 13, 2018

    Format: Ebook



    Goodreads Synopsis: 
    A novel twist to a classic rhyme.
    Who says that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice?” Or that boys are made of “frogs and snails and puppy dog tails?” What if girls were made of “boats and snails and dinosaur tails?” And little boys of “flowers and swings and bumblebee wings?” When the traditional rhyme just doesn’t seem to fit the boy and girl visiting their grandpa, he comes up with a list of unusual alternatives. Soon the children are coming up with their own versions that challenge the old stereotypes with a whimsical list of ingredients. To add to the new quirky version are lively illustrations that beautifully capture the children’s imaginative flights of fancy. Young readers will delight in the small details of Sonja Wimmer’s vibrant art, and be inspired to think of their own silly examples of what ingredients they might be made of themselves.
    I was excited to have received this book for review because the synopsis was adorable and I love the concept of twisting classics. I have even been on a retelling 'kick' in the MG and YA books I have been reading.  

    This book was whimsically illustrated as it re-told the rhyme about girls being made of sugar and spice and boys being made of snails and puppy dog tails. The illustrations show the new rhymes - all were hilarious and cute. I really liked this spin on the classic. It allowed for girls to be made of dirty things, and boys to like flowers and balloons. I think it was really well done. The ending kind of drops off and leaves the reader hanging but it might makes for an interesting question to talk about - What are you made of?

    Mar 11, 2018

    Building the Book Pile #245: Another Slacker Edition

    Welcome to Building the Book Pile!  A Weekly meme inspired by Stacking the Shelves

    Hello Readers, Bloggers, and Awesome people! 

    Happy Tuesday Readers! It is snowing again here in VT and we might get another foot, but it depends on the path of the storm... fingers crossed it is only a few inches.

    Anywho, as you might have noticed, this post is REALLY late (hahaha), I have just been a slacker and lazy, there are really no other excuses for this late post. I knew I had to finish it and just didn't - what did I do instead? I played World of Warcraft and watched Psych on Amazon Prime, I went on a quest to find a very specific kind of coffee, and I had Taco Night with a group of friends. It was a good weekend. 

    Last week was still busy at work so I tried to relax more when I got home and thus not planning this week on the blog. But I do have a few things that will go up later this week, so thanks for sticking through this lull!

    How has your week been so far?
    Share about your week with me in the comments below!

      Giveaways  on Cover2CoverBlog!
    None right now.

    Coming up on the Blog

    Early Reader Review: Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang (Youth)
    Early Reader Review: Unicorn of Many Hats by Dana Simpson (GN)
    Bloggiesta To Do List

    Possible reviews, depending on my reading:
    Hardened Hearts by Various (Short stories, Adult)
    Maribel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett (MG, YA)

    Books Received this Week

     Today I'll Be a Unicorn  The Lost PathSimon and the Big, Bad, Angry Beasts: A Book about Anger Deep Water  Sugar and Snails

    Today I'll be a Unicorn by Dana Simpson - From Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing
    The Lost Path by Amelie Flechais - From Netgalley and Lion Forge
    Simon and the Big, Bad Angry Beasts by Ian De Haes - From Netgalley and Flyaway Books
    Deep Water by Watt Key  - From Macmillan Children's Publishing
    Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang - From Netgalley and Annick Press
    A friend also let me borrow volumes 1-8 of Saga ( I have read the first ones but will re-read and read the whole series)

    Have you missed anything lately?

    Comment and leave me a link to your Round-up/ STS/ Weekly...anything, post and I will happily stop by and say hello!
    Happy Reading!

    Mar 9, 2018

    Recent Reads: Dragon's Future by Kandi Wyatt

    Source: From Aurora Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

    Dragon's Future (Dragon Courage, #1)Dragon's Future by Kandi Wyatt
    Series: Dragon Courage Volume 1
    Publisher: Booktrope/Updrift, Audible Audio
    Publication Date:  February 22, 2017

    Format:  Audiobook



    Goodreads Synopsis: 
    Every child of Woolpren dreams of becoming one, but only a few are chosen. Now, ten-year-old twin brother and sister, Ruskya and Duskya, have been selected to join an elite group of riders: dragon riders. Full of awe and excitement, the twins leave their mother, and their home, to train for their new lives.

    Fifteen years later, dragons are becoming extinct and riders are rare. One day, Ruskya is at the general store in town when a man announces that he is recruiting new dragon riders. Ruskya goes undercover, and discovers that there is another colony of riders with their own agenda—a quest to find a mysterious plant that could restore the dragon population, or destroy it. When a battle erupts between the two colonies, it’s up to Ruskya and his friends to fight for their dragons’ future, and their lives.

    Follow Ruskya’s quest as he finds courage and friendship in this exciting middle grade fantasy series by new author Kandi J Wyatt.
    I was very interested in this fantasy when I first read the synopsis. Dragons and riders and mystery, it was all so intriguing. I received the audiobook from a publicity agent and got into it pretty quickly. I found myself putting off listening to it and it took me a month to get through it, but it wasn't the story that was putting me off, it was the narrator of the audiobook. 

    The story is about a pair of twins that are chosen to be dragon riders, an elite group taken from their small village every so often. They are chosen by these dragons to ride them and they set off almost immediately into their new lives. 

    Later in the story we learn that there is another group of riders and they are looking for a way to find a mysterious herb that is said to help with new dragons and furthering the line. There is a lot of action in all this plot, but there are also a lot of characters - the twins, their dragons, their trainer and his dragon, their mother, the other townspeople and dragon riders and it made it hard to keep track of everyone. I think if I had read the book it would have been ok, but the narrator had the same voices for many of the characters and it was very difficult for me to keep track, on top of that the names were all very similar as well. That was my biggest issues though.

    The battle scenes were very good and the characters all grew to some extent. I liked the communication between the riders and their dragons and the mystery that unraveled through the story which made for good pacing. I loved the dragons! Overall it was a good tale and I enjoyed it, but it wasn't the best audiobook I have listened to in terms of the narration. I would have liked more depth in that.

    Mar 7, 2018

    Waiting on Wednesday: Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang

    Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang
    Publisher: Annick Press
    Publication Date: March 13, 2018

    Why I Am Waiting:
    This book just sounds like an adorable children's book... and I like remixing the classics.

    Mar 4, 2018

    Blog Tour: Review! The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson

    The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson
    Series: The Super Life of Ben Braver #1
    Publisher: Roaring Book Press
    Publication Date:  March 6, 2018

    Format: Hardback

    Source: From the
    Macmillan Children's Publishing in exchange for a honest review for blog tour. This in no way alters my opinion or review.



    Goodreads Synopsis: 
    Ben Braver is an ordinary kid. All he wants to do is finish his summer watching awesome TV shows and eating his favorite candy. But when some kid screams for help, Ben, like his favorite comic book heroes, tries to save the day. Let's just say it ends badly. But it does lead him to a secret school where kids with super abilities learn to control their powers. Ben's never had any powers—and never thought he could be special. So when he's offered a spot at the school, Ben realizes this is his chance to become the superhero he's always dreamed of. Packed with black-and-white art and comic strips throughout.
    The Super Life of Ben Braver is about a boy who one day gets attacked by a kid with super powers. Later he is recruited to join a school for the kids with super powers. There they learn to control them and hide them from the world. Ben is brought in without knowing his power and he has to figure it out in order to stay at the school. 

    This was a great middle grade read, Ben is a hilarious narrator of his own story and his thoughts are witty and truthful throughout the writing. He has fears and anxieties like normal kids do, just in a not-so-normal setting. He makes some great friends along the way and their relationships are out of necessity but also work really well in the story. 

    The story overall was a lot of fun too, a school for super kids (with X-Men jokes included), a strange illness in the school, maybe even a super villain or two. It was action packed the whole way through, I think younger readers will really enjoy it. I did and found myself laughing out loud at Ben and his crazy thoughts about how to bring out his powers. 

    It was a wild ride of a story and readers will have a blast with it.

    About the Author:

    Marcus Emerson is the author of the hit Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series and the Secret Agent 6th Grader series. His career started in 2nd grade when he discovered Garfield. He grew up playing Super Mario Bros. 4, watching Thundercats, and reading comics like X-Men, Superman, and Wildcats. He lives in Eldridge, Iowa with his wife and children.