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text 2017-11-19 01:39
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Task 4 (Second Time) - Penance Day

I decided to discuss suggestions/ideas for book blogging.


1. Be honest. I can't tell you how many people I unfollowed on blogs and Goodreads who I started to feel where just shills for the authors. Readers can tell when you are passionate about a book. And we can also tell when you probably haven't read it, especially when you get whole swatches of information wrong in your review. 


2. Try to always comment back. I know everyone is busy, but I try my best to always comment back if someone comments on my reviews or updates on Booklikes, Goodreads, and Twitter. I like to discuss books with people who love to discuss books. Sometimes it's nice to hear you are not the only one who didn't get a book. Or it's great when you can squee over a book you love with someone else.


3. Don't obsess over your follower/friend count. I know it can be discouraging when a review you worked hard on has three likes and a super reviewer comes along and knocks you clear off. I love blogging cause it allows me to talk about books and any old thing that moves me. I get happy if only one person liked my blog post or only one comments. 


4. If something isn't your thing, don't force it. There are whole genres that people don't like to read. If you don't like romance, don't force yourself to in hopes you gain some followers. I genuinely love to read across many genres. But I don't see the point in struggling to get into reading an author or genre cause it's getting hyped in the book community. 


5. Don't spam. Seriously. I get authors are on Booklikes and Goodreads and for the most part it's all been good. I don't take review requests and the only time I did it this past year was because the author reached out to the site I posted at and asked with the caveat I could say no. They just thought my reviews were hilarious. It of course freaked me out. I read the book and thankfully didn't hate it. But I genuinely stay away from things like that cause I don't want to be hit with requests all the time. Reading books on a schedule doesn't appeal to me and this is reason number 2,325 why I just decided to leave NetGalley alone.


6. Interact with others bloggers. You do that and you'll be surprised at how much good stuff is out there. I met some people here on the Amazon forums, but others I met through discussion threads and thought, gee they don't sound unhinged and maybe since we like the same books they are okay too. I'm always amazed when I see a blogger with a huge follower count with very few people they follow. I love the interaction between bloggers that it's a shame many don't take advantage of it.


7. It's okay to DNF. Seriously. I have beaten myself up for force finishing a book and have now tried to stick to my 25 percent rule. If at 25 percent I am not feeling it, I'm not feeling it.


8. It's okay to take breaks. Real life happens. People will be there when you get back, probably with a cat picture or two just for you.


9. It's okay to not just focus on books. I love reading about everything. Books, movies, plays, something that just stuck in your that day. Blogs and podcasts are the new thing, so be as creative as you want.


10. Don't tell people how they should review. That one gets my blood up every time. It stuns me when anyone strolls into a review and tells the reviewer their opinion is wrong. Look I get it. I love Roxane Gay, but not everyone is going to love her books. And it makes absolutely no sense for me to roll into everybody's review that gave her a one-star and tell them they're an idiot for not getting her brilliance.


11. Try to keep experimenting with what works. Heck some of my best reviews/comments came when I live update a book for a day or two. I get a kick out of making everyone laugh. Never forget "Holly". 


12. Don't be afraid to use gifs. Heck I know some readers hate them, but for me using gifs to show what I felt about a particular book is better than me spewing for a paragraph about how irritated/happy/sad/mad I am. 


13. Reading challenges can be fun and can bring a whole new group of followers/friends to your blog or account. We readers tend to flock to those who love books. So if you have the time, taking part in one or many reading challenges can be fun.


14. Don't overbook yourself. I found this out the hard way. Participating at four separate sites earlier this year burned me out. I finally decided BL and GR and that's it. Posting to more than those two places was a lot for me to track. 


15. Have fun. 




Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  What was a big turning point in your life?  –OR– Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?


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text 2017-11-19 00:24

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Christina Lamb,Malala Yousafzai  My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante,Ann Goldstein  Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch  Foxglove Summer: A Rivers of London Novel - Ben Aaronovitch  

It looks like BL is back up and fully functional again, since I was able to post a comment on someone else's BL post. I'll try to catch up tomorrow, with my posts and with everyone else.


Right now I'm going to park in my reading chair with dogs in my lap and a nice glass of wine and a cheerful fire in the fireplace and try to finish I am Malala for the Quaid-e-Azam square (or the World Peace Day square, I haven't decided yet). On the audio side, I had to DNF My Brilliant Friend on Thursday because it was booooorrrrrinnnngggg and then I decided on Broken Homes for the Advent square and OH MY GOD that plot twist at the end made me spend another Audible credit so I could jump right into Foxglove Summer. Which I hadn't planned on but maybe I can use it for the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti reading task?


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text 2017-11-18 23:55
The 16 Festive Tasks -Progress Update

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text 2017-11-18 16:43
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #14: December 12th - 24th - Las Posadas
Harm - Hugh Fraser

Question: For the book task for Las Posadas, does the entire book need to be set in Mexico?


I have just started Hugh Fraser's (yup, THE Hugh Fraser - as in "Hastings") first novel, and it is set in Mexico and the UK from what I can tell.


It's a kinda gritty crime noir type of thing ... which has already had me chuckle a couple of times, as the MC, a woman assassin, seems pretty kick-ass.


I had no idea Fraser wrote books (there are three in this series so far apparently) until I checked his Twitter profile a couple of days ago. Has anyone read any of them?


Book themes for Las Posadas:  Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a 'no room at the Inn’ situation.



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text 2017-11-18 06:30
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square #8 - Las Posadas

Task for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever?  Tell us all about it!


Before I moved the Australia, my job required near constant travel, about 300 days a year.  You'd think I'd have tons of travel related best/worst stories, but generally I was pretty lucky and really only have 2 best and 2 - okay, 3, worst that are worth sharing - and one of them isn't even work related.


There are three hotel stays that tie for the worst ever, including a night in Indianapolis - the only time I've ever had a flight cancelled. The hotel's fire alarm kept going off in the middle of the night and we were evacuated 3 times, reaffirming my belief that demure pyjamas are always the safe travel choice. 


The second incident happened less than 2 weeks into my job - I was on-site in New Hampshire in January, staying at a very average hotel, when I and my co-worker both came down with the worst flu I've ever experienced.  I couldn't leave my room the entire week; the co-worker 'soldiered on' only to be taken out of the airport by ambulance on our way back home.  At the time in the US, healthcare benefits didn't kick in until you'd been at your job 30 days, so when I was stopped at security and asked if I needed medical assistance (I looked that bad), I said no, I was just very tired.  I stayed away from everybody and tried not to breathe on anything.  


I don't actually remember the flight, or god forgive me, the drive home from the airport.  I had movers coming the next day to move me to my new apartment, so I begged my mom and my sister for help, and then crumpled into a corner until it was over.   


The third incident was in Northampton Massachusetts and falls into the spooky-coincidences-that-saved-me-massive-suffering category.  Another co-worker and I were on our way to a notoriously ... thrifty client, one that insisted we stay at a run-down Days Inn just outside town.  Chatting mid-flight, he mentioned a recent article he'd read about bed-bugs; I confessed I had no idea bed-bugs existed outside the "sleep tight, don't let the bed-bugs bite" adage, and he proceeded to tell me all about them.  


Fast forward to our arrival and check in at the hotel.  I go to my room and begin my hotel ritual of removing the bedspread (because Ewww), and plopping my laptop down on the mattress to check emails, when I spy something crawling across the sheet.  I didn't think anything of it at first - figured it was probably a moth or something.  Then I looked closer and realised it wasn't anything I'd seen before and thought... no way.   I whipped open my laptop and googled bed-bug images and UGH!  I was ... nonplussed.  I caught it in a tissue, went to the front desk, handed it to the lady and just said "my room has bedbugs".  


Luckily they'd just finished building a new building that was ready but hadn't been occupied, so they moved me there.  And I got on the phone with my boss and just said "Bed bugs Jeff!  BED BUGS!".  After that my company put us in the nice bug-free hotel in town for the duration of the project.



The first of my best travel experiences won't sound like one but stick with me.  It's particularly relevant to Las Posadas too.  My parents and I were on a trip through Columbia and Ecuador and we had a short stop-over in Bogota on our way to Ecuador. We'd been careful to spread everything out between us during the trip, but my dad was checking in for all of us and was robbed soon after he left the line: passports, tickets, credit cards, cash; they got it all.  


We were completely stranded; a businessman who saw what happened handed us 100 USD, which enabled us to bribe the police for a report and get a taxi to the US Embassy.  They were great, but there was no way we'd be able to leave Bogota until they could issue us new passports, and we had no place to stay the night.  An embassy employee took us to a nearby bed and breakfast -  a first for me as we always stayed at hotels - and the proprietor took me to the top of the house, into the most amazing attic room I'd ever seen, with the cosiest bed under the eaves, covered in gorgeous, hand made quilts.  I remember feeling guilty the next morning because I was NOT supposed to be enjoying this tragic hiccup in our vacation, but it really was the most amazing ... oasis.  I've never again stayed anywhere quite like it.


And finally, the best place I've ever stayed for just sheer kick-ass awesomeness was once again a work trip; a long-term project in Montreal.  The client put us up in an amazing boutique hotel called Hôtel Place d'Armes.  Gorgeous rooms (and omg, the bathrooms!!), an amazing staff and a full blown spa on the top floor.  We were there so often and for so long, we were on a first name basis with the staff, and I'd arrive (once coming through the doors saying "honey, I'm home!") to find fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in my room.  The staff spoiled us absolutely rotten and towards the end were comp'ing my spa visits - something I didn't know about until I tried to check out and pay for them.  It's the only project I was sad to see the end of.   :)


Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever?  Tell us all about it!

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